Top Program Priorities (2015)
The remainder of 2015 will be spent on fundraising and seeking our IRS 501(C)(3) accreditation. We currently DO have a fiscal sponsor, and can take tax deductible donations.
Our current focus is on launching two programs, our green building educational initiative, and beginning a fleet of RVs for our various projects. More details are available below.
As always, if you are interested in getting involved you can reach out via our contact page.
Green Building and Permaculture Massive Open Online Courses
There are two trends that are currently rising, and Shelter Unlimited is positioned to be the uniting force between them. One is the rise of radically sustainable building, and the other is the rapid growth of free online education.
Humanity is currently facing unprecedented challenges to our survival. Our rapidly expanding global population means that access to our three true needs, food, water and shelter, is increasingly being stretched beyond the breaking point. Although these problems may seem intractable, that does not remove our obligation to try and address them. Sadly the term ‘green building’ has been co-opted by the same building industry which brought us the current unsustainable practices. What we mean when we talk about ‘green building’ is what Michael Reynolds has described as ‘radically sustainable building’, structures which are built primarily of discarded or entirely renewable resources, ideally with locally sourced materials and labor. We are talking about structures such as earthships, earthbags, straw-bale buildings and cob homes; housing styles which represents both our past and our future. Although there have been individuals and groups teaching workshops on these various building styles for years, the cost (and travel expense) has made it difficult, if not impossible, for the global south to implement these building forms in a meaningful way.
One of the most exciting trends in education that is happening now is the development and expansion of massive open online courses (MOOCs). These free Web-based programs are designed for the participation of large numbers of geographically dispersed students, and allow for the rapid promulgation of information in a way which has not been possible before. Since the introduction of the term in 2008, hundreds of thousands of individuals have taken courses of this nature, many via the MIT OpenCourseWare and EdX initive. Sadly, until now no green building MOOCs have been developed, primarily because most of these courses are being developed out of traditional academic institutions who have little to no interest in vernacular building or green building education.
By hosting green building workshops at various locations, documenting the builds and then creating MOOCs based on them, we can bring green building education to the masses in a way that has simply never been done before. These will not simply be a few videos of our builds, but a complete ‘how to’ system of alternative building technologies. By translating the MOOCs in to Hindi, Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic we can reach almost two billion people who currently have little to no information on these ‘alternative’ building styles. Currently if a community doesn’t have access to an English speaker or a translator, their is virtually no information available. We can change this!
Building the Fleet
Our second goal for 2015 is to begin building a fleet of travel trailers to use for our various projects. These trailers will be used for ‘hand up’ housing, volunteer quarters for builds and post-disaster shelter. We have already been donated a 1968 28 foot Airstream, and the kickstarter for its rehab will be coming soon.