Monday, May 24, 2010

Misiones Gets Dirtier!

Winter in the subtropics is upon us and we are keeping ourselves busy working with our fellow Misioneros and getting dirty! We have been attending and hosting workshops in Earthen building and organic gardening specific for Misiones.

In the Chacra Suiza, we discussed the details of a biodigestor and saw a functioning system (20 years old!)

In El Hormigero, we helped in the first of a series of workshops on Earthen building. We did a patch up on an existing building with a straw-mud mix over a bamboo structure.

At the top of our hill in our village, we hosted a workshop in how to convert a simple wooden house (common here in Misiones) into an Earthen house, which will be more insulated for both winter and summer temperature extremes, cheap and fun to do, and beautiful to live in and look at. Just in time for this family of 4 and the winter cold that is sure to follow the current rain.

(Some of you that have been here might recognize the house as Claudio´s, next to the bamboo bar!)

We added scrap wood to the walls to help support the weight of the mud-pine needle mix.

In two days of beautiful weather, we were able to get the first and thickest layer up. It was quite the community gathering, with lots of curious onlookers from the village, and some others who stopped by and jumped in the mud too!

First layer up, only the plaster and paint to go! Thanks to all helping hands!

More photos to come... and future projects too!

Monday, May 10, 2010

´Twas Lovely

Our Fall Internship ended on a wonderful note! Much gratitude to the wonderful women who shared so much with us and helped Mama Roja grow.

The adobe bathroom, even though it didn't quite get finished due to rain, is beautiful and full of love. Two coats of plaster, both exterior and interior, done. Only lacks a bit of mud touch up and the final install of the tub and sink, the top of the composting toilet, and some natural paint for the walls.

All in all, a success! And a beauty!

Thank you to all who lent a hand to the growing and learning!

The spiders will miss you too!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Participant Commentary

Since July 2008, Mama Roja has had many helping hands and hearts in the project. People from all over the world have come to Misiones to add ideas, help and love. Thanks to their efforts, we have established a center for sharing Earthen building, organic gardening, yoga, and other important sustainable practices.

We welcome commentary, stories, and experiences from past interns, apprentices, volunteers, and visitors. Send us an email and we will add it to the post, or respond in the commentary box below. Thanks and much love!!
"If you are looking for a positive and life-changing experience, Mama Roja is certainly the place to go. Not only did I learn more than expected about earthen building and sustainability practices, but I was able to explore myself and go beyond what I previously believed to be my limits." 
--Mike (USA) 2014 Intern

"The time I spent at Mama Roja was one of the most influential and inspiring experiences of my life.  It was my love of nature, curiosity, and yearning to travel that brought me to Argentina, but after a few months, I not only learned information about building and gardening, I learned about myself.  It was something I did not expect at all.  I knew I would have an amazing time with interesting people, but it turned out to be much deeper than that.   Building with your hands and learning to live off the land is such an empowering feeling.  After the internship, I knew I wanted to continue on this path.  This summer (2013) I am building a house for an organic farmer with a small sustainable design/build company.  I thank Kim and Marcelo for opening my mind and introducing me to the world of natural building.  The amount of knowledge I learned during my internship was invaluable.  Hands-on teaching is the best kind!  Mama Roja will forever be in my heart."
--Stacey(New Jersey, USA) 2012 intern

"Mama Roja changed my life. Seriously. Of course I learned and experienced amazing stuff in natural building, organic gardening, self-reliant and community living, and many more. But Mama Roja is really more than that. And I think this practical stuff I learned is not the most important point of my journey at Mama Roja. The energies out there are powerful. The water surrounding Mama Roja is magic. I was able to reconnect myself to nature and its energies more than ever. Not only I met some of the most amazing people I ever met (Kim and Marcelo are sooo adorable!), but during these months at Mama Roja, I met myself. For me, Mama Roja opened a path allowing me to reconnect to my own energies and heal myself. I came back home with so much love and peace within myself I wanted to share! Every day at Mama Roja is a new surprise, thanks to its incredible inhabitants and to the beauties of our beloved Pacha Mama (colourful butterflies, everywhere!!) and I will be grateful forever to have been able to take part in this beautiful adventure and to be part of the great Mama Roja family."
--Emilie (from Switzerland) 2012 Intern

" I was super impressed with how much freedom you guys gave us! For example, after teaching some basics, you offered us an entire area on your property in which to construct and plant garden beds as we liked. You gave us seeds, tools, and suggestions if we asked, and set us free. For the earthen building, as long as the structure was sound and on top of the foundation, we could experiment and learn, thanks to good feedback.  That's not to mention the plastering, where we could really throw our art onto the walls (lovingly, of course!). 
The freedom to be creative and make mistakes was so important for quality learning. When our ideas went wrong, we got to see where and why--and then find a solution, or ask if need be.  (Those soy beans just did NOT belong in the middle of that bed--getting between the climbing beans and their corn...  which never ended up growing anyway, thanks to them wild chickens.  Putting sticks and mesh around the little plantlings seemed to help, though!)  Of course, some of our own ideas turned out great, and that was motivating to see!
Thank you both for being generous and brave enough to hand us the reins."
--Nicole (from Canada) 2013 Intern 

"My experience at Mama Roja was one of the most enjoyable, beneficial, and hard-working experiences I´ve had. Living with such a diverse group of people taught me a lot about other peoples cultures, including my own. I learned so many important things and skills that I´m still using here in the states, and that I plan on using in the future. I had so much fun with our group, we all felt, and I´m sure still feel a strong connection to Mama Roja."
--- Ashley (from Michigan, USA) 2009 Intern

"What originally drew me to Mama Roja was discovering the Misiones region of Argentina, spending some time with like-minded people, practicing and sharing some yoga, and learning and developing new skills. What I discovered at Mama Roja was way beyond that.It was a treat to the palate; preparing meals over the fire, picking "mandarinas", making dulce de leche", eating delicious "Kim cake" and Marcelo's spaghetti sauce and an endless variety of vegetarian food. The joy of walking to the garden and getting the ingredients to prepare your food, so simple yet so beautiful.It was a treat to the body; feeling the rich earth between my fingers while preparing mud for bricks, swimming and bathing in that river that purifies the soul, chopping wood, working with the shovels, the plants, the animals, and watching what you planted grow...amazing!It was for me, most of all, a treat for the soul. A place where I was able to be my SELF. Space to wonder and to explore. A place where I was encouraged to be curious and ask questions, where my skills and individuality grew and were recognized . A place where I made beautiful friends, laughed from my belly and filled my lungs with the sweet smell of the jungle.And now, back in Vancouver, I still use the skills I learned at Mama Roja. And it's fun to find ways to incorporate the little things I learned into my "city life" simple as using less water, planting herbs and tomato plants on my window ledges and starting worm composting!I honestly can't wait to go back and I am so very, deeply grateful for Mama Roja being part of this world."
--Jessica (from Vancouver, Canada) 2009 Apprentice and 2011 Intern

"Mama Roja taught me so much about living and about a higher quality of life. Kim and Marcelo are amazing teachers and are so dear to my heart. I went as an apprentice and stayed through the fall internship (2010). I walked away with journals filled with experiences,realizations, and resources for my life after Mama Roja. Earthen Building is such a beautiful and practical skill. I have never felt so proud of a project ever before. Both my body and soul were nourished by Mama Roja. Yoga was key part of this nourishment and was something I was able to take home with me. It is an open market place of ideas, creativity and laughter. I look to my journals often for articles about nutrition, sustainability, building or just a good recipe. Most the time I look through to smile about four months that have changed me forever."
--Kylie (from Washington, US) 2011 Apprentice and Intern

"I have just left here after the sustainable living / earthen building internship and cant describe in word how much i learnt and what an amazing and enjoyable experience I had. Mama Roja is situated in beautiful forest full of flora and fauna. there are rivers for bathing and relaxing, with a short walk upstream to the waterfall, and a short walk downstream to the 'big river.' An average day started with a fruit filled breakfast, followed by either earthen building projects (such as an adobe brick dry-composting 'tower toilet') or helping in the garden to plant, feed or pick the flowers, herbs and vegetables. Evenings involved reading, relaxing, craft making, a camp fire, discussions, documentaries, etc. and much more eating. Kim and Marcelo are a very warm and loving couple who encourage learning, and with plenty of knowledge behind them, love to pass it on. Thank you Mama Roja!!"

"... estos ultimos dos meses fueron más para conocer en profundidad solo una partecita de la Pachamama, y para aprender más
directamente la buena manera para relacionarme con ella. Como cuidarla, alimentarla y restaurarla, como satisfacer nuestras
necesidades sin endeudar a las futuras generaciones. Muy agradecido
con Marcelo y Kimberly por el lugarcito que estan cuidando, Mama Roja
en la provincia de Misiones, y por su entrega en compartir sus
experiencias y conocimientos...
solo por mencionar algunas de las cosas que aprendimos: construccion
natural (barro y adobe), huerta orgánica, medicinas naturales
(tinturas de hierbas, balsamos, aceites), microorganismos aliados,
composta de residuos (incluidos los desechos humanos!!!), cuidados del
agua (reciclaje, filtros), elaboracion de quesos, y muchos etceteras,
ademas de practicar yoga y disfrutar de bañarnos en el rio, una
cascada dentro de la chacra (chacra como una granja), caminatas por
las selva, millones de mariposas, pajaritos, y algun que otro lagarto,
y hasta un par de nutrias de rio!"
-- Matias (de Buenos Aires, Arg) Intern 2010

"I spent two wonderful weeks with Kim and Marcelo at Mama Roja. I appreciated the atmosphere that the two of them foster. I felt welcomed into their community and encouraged to make an impact with what interested me. They were patient teachers as we built garden beds and planted. The location is absolutely stunning and I felt at peace there."
--Erin (USA) Volunteer 2008

"Mama Roja is a place full of beauty – the land, the streams, the animals, and most of all the people! The project aims to be a center of teaching and learning how be more self-sufficient; in my experience as an intern (2009) one of the biggest benefits that I received was an opening and expansion in my creativity. The work that we did as interns was as hand-on as we could get – creating, doing, and seeing results of our projects every day. At Mama Roja, even making a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich was an deep experience; we made the peanut butter, made the jelly, and baked the bread – for sure, it was the best pb&j I have ever eaten! In addition to enhancing my cooking skills, I learned how to build a house from the earth, how to use an axe, how to collect and store seeds; I learned from group readings, discussions, and videos; I learned about other incredible projects that are happening around the world; I met wonderful people; and among many other things, I learned irrefutably that “life is good”. Thank you so much, Marcelo and Kim, for sparking the world-changing adventure that we call Mama Roja!"
-- Audrey (Intern 2009)

Our Vision

Mama Roja is a living experiment and experience in self-reliant homesteading and voluntary simplicity. This project was born of our desire to live happily and harmoniously, free to explore our full potential as creative and intelligent beings. We want to live true to our values and be honest in our relationships with ourselves and the world. For us, this means being close with nature, increasing our personal awareness, making choices with ecological consciousness, and living in a comfortable, peaceful place conducive to growth and sharing.
Simple, sustainable living not only provides for our basic needs (food, shelter, medicine, and clothing) but also encourages personal growth (mental, physical, and spiritual). It is a way to reclaim our personal independence and security. We cannot know freedom or happiness if we build our lives on a system of acquisition, accumulation and waste, depending on outside industry and non-renewable resources for our livelihood. If we are to have better lives and a better world for future generations, we can, should, and must take an active role in that revolution. We believe this is easily achievable through simple, natural means, respecting ourselves, the Earth, and her cycles.

At Mama Roja, we are focused on positive human action within the natural world and with other beings. We are striving to be good stewards of the land and pioneer it respectfully-- constructing buildings with natural materials, installing renewable energy sources, making organic gardens and culitivating field crops, minimizing our waste, reducing our consumption, and preserving the wild spaces for the native flora and fauna.

As interactive participants in making the world better, an integral part of our work is outreach, education and encouragement. Currently at Mama Roja, we host internships in sustainable living, invite visitors and school groups to the project, write articles and information, and organize community workshops. Our intention is not to be isolated from the mainstream but to be integrated, promoting a viable alternative. There is no need to wait for our leaders or experts to do something about the deep flaws in our present system, all of us can already take responsibility and make positive change.

Those who come to Mama Roja are participants in a collaborative effort to promote sustainable practices, not just here but globally. Mama Roja is a place for shared learning, experimenting with new ideas, adding new tools to one's "personal toolbox", and exploring one's potential and creativity. By coming together with a positive, active awareness, we can both save and savor our world.