Hariyo Chowk Updates!!
(A recent event at the Chowk, Mud Brick Moving Day)
First of all, let’s just say that it’s going great, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts again for all your support during our Kickstarter campaign and since.
We hope that everyone has been following our progress on our Facebook page. This continues to be the best place to keep up with us, as we’re constantly posting photos and updates there as well as promoting all our workshops and events. We will also try to post updates more regularly through Kickstarter in the future, but Facebook is the best spot and also the most publicly interactive (which we value a lot).
A NOTE ON PRIZES: Everyone should have gotten them by now! If you haven’t gotten yours please let us know.
For those of you whose prize includes your name on our Hariyo Chowk mural, we have some exciting news: Sattya recently initiated a new program called Kolor Kathmandu, in which 15 artists will be commissioned to create 75 public murals all around the city. One of these artists will paint the mural in our space! Portfolios must be in by late October and we’ll choose our artist then, so we’ll keep you updated on the progress. If you know any artists in the area who might like the job, please encourage them to apply!
NOW, on to the update. It’s been a wild few months, that’s for sure. SO WHAT HAPPENED?
(The new Hariyo Chowk site in June 2012, before our work began)
1. We found a new site!
After the outpouring of support for our KS campaign (and a string of issues with our landlord), we realized that we owed it to our donors to find a more secure, long-term place to create Hariyo Chowk. After 6 weeks of searching we settled in our current space, a small, private plot of land in Lagankhel about a 10 minute walk from Patan Durbar Square, the center of the ancient city of Patan. Our neighborhood is fairly conservative and traditional, and is populated mostly by people of the Newari ethnic group who have historically made the Kathmandu Valley their home. It’s quite a dynamic place for this project with great challenges and even greater rewards as we engage our neighbors in the work we’re doing.
(Painting garden signs with some of the neighborhood kids)
Our land is owned by the Shahi Family, good friends of Sattya who have been more supportive and helpful and fantastic than we ever could have imagined!!! We owe them so many thanks, especially to Kiran Shahi who helped us set the whole thing up. Thank you Shahis, we love you so much!
(An early sketch of our new design, which has since evolved even more…)
2. We created a new design.
The new design is similar to our old design, but with some slight adjustments to better fit our new physical and social context. The main elements of the new design are:
- A bamboo building that includes a vertical gardening wall, a lofted office/lounge, farm storage space, and mini-shop to display our wares. The building will convert into a greenhouse in the winter months, and rainwater will be collected from the roof.
- A small amphitheater with a stage and screen for workshops, film screenings, presentations, and performances- A kitchen area for processing the food we grow, holding workshops, and serving food during events. It will include a pizza oven!
- Grassy areas for hanging out, space for a solar shower and solar fruit dehydrator, garden beds, a mini-fruit tree orchard, and many spaces to display art of all types.
Our team at a Biodynamic Farming training outside of Kathmandu. Praful is in the middle, to his right are Anjan, Shristi, Ricole, and Sattya’s intern Priti)
3. We built our team.
We have put together an incredible team of people, without whom none of this would be possible! Anjan Sharma, a recent high school graduate, is our eager young garden manager. Praful Shrestha, a Master’s student in Rural Development at a local university and a very talented builder in his own right, will be taking over the directorship of the project in December. These guys are in it for the long haul and it’s so great to have the project in such capable hands, and to know it will continue to develop and thrive. We’ve also got some stellar volunteers with us: Shristi our young Nepali intern, Ricole the interior designer from Canada, Paul the natural builder from the US, and a revolving corps of talented local volunteers who come help out on a regular basis.
Right now, we’re hiring a Media Manager to help us document our project through photo, video, and other means. Check it out, and do spread the word!
(Sattya ladies Swati and Aparna moving mud bricks on a recent workday, with more Sattya people and volunteers in the background)
4. We’ve been having a blast doing it all.
The past few months have been a whirlwind, we’ve accomplished so much and so many people have come out to help, learn, and share. Here’s some highlights:
(The team and local children mixing mud for bricks in the mud pits in Boudha)
- Making Mud Bricks in Boudha
In July we spent a few weeks making mud bricks out in Boudha, the Tibetan part of Kathmandu that is about a 45 minute drive from Hariyo Chowk. Space and mud was generously donated by our friend Lobsang Sangbo, an awesome activist whose organization Grassroots Movement in Nepal (GMIN) is doing a number of projects around education, environmentalism, and social change. Thanks Sangbo!
(Making bricks with our mold in Sangbo’s warehouse)
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience – spending our days in the mud pits, mixing the mortar with our feet and hauling it in wheelbarrows to be made into bricks using molds we built out of scrap wood. Community support was huge and so many people came to try this novel activity for themselves. All in all we made 1300 bricks, which we moved to our site this Saturday in 5 truckloads as part of a day full of events at the Chowk. In November, they will become our pizza oven and kitchen!
Here are some links to our Mud Brick Making albums, ONE and TWO. And check out photo albums from this Saturday’s Brick Moving Day – it was epic! We had teams in Hariyo Chowk and Boudha to move all the bricks across town.
(Shristi, Anjan and Santosh working on the Boo building)
- Building our Bamboo Building
The team has really been enjoying building this crazy tree-fort like building in the space. The structural frame is complete now, and the building’s vertical garden, roof, and lofted lounge will be complete within the next two weeks. Team members and the many volunteers who have come through have marveled at how empowering it is to have worked on this particular part of the project…it seems so intimidating at first to climb up high and work the drill or hammer or what have you – sometimes it seems there is so much mystery around building, you know? But once people take that first step, they quickly realize how possible it is to build and that anyone can do it! You don’t have to be an architect or have any particular training, you can DIY – and that’s what this project is all about in the end, opening people’s eyes to what they can achieve on their own.
Design sketches of the building are in this album, and pics of us working on the building one fine day are here.
(The Chowk buzzing with activity on a Saturday workday last month)
- Saturday Work Days
Saturday always brings good times and a lot of surprises! In Kathmandu Saturday is everyone’s day off from school and work, so we promote this as a time that anyone can come to the Chowk, hang out and get their hands dirty by jumping in on whatever we happen to be working on. We usually get at least a few new people every week, sometimes a small crowd, and sometimes a large crowd even! It’s always heartwarming to meet the wide variety of people who come out, of all ages and backgrounds and each for their own reason. We’ve had students from environmental programs at local universities, activists and community builders from various sectors, lots of local architects and engineers, people involved in sustainable agriculture and organic farming, and more…we love it!
Saturday workdays are a continuing event and we’ve been stepping up our efforts to promote it even more visibly…join our Facebook Saturday Workday Event Page to get weekly updates on workday agendas and news, and please invite your friends!
(Last week’s to-do list)
SO WHAT’S COMING UP AT HARIYO CHOWK?
Well, lots of cool stuff. Behold:
- SATURDAY WORK DAYS
Every week, forever! Unless otherwise noted
- HARIYO CHOWK WORK WEEK, November 3 – 10
This will be an action-packed week of events and workshops at the Chowk. They will mostly center around building our mud brick pizza oven and kitchen unit, and will also include other workshops and demonstrations about organic gardening and eco-art/design. A few special events we’ve got planned so far:
(Mer and Santoshi, girl power!)
- Women’s Work Day, Saturday November 3
We’ll kick off our Work Week with a women-only day meant to encourage our community’s women to come out and build! Women of all ages and backgrounds will be welcome. We are proud to partner with Women LEAD for this event, a local NGO that empowers young women to become visionary leaders and changemakers in Nepal.
We’ll also ask the men to get involved by playing a supporting role – more details to come!
- Special Community Workday, Saturday November 10
A pumped up version of our usual Saturday Community Workday, which will end in an evening party for everyone who came out during the week!
- Daily Hands-On Workshops, all week long
Topics will include: organic gardening 101, moss graffiti, pizza oven construction and mechanics, building with mud bricks and mud plaster, and more!
- HARIYO CHOWK OPENING NIGHT, Saturday, November 24
It’s almost here, the day that HC will step out as the place it was meant to be. We’ll get started in the afternoon with events for families and the local community. Later, the evening will transition into a party with food and drinks, art exhibits, short film screenings, performances and presentations. We can’t wait to celebrate all that we’ve accomplished with all our friends!
EMERGING DETAILS ABOUT THESE UPCOMING EVENTS WILL BE POSTED ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE! Don’t forget to “like” us so you can be kept in the loop, and invite your friends to like us too!
(The team and volunteers on a workday…aw!)
We’re always looking for people to come and volunteer for the day, week, month, year…opportunities are many and widely varied in how people might get involved with us. Building, design, gardening, culinary arts and natural medicine, art and craft, community organizing, media documentation and fundraising are only a few of the interests and abilities we can accommodate. If you, your friends, or your community are interested in connecting with us, PLEASE DO GET IN TOUCH! Hariyo Chowk runs on the support of our community, both local and global. We would love to know what special talent you’ve got to share that would enrich this experience for us all.
Again, our sincerest thanks to all of you who have made this possible. We think of you every day and only hope that we will make you proud of what your generous support has brought about through our efforts. We hope to be able to welcome each and every one of you to the Chowk in person someday and shake your hand!
And finally a special thank you shout out to SARAH and AASHA (ELLIE) JOHNSTON and their friends in BOWLING GREEN KENTUCKY, who are directly responsible for about 1/3 of the over $12,000 we raised. Seriously, you guys are amazing – Hariyo Chowk would not exist without you!
Thank you, thank you all. Keep being the beautiful, wonderful, good-doing creatures that you are, and don’t hesitate to let us know how we can help YOU!
The Hariyo Chowk Team and Sattya Media Arts Collective