Altai Mir University

Together, we access peace by creating a knowledge bridge between ancient wisdom and today's world.
Jun 2, 2014

State of Emergency declared in Altai flooding

Flooded bridge in Altai Republic
Flooded bridge in Altai Republic

Altai Republic is under water and bridges have been swept away. Because the villages are all on riverbanks, most of the housing for 200,000 people has been flooded. Help is needed. Here is the letter from Svetlana Katynova, who implements all our humanitarian projects there.

"For the last week we have lived in anxiety, because in Altai there were torrential rains for several days. A State of Emergency was declared in the Republic. Under our house and around the house [in Gorno-Altaisk City] is standing water, and nothing can be done. In the city, houses and streets are flooded, bridges demolished.
 
It is not only nature to blame here, but also the people who built an artificial lake in the hills. It all burst and water gushed down in a huge flood into the city.
In Ust-Koksa district [where the sacred Mount Belukha is], the situation is very dangerous. I'm not only talking about our lands -- the buildings are entirely in the water. The bridges at Kucherla, Tyungur, and Katanda are all demolished and impassable. People were left without communication. Snow and rain are interspersed. The Katyn [River] has flooded the lower and upper parts of Tyungur Village, leaving only islands.
Children from Ust-Koksa district who go to [public, residential] schools in Gorno-Altaisk have finished the school year, but they cannot get home. You know that in my [600 square foot] house we will make a place for each.
Consequences of flooding will be extremely severe. You know about our unpaved roads and rickety bridges. And many people live only on what they can grow during our short summer.

But I really hope that this is just Nature warning people that Altai will not punish us too harshly for our failure to care for the sacred lands.

Both the immediate and longer-term problems are food, water, shelter, and water-borne disease. Any help you can give at this time will be used for these most basic needs.

Links:

Apr 15, 2014

Preparations continue for Fast Horse's summer build

Grandmother Claudia takes the kids swimming
Grandmother Claudia takes the kids swimming

Thank you for your ongoing support of this crucially important project. Parents Joe Fast Horse and Lena Apple operate a children's safe house in Wounded Knee, SD, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

They care for 9 children total in a small HUD home provided by the tribe that is riddled with black mold and cockroaches, with running water that just barely works, all because they care for the future of Lakota children on the Pine Ridge reservation. Three generations are volunteering to make this house a reality. It is their spirit of caring that compels Tiyospaye Winyan Maka to assist them in building their own home, on their own land, in a model off-grid community.

Current planning for our Safe House and Model Community include:

A. Sacred Mountains Earthen Home (collaborating partner: Texas Natural Builders)

B. Volunteer Bunkhouse and Community Facilities (collaborating partners: church organizations including Unity Church, Boulder; Unitarian Universalists, Rapid City; Washington Park United Church of Christ, Denver)
1. Bunkhouse
2. Composting Toilets
3. Solar shower  

C. Power
1. Wind Generator (collaborating partner: Engineers Without Borders Project-­CSU student chapter)
2. Portable Sawmill, All building supplies are collected from the natural resources available in the immediate and surrounding areas. This tool, called a Wood Mizer, will help Tiospaye Winyan Maka and multiple families build multiple homes on Pine Ridge.
3. A welder/generator: A welder/generator will help Tiospaye Winyan Maka build important structural and foundational elements for not only the Fast Horse family, but for multiple families in the future. It will also help power the volunteer camp at the build site when it's not being used for it's welding capacities, an important amenity needed to draw more volunteers in.

D. Water
1. Open-air Kitchen / Community Classroom
    a. Water Supply: 1700 Gallon Water Cistern with Gravity feed
    b. Tables and seating
    c. Propane stove(s)
    d. Sink and drainage
    e. Root cellar / storage
2. Rainwater harvesting system with second cistern to provide water for an organic, heirloom garden so the family can achieve nutritional self-sufficiency and not rely on the federal food commodity program, which provides unhealthy high sugar, high carbohydrate, high sodium foods
3. On-site watershed restoration, (collaborating partner: Cuenca los Ojos)

E. Volunteer Resources
1. International Volunteers (collaborating partner: Service Civile International)
2. Domestic Volunteers (collaborating partners: Engineers Without Borders chapters, also faith community members; Habitat for Humanity)

F. Demonstration Workshops and Projects
1. Demonstration earthen wall options, including: cob, cord wood, straw bale, etc.
2. Ethno-botany guided walks
3. Trail rides

It's people like the Fast Horses who bring light into an often dark situation. They squeeze every penny out of your donation.

Mar 19, 2014

Major Clean-Up of Sacred Mountain Planned

International crew from 2006 clean-up
International crew from 2006 clean-up

An ongoing problem in Altai Republic is the disrespecting of sites that are sacred to the Altai people. This takes many forms, but the garbage left on sacred Mount Belukha by tourists and climbers has been particularly egregious. The mountain is both a Russian national park and and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

However, our Altai partner Svetlana Katynova knows how to "make lemonaid from the lemons." She's using the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Belukha (altitude 14,783 feet) as impetus for the first-ever major clean-up of the complex of trails around the mountain. In 2006, an Altai Mir University expedition did a clean-up at the base of the mountain, but this project is much more ambitious.

The clean-up is co-organized with Igor Saylankin (Director of National Nature Park “Belukha”) and supported by the Altai Republic Ministry of Tourism, Ust Koksa District Administration, owners of local tourist facilities, and local individuals involved in tourism.

100 kilometers of trails will be divided into sections for which groups from different cities are being invited to take responsibility.

o    Garbage and fallen trees will be cleared, signs and pit toilets installed.
o    Local horsemen and tourist facilities will provide logistical support.
o    Recently, a 2-meter-wide right-of-way has been granted to the park for trail that crosses private land. This is a major accomplishment.

Svetlana and I -- and the Altai people -- thank you for your ongoing support, which makes projects like this possible.

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