Altai Mir University

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

Jan 13, 2014

Summary of the Joe Fast Horse project

Paha Wakan house design for Joe Fast Horse
Paha Wakan house design for Joe Fast Horse

Hello and a warm hug and handshake to you. The Fast Horse Build will be a four year project in the overall Wounded Knee building project. The plans are to simultaneously:

(1) build the home: With help from David Reed of Texas Natural Builders, we will build a timber framed cordwood home called Paha Wakan (The Sacred Mountain), designed by Kelly Hart (http://bit.ly/AtLoVZ) on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation in South Dakota. We are looking for volunteers with love and First Nation Solidarity to come and learn how to build with timber, cob, straw bale and cordwood!! We are so excited and hope ya'll are too!!!

(2) build a wind turbine and working with solar panels

(3) clear and level the campground area and a bunk house for volunteers who prefer indoor camping. Along with this we will put together solar showers and composting toilets. We will also build two root cellars to help preserve the vegetables that we buy and that are later grown on the land.

(4) restore water to a dry creek bed on the land with help from Valer Austin of Cuenca Los Ojos www.CuencaLosOjos.com.

(5) Lena Apple-Fast Horse will also be doing organic gardening, for which she has great skill and dedication. All interested organic gardeners are welcome to come for all, or any part of the late spring/early-through-late fall. If you choose to come in late spring, please know that this time is spent preparing the camp area for the other domestic and international volunteers.

As you can see, this is quite the ambitious undertaking, but I believe it can be done by reaching out for help.

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