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.
Svetlana and I -- and the Altai people -- thank you for your ongoing support, which makes projects like this possible.
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.
Two years ago, our intrepid Altai project leader Svetlana Katynova completed a five-year research project to document the wisdom of elders in the Ust Koksa district of Altai. This project prevented the loss of cultural history, which is critical for the recovery of Altai culture. Although Svetlana has had a successful professional career doing similar work, she did this project as a volunteer. Her out-of-pocket costs were funded in part by your contributions.
One year ago, Svetlana completed the compilation of all this data into book form, including an article by me giving a foreigner's perspective on the unique Ust Koksa area. Her goal is to have the book published in Russian, Altaian, English, and German. In one of the most impoverished regions of Russia, finding fundors for such an ambitions project has been a major effort.
We are pleased to announce that the Altai Republic Ministry of Tourism stepped forward to publish and distribute the Russian version of the book. Svetlana is still working away on publication of the translations.
Wholeheartedly, I invite you to support this project.