Reclaiming Traditional Earthen Construction in India

by: EJ on 06/16/2015

James Thomson, co-author of Earthen Floors: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice, is a workshop facilitator with House Alive, one of the leading natural building training organizations in North America.  This fall, James will travel with a small group of apprentices to a remote, ethnically Tibetan region of India, deep in the Himalayas. There, they will build a small cob (earthen) house to be used as a sanctuary at a children's community called Jhamtse Gatsal which means "Garden of Love and Compassion". Jhamtse Gatsal is home to 85 orphaned and disadvantaged children along with teaching, cooking and caring staff, and volunteers from around the world. 

Earthen construction was once common in this region but has been all but lost and replaced by concrete which is far more expensive and inefficient, not to mention ugly. Where people cannot afford concrete, they live in tin shacks. It is the intention of the group to build a beautiful earthen sanctuary and at the same time teach appropriate, affordable, environmentally friendly construction methods that reflect the history and culture of Jhamtse and the wider community of the Lumla district.

The organization is hoping to raise $15,000 to help fund this project.  The money will be used to buy enough basic tools (shovels, tarps, hammers, saws, etc.) to outfit the teachers and apprentices as well as the children and community members who will participate. A few windows, a door and some roofing materials will be needed. The group also wants to leave seed money for future sustainable building projects at the community.

Find out more in this short video about the project. 


Please give what you can to support this important work.  Donate $75 or more and you will recieve a copy of  Earthen Floors: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice. 

  You can visit their fundraising page here.



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