Thursday, November 25, 2010, producing potable water


Please send your tax deductible donation to:
Family of the Americas Foundation
5929 Talbot Rd.
Lothian, Maryland 20711

Note: Checks payable to:
Family of The Americas Foundation
this Foundation is a 501 (c)-3

Factory Ecofiltro Antigua:
Telephone: (502) 79346208/ 79346526
Res. San Pedro Panorama, Casa 13 "A"
Antigua, Guatemala (Camino Ciudad Vieja)

Guatemala City:
10:00 to 20:00 hrs.
Tel.: (502) 22507224
C.C. Eskala Roosevelt, kiosko sótano1
Calz. Roosevelt Km. 13.8

Tel. (502) 58461836
C.C. Santa Clara, kiosko 1er. nivel
Km. 17.5 Carr. CA-9 Sur Villa Nueva

CC. Metronorte Km. 5.5 carretera al Atlántico zona 17
Teléfono: (502) 22560002 2do. Nivel


Excerpt from the article in the Revue:

The EcoFiltro has won awards for sustainable technology, now there is a need to make many more of them

written by Michael Sherer

On the outskirts of La Antigua Guatemala, set back in a corner of the 22-acre, lushly planted Finca El Pintado, is the factory that churns out daily miracles: clay pots, crafted from the best deposits from Rabinal, mixed with pine sawdust, fired in a brick kiln and then brushed with a coating of colloidal silver. There are a few more steps to this process but nothing resembling rocket science: What is this local miracle?


Invented and perfected by Dr. Fernando Mazariegos in the early 1990s, it won awards from the World Bank for sustainable technology in 2003 and 2004. Today, Philip Wilson, director of EcoFiltro, produces 2,500 filters a month, which are shipped to the four corners of the Earth. His largest client is World Vision, a Christian public service organization serving over 100 million people in over 100 countries.

The process: the clay is mixed with carefully screened pine sawdust until the proper consistency is achieved. There are three molds for the pots. The clay/sawdust mixture is poured into a mold. Squeeze gently and remove molded form. Place on drying rack. Fire in kiln. Test for porosity. Brush on the colloidal silver solution, a natural anti-bacterial, and bingo—a gravity-based filter that traps bacteria, parasitic cysts, fecal residues, smell and color. And it also removes any turbidity, which is the final taste/visual test for the recipients (clarity). Add water from any source and wait. The finished filter produces one to two liters an hour of cool, deliciously pure water.

This is a very simple but elegant approach to much of the developing world’s predicament—no access to pure, clean water. In Guatemala, for example, it is estimated that at least 75 percent of the water available to the rural areas is contaminated. For the price of an EcoFiltro, Q275 ($34.33USD), a family can have fresh water daily, eliminating the charges for bottled water indefinitely or buying wood to heat and boil water. The interior filter lasts for a year, although it has been said that it can function beyond the stated shelf life, and costs Q175 ($21.84 USD) to replace.

Today, Wilson wishes to expand and double the output. Funded by other non-profit organizations from around the world, his foundation constantly struggles to keep up with demand. Mr. Wilson, 41 and a graduate of Notre Dame and the Wharton School of Business (MBA), is looking at another location to expand. The current buildings have stacks of drying clay pots lining the yard, the halls and until lately, the roof.

“My vision,” he explained, “is to provide pure and safe drinking water to anyone and everyone who needs it. We have a simple process that is ecologically clean and green, with no moving parts and minimal maintenance and costs. Our only need is for more publicity and exposure … and a larger factory.”

His current brainstorm is to reduce what he calls the “plastic footprint” in La Antigua—the purchase and use of bottled water and the subsequent disposal of empty plastic bottles in landfills. By stationing his units in strategic locations throughout the city, offering free refills to any and all, he reckons there will be a significant reduction of plastic throwaways. Offering an immediate positive impact on the environment of La Antigua, this is a model that other cities and countries might want to consider.

A few local organizations are taking advantage of this remarkable invention. For example, the American Legion recently donated 10 large units to a nearby school. The school saves the Q1500 ($187 USD) per month that it had been spending on bottled water. ($187 is the equivalent of monthly tuition for 1.5 students.)

The filters also can be invaluable in the home when the municipal water supply is disrupted by earthquakes, hurricanes or power failures. We might not have ice when the electricity goes out but we will have fresh water from whatever water might be available.

Want to help or lend a hand? The Boy Scouts in the United States are road-testing these units on their walk-about following the Lewis and Clark expedition, and not relying on costly bottled water. Reducing the volume of plastic bottles is good for the planet and you. Contact Philip Wilson and offer your support, visit to learn more.

photos by Michael Sherer


Monday, November 8, 2010

The Plan of St. Gall monastery

The Plan of St. Gall monastery

Catherine S. Todd Mon, Nov 8, 2010 at 11:42 PM
To: Genevieve Croker

I think you are probably getting close to this, without "planting religion at the point of a sword." Amen!

Long Way Home's work might one day become a World Heritage Site as well.

St. Gall Monastry Plan
Plan Guide


The Plan of St. Gall is the earliest preserved and most extraordinary visualization of a building complex produced in the Middle Ages. Ever since the Plan was created at the monastery of Reichenau sometime in the period 819-26 A.D., it has been preserved in the
Monastic Library of St. Gall (Switzerland). Indeed, its presence there was singled out by UNESCO as a reason that the library, the repository of over 2000 late antique and medieval manuscripts, was designated a World Heritage site in 1983.

This web site, created with the financial assistance of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation by scholars at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Virginia, presents the plan, its origins, components, and notations, as well as four centuries of scholarship on the plan within the context of ninth-century material culture.

Church of the Plan

Drawn and annotated on five pieces of parchment sewn together, the St. Gall Plan is 112 cm x 77.5 cm and includes the ground plans of some forty structures as well as gardens, fences, walls, a road, and an orchard. The buildings are clearly identified by 333 inscriptions. Of course, primary among the buildings is a church (pictured above) with its scriptorium, sacristy, lodgings for visiting monks, and reception rooms. There is also a monastic dormitory, privy, laundry, refectory, kitchen, bake and brew house, guest house, abbot's residence, and an infirmary. Finally, there are numerous buildings associated with the specialized economic operations of a complex community of over 110 monks and some 150 servants and workers.

Why the Plan was created, and who is responsible for its design remain the great, unsolved enigmas of Plan scholarship. What is clear from one of the inscriptions on the Plan itself is that it was designed for Gozbert, the abbot of St. Gall (816-837 A.D.) and the person responsible for building the monastery's great Carolingian church in the 830s. But the built structure does not entirely reflect the design of the church on the Plan; and the monastery complex foreseen by the Plan could not, in any case, have been fit onto the actual terrain of St. Gall. These facts have caused scholars to see the Plan less as a blueprint commissioned by Gozbert for St. Gall than as a generic solution developed by Carolingian monastic authorities for the ideal, or typical monastery that could be built anywhere in Europe. When and why they would have done so has been the focus of Plan research during the last fifty years.

While our inability to pinpoint the Plan's author and his motivation is frustrating, the conclusion that the Plan was not created for a specific time and place paradoxically makes it more valuable: the Plan might be fairly characterized as a two-dimensional meditation on the ideal early medieval monastic community, an "objective correlative" of the Rule of St. Benedict, created at a time when monasticism was one of the dominant forms of political, economic, and cultural power in Europe.

This site will provide access to the results of our long-term project of creating an extensive data base to aid research into the Plan and Carolingian monastic culture. Besides a variety of digital representations of the plan itself, the site includes a graphic representation of how the plan was physically made, detailed information on each of the component elements of the plan, and transcriptions and translations of its inscriptions.

In addition, the site contains a series of extensive data bases including one presenting physical objects found across Europe that add to our understanding of Carolingian monasticism, one devoted to the terminology of Carolingian material culture, descriptions of all known Carolingian religious edifices, and an extensive bibliography on both the Plan itself and Carolingian monastic culture generally.

A key word search feature allows one to find linkages across the plan components and all of the other, related data bases. Finally, the web site will provide an interactive space where visitors and users can contribute to and interact with other scholars studying the Plan in the context of medieval architecture and monastic culture.

It is our hope that this complex resource will assist the continuing study of the St. Gall Monastic Plan and allow the international community of scholars to advance our understanding of this extraordinary object.


St. Gall Monastery Plan Guide