Ron’s ties to Colombia run deep. As the principal of Ronald Ringsrud Co. Colombian Emeralds for 30 years, and an author of Emeralds, A Passionate Guide, Ron has spent much of his life in Colombia. In the 1990s, Ron purchased a dilapidated 150 year old house in the historic emerald district of Bogota, and undertook a loving restoration. With its 20” thick adobe walls, the home introduced Ron to alternative construction methods involving adobe, cob and pressed earth. He pondered whether alternative construction might help address the housing needs of workers and families in remote locales where emerald mines are found. From this idea, Clayhands was born, and operates locally from a donated room in the Bogota house that inspired it.
Ramon’s native home is Colombia, and he now lives in California, serving as CEO for Clayhands. A Colombian lawyer and disaster services worker, Ramon brings a passion and experience with man-made and natural disasters and the families affected by them. He works with education and vocational training programs for youth and groups recovering from violence. Ramon is a key advocate for using solar power and alternative energies in the construction of our youth and community projects, and invites those interested to learn more about and visit Clayhands on site in Colombia.
Ramon Manrique Mejia
Architect, designer and beaming force of positivity for our team is a description of this man. He and his brother Chucho have been hands on the project since the beginning. Fernando has a keen sense of recycling and restoration and will buy new materials only as a last resort – he was doing this long before the “renew-reuse” slogan became popular.
Sun has been a member of the Board of Directors of Clayhands since the beginning of our vision. She is a very knowledgeable mineral expert, having been a gem and mineral dealer for over ten years. She has traveled to many major gem and mineral shows and yet can often be found in old-growth redwood forests carefully placing quartz crystals at the trees’ bases. Sun traveled to Colombia in 2013 and met with the mayor of the small town of San Pablo de Borbur to talk about our project of building an adobe house in Borbur as well as restoring and re-opening the 100-year-old adobe brick workshop in nearby Chanares Colombia. 2017 is the year that this project will take off. Her knowledge of permaculture, cacao processing, her connections in Hawaii and California have all given a breadth to the scope of that Clayhands can do.
Susan “Sun” Paulson
The wisdom that comes from being a man of the earth is what Roger brings to our team. Based in South Dakota USA, Roger has been to Colombia and has met with our founding team there. He has been helpful and important in many ways and has background and experience that few can offer.