Reviving Communities and Creating Beauty, Connection, and Employment
Young men and women who participate in the creation of adobe walls and pressed earth habitat end up with a skill that can give them employment year after year. Clayhands mission is to teach and share this earth-building knowledge and to build a future for more and more people.
Our main program is teaching, demonstrating, and utilizing earth construction techniques for communities in Colombia. We aim to become a center for these alternative construction activities in northern South America through building facilities for local communities, teaching community members green building and earth construction techniques, and communicating these transferable and lifelong skills to the people.
Adobe structures bring together generations to work on walls their ancestors built two hundred years before. Because the younger generation is crucial to the preservation and transmission of culture, Clayhands is working with rural towns to train young men and women in the traditional earth building skills. Through these programs, they learn marketable skills that can give them a career for life. They also gain and share a greater appreciation for their cultural heritage and the spirit of community necessary to its continuance. When the community supplies labor and the earth supplies the materials, a dwelling can be constructed with enough economy so that the family that lives there can be free from a slave-like dedication to mortgage payments that so many families live under. Their only debt is to the community and it can be paid by helping others to create their own adobe or earth-based construction.
In the Muzo region numerous old adobe houses have been found to be still in use; some are over 150 years old – a testament to the utility of this simple method of construction as well as its cultural patrimony.
This reality, still alive in some parts of rural South America demonstrates the power of earth building to create shelter and actively sustain community and cultural heritage. Clayhands is proud to be part of this exciting resurgence allowing future generations to find inspiration in the old traditional techniques as well as taking advantage of today’s innovations. An old tradition with a new future, adobe building engenders a strong connection to the landscape; the versatility, strength, and beauty of earthen buildings and their designs inspire us to meld the past and present.
A remarkable evolution has today taken shape with creative earth-builders who bring in new methods, technology, and environmental awareness to form a true resource for community growth and enrichment. In the resurrection of recipes for earth and lime plasters the elements of color and beauty are added to this very practical teaching.