Liberation Ecology in Unexpected Places: SOIL’s Porta-potty Makeover

Liberation Ecology in Unexpected Places: SOIL’s Porta-potty Makeover

Those of you who have been following SOIL for some time may know that we align with the philosophy of liberation ecology, a paradigm in which “waste” does not really exist, whether it refers to discarded materials or to people. And while it may sound obvious that people cannot be “waste,” the very frustrating reality is that our societies’ most marginalized people are often treated like they are disposable. This is a problem that goes beyond the question of ecological sustainability, and yet it is closely related. We believe in...

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Staff Development

Staff Development

After nearly 10 months working at SOIL, I can tell you that there are many, many wonderful things about my fellow employees. They are deeply committed to advancing SOIL’s mission and doing their jobs well. They see each other not just as co-workers, but as a family. So it may come as no surprise that our employees are always looking for ways to further their education and professional growth – and when they find opportunities, SOIL is more than happy to support them. From ensuring that all of our employees can read and write, to...

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SOIL and Medair: Doing Development Right

SOIL and Medair: Doing Development Right

By Nick Preneta and Erica Lloyd The international NGO Medair works in 10 countries around the world, with projects that cover everything from bringing emergency food supplies into crisis zones, to reducing long-term disaster risk by earthquake-proofing homes and community buildings. Although Medair clearly differs from SOIL in the size and scope of their work, we actually have some pretty important things in common – a belief in the dignity of all people, a methodology that invests in local leadership and local economies, and a...

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Garden in a Bottle

Garden in a Bottle

At SOIL we’re all about the small details. By focusing first on quality, we are able to avoid the pitfalls that were all too common in the post-earthquake surge of development organizations (such as the construction of  internally displaced persons camps that had inadequate and non-user-friendly toilet options). Many organizations did fantastic emergency response work, but others focused too much on the numbers that they reported to donors and failed to work together with other groups, especially local ones. Along with attending to the...

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A Global Partnership for a Global Issue

A Global Partnership for a Global Issue

More than 4 billion people around the world lack access to safe sanitation – about half of the world’s population.  So while SOIL is particularly focused on Haiti, we recognize that sanitation is global issue.  Our Guide to Ecological Sanitation, first published in 2011, has been accessed by people in 79 different countries. Members of our staff have traveled near and far to both learn from and teach others who are working on sanitation access. One such partner, Sanivation, is incredibly global in its own right: it was founded in...

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From Fields to Formulas: Part I

From Fields to Formulas: Part I

I am Andrew Coco, a Sustainable Development Intern with SOIL this summer.  I studied Environmental Studies concentrating in Sustainability at the University of Vermont and have been friends with SOIL for the past four years.  My official title is Konsiltan Agrikilti (Agricultural Consultant) and I am assisting SOIL with map-making, compost application history, laboratory work, and photography.  My work so far has been exciting, and there has never been a shortage of ways to get involved! Last week I got to join the SOIL team at our...

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EcoSan Combats Climate Change

EcoSan Combats Climate Change

What is SOIL’s ecological footprint? We know that turning wastes into compost adds much-needed topsoil to Haiti’s eroding hillsides, and that it keeps the nutrients (not to mention the pathogens) from poop out of fresh water, but does it have ecological benefits in terms of reducing climate change? Dr. Rebecca Ryals, who is a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University, came to Haiti to help us answer those questions. Rebecca sought to partner with SOIL because she is drawn to the intersection between science, public health, and...

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Beautiful Things

Beautiful Things

There’s no escaping the fact that Cité Soleil has a reputation. Poor. Dirty. Violent. Googling the name turns up headlines like “The Most Dangerous Place on Earth” relating stories of horrifying gang violence during the 2004 coup that deposed President Aristide. The residents of Cité Soleil know all too well how they are viewed. “People think 75% of Cité Soleil is full of bad, violent people – that only 25% percent of the people here are good and care about their community,” says Michel Wilgimpson, a...

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Letters to SOIL: From Toilets to Tuition

Letters to SOIL: From Toilets to Tuition

SOIL Letters is a blog series featuring some of the beautiful letters we’ve received over the years in support of the work we’re doing in Haiti. A few months ago, Tim Myers, the Co-Founder of the Haiti School Project, reached out to SOIL for help. Tim and HSP work with Foyer Divin School, which, like many schools in Haiti, lacks safe toilets for its students. Foyer Divin and HSP are working on a plan for constructing toilets to address this sanitation issue, and the Parent Committee (which makes many important decisions for...

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The Cover Story

The Cover Story

A few weeks ago, I wrote about SOIL’s progress in developing a working model for a sustainable sanitation business in Haiti. As I mentioned, we’ve had some really exciting successes, but also some serious challenges – like our cover material. If you’ve ever used a composting toilet, you know the importance of good cover material.  For the uninitiated, cover material is basically the “flush” that keeps the toilet from getting gross; covering the waste with some kind of dry material prevents it from smelling...

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