Summer activities in Palomas enthuse Border Partners intern

by Catie Carter

Catie Carter and water filter project

Catie Carter [right], Border Partners summer intern in sustainable technology, displays the important new water filter that Juan Carlos, the high school Chemistry teacher and Joel, the high school Physics teacher,are introducing into the Puerto Palomas community. This water filter will remove toxins of arsenic and fluorides.

Hola! I am Catie Carter, a PhD student in Sustainable Design at the University of  Texas, Austin. I’m volunteering and studying activities here in Puerto Palomas this summer.

I arrived last week and have already met so many lovely people working towards positive change in Palomas. The picture above shows me with Juan Carlos, the high school Chemistry teacher, and Joel, the high school Physics teacher, who are creating a simple and important water filter to distribute through the town, starting with the schools.

This water filter is specifically designed to pull toxic arsenic and fluorides from the water. Right now, the two men are working on a prototype and conducting quality testing. They were excited to show me their work one afternoon.

This project is one of many initiatives that Border Partners supports and that community members and leaders carry out. In my first week here I’ve met many others committed to improving their community:

  • the education center’s neighbor Sam, who now runs a papercrete business;
  • the friendly and fun group of promotoras who promote health, good nutrition and exercise and run the summer school;
  • the enterprising group of women who craft oilcloth bags and aprons for Palomas Oilcloth Designs;
  • the gardeners, working in both a demonstration garden at the center and helping to make home gardening the norm …and even more!

In coming weeks of July, I’ll learn more about the new bio-char projects, solar oven operation, the papercrete manufacturing, solar hot water heaters and other initiatives.

The community has been so welcoming. I’m inspired by everyone’s energy, commitment, and the friendships they have formed.

In the coming years I hope to write a meaningful and helpful dissertation about sustainable design in the Borderlands. My experiences here with Border Partners and the Palomas community will be invaluable in my investigation on change in “the built environment,” the human-made space in which people live, work, and recreate daily.

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