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03 June 2010

Building a Sustainable Future With Straw and Wood

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Pescomaggiore village, destroyed by the earthquake that hit the mountain region of L’Aquila in central Italy on Apr. 6, 2009, is now being rebuilt by its 40-odd inhabitants with straw and wood

"We wanted to rebuild a sustainable Pescomaggiore,’’ explained Antonio Cacio from MISA, the association coordinating volunteers and locals engaged in the project .

The houses have a simple wooden structure and straw padding but the roofs are clad with solar panels and there is a system to collect rainwater.

Called EVA, an acronym for Do it Yourself (DIY) eco-village, the project features seven houses are built on a section of land a short distance from the original village, now abandoned. The land for the project was donated by a former resident now working abroad.

EVA participated in Terra Futura (Earth of the Future), an exhibition of good practices on sustainability held annually in Florence, 300 km north of Rome.

This year’s edition, held May 28-30, featured a series of events dedicated to the Internet and social change and EVA is partially financed through online donations.

The project, with a total cost of 180,000 euro (221,000 US dollars), did not receive any governmental support. The government even refused to waive taxes. Donations of 107,000 euro (131,000 dollars) have been collected so far.

"Thirty-thousand euro (37,000 dollars) were collected through the project website," said Paolo Faustini from Smarketing, a consultancy firm which volunteered to design the website. "Thanks to the website and FaceBook, we can ensure financial transparency, and allow donors to follow the development of the project." "A volunteer who discovered EVA online put us in touch with an association which built all the wooden roofs in three weeks, free of charge. Alone she raised 26 percent of the total donations," Faustini told IPS.

Since July 2009, about 150 volunteers have been working on the building site. They have come from Italy, Austria, Poland and Spain. Many donations in kind were made. The website listed the type and quantity of building material needed.


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