March 2nd, Port Au Prince

Today I’m feeling much better.  Evidently I picked up an upper respiratory bug on an airplane.  By the time I got to Haiti Communitere compound I was sick.  Yesterday I spent almost all day in bed.  I got up this morning though with a little left over ickiness but for the most part, my usual full of it self.  It was good to see those who remember me from last year to duck their heads and grin as the new guy gave the almost new guys and gals heck.

There are some upgrades here at the compound that make life much better than it was before.  Probably at the top of the list is running shower.  It is crude but it works in that water runs out of a faucet.  We don’t have to use the buckets and dippers.  The water isn’t heated but with days like today, expected high of 95 degrees, a cool shower is as good as it can get.

The other important thing is the meals, they are much better.  Yesterday for supper we had rice, beans, and some unknown stuff that tasted good enough to make me forget I was eating rice and beans.   Lunch was a spring salad kind of thing with a piece of beef about the size of a prune.  Breakfast yesterday was hard boiled eggs along with fruits.  I like eggs.  This morning it was fruits, mango, avocado, bananas, water melon, and bread and butter.  I had bread and butter with avocado and watermelon on the side.

The kids are different but the same.  Their commitment to making a difference is humbling.   So many come to Haiti for the photo ops to take back home and be somebody they aren’t.  None of these kids here are like that.  They are my heroes.



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My Reply to Notre Dame’s Shelters for All Contest rejection

 SheltersForAll Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Add star

harvey lacey 


Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 2:42 PM
To: SheltersForAll <>
It might interest you to know that Ubuntu-blox passed an earthquake
simulation of 8.3 Monday.  It also withstood a test of 90 mph winds
with a rainfall amount of 4 inches per hour for 30 minutes with no

These tests weren’t performed by an academic center.  National
Technical Systems in Plano Texas is a test lab for government and

I’ll bet the donut against the hole that your winners cannot compete
with Ubuntu-blox for creating shelters, jobs, and secure housing in
the real world.

It is a shame that in the box thinkers never get it.

I expected rejection from academia.  It’s the nature of the beast.

Harvey Lacey

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Shelters for All Contest rejected Ubuntu-blox

On 3/1/12, SheltersForAll <> wrote:
> Dear Participant,
> We regret to inform you that your submission did not comply with the
> Competition requirements.
> We asked that each submission includes *all *of the following:

> – One page written summary of your design concept (Letter-size or A4, 12
> pt, Times Roman Font, 1 inch margins, single-spaced).
> – One page justification for the estimated construction time
> – One page justification of the estimated cost
> – Up to 5 additional pages of schematics, blueprints, renderings or images
> of the design. Dimensions should be provided.
> – Projects must be in English.
> Because your submission did not include the one page written summary of the
> estimated construction time, it will not be considered for one of the
> prizes.
> If you think there has been a misunderstanding, please email us immediately
> at
> Thank you for your interest in the Shelters For All Competition.
> Sincerely,
> The Shelters For All Team

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Soar like an Eagle, flop like a fish

That was my reply when asked what would happen with the Ubuntu-blox house in the tests at  We would either do well or we would find out what we had done wrong.  I will let you make up your own mind.

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March 1st, and so much to do

Probably the most noticeable thing this time of morning here at the Haiti Communitere compound is the lack of battling boom boxes.  As I recall Thursdays were before daylight religious PA systems were doing their best to wake up the alive and dead.  It is silent.

They let me know last night that grid power was just about a constant now.  It wasn’t like it was last year when grid was intermittent at best.  Then just after dark the grid failed.  I was blamed of course.  Oldest person on base times two always gets the blame.

The flight from DFW to Ft Lauderdale was only about two thirds full at most.  The flight from Ft Lauderdale to Port Au Prince only had 44 passengers.  Then we had ten minute delay on the tarmac after one of the passengers didn’t show up so they pulled their luggage.  I like that idea.  I wouldn’t want them missing their flight and their luggage making it, especially if the luggage wasn’t the nice kind.

The gauntlet at the airport had a new twist.  Last year you were attacked at the doorway out of the terminal by willing hands with your luggage.  Then when you arrived a hundred yards later at the parking lot ten dollars was the fee for grabbing your bags before you could react.  This year when I got out of customs there were my bags and two willing young men in uniforms waiting for me.  We got to the parking lot and there was some drama when both of them wanted ten bucks each.  Haiti Communitere representatives paid local rates and not the inflated old man with his arm in a sling rate.

The compound has many changes but the key ingredients are the same.  They now have a small icebox/refrigerator, whoopee!  Even if I don’t use it I like the idea of it being there.  But the most important thing is the people.  They are still the young who are striving to make a difference in our world.  Just being around them is inspiring.

I got my old room.  They’ve changed it, two beds instead of one, bright blue paint, and a custom made desk.

Rox and Tim are the ones in charge of the Ubuntu program here.  The other day when I talked to them they were a little disappointed in the response of the community towards the project.  They had handed out applications in the communities.  The applicants had to commit to four weeks work without pay and present a project they would like to do in the community for the community using what they learned.  About five applications had been returned.  Rox and Tim kept extending the deadline for returning the applications.

Yesterday they had a total of 34 and tomorrow we will have a meeting cutting down the finalists to twenty or so.  The original funding, UN, backed out and two other entities stepped up to the plate.  We are still $3,000.00 short of the original budget and that is basically the wages for the women while learning Ubuntu construction.

This is going to be a ton of fun.  The obstacles are many but the rewards if we succeed are huge.  The original objections to Ubuntu-blox involved survivability in an earthquake or hurricane.   Those objections were put to rest with the tests performed by National Testing Systems.  So now the objections involve the ability of Haitians to do the work and if they will embrace it.  I have faith in the Haitians when it comes to work that is important.  I also believe they will love the Ubuntu-blox house.

If you are interested, the temps will be in the high eighties today I believe.  That’s what they were yesterday here.  Toasty.

If you see my wife today give her a big hug for me.  I complained like crazy about her packing like I was going off to the hereafter.  But it sure was nice this morning to have all the comforts of home neatly placed in some of the darnedest of places.  It was like Christmas instead of first day of March.

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I will be in Haiti 2/29 thru 4/3

I will try to keep a daily blog with pictures etc.  This is going to be fun.

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Evidence of progress in recycling plastic bottles

The man in the picture is collecting plastic bottles embedded in a layer of foam and film plastic trash floating on an open sewer.  Look at his feet and you will see foam pads that work like snowshoes to help him not sink through.

Every step he took caused waves.  It was disconcerting to watch him move and know that if he fell through he might drown in a sewer.

This picture was taken August 16th 2011 in Port Au Prince Haiti.  Officially the city wide recycling of plastic bottles wasn’t in operation.  But there were rumors of it coming and bottles could be redeemed at Haiti Recycling in PAP.  They are worth approximately five cents per pound.

What makes me see this photo as progress is the man wouldn’t have been out on an open sewer mining for plastic bottles if they were readily available on the streets or in less hazardous locations.

The rest of that plastic trash consists of foam and film plastics.  They have no value so they are thrown away and eventually end up in waterways such as this.  This location is less than a kilometer from the ocean.  The next storm this went into the ocean to poison creatures large and small for hundreds of years to come.

The next two photos were taken up stream from where the man is collecting plastic bottles.


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Back from Haiti and we have a PR person!!! Cathy Caplener

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We are in Haiti as Aug 11th

You can follow our adventures on facebook  “ubuntu-blox (project)”

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D Magazine Story

If you are here because of the D Magazine story by Zac Crain you can ignore this If you want to read the D Magazine story by Zac Crain you can click on this

In the story Zac mentions the Stone and Steel Staircase He also talks about the DNA Fence concept for A&M Urban Solutions center in Dallas

If you like those you might like Stone of Steel and Cedar Log Pergola One of my personal favorites involves a rockstar

Many years ago I lost a good friend named Leo Frisk.  In his last years he created a website from postings I had made on various internet sites on making things my way.

When Leo died the way to add to or modify the original went with him.  When I hear someone say that the internet is a horrible place to find friends I think of Leo.  He was a great friend and a wonderful human being.

Ubuntu-Blox is on facebook  We also have a twitter account, grandsons do that.

If you have some time on your hands and you like to see how the cabbage is prepared for cooking you might enjoy The Pond If there is interest I have the finished photos I can post.

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