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Field Trip to TreePeople’s Yurt Village

Yesterday we took a Little Ripples field trip to TreePeople’s Yurt Village to check out their yurt structures as a possibility for future Little Ripples classrooms.  TreePeople is a pretty awesome environmental nonprofit that is a leader in providing sustainable solutions to urban ecosystem problems in Los Angeles.  Torin Dunnavant and Jim Hardie graciously gave us a tour and overview of the Yurt Village.

Here’s a quick and dirty breakdown of some of what we learned and how they would relate to our Little Ripples schools:

  • In terms of size and feel of the yurt – it’s pretty amazing!! The circular shape of the classrooms would go directly in line with the principles of social and group learning and equality.  Chalk boards, artwork, etc would be able to be hung from the lattice structures on the interior of the yurts.  Just standing in the yurt structures it was pretty cool to imagine how a Little Ripples classroom could be laid out in one.
  • TreePeople staff and volunteers put up 7 yurt structures in 2 days and it was described as a relatively simple and quick task.  It’s highly doubtful that anyone in Chad has built or even seen a yurt before, but if we got the same construction contractor that built the pilot site I think we could get those yurts up with a quickness!
  • The TreePeople yurts went up in 2002 and have stayed in pretty good condition for over 10 years (minimal repairs needed).  Despite the simplistic design and construction, these are pretty durable, sturdy structures.
  • Torin and Jim mentioned that climate control can be an issue – getting extremely cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  Each of the TreePeople yurts that we saw had a fan at the top and air conditioning units.  We would probably want to think about having extra windows in the Little Ripples classrooms for more ventilation.
  • There were no leak/drainage issues during rainy weather in Los Angeles for the TreePeople yurts.  However, since the rainy season in Eastern Chad is considerably heavier, we may want to install rain gutters for the yurts to prevent excessive flooding around the classrooms.

Torin and Jim also talked with us about how TreePeople uses cisterns and water treatment strategies on their own grounds, showing how sustainable water solutions are completely possible right in the heart of LA (we wondered if this might be applicable in Eastern Chad…).  Hearing about TreePeople’s organization and work was really inspiring – you could tell that Torin and Jim were truly passionate about the organization’s mission and sharing that with the community.

Questions/comments/thoughts about yurts for Little Ripples?  Feel free to share below or email me directly at jennifer@iactivism.org.

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Jennifer became passionate about international development and humanitarian work when studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, and leading youth performing arts workshops in one of the surrounding townships. After graduating from UCLA with a Masters in Public Health in Community Health Sciences, she taught adolescent reproductive health to high school students in South and East Los Angeles. She has also worked as a Research Associate at the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society, where she was able to foster an understanding of the community engagement and community resilience approaches, and hopes to incorporate these strategies in her work with Little Ripples. jennifer@iactivism.org


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