Success with Mongolian greenhouse

The Mongolian greenhouse project was presented in a recent Daily Progress article from Nov. 30. We had the privilege of being a part of this project from its inception, beginning in the summer of 2010 when M-CAM imagined the concept while researching and meeting with Mongolian herders, business leaders and government officials.
The greenhouse structure created by the team, while incomplete, is an incredible achievement. Within nine months, the group from the Charlottesville area, combined with a team of Mongolian scientists, brought an interesting idea to an on-the-ground demonstration in a remote area of Mongolia.
Throughout the project, the Mongolian people exhibited their rich traditions, integrity, creativity and conviction. We experienced that in many ways from meetings with government officials to on-the-ground interactions with local herders. They were professional, respectful, curious, supportive and smart.
The effort to repurpose materials in an area with limited access to electricity and fuel was indeed difficult. The project tested everyone’s ability to be resourceful and productive for long hours. However, the resulting structure offers many significant design innovations. For example, the team imported a kiln from the U.S. to demonstrate how window panels can be created using locally sourced bottle glass. The successful demonstration of this technology was a major accomplishment. Team members also created an innovative and beautiful technique for constructing bottle walls using repurposed materials including old wooden fencing and coal ash. A member of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and a member of the Mongolian Innovation Commons Partners (M-ICP) used locally sourced scrap steel and a welder to build the roof supports. While we were on-site, engineers, builders and everyday Mongolians commented on, disapproved of and praised the work. The relationships built throughout the engagement have opened doors for further collaborative opportunities.
In a project like this, it is easy to criticize and focus on what didn’t work. If we choose to see scarcity and waste, we walk by all the learning that happens. Seeing barriers to success is easy. When we invert those barriers, we reveal the opportunities to innovate and make art that can change the way we engage with the environment around us.

Bill Hess
Ken Dabkowski
Greg Smith
Charlottesville

Source:The Daily Progress
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