"promoting living simply and sustainably"
- a not-for-profit, volunteer organization -


PLANs and projects
(last update: November 25, 2016)

Jim and Mindy Phypers, Directors of "SolarHaven 2", live in a small village of 600 people in the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico. SolarHaven2 is based on the same ideals as the original Solar Haven in Arizona -- that is, living simply and sustainably and helping others to do the same. Living as they do now in a village where many are poor, emphasis is being put on projects that will both demonstate what sustainability means in practice such as building with natural materials but help some of the less fortunate at the same time.


We are currently working on introduing simple "rocket stoves" to the locals that they can easily build themselves and will save much energy and time. After a summer of making four prototypes, we now have a stove that really works well and is very inexpensive to make. Right now everyone cooks with wood in a very inefficient manner. Many hours a week is spent scrounging for it. Housewives scour the hills locally while the men go far out into the countryside with their burros (or mules) to cut wood and haul it home.

The wood is burned in an open elevated firebox with bricks at the side to support a grill and cooking pots. Most of the heat goes out, not up, and wastes much firewood.

A rocket stove is a simple device to direct the heat of a fire directly to the cooking pots
and burn the wood more completely with less smoke and ashes.

Far less wood is required which of course translates into more family time and energy available for other things than collecting firewood, not to mention less denuding of the forest cover. We must mention that deforestation was one of the main reasons for the collapse of the Mayan civilization as well as that of the Anasazi people and the Easter Islanders. (see: "Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed" by Jared Diamond, 2005)

For a more detailed description of our Rocket Stove project as well to keep up date on our progress, click on http://rocketstove.solarhaven.org




We wish to build a new earthbag house for one of the poorest residents in our village who still lives in a shack make of bamboo sticks and blankets hung over the window and door openings. At the same time building an earthbag house will serve to deomonstrate to our village a cheaper and more sustainable way to build than using concrete blocks and rebar.

Please see a complete description of this project at:


We wish to introduce the concept of "renewable energy" to our village by installing a solar electric system similar to the one we installed at the first SolarHaven in Arizona.

Grid-power is available most places in Mexico now, but it is often hard for the locals to pay their bills, resulting in getting their power turned off. From our point of view, generating electricity in the traditional ways (coal, hydro, and nuclear) is a very environmentally unfriendly thing to be doing. The traditional ways are just not sustainable and continue to consume resources that are becoming scarce and therefore very expensive now. Burning fossil fuels contribute significantly to global warming.

The times we have carried one of our solar panels out into the sun on our patio when some neighbors were visiting and connected it to a DC car fan were memorable ones. Our neighbor's jaws dropped and their eyes got big as saucers when we wired the panel and fan together and the fan blades started wizzing. Dead silence followed which of course we filled with an explantion of this "magic". Milagrgo (miracle) was the most frequent word used to describe what they saw.

We don't wish to "modernize" our community per see (far from it) but to demonstrate some alternative ways to conserve energy and protect their environment, not to mention that of the whole earth. This can only happen in small steps everywhere, however, ones that we hope we can help the folks in our village to begin to take.

"writing and photography"

We have taken approximately 13,000 photographs and videos in Mexico and have recently completed a new book called "Living Simply is Beautiful - Life in a Small Village in Rural Mexico". It is a photo essay with 500 of our best color photographs (200 pages, 27 chapters). We are currently exploring sources for funding the printing of this book.


- To see many photogrphs of what life is like in our village, click HERE.

- We have also made 21 videos of what life is like here and put them up on our channel on YouTube
(look for the separate playlist called "Life in a small village")



 Long before Jim and Mindy married 34 years ago, they both loved animals and wild places, exploring and hiking. Through out their marriage they dreamed of living simply and self-sufficiently and as close to the natural world as possible. Out on four remote acres in the desert of Arizona and then in the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico they got their chance and have dedicated themselves to living sustainably and trying to guide others to do the same.

At their first SolarHaven project in Arizona, they built their own straw bale house and lived off the grid with solar and wind power. Their house was heated with solar hot water circulating in the floors, and they collected rain water from the roofs of their house and big greenhouse. They ran weekend workshops in natural building techniques and renewable energy systems, had a two year live-in internship program, and were featured for four years on the "National Solar Home Tour". While health considerations dictated a move to the more temperate climate of Southern Mexico, we have continued our work with SolarHaven2.



 Rodrigo presently lives in Portland, Oregon but until recently lived in Veracruz, Mexico for 19 years and ran a free medical clinic in another small mountain town in our area. While he needs to remain in the U.S. now for medical reasons, his heart is still in Mexico. He is like a brother to Jim and is 1000% behind the goals for SolarHaven2. He is an absolutely invaluable resource for everything about the Latino culture and to help us determine the best ways to approach our neighbors with our admittedly non-traditional ideas.

- write us -

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© 2016 by Jim and Mindy Phypers - SolarHaven2, Veracruz, Mexico