"Helping the disadvantaged of Veracruz"
- a not-for-profit, volunteer organization -


PLANs and projects

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 have been involved in a project to introduce simple "rocket stoves" that the locals can easily build themselves and will save much energy and time. 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)




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 are slowly introducing 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 and not get 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 coal contributes significantly to global warming and to serious health problems for those who both mine it and use it.

The one time we 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 was a memorable one. 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".

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 take.

"Residential Internship Program"

We have a small internship program for a maximum of two interns at any one time. Interns stay with us for a minimum of one month (longer if possible) and must commit to a regular 40-hour work week. All meals are provided. Our interns live at no cost in a 32' vintage Airstream Land Yacht travel trailer which has been extensively restored and modernized. Interns receive instruction and hands-on experience in natural building techniques and renewable energy systems. We have a large library of reference books on these subjects for them to study. The focus of activities at present is the building of an earthbag dome house. As time permits, we will be installing a solar electric (PV) system.

Interns have the unique experience of living in a small rural village of 600 people. It's simple life style still reflects the traditional ways of "old-Mexico". Use the links above to see the many photographs and videos of what life is like in our village. We expect interns to pitch in to help with the cooking, washing dishes, and washing their own clothes "da la mano" (by hand). Our diet is not vegetarian, but we try to use meat sparingly. Everything we eat is "organic" and grown locally. We are a non-drinking, non-smoking household.

Interns can use one of our two computers to keep in touch with family and friends back home. If they bring their own lap top, the Airstream has connections to our satellite Internet system. There is excellent bus service to everywhere in the state and beyond. A local "shuttle truck" (60 cents) takes people to the next town 3 kilometers away to catch the bus. We encourage interns to explore the area on weekends. Speaking Spanish is highly recommended but not a requirement of our program. Interns must pay their own way to Mexico.

 © 2018 by Jim and Mindy Phypers