Jaimie Mantzel's Island Community in Panama. Fortress Headquarters

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Build Project Description

OK, first thing. Yes, I'm serious. The build site is a small private island off the coast of Panama. The area is absolutely beautiful. The island itself is mostly surrounded with mangroves with a canal going through them and a 100m wharf running along side the canal. I'm living in a big houseboat in the canal. The end of the canal opens into a private bay that's perfect for swimming and very safe. There are 2 other houses within site if I get on the roof, and a speckling of native Panamanians, and "gringo"s in the area.

Structure of My Build Project

Individual Builder (ie: Personal Home or Structure)

Building Styles Integrated

Rammed Earth
Earthship/used tires
Recycled Materials
Local Materials
Timber Framing
Earthen Floor
For the most part there will be a lot of digging, and mixing concrete. In the past I've found that the most useful people aren't necessarily the strongest, but are the ones who are comfortable working for longer periods of time. ...although once it isn't fun anymore, its time to go for a swim. :-)

Sustainable Systems Integrated

Solar Power
Rain Water Collection
Wind Power
Sustainable Appliances
Composting Toilets
Grey-water re-use system
Food system integration
Indoor plumbing
Passive Solar Hot Water
Rocket Stove
Natural Furniture building
I'm protecting our little lagoon so the fish can get bigger. It seems to be working. :-)
We're way way off the grid. We do have reliable internet and phone signals, but that's the only thing coming from outside. We collect rain, and sun, and just figure out the best ways we can to do everything.

Build Project Facilities

Right now we're living in a house boat. Its big and there's plenty of sleeping space, but with 2 small children we have to be careful who we invite to stay aboard. There are also great spots for camping on the islands. Camp fires are no problem.

Activities near the Build Project

Swimming... LOTS of swimming. On the water, under the water, swims. Boating. I have a solar powered electric boat I made that we use to get most places. I also made a pedal boat that's pretty fast, and a canoe type boat. There's a bar not far, but we don't drink. There are some other people around who have lots of time and are generally happy to socialize with just about anyone. The weather is amazing as are the stars at night. The water is bioluminescent so if you do a cannonball at night it looks like a fiery explosion. If you're up for a boat ride there are surfing areas, tourist beaches/towns/resorts.

What to Expect about Food

We will provide the food
For meals... if I'm providing food I'll probably expect a fair amount of work, but if you supply you own food feel free to hang out, and help with what you like.

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Current Building Status


Type of Build Project

New Structure

Projected Start and End Dates

18 Oct 2015 to 18 Aug 2016

Previous Building Experience

In the past I had an off grid home in Vermont. I had occasional volunteers come help. I found the least helpful were people who had something to prove. The most useful were those chill people who were present in the moment, and enjoyed the process of doing more than the "reward at the finish". Probably the best volunteer I ever had was a 100lb girl who looked like she couldn't lift much. She would calmly start working, and 4 hours later would have moved surprising amount of rocks. ...much better than the big burly guy who was half passed out under a tree eating all the food.

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Type of Volunteer Being Looked for

We're looking for relaxed people who enjoy physical labour as well as mental challenges. By relaxed, I mean not in a constant competition with everyone else around them. We don't have time for that. I do have 2 small children, so being good with kids is pretty much a necessity. I don't expect anyone to take care of them or anything, but their safety and happiness is more important than anyone else being here.

Where you will be Sleeping

Oh, I already answered this, but... on the house boat are not-super private quarters. ...we put up a few curtain walls when people stay, but its a generally open floor plan. Tents on the islands are the other option. When we were renting a house before moving here I used to sleep in a tent on the deck because it was cooler. There are no hurricanes to worry about, and plenty of tree cover to protect from wind. Bugs come out in early morning and evening, but they hate fires, and "skin so soft". For anyone who doesn't know... Avon makes this stuff called "Skin so soft", and its gotta be the best bug repellent in the universe. They made a new version that says its specifically for bugs, but the original is way better.

The Number of POOSHers Desired

2 POOSHers


David Wichmann's picture

You're an inspiration! Are you still looking for help?
MichaelI Marone's picture

Wonderful to look about the build project description and this is very important for the Island community in Panama. I read the evolution writers review for this project and it's clear my mind about the importance of this. Hope you will complete it soon.
cambridge newspaper's picture

Hi there! Cool post! Please inform us when all could see a follow up! by epicfollowers