When general store owner Melchor Villanueva leans on his countertop he can see his whole world under his hands. The counter’s glass surface displays photos of his community: young soccer players, teens in their coming-of-age quince años finest, and bandanna-wearing fishermen. Many descend from survivors of Hurricane Janet, which in 1955 killed a third of the population of Xcalak, a beach town on the Mexico-Belize border, and destroyed the town’s coconut plantations. “It left only sand,” Villanueva recalls. Continue reading
IN THE cloud forests of the Sierra de Juárez mountains in southern Mexico, a new kind of tree is springing up: the mobile telephone mast. Unlike most phone masts in the world these are installed, owned and operated by small, mostly indigenous communities. Providing a mobile service in these villages was not profitable enough for big telecoms companies to bother with, unless the locals stumped up $50,000. But improvements in software and the falling price of hardware has made it possible to build a local mobile-phone base station for around $7,500, which non-profit operators and small communities can muster. Continue reading
The sound of a mobile phone is routine in much of the world. But it’s a recent arrival here in Talea de Castro, a mountain town in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico.
A busy street climbs a hill on the edge of Oaxaca de Juárez, the capital of the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Up one flight of stairs in a fresh-painted white residential building you’ll find the FabLab community fabrication center and Oaxaca’s first locally-produced 3D printer and plastic extruder.
See also my magazine feature on this project for PBS NOVA Next: “Building a New Economy on Soda Bottles and a 3D Printer.”