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.”
On a steep road on the outskirts of Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico, a low buzz and plastic fumes emanate from a white house. A ribbed white paper tube snakes out of a window on the building, exhaling a light smoke which mixes with fumes from nearby open-air cooks and the sooty exhaust of rumbling, unmuffled bus engines. Inside, the tube is attached to a machine that’s gobbling plastic flakes—which can come from used drink bottles—through a funnel also made from a plastic drink bottle. At the other end of the machine, a spinning wheel draws out the fresh-melted polymer into a black filament just three millimeters wide and value hundreds of times what it was worth in in bottle form. Continue reading