HOW IT STARTED
In Quechuan, the most widely spoken indigenous language across the Americas, WASI means “how we belong to Place in the true sense of the word: HOME.” In March 2011, Janell Kapoor, Nena Alava and Paulina Avila dreamed up a women’s alliance of natural builders, in that moment thinking it would be based across the Americas. Shortly after, it became clear that this was to become a global alliance, but in that moment, they came up with: Women of the Americas Sustainability Initiative. As acronyms go, this spelled: WASI, which, in their native tongues of English, Portuguese and Spanish, had no meaning. The name took, but there was still this conundrum that WASI was destined to be global, not just across the Americas. Fortunately, six months later, Janell met a Peruvian medicine man. He listened to the vision of WASI, and then asked: “You know what WASI means, don’t you?” No, was the answer. He smiled and shared the true meaning of this word they chose. And so, some things are meant to be.
WHAT IS WASI?
We, at Kleiwerks International, understand that through the ages, women have played a lead role in connecting humanity to Home and to Place. Here is our version for the times we’re in:
Mission: WASI is an action-oriented alliance of women leaders who construct, educate, organize, and advocate for strong and empowered communities through ecological design-build practices, with the aim of creating a socially and ecologically resilient world.
Vision: We envision women leading the building of thriving communities that include healthy shelter, food, water and environments that are harmonious with the natural world and local cultures.
Goals: To inspire peer-based local, regional and global alliances of women who:
1) lead ecological design-build projects that affirm, revive and refine indigenous building practices,
2) generate local participation that builds thriving, empowered communities, and
3) create healthy, long-lasting and integrated environments that support the well-being of all.
WASI is in its formative phase. In 2012, the first WASI Apprenticeship and two workshops happened and were a great success. For 2013, Kleiwerks International is:
• Hosting several apprenticeships and workshops will be hosted with partner organizations.
• Building a core support team of Global Peers and staff to support this initiative further.
• Conversations will take place with women natural builders to see how WASI can serve best.
IN THE LONG RUN
WASI will grow into becoming an alliance that highlights and supports women natural builders around the world. We envision:
• An annual convergence for women practitioners, supporters and enthusiasts to gather, share best practices, stories, next steps and hands-on projects,
• Continued apprenticeships and workshops for new leaders,
• An association of women practitioners and professionals, and
• Multimedia storytelling that highlights this work.
If you are interested in being part of WASI, please explore the following pages:
Participate in a WASI Apprenticeship or workshop.
Fundraise to support the WASI scholarship fund.
Support the growth of WASI as a Global Peer.
For more information contact WASI@kleiwerks.org.