Abrazo House is an educational project located in the Aras Valley, Voto. Cantabria, northern Spain. Since 2006, hundreds of volunteers from all over the world have come here to get
their hands dirty and to learn about ecology, natural building and sustainable living.
Behind the Abrazo House project is a philosophy. We like to call it ecological design, though it has had many other names and been practiced by many other people (famous or
anonymous) since time immemorial. We would define it as the art and science of working with nature. Some of its main elements could be summarised as follows:
- Keep it simple. The simplest solution is usually the best. We don’t like to rely on complex designs and machinery.
- Money is not wealth. True wealth lies in health, happiness, good relationships, life’s diversity, and meaningful activity, not in money. It is true that you do need some money in order to
live — but a lot less than you might think.
- Slow and steady. It’s better to go slowly in the right direction than quickly in the wrong direction.
- Work with what you’ve got. There’s no point in trying to be pure in an impure world.
The Education Centre is about learning in nature focusing in build-ing with natural materials and growing a food forest.
It started in 2006 with Building our grand design. Starting small and slow with Snail Cabin. It is a small house designed as a tem-porary home for a couple with two small children, and
for subse-quent use as a guest cabin. It has stone foundations, a load-bearing cob wall, and a reciprocal frame roof of green oak. It was built in 2006-7 with mainly volunteer labour, at
a cost of around €6000 in materials. Building Snail Cabin was an intensive learn-ing experience which allowed us to make mistakes on a small scale before starting to build the main
house. We learned that it was possible for inexperienced builders (like us) to build our own house for very little money and have fun into the
The next building, the main house- Abrazo House: a crescent shape floor that creates a sheltered patio to the south and gives the building its name — Abrazo (“embrace” in Spanish)
House. The load-bearing main wall is built of solid earth (cob) on the first floor and on the second, straw bales with thick earthen plaster in-side and out. Most of the wood in the house
is recycled, including the main beams which came from a 100-year-old demolished build-ing. The house uses passive solar design, with large areas of south-facing double-glazed
windows; our hot water comes from the solar panels, too. In the winter a wood stove is enough to warm up both the house and the hot water.
The Play House.Small is beautiful. While building the main house we often felt under great pressure from such a giant building pro-ject. One remedy for this was to do a small, quick
and easy build-ing project. For a long time we had thought of building a play-house to gain extra space, and one day we realised we had most of the necessary building materials left
over from the main house. With help from friends, we built the structure in two days (one for the foundations and another for the walls and roof) at a minimal cost. Later we used the
building as a test-bed for techniques to apply in the main house, in particular the interior (gypsum) and exterior (lime) plasters. The roof is made of recycled shuttering boards, using an
octagonal design inspired by the roofs of the Navajo Indian hogans (you could call this style “post-industrial Navajo”.). The tiny (10 m2) house has been used as guest accommodation,
for meditation, storytelling… and for playing, of course!. The Roundhouse, a space for meditation:In May 2018, we started a new project: a small roundhouse, designed as a small, lowcost
(around €30 per m2), low-impact, relatively easy building to demonstrate the techniques we’ve been developing over the years. It has a roundwood reciprocal frame structure,
green roof with central skylight, and straw bale-cob walls. After approximate-ly eight weeks’ work, we inaugurated the still unfinished round-house as a meditation space in October
2018, but construction still continues with layers of cob, gypsum and lime plaster, and a wooden floor.
The Surefoot Effect equips people, groups, and organisations in the UK and Europe with skills for sustainability and resilience. Our approach is values-based and transformational.
The Surefoot Effect provides (i) space to think; (ii) time to explore motives and feelings regarding more sustainable lifestyles, and (iii) leadership that inspires action. It is this process that allows people to create their own paths towards positive, long-lasting change. We encourage people to explore their emotions, motivations and behaviours and to make positive changes for themselves and their communities. In turn, they are able to create and share their own path forward. Not surprisingly, this simple human ripple effect ensures each wave adds to the momentum. Each new step forward leads to significant and long-lasting change. We work with individuals, community groups, public bodies and corporate organisations.
We run facilitation, co-coaching, and project management training; provide workshops for groups in resilience skills, which includes mindfulness practice; work with individuals on a coaching or mentoring basis; run group strategy development, team building, Climate Conversations and Shifting Normal workshops. We incorporate the resources and knowledge of ‘Common Cause’ and ‘Compassionate Communication’ into our work. The infrastructure and technology necessary for an energy transition matter, but the whole-hearted commitment of people is the essential ingredient for change.
Surefoot has also led group work in the area of ‘climate justice’ which looks at how vulnerable people suffer the effects of climate change the most http://www.surefooteffect.com/programmes/climate-action/climate-justice/
The Surefoot Effect is also the leading organisation of the Erasmus+ project in Adult Education “Breakthrough for Resilience: People, Places and Communities”. The project aims at making connections between people, place and community and creating resilience amongst them. The project will work with stories of resilience in 3 aspects: people, place and community.
The project seeks to find resilience approaches or tools in each of these three areas, catalogue them and explore how each model, method, resource, technique or organisation can be used to promote resilience in the other two aspects. For example, the principles of nature conservancy can be applied to fostering resilience in people and in communities too.
The Surefoot Effect is a partner in the project “Once Upon YOUR Time”. The project will use storytelling techniques to increase resilience in children and teachers in schools in four countries: Iceland, Slovenia, the UK and Spain.
Innovation Frontiers IKE is an innovative educational technology & research company that specializes in creating educational, engaging, and entertaining learning experiences that incorporate innovation, creativity, and gamification to enhance flow for learners. Our company offers a wide spectrum of solutions, including interactive custom eLearning, Serious Games, Open Educational Resources, Training Simulations, Educational Animations and Mobile Learning. We combine game design, game technology, instructional design and psychology to master the art of crafting learning games, simulations and training. All developments are tailored precisely to our clients’ individual needs. What is more the company integrates the implications of educational neuroscience in classroom so as to improve the efficiency of learning and teaching.
As an innovative eLearning production company, we bring the transformative force of Artificial Intelligence to eLearning development and implementation. Virtually anyone in your company or organization can benefit from AI-powered eLearning. AI is capable to improve the learning process resulting in higher knowledge transfer, decreased costs, greater transparency of the eLearning outcomes, data-informed program implementation, and, last but not least, the capability to provide deeply engaging personal learning experiences for the learners at all levels of your organization.
To us, learning is never a one-size-fits-all approach, and therefore, any learning solution we produce is tailored to each organization’s goals and needs. Our clients often know what their learners need to know, but they may not know the best way to get there.
Moreover, Innovation Frontiers IKE develops, implements and coordinates european educational projects related to virtual and augmented reality; robotics; online school tutoring; production of digital educational resources; development of multiplatform educational games; management and optimization of educational platforms; education for the media and integration of ICT in classrooms to enhance the learning process.
Žinių kodas (Knowledge Code) is a non-profit institution with the mission to create an educated society and knowledge that would help reducing social exclusion and enable people to actively participate in the labour market.
Organisation runs the “Training Center PRO” (www.mokymaiPRO.lt) which provides courses and seminars in different fields, professional, vocational and adult education trainings in major cities of Lithuania. Modern e-learning tools allow us to reach learners all over country and beyond.
Our organisation supports volunteering and internships as a way to gain valuable experience to further career opportunities.
Besides this, the career portal “Karjera” (www.karjera.eu) was established in order to ensure information related with career would be available for people in one place.
Knowledge Code implemented Leonardo da Vinci Partnership project “C.A.S.E.S. WORK – Collaborative And Social Enterprises as a new model of economic activity and work opportunity” touching on topics such as alternative energy, alternative modes of production production, and the rural economy.
In addition, the organisation also implemented the Grundtvig Learning Partnership project “Feeling younger by getting older” where intergenerational communication was promoted.
During this project, Knowledge Code will continue the ecological mission launched by the Erasmus + project “A Tale of Two Futures” – the organisation will seek to spread the message about ecological sustainability and ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle while conserving natural resources.