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Take a green gap year with POOSH!

Do something different on your gap year—POOSH.

ThePOOSH.org is a site dedicated to making sustainable building projects happen all over the world, linking volunteers (POOSHers) and project hosts who can communicate via a free website membership. Co-founder Michael Beck tells us all about it.

What is POOSH?

The gap year is a wonderful time in the lives of students all over the globe. It’s a time for adventure, exploration, developing new skills, growing as a person. It’s a break from the stressful and hectic weeks that a full-time student inevitably encounters, a time to get off the beaten path and do something meaningful. Many students choose to travel, but an ideal gap year combines travel with the acquisition of new skills and experiences, as well as the ability to say when you’re done: “I made and can make a difference in this world!”

The recently founded not-for-profit organisation, thePOOSH.org, is the perfect gap year option: an economic and alternative way to travel while learning how to build sustainable structures! An acronym for People’s Organisation On Sustainable Housing (POOSH), the free-to-use website allows people to list their sustainable building projects all over the globe, making it easy for students on a gap year (and anyone else interested) to contact them and lend a hand in the building process. Imagine learning how to build your own home during your gap year!

Where can I POOSH?

A mere six weeks after launch, thePOOSH.org has around 20 sustainable build projects all over the world to volunteer at, with more showing up every week. At most build projects, food and accommodation are provided by the hosts; all you have to do is contact a build project through our internal email system, arrange a date to arrive, and rock on up!

Speaking of rock, one of the more adventurous projects is the maintenance of a rock climber's shelter in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria. The main shelter was built years ago. Currently, the young host, Radoslav Radev, is building mud and stone fireplaces as well as carrying out some interior maintenance. Profile creation on thePOOSH.org allows for detail in lifestyle description. A large part of Rodoslav's life revolves around outdoor activities, so expect a good amount of hiking, climbing, biking and slack-lining!

Gustavo Cabello is the host of an Earthship (a house made out of used car tires) build in Valparaiso, Chile. Unlike an individual host, Gustav is part of the not-for-profit organisation Earthship Chile. Seldom do opportunities as good as this one come about; you can volunteer with Earthship Chile, slap it on your C.V. and learn incredible skills with amazing people who feed you good food! Hot damn! Or, as they say in Chile, “Que calor!”

If you thought the previous segue was slick, dig this. Speaking of “calor,” Ben Ward is currently constructing a cob oven in Gloucerstershire, UK in a large extended garden near his family home. The location is surrounded by beautiful forest and is, in Ben's own words, a short walk from “one of the best pubs in Britain!” Does it get any better than pizza fired in an oven built from natural materials, then washed down with a brew from the local pub!? Emma Liao is host of the first ever sustainable build project hosted by thePOOSH.org in Asia. She is doing what she calls 'permaculture construction,' integrating rainwater collection and a grey-water reuse system into her wilderness kitchen in Taiwan. Sean Jordan is host of a cob bathhouse build in Silverton, Oregon, USA at a wonderful piece of land called Camp Alamo. Scott Gerrard has begun construction of a stone tower in Australia that will provide water pressure without electricity.


The sustainable building movement is in full swing and thePOOSH.org is providing you with the opportunity to jump on board! The question left is: “Where do you want to go and what do you want to learn?” These build projects all share one thing in common: they are making this planet a more sustainable place to call home. Using less electricity and industrial products in both the construction and living phases, sustainable houses make considerably less of an impact on this planet than their conventionally-built counterparts. These are the building techniques for the future, and now is an exciting time to get involved! In learning these techniques, an ideal balance between getting active, gaining new experiences and learning new skills is struck. However, volunteering with thePOOSH.org doesn’t all have to be about saving the planet. It goes further than that: it demonstrates to employers that you have initiative, self-motivation, practical and problem solving skills, as well as effective communication.

This is your opportunity to become the envy of your friends and family. ThePOOSH.org provides a platform for adventurous, curious people to travel economically while learning practical skills in sustainable building. But it is also much more than that. While some students choose to spend their entire gap year dealing with hangovers on the beach, you can be out there building a more sustainable world with your own two hands. This world needs some changing, and if you can do this and still slack-line with Radoslav in the evening, why not? This is the type of balance life deserves. Sustainable building is not only crucial to our environment, but also really fun!

Through building some sustainable structures on your travels, you can learn new languages, educate yourself on different cultures and meet people who just might become lifelong friends! Sam, a POOSHer, who visited Sean in Oregon to help build his cob bathhouse, ended up spending an entire day discussing the implications of permaculture. These are the discussions that need to happen, sometimes proving to be even more important than learning the ability to mix a batch of cob. So get out there and Be Constructive, and Build the Movement -- pick up a hammer, and build a better world. You are the generation that will make this change.

Visit thepoosh.org to get involved.