The Casa Pueblo de Adjuntas organization has not stopped, not even during the pandemic.
And to prove it, today he enthusiastically announces his next community project: the new Plaza Solar de Adjuntas, a feat with which he will also appreciate the support and affection of the people who welcomed him into their arms, four decades ago.
As explained by Arturo Massol Deyá, executive director of Casa Pueblo, the Plaza Solar will operate from this summer with a novel photovoltaic generation system, electrical storage and high-efficiency LED lighting.
“In a country with so many complaints, immobility, depression, where it seems that nothing happens or everything is decomposing, see the construction of Adjuntas Pueblo Solar, its development, step by step, block by block, and now with the Plaza Solar well … Yes, I am extremely happy to see the progress and to know that what is being done has an impact on the community, ”said Massol Deyá.
As he acknowledged, although the proposal points to another fascinating challenge, it is a necessary, logical and viable step in the heart of a community that has already been undergoing an effective transformation towards energy self-sufficiency for three years.
“In Adjuntas you don’t have to convince the people of whether or not renewable energy works. This discussion, which is usually delayed or used to delay change, we already overcome it and we are in full swing, “he stressed.
However, the community leader recognized that it is important that these collective efforts be replicated, as is also the case in the Miramar community in Guayama, where solar panels are being installed in the homes of families with limited economic resources.
“In part, the effort goes there: that it serves as a real reference, not a theoretical or conceptual one. When one sees that others also do the same, it means that what one is building is going in the right direction. Especially when the response is from the communities and not from the government ”, he pointed out.
Center and identity of the town
Regarding the initiative and the place chosen for it, Alexis Massol González, director and founder of Casa Pueblo, stressed that, both for children, young people or adults in Adjuntas, the playground is a center for socialization and collective recreation, the multigenerational space and collective that marks the center and the identity of the town.
“In 1981, our first activity was to save the stone from the indigenous sun of Adjuntas and place it in the plaza. There we celebrate the community victory against mining on the centennial of the Puerto Rican flag (1995). We also defended it in 2004, together with the community, from a ‘reconstruction’ proposal that would have destroyed its historical elements and its emblematic trees. Now, we return to shine the sun on it ”, he said.
The solar installation, both added, will be done entirely with community resources and has the endorsement of the recently sworn mayor, José Hiram Soto, as well as the Adjuntas Community Solar Energy Association (ACESA) and other local groups. The intervention will also use the existing structures to establish the new electricity and lighting network, without the need to change the aesthetics of the square.
Along with collaborators from Puerto Rico and abroad, Casa Pueblo has already completed nearly 200 solar projects in the Land of the Sleeping Giant, including on its list critical infrastructure facilities such as the Fire Station, medical emergencies, the home for adults. village elders, the elementary school, the organization’s communications tower, and the homes of a hundred families with special health needs.
But for Arturo Massol, what is happening in Adjuntas goes far beyond the installation of thousands of solar panels and the autonomous electrification of essential services.
“We can talk about technology research and development. There are already groups of universities and students who are doing research work, as part of their academic development. Also, we have the local training. There are people in Adjuntas who want to learn and participate actively, ”he said.
“You add to that the participation of women, breaking stereotypes, addressing the issue of social, economic and gender inequalities and inequalities. Seeing Ada Miranda, Eva Campbell and Naomi Martínez actively participating in what is happening there fills us with pride, because that is where the true values of what is being done lie. It is not simply the physical part, but what is happening in the transformation and community participation ”, he added.
The way is made by walking
When the history of Casa Pueblo was conceived four decades ago, no one imagined that their contribution and achievements would reach the dimensions that they embrace and treasure today.
For example, when in 1980 the government of Puerto Rico wanted to embark on the mining of 17 silver, gold and copper deposits identified in the bowels of our Central Mountain Range, Casa Pueblo reacted and multiplied its power with the will of thousands of young students, educators and environmental protectors of the country.
Only that intervention prevented an ecological and social catastrophe across 36 thousand acres of forest between the municipalities of Adjuntas, Utuado, Lares and Jayuya.
And it was that struggle led by Adjuntas that promoted and galvanized the future of Casa Pueblo.
Its founding members, Tinti Deyá Díaz and engineer Alexis Massol González, along with an exemplary body of volunteers, gave wings to the initiative until it became a community self-management project with the commitment to appreciate and protect the natural, cultural and human resources of Puerto Rico and the world.
In addition to the La Olimpia Ariel Massol Deyá Forest School, among his successful deeds the establishment of Radio Casa Pueblo 1020, the Café Madre Isla, the Community School of Music and the Solar Cinema, which are now joined by Ajuntas Pueblo Solar and the Plaza Solar.
“There is no strategic plan that says ‘This we know we are going to do in 41 years.’ That was not so. What we have is the will to fight and promote social transformation, ”said Massol Deyá.
“Along the way we have stumbled, we have learned and we have promoted changes, but they are on the move, on actions. When Hurricane Maria in 2017, I didn’t know that in 2020 and 2021 we were going to be doing these things. But that is the importance of fighting. Fighting takes you to places that never even occurred to you, “he added.