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Helping Each Other Out

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Ryan Herrick via Crowdrise
April 05, 2012

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EVENT DATE: Jun 01, 2012


Ryan Herrick


In 2011, we traveled to Pine Ridge, South Dakota to build a natural home built of reused shipping pallets for a family living out of a tent on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The reservation is a place of serious poverty. Obscenely poor living conditions and unemployment has swept the reservation for over a century, a direct result of the cultural annihilation of the Oglala Lakota.

While on the reservation for six weeks, Alison Goings, Walter Yellowhair, and their family showered warmth and generosity to their volunteer crew. They gave us a place to sleep, food to eat, and served as kind ushers into the cultural memory of the Lakota tribe, while they, like us, lived in a tent without running water or electricity.

The project was slated to be finished by August 31st, 2011. However, due to depleted energy and lack of funds, the pallet house build took a hiatus in late October 2011 until June 2012. We were able to construct the frame, insulate the walls, attach the metal roof, install a rocket mass heater and cob most the exterior of the house.

Just this month your generosity helped us collect the $1,100 we needed to insulate the roof. (And we thank you more than you can know!!!) The roof was insulated with a recycled cellulose barrier by Henry Red Cloud of Lakota Solar Enterprises. The cellulose is made from recycled cardboard, paper and trash.

Since Alison and Walter have been trying to keep the place warm through a (thankfully mild!) winter with a wood stove, this heat loss barrier will help contain the heat they manage to produce. As the summer heats up, the insulation will keep the sun from heating up that metal roof and turning the interior into an oven.


It's a WONDERFUL start, but there's much more to be done.


Imagining how difficult it would be to live through the long winter nights with only a single kerosene lantern to fend off the darkness, our next goal is to bring a little light to the family. It will cost $1,600 to run electricity to their pallet house from the closest power line. Again, we'll be hiring Native electricians to do the work.


To help enable this family to produce their own food, we're trying to raise $350 to build them a bee-hive and provide protective gear so that they can start collecting honey and beeswax.

Another $500 will plant a small orchard (ten fruit trees), some blueberry bushes, raspberry canes and strawberry plants.

Gas money from here (Chicago, IL) to there (Pine Ridge, SD) and back, one trip, runs around $400.


We may not be able to change the living conditions for every needy family out there, but we can help this one. One person couldn't insulate that roof but twenty people did!


100 people donating $25 apiece would make it possible to bring electricity to this family AND plant an orchard AND turn them into bee-keepers. Do you want to make a difference? Help us help them. We will cheerfully be your hands, and labor in your name.


By making a donation, you are assisting in providing:

-electricity and on-site food production for Alison and Walter;

-support of the reservation's renewable energy endeavors through local enterprise; and

-an easier transition period for the family until the house is completed.


Please, help us create empowered change in Pine Ridge, one home at a time.


Mitakuye Oyasin, 

Ryan Herrick and Judi Hendricks


NOTE: This is a side-project that complements the efforts of the Pallet House Build led by David Reed of Texas Natural Builders. You can visit his website: for more information on the build.


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6 years ago