“What if rainforest residents could charge cell phones in the Amazon?”
This is one question that is being answered thanks to donations received on the website Kickstarter.
Jeff Mansfield explains his project,TAKING CHARGE, as a pocket guide to portable solar power and smartphones in Brazil’s Amazon. The project is an extension of an initiative called the Luz Portatil Brasil, which has a primary goal of bringing portable, solar energy to developing countries. Mansfield is “raising money to create digital toolkits that complement the pads.”
In the Amazon, I realized that something as seemingly simple as a cell phone—and the ability to charge it with solar energy anywhere on the river—could create a versatile and important resource for the local land planning of river communities and the development of their sustainable forest enterprises. What was missing was an accessible “starter toolkit” of useful mobile phone applications, an effective and participatory means to demonstrate to the community what a smartphone could do and a practical, accessible “user’s guide” with how-to instructional diagrams, local tips and photos. River citizens could contribute knowledge to the “user’s guide” for their peers in other communities, sharing insights on how they have used the USB-based solar energy kit and smartphone in their sustainable forest enterprises and communities.
So far, Mansfield has raised $3,550 of the $12,800 goal, and with 32 days to go, there is still a ways to go. The fundraising ends on Tuesday, November 13.
In his own way, Mansfield knows first hand what it’s like to be cut off from the world. Since birth, he has been deaf. In this video, he signs, “The reality is part of the deaf experience, as we use interpreters, family members and advocates to voice our concerns, needs, issues and opinions — not too different from the inhabitants of the Amazon… Interlocutors, foreigners and outsiders continue to speak for the region and its inhabitants on issues ranging from energy, agriculture, biodiversity and conservation. Largely missing from this global conversation is the voice of the people that actually live in the forest.”