Friends of Las Casas de la Selva

Happy Birthday to Frank H Wadsworth 104 years old today! Nov 2019

To our favorite forester, Frank, who turns 104 today. Thank you for all the inspiration you have given to us over many years now. Happy Birthday!!

HELP US rescue the wood from fallen trees after Hurricane Maria

Friends around the planet! Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico. All around us there are fallen trees of valuable hardwoods. We cannot allow these tree trunks to be dumped into landfill or chipped into small pieces. Help us raise the funds needed to begin the process of dealing with the situation.

The road in front of us is long and hard, but we must be responsible for our futures and create sustainable living on this small island of Puerto Rico, in every way possible. If you feel helpless right now, here is one way to help relief efforts, by helping us to save tree trunks from the debris and to mill the wood for use.

Puerto Rico Hardwoods (PRH),maintains that sustainability must start with minimization of waste, and intelligent use of local resources rather than contributing to the devastation of forests in other countries.

As many of you know, PRH was created and developed by Andrés Rúa and Thrity Vakil. As founders and former directors of the Agroforestry Development Advisory Council (CADA), Rúa and Vakil’s broader vision is to promote sustainable forestry on the island, and to reduce the vegetative waste going to landfill. They are both current Directors of Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry and Rainforest Enrichment Project in Patillas, Puerto Rico, established 30 years ago by The Institute of Ecotechnics.

Thank you for your support. We cannot do it without you.

14th October, 2017

Buy an Eye On The Rainforest Teeshirt

Everyone who has ever been to Las Casas de la Selva, Sustainable Forestry project in Puerto Rico knows how important it is for us to access our forest. Several years ago, we lost our main bridge completely after the impact of two hurricanes and many tropical storms. We would like to build a new bridge, and access road, but we really need your help. Here’s a tee designed by 3t, that looks great, is reasonably priced, and will help us raise funds. 3t and Andrés are grateful for all you can do. Buy one for yourself (and one for a friend) as a Christmas or holiday gift, and we will work to make this bridge and road manifest together. Thank you!

Bridge/Road Building Project-Las Casas de la Selva

E. E. King volunteers at Las Casas de la Selva, June 2016

Writer, biologist and artist, Evie King came to volunteer and worked on many diverse projects around the homestead, painted some cheerful frogs and lizards onto the bare walls of el teatro, and also helped out with managing a teen Earthwatch team. Evie first came here in 2005 to partake in some of our earlier Earthwatch research expeditions. Thank you Evie, we really appreciated having you here! And thanks for all the chocolate! (more about Evie below)

E.E. King is a performer, writer, biologist and painter. Ray Bradbury calls her stories “marvelously inventive, wildly funny and deeply thought provoking. I cannot recommend them highly enough.” Her books are;” Dirk Quigby’s Guide to the Afterlife,” “Real Conversations with Imaginary Friends,” “The Adventures of Emily Finfeather – The Feathernail and Other Gifts” and “Another Happy Ending.” She has won numerous awards and been published widely. She is the recipient of two International Tides painting fellowships, and two international biology Earthwatch grants. She was an adviser for the J. Paul Getty’s and the Science Center’s, Arts &; Science program. She was the Science and Arts coordinator in Bosnia with Global Children’s Organization (a summer camp for war orphans and refugees) in 2000. She was the founding Arts & Sciences Director for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation . She has worked with children in Bosnia, crocodiles in Mexico, frogs in Puerto Rico, egrets in Bali, mushrooms in Montana, archaeologists in Spain and planted butterfly gardens in South Central Los Angeles.

London actor/producers join Las Casas de la Selva for labor in the forest! June 2016

Both Claudia and Irving have been long-term associates of the Institute of Ecotechnics, and we were delighted to have them come and volunteer at Las Casas de la Selva. Irving traveled with Johnny from London and stayed for over May into June month, whilst Claudia came in for two weeks at the beginning of June. We loved every moment of their stay, and appreciated their help, with overall management of groups, the timber business, and nursery work.

See images of their time here.

About Claudia Bolton: Founder member of Beryl and the Perils (that 3t saw back in the 1980s whilst at College studying theater design with Malcolm Griffiths at Trent, Nottingham)– Fast Furious Feminist Fun in the 70’s/80’s. Warped seriously first time around, ICA/ Edinburgh at the Regency Cinema. 79-80 with Ken Campbell; Warped again second generation with Ken and Daisy Eris Campbell. Actor/Managed that beast for 2 years at the Drome 1999-2001.

In between Warps: among many other things, in lieu of a theatre PHD, she played Winnie in Sam Beckett’s Happy Days and toured herself around the world. – “As Winnie you can pick up a Willie `anywhere, after all he only has 5 lines!” – She performed it in Nepal, On the beach in Bali, In The Outback, at BIosphere 2 in Arizona, NYC and finally at a proper Beckett Festival in Holland with the Incredible Orlando, blind Jack Birkett, playing Willie. Through the 90’s Claudia put on original productions everywhere, especially guest directing at the painter Symon’s, Space Island LIght Industrial Theatre in Bali – an exquisite open air ampitheatre designed by Buckminster Fuller. In 1999/2001 Claudia created the role of the `Serpent in Peter Greenaway’s prop Opera. ‘100 Objects to Represent the World,’ another far more glamorous World Tour! From Salzburg to Rio, Naples to Mexico City and on, though sadly never London.

Post Warp 2, what to do? Small shows! Table Top Theatre – dramatic story telling of classic tales in short form. Greek Tragedy, Hamlet. still very available for hire! Also creating original dramas for kids (home schooling). Directed Robert Anton Wilson’s, Wilhelm Reich In Hell, in the 80’s at the October Gallery London which was a gas, as it was to meet him and get personal permission. Also “Deconstruction of Countdown” – based on William Burrough’s Naked Lunch for Studio 7 at October Gallery, 2013. Claudia is really thrilled that the Cosmic Trigger Play is manifesting NOW in a wonderful lineage of evolutionary Theatre.

About Irving Rappaport: Irving Rappaport is an award winning film and theatre producer whose West End shows include ‘The Seven Year Itch’ starring Darryl Hannah, ‘Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell’ starring Peter O’Toole, ’Jesus My Boy’ starring Tom Conti and the musical ‘Hit Me! The Life and Rhymes of Ian Dury’. He is a member of London’s Southbank choir which performs at the Royal Festival and Queen Elizabeth Halls and recently assisted artist Gerry Judah in the creation of two six metre sculptures commissioned by St Paul’s cathedral to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. He is extremely proud to have supported the Showstoppers since their first performance in 2008.

John Allen, Founder of Las Casas de la Selva, May 2016 visit.

Johnny came to visit for the month of May. Here is a link to more images of his time here. Pic credits: 3t Vakil, Irving Rappaport, Andres Rua.

John Polk Allen is a systems ecologist and engineer, metallurgist, adventurer and writer. He is best known as the inventor and Director of Research of Biosphere 2, the world’s largest laboratory of global ecology, and was the founder of Synergia Ranch. Allen is a proponent of the science of biospherics. Allen has also conceived and co-founded nine other projects around the world, pioneering in sustainable co-evolutionary development. He studied anthropology and history at Northwestern, Stanford, and Oklahoma Universities, and served in the U.S. Army’s Engineering Corps as a machinist. He graduated from Colorado School of Mines and received an MBA with High Distinction from the Harvard Business School.

In the early 1960s, Allen headed a special metals team at Allegheny-Ludlum Steel Corporation which developed over thirty alloys to product status. Allen worked on regional development projects with David Lillienthal’s Development Resources Corporation in the U.S., Iran, and Côte d’Ivoire where he became an expert in complex regional development. In the mid-1960s Allen and a group of associates attempted a solder flux company that failed. He has led expeditions studying ecology, particularly the ecology of early civilizations: Nigeria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tibet, Turkey, India, and the Altiplano.

Allen began the first manned Biosphere Test Module experiment in September 1988, residing in the almost fully recyclable closed ecological system environment for three days and setting a world record at that time, proving that closed ecological systems would work with humans inside. As the vice-president of Biospheric Development for the project, as well as Executive Chairman, Allen was responsible for the science and engineering that created the materially closed life system, as well as the development of spin-off technologies.

Allen currently serves as Chairman of Global Ecotechnics, an international project development and management company with a Biospheric Design Division engaged in designing and preparing to build the second generation of advanced materially closed biospheric systems and ecologically enriched biomic systems; in the EcoFrontiers Division he owns and operates innovative sustainable ecological projects of which he was the co-founder and chief designer in France, Australia (5000 acre savannah regeneration project), Puerto Rico (1000 acre sustainable rainforest project) and England.

He is Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the Linnean Society, and the Explorers Club.

Johnny’s invention, Biosphere 2, the world’s largest laboratory of global ecology. Biosphere 2 set a number of world records in closed life system work including degree of sealing tightness, 100% waste recycle and water recycle, and duration of human residence within a closed system (eight people for two years, early 90s).

Under the pen name Johnny Dolphin, Allen has chronicled his personal history alongside the social history of his many destinations in novels, poetry, short stories, and plays.

Lucilla Fuller Marvel, AICP, PPL, and Buckminster Fuller Institute Board Secretary, has more than 30 years of experience in urban and social planning, housing and community development in Puerto Rico. Since establishing Taller de Planificacia’s Social (Social Planning Workshop), a consulting firm, in 1973, she has worked with community organizations, private entities, and city and state governments in the preparation of needs analysis, social sector studies, housing plans, and strategic plans. Ms. Marvel co-founded the non- profit Puerto Rico Housing Network in 1996. She is also a member of the Board for the Center for the New Economy, a recently created independent think tank in Puerto Rico and the Chana and Samuel Levis Foundation.

L-R: Corey, Denise, George, Miho, Magha, Flash, 3t, Johnny, Irving and Andres. May 2016

Pic credits: 3t Vakil, Irving Rappaport, Andres Rua.
Link to Google image album

Thank You! To all our 2015 Volunteers

We are really thankful that individuals decide to come and volunteer their talents, time, and labor at Las Casas de la Selva. The project is a perfect place to immerse yourself into a new biome: the rainforest of Puerto Rico!

Special thanks to Tim Dehm, who stayed for three months and looked after Las Casas de la Selva for the month of October, in 2015, whilst 3t and Andres attended the annual Synergist Conference, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Walk-Talk-Tour 31st January 2016

We will always share news of a Walk-Talk Tour. Join our email list to stay informed of this and other events at Las Casas de la Selva.

WALK-TALK-TOUR -This tour will be in English.
9.30am-2.00pm, Sunday 31st January, 2016.
Cost: $20.00 per head includes lunch. (Children under 10 years free.)

Where: In the homestead, forest, and woodshop facilities of Sustainable Forestry Project,
Las Casas de la Selva, Patillas, Puerto Rico. Disabled facilities very limited.

Clothing: Please wear suitable shoes or boots for a forest walk. Open-toed sandals, or flip flops are not suitable at all on uneven paths and potentially muddy trails. Wear long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt. We reserve the right to refuse entry to the forest to anyone unsuitably dressed.

9.30am: Coffee and Cake, orientation
Digital presentation of the history of Las Casas de la Selva and ongoing work, and introduction to Puerto Rico Hardwoods.
11.00am: Guided Forest walk to see plantations, identify trees, understand the history of land-use, & current projects, including planting of endangered tree species.
12.30pm: Gourmet lunch with organic salad, fruit juices, tea and coffee.
1.00pm: Tour of the wood workshop, drying sheds, & projects in progress.
An opportunity to buy or order wood, or beautiful hardwood products seen at our homestead.
2.00pm: Group Photo and Finish.

Please send an email with the following info to 3t at:
• How many people?
• Dietary restrictions (meat/veg) or allergies if any.
Please ask for directions if needed.

See you here! 3t and Andres
Some of the products that will be available.

Frank H. Wadsworth 100 years old Dec 2015

Congratulations to our most favorite forester. Frank we salute you highly on this most auspicious day.
Happy 100th Birthday!

July 2015 VolunTREEadventures

If you are ready for a life challenge, interested in your personal development, and feel that you have useful skills and proficiency, or perhaps would like to learn how to do something completely new and different, hold a genuine love of the natural world, and want to live with other people and experience cultural changes, and life in another biome, please contact us. We welcome you to participate in VolunTREEadventure, the project’s total system as a volunteer. Three weeks is a good way to start.

Hilda Soltero – 30 years later “a dream made into reality”, December 2014

Hilda Soltero was the Secretary of The Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources in the early 1980s, and it was she that flew John Allen over the island when he was looking for a place to start a sustainable forestry project. Dr. Mark Nelson and John Rubio Druitt met with Dr. Frank Wadsworth in 1983 to discuss the possibilities. In 1983, Las Casas de la Selva was born. Today in December 2014, we shared with Hilda great discussions, stories, visions and plans, and enjoyed the company of her two sons and four grand kids. Thank you Hilda for your continuing support of tropical forestry, along with this project here in Patillas, and look forward to working with you on the mission of sustainable forestry in Puerto Rico.

Symposium and Exhibition of Forest Products at IITF, 6th December 2014


L-R: Luis Soto, (Land Authority Director) Carmen Guerrero, (Secretary of DNR), Connie Carpenter, Magaly Figueroa, (USDA State & Private Forestry), Andrés Rúa, 3t Vakil, (Tropic Ventures and Nuestra Madera), Magha Garcia, (Director Pachamama Organic Farm), Sheila Ward, (Mahogany for the Future), Edgardo Gonzalez (Landscape Conservation Center).

75 years of Forestry!

International Institute of Tropical Forestry celebrated its 75th year anniversary and a wonderful event at the Fundacion Luis Munoz Marin (FLMM) gave everyone a chance to meet up and connect over the whole days symposium, followed by a wonderful and lively reception in the evening. 21st May 2014
See more great images of this event here. Pix by 3t and Andrés

Tropic Ventures was honored to be mentioned in the recently published 2102 IITF Accomplishments. See PDF here.

Gracious thanks to FLMM, and IITF.

Sally & Sean

When great friends come to visit! 3t’s friend Sally J. Richardson, and her 17 year old nephew, Sean Hitchcock, visited for three weeks, and in their time at Las Casas, helped with all aspects of homestead life and assisted magnificently with the organization and work with Globalworks teenagers and the Upward Bound Appalachian team. Sean, you were a star and we really appreciated your hard work in the field with the teams, and your quiet getting on with everything, and we especially loved your smile! Sally, tremendous gratitude for your upbeat humor in all situations and your generosity. We loved having you both here!

We did let them off the ranch a few times, and we did visit El Morro Fort in Old San Juan on a beautiful day. Sally and Sean went snorkeling on a Catamaran trip around Icacos and Lobos islands of the NE coast. They also managed to squeeze in a kayak trip in the Bioluminescent bay. A bio bay is a body of water that contains millions of micro-organisms, called “dinoflagellates”, that glow in the dark for a second when agitated. It is a rare, natural wonder that Sally and Sean were lucky enough to experience.