The Birth of Blue Atlas Project

The Blue Atlas Project was born amidst meetings and in remote villages of Nepal. Well, technically, I shared it with the world from a pretty bare bones guest house located on the infamous Freak Street in Kathmandu. But the months leading up to it and following were all of equal importance.

I had found myself there a few months after the earthquakes rocked the country in late spring of 2015. I needed a change of direction and felt it was time to put myself in place to see if I could be of any service in the humanitarian world. Through a random series of connections via a name from a friend, who then mentioned an organization, I arrived and rented a room for a month near their headquarters and agreed to go out on their first site visit amongst many to the focus of the operation. The week I spent with them in Bodgaun, and the subsequent weeks back in Kathmandu, helped me realized a few things. One, there are a lot of good people in this world who are doing amazing things. And Two, I was in “get your hands dirty” kind of mode. Alberto, who started Jay Nepal, was and still is doing amazing things in that village, far beyond rebuilding a pipeline and more along the lines of working towards economic empowerment and higher standard of living in one of the poorest places in the world. It was onsite in Bodgaun however, that I met Adam Chapulski, an architect, and it seemed we were on a similar path.

Once back, we kept in touch regarding other organizations that were doing work in remote villages that had been passed over by large AID organizations so far. There were meetings and talks and we find ourselves finally connected to and Nepali run organization that was utilizing the building style we were interested in. One that was disaster resistant in high-seismic areas and sustainable given the resources available in the area we were starting our first project in. It all happened fairly quickly in the end and the eve before we set out for our volunteer stint with Bring Thoughts To Action, to learn the technique by building a home for a family with disabilities, I creating a crowd funding site to start raising money for a community structure Adam and I were teaming up organize.

As I camped for the next 6 weeks on the side of the mountain in Swara, near Khadichour in the Sindhulpalchowk region of Nepal, hours after I shared the project I had little internet to check on how things were going. I focused on working hard and learning as much as I could. After I random accident where I set myself on fire, my hands were unable to help and I took to running to town to pick up needed supplies and beginning to walk the hills from coffee until nightfall to any village that was even whispered to me in an effort to do a thorough assessment of needs and if we were the ones that could meet them. And the many runs to town, I was able to check in and see how The Blue Atlas Project was being supported. I was blown away from the support of just my friends and family. There really is enough generosity in the world.

In the end if was Adam and Shiva, an organizer for Bring Thoughts to Action that found Topka, the village where we would build our school and ensure that all the children in the village had a place indoors before the rains came. And so, my hands healed, the house was completed and we took a couple of weeks off. Adam began working on designing the school being as efficient with the use of materials as possible while maintaining artistry and intention. I began organizing. We had a great team to start with, quite a few of the volunteers from the previous site stayed on to work with us and over the next 3 months we hosted 70+ volunteers from all over the world and completed the school on schedule.

I still believe that it is in times of disaster when anyone needs a helping hand, however, I have found myself over the past couple of years filled with thoughts of sustainable economic growth to be able to aid a region, not just when disaster strikes, but in gaining independence to be able to self-develop. And so, the concept of this Marketplace was created. To find a sustainable way to support skilled artisans and business owners from around the world by bringing their craft to you and paying them a fair wage for their efforts.