Students Continue to Bring Practical Solutions to Urban Village Issues

Something Rebuilding Center readers should be aware of is the brilliant student-led work being done to help provide creative solutions to our housing crisis. The group have earned national recognition by qualifying for robotics competitions, such as the FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) Robotics Competition.  It is these students who came up with the idea of the JuiceBox that we've reported on in previous blog articles.  This group of innovators are composed of upper grade students, led by educators and leaders with a strong interest in applied technology.  This project has allowed the students to address a variety of social problems faced by the tiny house villages for the houseless communities scattered throughout the city.

After conceptualizing and creating the JuiceBox idea (a solar powered energy box that brings energy and light to the houseless), they identified personal hygiene as another important need. Without access to hot water and washing facilities, residents of the tiny houses cannot keep themselves and their clothes clean. Two solutions have been built by the "Flaming Chickens" (Caitlin Gabel's team name):

The WashPod

Plumbing pipes for the WashPod.

Plumbing pipes for the WashPod.

There is currently a WashPod, complete with a clothes washer and dryer installed at Right to Dream Too (R2D2).  The WashPod is completely off the grid, meaning it is not on the electrical power system of the city. The “gray water,” or wastewater discharged from showers and bathtubs, sinks and, laundry machines, feeds into a custom built filtration system creating purified waste water that feeds an on-site hydroponics garden, providing sustainably sourced food to the WashPod's community.

 

 

The ShowerPod

A ShowerPod ready to be delivered.

A ShowerPod ready to be delivered.

The ShowerPod is a hybrid shower system engineered to pump, filter, and heat water while running an exhaust fan and lights on the interior of the ShowerPod.  (The solar panels are purchased from Grape Solar in Eugene, Oregon and use high-efficiency instant propane water heaters “to help ShowerPods function reliably and efficiently.”)

One ShowerPod is currently located at Hazelnut Grove, a village of houseless individuals in North Portland.  Some of the residents are partnering with the students to refine, and build more ShowerPods!

We contacted Solomon Oshin, a student knowledgeable in every aspect of these exciting projects.  He kindly answered the following questions, further clarifying some of the exciting details:

Do the WashPod and ShowerPod need to be hooked up to a water source on site?

WashPods  get water from a variety of places. It has the ability to get water from a hose spigot, rainwater collection barrels, or even a rooftop rain collection system that is still in development.

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Will more WashPods/ShowerPods be constructed?

Yes! The WashPod being installed soon at Right 2 Dream Too is a prototype designed by the Catlin Gabel School’s Community Engineering Team, part of the high school’s Team 1540 Robotics program. 

WashPod will become a Shine Project when the first prototype is completed, and more will be constructed by Shine in the near future!

Where have you located the WashPods/ShowerPods?

Transporting a WashPod.

Transporting a WashPod.

The first prototype is being installed soon at Right 2 Dream Too (R2D2). Our proof of concept, the smaller, less powerful, less feature-packed ShowerPod is currently installed at Hazelnut Grove. 

Do you have any feedback from any people using the WashPods/ShowerPods?

People love having the ability to feel clean! Our ShowerPod users have been giving us feedback on how we can improve the design of our showers (for example: WashPod #1 has a shower nearly double the size of ShowerPod’s). We are also working closely with R2D2 to make sure that we meet their needs with our prototype. 

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Are there showers in the WashPod, or just washers and dryers?

Controls for propane water heater.

Controls for propane water heater.

We are equipping the first WashPod with a washing machine, commercial dryer, sink, and extra wide shower with a separate dressing/changing room. This will allow up to four people to use the WashPod’s services simultaneously. 


Thank you Solomon for answering our questions and to the group of Catlin Gabel students that continue to look for innovative solutions to create a more equitable Portland.

For more details, check out the following link: