Peter Stanley is Vice-Chairman of Clinica Verde and one of its greatest assets. For the past 20 years, Peter has worked in the built environment, either building designing or managing projects. He’s a founding partner in Archilogix, an architecture and development consulting firm in Santa Rosa, California, focused on implementing sustainable and smart growth strategies.
Q: You’ve been involved with charitable projects in Nicaragua for a number of years now. Talk a little bit about the work you’ve been a part of — what you’ve overseen, what you’ve learned.
It was about six years ago that I got involved in an affordable housing project in a small community about an hour east of Managua, Nicaragua. A group of local, energetic volunteers from the U.S dedicated themselves to the idea that they could apply their skills to provide housing for some pretty desperate families. We formed a non-profit organization both here and in Nicaragua and then got to work. Personally, this was my first direct experience with developing world poverty and to say I was devastated would minimize the effect it had on me and, ultimately, my life. For the past six years I have been involved, with the help of many generous donors and volunteers, in the management, design and construction of 64 single family homes, and two schools, which has now grown into educational scholarships and an economic development program. The gains that have been achieved in this little community by the NGO, Developing Communities, has been remarkable and shows what can be achieved with dedication and perseverance. Never doubt that.
Q: Tell us where you are right now in the schedule with Clinica Verde.
The board of Clinica Verde has put in some very hard work in the past year developing the medical clinic program, design and operational strategy as well as securing the land on which the clinic will be built. We’ve commissioned the services of an incredible Managuan architect, Alfredo Osario Peters, and an in-country project manager, Johny Siman, to help us prepare the project for construction and our current schedule will have us breaking ground for the new clinic in mid April 2009 and, with a concerted and successful fundraising campaign, we hope to open the doors of the clinic in the summer of 2010.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge for you and your team at this point? What fires you up?
There are always big challenges whenever you take on a project like Clinica Verde, but the challenges are intensified when you are talking about pulling it off in a third world country and a seven hour flight away! But I have to say that what complicates this project is also what makes it so exciting. I think the thing we scratch our heads most about is finding ways to apply sustainable design practices in a country that has not yet embraced emerging technologies. What this forces us to do is go “old school” and revisit passive design practices that take advantage of the natural environment through site orientation, natural cooling practices instead of mechanical units and designing in natural day lighting rather than electrically powered systems. I think we are all excited by the opportunities this kind of environment affords us as we develop a creative approach to not only the clinic itself but, to an even greater extent, the delivery of medical services.
Q: You give a great deal of your time to this project. What does Clinica Verde mean to you?
Up until a few years ago I had spent my entire professional career working inside a pretty privileged. I don’t mean that in any demeaning way, but I have lived a very fortunate life. Clinica Verde has given me an incredible opportunity to take that lifetime of experience and knowledge and apply it to an area of the world that is in an increasingly desperate condition. I have seen what can be accomplished through hard work, cooperation and focused dedication and I have to say it is hard to find a more satisfying reward than the looks on the faces of those that benefit from all our efforts.
Q: Imagine yourself and the project in one year. What do you see?
I see what everyone on this project sees, and that is the doors to this beautiful clinic opening and premium medical care being provided to a segment of the Nicaraguan population that has been shut out in the past. I want to see children and mothers finding refuge in the care and kindness that this clinic will bring and I don’t ever want another mother or child to die because they couldn’t afford good medical care. It’s a big dream, but so achievable … really!
Q: What do you want to say to our supporters?
Don’t underestimate the power your support can bring to this or any cause. The strength of a solitary effort combined with the cumulative force of like-minded individuals can change the world – and I believe that Clinica Verde will in fact accomplish its goal to provide health and hope to those who are most in need. Right now we have raised over $500,000, if we can raise another $100,000 by August of 2009 we’ll have enough to finish the construction of the clinic, and with an additional $200,000 we’ll be able to open the doors and start providing medical care to hundreds of families in that community for the next two years!