Arkhangai, Dalanzadgad, and South Gobi - Knowledge

Mongolian nomads have a strong connection to the land and have passed their knowledge and traditions down through generations. One such manifestation of knowledge is a mobile shelter called a ger. While many places around the world face homelessness and refugee type situations due to changing climate and shelter immovability, the Mongolian people have perfected a style of shelter which requires two people to set up, minimal supplies and only thirty minutes to construct. The ger is a versatile structure for hot, cold, wet or dry climates and combined with its simple design, low cost, ease to set up, and ability to sleep up to 40 or more people per shelter make the ger a viable shelter solution worldwide.

Heritable knowledge is also passed down through generations in the different communities, especially in regards to their natural remedies. One of these remedies is Sohor Khar. Generations of people have used this small beetle to cure cancer and rectal pain.

One vital component of knowledge is context. While building a fire with two of our hoses, we assembled three large rocks on top of which we put a cooking pot. As the fire got started, our hosts gathered small discarded waste plastic bottles from around the park area. Next, our hosts took the bottles and placed one after another into the fire, each time smiling from ear to ear and happily saying, "Ecology!" as the bottles melted and vaporized. The perspective challenged our perception of what it means to be ecological. When a piece of plastic waste is located at least 500 miles away from the nearest recycling center, it seems very ecological to get rid of it by burning it rather than to leave it in place. In fact, this process rids the local environment of waste. On the other hand, the waste is turned into toxic smoke and fumes, harmful to humans and the environment. This perspective exchange allowed our team members to reflect on the context and reconcile what, for us, was action we would not have considered. Yet, both achieve ecological outcomes.

Date Entered: July 2010