Guatemalan Pilot Study Update: Partners of the Sun

by Matt Gillespie June 02, 2014

After a seemingly uncountable number of túmulos (speed bumps), tortillas and hotel beds, the team and I have finished driving across Guatemala and back, in the pursuit of potential partners for our Pilot Study.

Memorable experiences include cooking platanos with campacinos on a banana plantation, my first presentation in Spanish to a women’s cooperative in Sololá and an impromptu design session with a group of Mayan women, resulting in an innovation that boosted the prototype’s efficiency using only traditional Mayan wisdom and commonly available materials. For more on these experiences, stay tuned for coming posts.

After much consideration, we as a team have decided to conduct our core pilot studies with two organizations that we feel will not only give us a successful pilot study but also help make the connections to move the business forward, if proven successful.


Consejo Comunitario de Desarrollo (COCODE) del Canton Amanecer (The Community Development Council of the Canton Amanecer) 

A community development organization based in the urban community of Amatitlan, COCODE was chosen due to its proximity to the capital, aiding the logistics of the project, its demographic relevance, having a significant range of persons in varying levels of poverty in an urban environment, and our existing strong community ties via one of our lead researchers, Julio Coj, having more than a decade of experience working within the organization.


The Mesoamerican Institute of Permaculture (IMAP) in San Lucas Toliman, Sololá

An incredibly well organized community of ecological design education organization, based on the shore of Lake Atitlan, IMAP was chosen due to its strong recognition as a progressive force within the Kaqchikel community (as well as within other Mayan communities), its extensive experience with design processes within its educational programs and day to day operations, its ongoing ecological literacy educations programs both within Mayan and international communities, which certainly compliment our technology, and its significant connection to the Latin American sustainable design community; giving us the potential for new ideas, feedback and opportunities from a mix of globally minded ecological designers.

Through the process of traveling, the team and I have become convinced of the potential of this product to change lives. In communities from the rural lowlands of Puerto Barrios to the Urban Highlands of Xela, we have seen faces turn in amazement when hot food is pulled from the odd looking glass contraption. Despite the novelty, when people spend hours a day collecting firewood, or a significant portion of their income buying the precious resource, the utility of the solar stove makes it an instant topic for conversation.

This is not to say that we do not have a long journey ahead of us, as cooking habits in Guatemala are as deeply ingrained into the culture as… tortillas. Despite the challenge, I feel confident that with great partners and a skilled team, we are certainly well on our way to a culturally adapted and economically viable solar cooking solution .

Matt Gillespie
Matt Gillespie

Matt Gillespie is an industrial designer, permaculture educator, and co-founder of GoSun. He has lectured periodically on permaculture, crowdfunding, and renewable energy technology at the University of Cincinnati's DAAP and Mother Earth News Fairs across the country. An avid gardener, cyclist and outdoor explorer, Matt brings his passion for connecting and serving others to the GoSun Team.

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