The Nobelity Blog is a running series of reports on the film and education work of The Nobelity Project (, including reports from our partner project Mahiga Hope High School in Kenya, and numerous other school projects from our Kenya Schools Fund. The blog also includes reports on our films, including the recent SXSW Audience Award winner, Building Hope, and on our advocacy for specific issues related to a more sustainable and just world for children everywhere.

Monday, March 22, 2010

High School Construction Begins! Mahiga Hope Library & More

More great news on The Nobelity Project’s work to build Mahiga Hope High School in Kenya.

- Construction is underway and moving fast!

- We hope to complete funding on April 11 at the Artists & Filmmakers Dinner where Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen and forty more great Texas artists will help us honor Willie Nelson with the "Feed the Peace" Award.

- Free DVD release party April 9 at Waterloo Records features Kat Edmonson in-store concert and the launch of 1000 Books for Hope campaign!

After a devastating multi-year drought, the rains have finally returned to Kenya and crops in the Mahiga area are growing well. But just as we were ready to begin construction, the road to the school became too muddy for construction trucks and deliveries. A contractor to gravel the road was going to cost thousands of dollars, but the local community had a great solution. Buy six dumptrucks of rock at a fraction of the total cost, and we'll spread it by hand!

One week later, 115 men and women showed up with hoes and shovels and set to work spreading over 100 tons of gravel. Check out this photo - some of the women are carrying children on their backs - and those are kids who we all hope will one day be graduates of Mahiga Hope High.

Construction on the Classroom and Libraries Building started almost immediately. Architecture for Humanity design fellow Greg Elsner, Kenyan architects Multiplex Systems and the local community reviewed all the bids from Kenyan contractors and inspected their work at other locations.

The bid was awarded to Minorah Contractors who beat the heavier rains that are expected soon by digging foundation trenches and getting the foundations above ground in record time.

These great photos from Greg and Joseph Mutongu say it all!

I'm headed to Kenya this week for the ground-breaking of the RainWater Court, for final planning of the science labs, kitchen and dining hall, and to do a little work myself.

I'm also taking Flip Video Cameras and a new Dell laptop for the 9th grade class to film construction progress and archive the footage.

The Nobelity Project Artists & Filmmakers Dinner - April 11 at the Four Seasons Austin

The big event on Sunday, April 11 is going to be an incredible night - every attendee has dinner with one of 40 great Texas artists, and there's an incredible show with Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Joe Ely, Ray Benson, Hannibal Lokumbe, Kat Edmonson and Ruby Jane. This is a big fundraiser at fundraiser prices (more info on buying tables or seats at, and we hope to complete funding for the school and guarantee that it will be open for classes by the end of summer.

Our DVD release week also includes a 5:00 p.m. April 9 One Peace at a time Party at Austin's Waterloo Records. There's an in-store performance by Kat Edmonson, and we're also asking everyone to bring ONE book for the launch of:

1000 Books for Hope

To fill the shelves of Mahiga Hope Library - and other libraries we're planning or partnering on from Morocco to Bangladesh - we’re asking students and adults to donate just ONE book. The key is to donate your favorite book, or a book that has had great meaning in your own life.

Donors are asked to write their name and hometown inside the cover, and a short note about why they love the book, or what it has meant to them. Those names, cities and notes will be the entry to a world of learning and endless possibilities. (A small donation for shipping will also help.)

Mahiga Hope Library will serve boys and girls, men and women, from pre-school to an adult literacy program, so the possibilities for what books would be useful are also endless. Young reader books and non-fiction books about science, technology and the world around us could be particularly useful. Think back to your childhood - was there a book that helped get you where you are today?

Several schools in Austin are participating in the drive, and you're encouraged to bring your book to Waterloo Records for the party (and please buy a DVD of One Peace at a Time while you're there).

You can also make a book Donation by Mailing to:

1000 Books for Hope

P.O. Box 161925

Austin, TX 78716

If you can slip a small cash donation in with the book, that will help us cover shipping to Kenya or another Hope Library!

Thanks to everyone for your incredible support. We couldn't do it without you.

About Me

My photo
People know me from different things I've done, and often seem to remember me from whatever I was doing when our paths first crossed. If you first saw me on television with Harry Anderson or doing stand-up comedy, you may be disappointed in my current level of funny. On the other hand, if you first saw me as that idiot narcoleptic guy in The Sopranos, I could really use a nap, so I'm still playing that part well. The last few years have been occupied by making three feature docs, Nobelity, One Peace at a Time, and Building Hope. All three were produced by our education and action nonprofit, The Nobelity Project ( I've also written ten books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently the NY Times bestseller, The Tao of Willie, co-authored with the very awesome Willie Nelson.