Sunday, April 17, 2011

Earth Day!

So Earth Day is quickly approaching, and for someone like me, a Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism degree holder living in Galapagos, this is like the Super Bowl.

I'm organizing a minga (community clean-up day) and festival. I've invited everyone I know. I've approached institutions, agencies, and small businesses to ask for support and donation of materials. I've asked the local and international student groups for help. I've created promotional materials like fliers and Facebook events and will soon be making a spot for the local TV station. All this in my second language, virtually single-handedly.

Not to say that I don't have support. But the cultural differences still astound me, especially coming from a pretty progressive college town. This ain't no Fort Collins.

People are hesitant to commit, hell, they are hesitant to seem interested at times. Politics play a heavy role, and so it's very complicated as to how I can involve which groups and schools and agencies and I must hold formal meetings in the Municipio (City Hall) for everything. Yes, there I sit, with my paper scraps scribbled full of ideas and my Spanish - English dictionary right there on the table. (Somehow, I have been taken somewhat seriously so far, which is nothing short of a miracle.)

What really strikes me is how unresponsive the students have been: both local and international. Again, coming from my niche in a Colorado town, this is the biggest challenge: trying to get the faces of Galapagos, these young leaders who are studying Conservation and Tourism Administration and Evolutionary Biology and the like to be active.

For the festival, I'm offering tables (manned by my English students, of course) for recycled art workshops for kids of all ages. I've been busy all weekend, trying out new ideas and testing the feasibility of making a bank decorated like a whale out of a soda bottle and some paint, for example.

I've also asked the local guides association to put on a short presentation about any topic they wish, keeping in the theme of Earth Day and sustainability and the uniqueness of Galapagos. I've petitioned local musicians to play and I'm searching for the right movie to project on a huge screen (that is if there is no rain)!

The main event is the parade and contest of costumes made from trash and recyclable materials. Prizes will be given away for the best and most creative costumes worn by all ages of participants. I've also been brainstorming my own costume and burning my fingertips with hot glue guns (and yes, I've already stapled my finger once) throwing together these concoctions of beer caps, plastic bags, plastic cups, and milk cartons.

My hope is that the events will be well-received; that everyone can take home something amidst all the hub-bub. A message about sustainability, new ideas for old materials, a new piece of knowledge about this beautiful place, the fun of a festival shared by friends, family, and total strangers, all in this thing together.