Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cuerpos de Conservación meeting in the Santa Rosa Mountains

Today was such an awesome day—except for the fact that I was freezing all morning! But just as I was thinking to myself, this really sucks, and I wish I were home with a hot cup of tea, I realized, holy crap, at least I can wish that! These people deal with this EVERYDAY! And not to mention, we had a 100% turn out—families, cooperatives, NGO people, grant writers, EVERYONE. You could definitely see how much people craved to make projects work. We talked about their projects last year and how effective the end-consumer (villagers) thought it was, what road-blocks they ran into, difficulties securing funding from the government in renewing contracts, and how to move forward. I learned a lot about how I would like to help facilitate discussion in my village when I get deployed. I really need to spend the remaining months I have in the states to really be a better listener and hear what people really want and try to help them get there instead of trying to make them want what I want for them. Does that make sense? Even if this means that their quality of life may still be kind of low. I keep reminding myself that this is about sustainable development and in order for anything to be sustainable, I have to be able to walk away and know that the community wants it bad enough to keep it going long after I am gone.

Apparently Cuerpos de
Conservación has to renew their contract with the landowner, but in order to do that, they have to renew their contract with the government to get the funding that would then enable them to renew the afore mentioned contract. The government reviews the project proposal and decides how much they will give Cuerpos de Conservación and money is set aside for the projects first. After doing so, whatever left gets distributed to the non-profit workers. None of these people are doing this for the money, and many have decided to take a lower pay in order to have more money for the projects they are working on. It's difficult but there is so much promise.

A little ways before getting to the EEC is a small women's cooperative that produces honey. It's pretty neat--apparently it started with 3 women and has now expanded to 15. Their product is marketed and sold in Le
ón, a pretty huge industrialized city about an hour and fifteen minutes away from here.

Here are some photos and video--provecho!

On our way up to Santa Rosa in the mtns.

This is the Environmental Education Center (EEC)
with a partially completed roof. They've put in some
piping for the showers which can be seen sort of
to the right of the window.

This is the main water tank with pipes still above
ground and flowing down to the EEC.

A little adobe-brick water heating system
and a tiny (black) water tank above it.

This is going to be a dormitory that will fit 40 beds (20 bunks)
upon completion. You can see mattresses stacked
up in the back. There will also be a bike room for retreat groups
to take out on trails.

The guys, washing cups for the meeting. See
that hose? The water comes from there and it's FREEZING
cold! That's right my friends, NO HOT WATER...yet.

Hopefully a fireplace will be put in here.

The community showed up, had the meeting outside
in the freezing cold, but everyone was there nonetheless.

Going over last year's projects and what the community
would like to see this year.

Community member talking about solutions to
financing his project.

And there goes the greenhouse! The community
loading materials onto their trucks to set up
the greenhouse for medicinal herbs.

The guys moving stuff from the current
greenhouse to set up their own in their community!

A piece of the EEC roof that is not yet finished.
Wooden support beams have been laid and
coverings will go next.

Topics of discussion for first annual meeting.

Community leader expressing his thoughts.

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