Bridging Hearts, Opening Minds and Doing Things Together

Tertulia Científica with Giovanni Onore

Yesterday, we shared a wonderful moment with about 30 friends of Otonga at the “Café Libro” coffee shop in Quito. The objective of the night? to grab a cup of coffee and be part of a lively discussion about the Value of Biodiversity. Giovanni Onore was the perfect ingredient for a fun and informational night full of inspiration, annecdotes, and great insights.
“It is like going back in time and been in one of his lectures” said one of the participants. And it really was like going back in time! Dr. Onore has an amazing power to bring people together and inspire youth. His particular style keep people’s attention and touches everybody’s heart. The message of the night was really straightforward and clear. Ecuador has an incredible biodiversity which make us all proud BUT most important Ecuador has an enormous responsibility to manage and preserve such important biodiversity. How to do that? Onore strongly beleive in the importance of providing education and equal opportunities to everybody so new cutting-edge alternatives can emerge to improve the quality of life of people in total harmony with nature. As part of the night we shared experiences about how to help and how to work for biodiversity conservation. Some good examples of how inspired youth have started great initiatives is the case of FLOARE an enterprise started by Gabriel Iturralde, one of many Onore ex-students. Floare´s main iniciative is the commercialization of baby orchid plants presented as part of an original design, adaptable to urban spaces. Overall, the project is based on borrowing the richness of nature and adapting it to vanguard designs that will provide funds necessary for the social development and conservation of natural Ecuadorian species.
A great initiative with lots of potential considereing that Ecuador has near 4000 species of orquids wich are admired worlwide!!! Congratulations FLOARE!

Another inspiring example is the Centro Jambatu and Wikiri initiative. In one hand, Centro Jambatu is an institute dedicated to research and conservation of Ecuadorian amphibians. It has successfully been implementing the Strategic Plan to safeguard amphibians from extinction by conducting long term monitoring and research, managing amphibians at high risk of extinction in their natural habitat and in the laboratory, providing free access information about the status of Ecuadorian amphibians and promoting outreach and education initiatives. WIKIRI on the other hand, commercialize amphibians and other related products for the pet and educational markets, fighting the illegal wildlife trade and allocating its income to fund research, forest conservation, and education of children and youth in “frog-diverse” areas. Great job Wikiri!

It was a really nice night! Dr. Onore officially invited everybody the event at the communities for the coming 27 of July 2012. The event is called the “Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador”, and we really hope all our friends will come.
Finally, I would like to thank everybody for sharing with us such a lovely night!

A big Hug,

Caro

The Earth is not just a planet…it is HOME!!

“The natural environment we treat with such unnecessary ignorance and recklessness was our cradle and nursery, our school, and remains our one and only home.”
-Edward O. Wilson (2002)

I feel touched every time I read Ed Wilson’s quote. I do think about it and it is difficult for me not to care about the Earth and not to see it as much more than just a planet. What is home for you? For me it is a place and a space where I belong to, I care, I look after and can’t live without. It is where I found peace, understanding and love. I’ve been asking myself how can I share my passion with my peers and how can I engage more and more people in this crazy love for life in the Earth.

I’ve been interested in the topic of Conservation of Biodiversity for quite a long time. Fisrt from the scientific side, understanding biodiversity at its more basic level, then from the social side, understanding the knowledge, believes and perceptions of people who rely on biodiversity and now, I am in the practical side, where I hope I can facilitate a lasting change in the Otonga Cloud forest and its communities.

I see “Vivamos el Bosque” as seeds of hope and consciousness with the potential to empower children and youth to help each other to build a better world. Why did I choose non formal environmental education as the foundation of the project? Well, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) environmental education is the process of giving people the skills, perspectives, knowledge and values to live and work in a sustainable manner. The definition is sometimes difficult to understand and apply but I take “Vivamos el Bosque” as a response to the Earth’s call for help and action… as an invitation to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of our lives.

The importance of non-formal environmental education in developing countries is self-explanatory in the context of Ecuador where factors such as illiteracy, low levels of schooling, high rates of failures and desertions at the primary school level, deficiency in the public services infrastructures and poor educational materials have challenged the implementation of EE programs at the formal level. In 1994, the Ministry of Education of Ecuador incorporated the preservation of the environment as part of its educational system in order to guarantee local, regional and national development, but due to the unstable economic situation, civil organizations and the private sector were forced to assume some of the basic responsibilities of the government such as education and health.

Within contexts where EE at the formal level is limited, experiences had shown that livelihoods in poor communities in developing countries can be improved through non-formal EE education initiatives such as “Vivamos el Bosque”. Therefore, non-formal EE has been an important instrument for rural development since it involves innovative learning methods organized outside the formal school system that aim at developing practical skills, including aspects of health, sanitation and literacy to be applied in real life.

With this scenario in mind, and based on the premise that health and well-being depend upon the quality of the environment, EE and its varied learning process, blend local knowledge with technical/scientific information to foster dialogue, create action oriented solutions, and drive behavioral change instead of only delivering environmental messages to community members.

Environmental education should reach everybody, but for me, children and youth are the ones who can get the most of it. Environmental education can easily show them that it is possible to live in harmony with nature. On one side, children and youth should be aware of the current environmental crisis but they need to be empowered to work for another reality and have the skills to do it! The intention is not to blame on anybody or depress young generations, but to give them hope and inspiration. “Vivamos el Bosque” aims to empower them to become part of the solution. By giving children and youth the space and time for dialogue, reflexion and action, they can choose and build the HOME they want to live in…

What the educational program for children and the one for youth entail will be explained in detail in a separate section. Keep Checking the blog and thank you for all your inputs!