Bahia de Carquez, Ecuador
It has been nearly five years since the Ecological City Declaration in Bahia de Caraquez and there have been many developments and changes. These have overwhelmingly been for the better and are too great in number to describe fully in a short space. One major difference is that the mutual exuberant feeling of hopeful optimism that prevailed on February 23, 1999 has been transformed over time into personal absorption with individual projects. Large or small, all the activities aimed toward the ecological city goal have their own unique and detailed features. They continue to grow in separate directions and become more different from each other as they progress. Each one requires financial support which is close to non-existent locally and difficult to obtain from other Ecuadorian or international sources, especially in the case of relief related aid so long after the El Nino mudslides and earthquake of 1998. Most groups are in the same position as Planet Drum with our revegetation project that could be readily expanded several times if funds were available.
Without easy communication and assistance between active groups, the vacancy of support could become a Petri dish for fostering discouragement, complaint or disillusionment. While traveling from San Francisco to Bahia to work and plan for the upcoming year, I made some notes about my own doubts and feelings of estrangement from other eco-ciudad groups in Bahia. What is the real state of the eco-ciudad? What needs to still be done and how? What can be gained? For the latter there is an inspiring list of possibilities: ecological, social, economic, individual, physical conditions, educational, consciousness, culture, and public information. Having originally pledged five years of Planet Drum involvement that is coming to an end, I decided to try to get answers during this visit before expending more energy and funds in pursuing further directions than we have already begun.
Jacob Santos helped by offering his restaurant for a meeting and putting the following announcement into well-written Spanish. Some participating groups were consulted beforehand about the contents and I delivered it to a dozen more.
BAHIA ECO-CIUDAD ANNIVERSARY DISCUSSION AND SOCIAL GATHERING
Thursday, November 13, 8 PM
Bed and Breakfast Inn Restaurant
We have a grand occasion to celebrate next year, the fifth anniversary of the Eco-Ciudad Declaration for Bahia de Caraquez in February 1999. All of the groups and individuals who participate in helping to build an ecological city can be proud of what they have done. We need to discuss and plan how to show our satisfaction and pride, and what we hope to do in the future.
This discussion will be informal and offers the opportunity to state what you are doing, hear news about other projects, and express yourself about eco-ciudad conditions.
There will be free refreshments and time to have person-to-person conversations. Bahia de Caraquez has benefited economically, culturally, educationally, and socially from five years of eco-ciudad work. It can see even better times with our enthusiastic support.
This invitation is going to many organizations, and you can help by informing those you know to come as well.
Please come to show your continued desire to see Bahia become a fully ecological city!
Friends of the Eco-city
Fourteen people showed up representing at least eight organizations including many of the original supporters, a good showing for less than a week’s notice. We sat informally in a circle with Jacob as an unobtrusive facilitator. It was reassuring to hear some people speak out immediately about the need to work together regardless of specific outcomes. On the question of what day the fifth anniversary should be celebrated, the Declaration date on February 23rd or as part of Environment Day in June, there were nearly as many reasons for picking one or the other as speakers. Eventually we settled on the actual commemorative day. As might be expected after frustrating experiences in seeking assistance from a financially strapped city government, there was considerable venting of disappointment from several people. We agreed to bring specific proposals for municipal aid to the next meeting which will be held at the same time and place in a week. Ideas for the celebration will also be discussed then.
The mutualism that initiated the ecological city was partially resurrected in just two hours. It’s obvious that we need to act as a lobbying interest group rather than count on full municipal support, but that isn’t far from the original situation five years ago. The then-mayor infuriatingly put off signing the Declaration until about twenty-four hours before the Ecological City Celebration was to begin.
We now represent an interest group that can include everyone from parents of school children to drivers of three-wheel pedaled taxis who wear T-shirts emblazoned with “Ecologico Triciclo”. Civic budget meetings and an election are coming up. Hopefully, pulling city officials and agencies along will also help unify us in where we want to go.