Brian Teinert, Field Project Manager Planet Drum Foundation
The Celebration of the Fifth Anniversary of the Eco-city Declaration in mid-February was a very successful event. Many different groups helped to plan and organize activities to take place over a week-long period. There were several other environmental groups besides Planet Drum Foundation including Reserva Cerro Seco, Centro de Educacion Ambiental Eco-Bahia, Guacamayo Tours, and Fundación Stuarium. High schools Fanny y Baird, Eloy Alfaro, and Nocturno participated, along with the Eco-Kids Club from Fanca and another from Universidad Técnica Manabi. Several barrios sent representatives to planning meetings and participated in the events. The City Department of Culture and Education and the Department of Tourism and the Environment also took part.
First there was the hanging of banners on the 20th of February. The Fanca Eco-kids Club designed and painted them to announce the celebration, and hung them across the road so that they could be seen when people entered town. One said “Viva La Eco-Ciudad” and the other stated that it was the fifth anniversary.
On the 21st, we had the Eco-City Parade. There was a huge turnout of participants and spectators. Taking part were high school marching bands, fire breathers, triciclo taxi cooperatives, acrobats, walking trees, Eco-kid club children with their animals, and a long multi-car caterpillar train normally used for rides in the summertime. Faithful to South American tradition, there were several reinas (queens) representing various pageants and barrios, and even a princess of PDF, who was the one and only Laurita (age 7). All of the staff had painted faces.
We started near the edge of town at the new bus station and marched along the Malecon (riverfront drive) to the downtown obelisk, where we made a left and headed for the Municipio (town hall). From there, we went down Bolivar Avenue all of the way through the city until we hit the beach. At that point the parade ended. All who spoke about it, including the mayor, were extremely pleased. As we made the turn in front of town hall, I was amazed to see the street completely full with applauding spectators, and more were filling the balconies of the buildings that line main street. It was clear that all of the participants spent time preparing and that the publicity efforts paid off. This event set the tone for what was to be a great eco-city week.
On the following night, we had the “Festival Verde de Arte y Musica.” There were about 15 different performers and all of the shows were centered on love for the environment, harmony, and even world peace. There was a great crowd, and the event was spectacular. There were about 11 musical groups, 3 poets, and 1 theater group. Vladir Villigram was the master of ceremonies. The solid arc of a rainbow kicked off the event with a positive sign that things were sure to go well. People of all ages watched the show and listened to the message that these local artists were giving. A high point was when Mayito played a cover of Blue Unicorn by Silvio Rodriquez.
On the 24th of February, we had an open house showcasing environmental projects of the city. Various groups, including high schools, Reserva Cerro Seco, Eco-papel, and Planet Drum took part. It was in the open air underneath the Municipio. People wandered through the exhibits from 9 AM to 2 in the afternoon. They saw displays of local bioregional features, vermiculture, recycled paper products adorned with local flowers, and an excellent photographic display of local flora and fauna.
On Wednesday, the Municipio of Canton Sucre hosted a Commemorative Session of the 5th Anniversary of the Declaration of the Eco-City. The mayor, who also commented on the progress that has been made as well the need to go forward as an eco-city, read the original declaration. Honorable mentions were given to many people who have made a mark in the eco-city. I received an award as a member of Planet Drum and for my dedication to the city, and in turn thanked Jacob Santos for his continued support of PDF projects.
On the 26th Nicola Mears led an Eco-Tour. It was free and open to everyone in town. Leaving city center, it went to the Eco-Market, then to Bosque en Medio de las Ruinas, stopping to see the Galapagos tortoise Miguelito at the high school. From there participants climbed to Reserva Cerro Seco. Next they visited the Fanca Produce composting facility and the Planet Drum greenhouse and revegetation site at Universidad Catolica. About 35 people finished the entire trip.
On Friday the 27th there were two seminars on ecology. The first one took place in the museum. There were talks given by IMTAG, Planet Drum, Reserva Cerro Seco, Guacamayo, and Genesis. The other seminar was at the Municipio Theater, given by the head of the Department of the Environment from the City of Guayaquil, the largest municipality in Ecuador, who spoke on sustainable development and the impact of humans on the earth.
The final day of the Celebration, Saturday the 28th, we recognized International Mangrove Day with a symbolic planting organized by the Biology Department of the Universidad Técnica Manabi. There were about 60 people who planted mangrove seed pods on the site of the Universidad. They includedinternational volunteers, children from the Eco-Kids Club, university students, the Sloth Club, and locals from the surrounding barrio.
This whole celebration was planned and implemented by the Amigos of the Eco-Ciudad, under my direction, and the Municipio, under the direction of Lic. Isabella de Quijije, Jefe of the Department of Culture and Education. We did all of this with 0 dollars. That’s right, zero. Everyone was very pleased, and the Municipio plans to support the event in the years that come with finances and collaboration from more employees.
Amigos of the Eco-Ciudad was formed to carry out the fifth anniversary celebration but will continue meeting to identify and solve the ecological problems that face Bahia. This event became a genuine catalyst in the city. Interest in ecological projects increased greatly because the celebration brought them into the spotlight. Certainly, Planet Drum is seen as a central player in this movement, and received a lot of thanks from the general public, the mayor and the consejales (city council).