Volunteer Opportunities in Ecuador with Planet Drum Foundation

Volunteer in the Eco-City

Fundación Planet Drum

P.O. Box 13-02-13

Bahía de Caráquez,

Manabí, Ecuador

Website:  www.planetdrum.org   

Information on Planet Drum Foundation and volunteer opportunities in
Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

Planet Drum was founded in 1973 by Peter Berg, to provide an effective grassroots approach to ecology that emphasizes sustainability, community self-determination and regional self-reliance.  In association with community activists and ecologists, Planet Drum developed the concept of a bioregion: a distinct area with coherent and interconnected plant and animal communities, and natural systems, often defined by a watershed.  A bioregion is a whole “life-place” with unique requirements for human inhabitation so that it will not be disturbed and injured.  Through its projects, publications, speakers, and workshops, Planet Drum helps start new bioregional groups and encourages local organizations and individuals to find ways to live within the natural confines of bioregions.

“Bioregion a geographic terrain and a terrain of consciousness” – Peter Berg

Local people and government invited the Planet Drum Foundation (PDF), a non-profit, non-governmental foundation, to Ecuador after a series of natural disasters left the city of Bahía de Caráquez in a terrible state.  Following mudslides and natural disasters Bahía declared itself an “eco-ciudad” (eco-city), incorporating environmental policies into their by-laws.  PDF was recruited as ecological consultants.  

We put emphasis on fieldwork, research, and education.  We integrate our projects with other non-profits, schools, local universities, local government, and the members of the community to carry out the environmental principles set by the city and meet our objectives.

Currently, we are looking to implement a year-round, alternative education program.  The program will emphasize “life-place learning” or bioregional education.

Peter Berg defines “life-place learning”: “The main focus for life-place learning is on the ecologically bounded place itself. It isn’t difficult to locate this spot. Identify the climate, weather, landforms, watershed, predominant geological and soil conditions, native plants and animals, and sustainable aspects of the traditional culture along with ecological practices of present day inhabitants. Your life-place is the geographic area where those things converge. Lessons, workshops, and exercises need to be directed toward identifying and harmonizing with the specific features of that place, and they should do this while assisting to carry out public projects that foster ecological sustainability.”  To read the full essay, “Learning To Partner With a Life-Place“, of which this excerpt is taken, please click on the title.

This program is in its formative stage.  We are currently looking for a dynamic individual to lay the groundwork and implement the program.     

“The teacher is primarily a guide to the work/learning process. A background in ecology and the natural sciences is essential, but this can be from practical experience or personal study as well as formal instruction. The teacher-guide should also have a working experience with previous restoration and sustainability projects. Because potential candidates for teachers may come from many fields, and life-paces themselves vary so widely, it would be inappropriate to advise a universal work plan. Let the subjects be chosen to follow a direction that is organic in the specific place, and determine their order, amount of study, and seasonal duration by the needs of projects at hand. The one imperative for a teacher is to avoid the trap of determining student results through evaluations such as examinations or tests. Rebuilding a role for human beings in the natural flows of the place where they live will not be achieved by a grade at the end of the term. This goal can only be measured by the degree of a student’s involvement in the accomplishment of direct, practical results. With class subjects ranging from restoring a habitat or a watershed, producing food and energy through renewable means, utilizing native and recycled materials in making products, and creating life-place culture, each member has started on a life-long exploration.” —”Learning To Partner With a Life-Place”  

The responsibilities of the facilitator include (but are not limited to):  participant recruitment, scouting learning and “hands-on” sites, curriculum and workshop development and implementation, gathering materials and resources and documenting the progression of the program.  A local person will be hired to assistant the facilitator in all appropriate aspects.  The facilitator will also receive training prior to the initiation of the program and guidance and support throughout from the Field Projects Manager.  The facilitator will be allotted a small budget for materials, resources and other such expenses.

This is unpaid voluntary position.  The ideal candidate must speak Spanish well and be willing to make a six-month commitment to this project starting September of 2004.  PDF will offer housing in exchange for volunteer work.

The PDF apartment-office is located within the Rio Chone Bioregion.  We have a 3-bedroom house centrally located in the town center within close proximity to the beach and foothills of the coastal mountain range.  The house has a communal kitchen, 2 bathrooms, office space, and a living area.   There is no phone or Internet, but both are available within a two-block radius of the house.  Bedrooms are often shared.  Volunteers are expected to take part in regular house cleanings and maintenance. 

To apply please e-mail the Field Projects Manager, Renée Portanova: planetdrumecuador@yahoo.com  with the following information: relative life experience, educational background (formal and informal), and goals and reasons for wanting to volunteer.  Ideal candidates should possess an open-mind, an environmental ethic, and the ability to identify solutions creatively.  We welcome persons of every ethnic group, religion, gender and sexual orientation.

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