Baron Deutsch 1 Melina Baron Deutsch Environmental Sustainability Spring 2014 Prof. Carlos Guindon Making a Community Based Initiative More Community Based ABSTRACT Monteverde residents generally work in tourism based professions, yet do not have the opportunities or funds to experience the excitement behind these tourist exhibits. Sergio s EcoPaz Park attempts to alleviate this problem by working towards providing th e community with a community space for themselves. I discuss what constitutes sustainable development and the park s current status. I note the current lack of community involvement in the park s development Through volunteer ing at the park in constructiv e ways and recruit ing various community members to participate in it I attempted to help the park be more community based RESUMEN: Residentes en Monteverde generalmente tienen trabajos en el turismo, pero no tienen las oportunidades ni el dinero para u tilizar estos entretenimientos para las turistas. El Parque EcoPaz de Sergio presta un espacio para la comunidad para disfrutar. Discuto que es desarrollo sostenible y sobre el estado del parque actualmente. Noto que todava falta mucho desarrollo. Por se r voluntaria en el Parque EcoPaz, yo trat a hacer el parque ms basado en la comunidad. INTRODUCTION: Parks are spaces used for bringing together families and neighbors and building community. In areas with high tourism w here most places are beyond th e
Baron Deutsch 2 means of local residence, there is a strong need for free or affordable community spaces, such a recreational parks. When living in Monteverde, Costa Rica, it is easy to notice that in such a tourist town, few things here are built for entertaining the l ocals. In Diego s lecture on Latin American Identity, he discussed that a common characteristic of the Latin American identity is survival, a characteristic that leaves many Latin Americans without having much time to travel or enjoy the attractions as tou rists do. With booming ecotourism, Monteverde residents generally work in tourism based professions, yet as Sergio stated in his EcoPaz park pitch, they do not have the opportunities or funds to experience the excitement behind these tourist options Various previous attempts to establish a park or green area for the region have not succeeded Niebler 2003 Sergio Alfaro, a local resident since 2008, is creating a park EcoPaz Park, in order to provide a space for residents to use in their free time as well as for special occasions; a space that they can claim for themselves. Sergio s vision and process includes a hope to create and maintain the park in a sustainable fashion that is driven by the community. The land that the park is constructed on c urrently belongs to Uriel Moreno a local resident. Sergio began renting this land from Uriel two years ago and started with renting 9 hectares out of the 12 total hectares. Previously, the land was completely farmland before Sergio began making it into a park. Ricardo Sergio s son, came on boar d as a worker a year and a half ago. Rene, a local who lives by the cemetery, worked at the park for approximately a year and resigned in March of 2014 to work another job. The park was o rig inally managed just by Sergio and his fianc, Liz, before they decided to make it a non profit association, EcoPaz. The
Baron Deutsch 3 EcoPaz a ssociation became official with all the requirements, at the beginning of this year. So far, Sergio has constructed bridges made from wood of exotic cypress that were harvested on the property and has made an effort to restore much of the land with native plants. The park is already home to a sloth, toucans, mot mots, amongst other wildlife. Sergio hopes for this park to serve as a way for the people o f Monteverde to feel more connected to their land and grow together as a community. He has a space for children where he intends to construct a play gym as well as a mini soccer field, a mountain biking space, a place to grass sled, an important ceremonies /conference space, and trails in reforested. These spaces are already well established and are undergoing new development each day. My project was to work with Sergio Alfaro on promoting more community involvement with his park, so that instead of relying on himself and his family, it will increasingly be maintained by the community as a whole. I proposed to do this through helping to organize a community meeting or establishing a committee of locals interested in helping construct and sustain this project F ew people seem to know about this park so one of my objectives was to find out why there isn t more community involvement already. I also had the objective of helping figure out a better composting system for the organic material they generate. A final objective was to learn more about how they craft everything from benches to signs to pathways by hand and without large machinery. The lack of large trucks or bulldozers helps reduce their carbon footprint and being able to create and fix
Baron Deutsch 4 structures by han d makes it more sustainable than relying on heavy or expensive machinery. I hypothesize d that by working at the park and telling others about my experience, as well as recruiting other volunteers, would lead to more community interest and engagement. MATERIALS AND METHODS I visited the park as frequently as possible and help ed out in any way that w as needed see Table 1 for dates and specific activities while trying to get others involved as well, especially from the local communities. The materials I used are my camera and note book. On February 9 th I helped build a bench out of wood and locally sourced within the park itself non invasively obtained branches. On February 14 th I took a small group of my peers who were interested in volunteering wi th me to the park, where we cut locally sourced branches into sign posts, trimmed grasses, cut weeds, and secured posts through digging, burying, and compacting. On March 8 th after Spring break, I visited the park with some local friends to introduce them to the park and help out in whatever ways were needed. My friends ended up spending much of the time getting to know the park and their mission in providing a community space, as I helped Sergio s son, Ricardo, with raking leaves. On March 20 th I visited the park and helped out with general park maintenance, such as raking leaves and discussing possible video or photo projects I could do about the park with Liz, Sergio s partner. On March 26 th I helped clear away certain plants that were in the way of th e intended fence; I found a straight, dead but not rotten
Baron Deutsch 5 branch to use as a post to secure the fence and secured it into the ground. I also brought a friend who helped us with attaching a green tarp to the barbed wire fence and attaching it to the posts we placed with nails. On March 27 th I brought my host family to the park, where I gave them a tour and we played soccer. On March 28 th I brought more friends to the park during ou r community service time, courtesy of Maria Estela, our program coordinato r. During this time, we did the lettering for all the signs and worked on constructing the welcoming gate to the park by making a frame out of wood bought locally from a neighbor across the street and we secur ed posts to hold the frame. RESULTS The Eco P az Park now has three new benches, three sign posts, a more welcoming fence, a gate, and some photos see Apendix I took of people enjoying the park. My host sister remembered volunteering at Sergio s park for Day of Service last year through the Friends School. My host mother said that she never gets to do things like that going to a park and playing, that she had a great time, and it was very special to her. DISCUSSION Even though I have not done as much community outreach as I had planned to do, I think that introducing my host family to the park was a really valuable experience in that my host mother was impressed and moved by her time at the park. She and my host sibl ings will surely share their sentiments towards the park
Baron Deutsch 6 with other community members, which will in turn help, slowly, to get community members invested in the park. My friends who got to visit and experience the park with me on March 8 th will likely sha re the park with others in a similar manner. Some of the footage I ve collected on my camera of the park and people enjoying the park could be used in the future for promoting the park or making a comprehensive video of the park s progress and the communit y s adjustment and incorporation of the park. After Maria Estela visited the EcoPaz Park on March 26 th her viewpoint of the park completely shifted, realizing that it was a project, in fact, for the community, contrary to the rumors that had been passing through the local area. This kind of public shift in perspective will hopefully take place as more people are introduced to the park and educated as to its mission statement and progress thus far There is still much work to do as far as community involvem ent goes. Though not many locals have time or resources to volunteer at the park, more community based events at the park will bring in more support and more publicity is also needed. If someone were to do a video advertisement for the park, I think that w ould be helpful both economically and for publicity. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Thank you to Carlos for your infinite knowledge, patience, and visiting the park with me, to Sergio for being incredibly enthusiastic and supportive of my ideas, to Maria Estela for visiting the park and allowing me to take some students with me to volunteer their, to my peers who offered to volunteer at the park with me, and to the Monteverde Institute for making it possible for me to be here.
Baron Deutsch 7 LITERATURE CITED Niebler, Jason et al Monteverde Environmental Center Design Proposals. Sustainable Futures: 2003. TABLE 1: Showing activities accomplished and dates completed at EcoPark, Monteverde in 2014. Days Visited Activity Done Feb 9th Built a bench Feb 14th Made sign posts, recrui ted friends March 8 th Recruited locals to visit park March 20th March 26th helped with park maintenance; raked leaves helped build fence, recruited friend March 27th brought host family March 28th Helped build fence; recruited friends APPENDIX I Contact information: Sergio s #: 8834 5513 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ParqueEcopaz
Baron Deutsch 8 Figure 1: Map showing the general location of EcoPark main intrance area white square in top right below Cabinas Capulin
Baron Deutsch 9 Me, Janeanne, and Sergio playing in the park. Photo credit: Ronny Alvarado.
Baron Deutsch 10 My host siblings playing in the park with a friend.
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