Travel Intern at Bioneers and The Global Summit II

During the final month of my travel internship I had the privilege of attending the both the Bioneers conference and The Global Summit II in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bioneers

Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons founded the Bioneers conference in 1990 and Kenny coined the term “Bioneer “, stating that “Bioneers are social and scientific innovators from all walks of life and disciplines who have peered deep into the heart of living systems to understand how nature operates, and to mimic nature’s operating instructions to serve human ends without harming the web of life. ”

At the 2010 Bioneers conference I heard some incredible speakers including: Jane Goodall , John Warner and Anthony Cortese.The speaker that I found the most personally moving was Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey, Ph. D., the first female National Geographic Fellow. She spoke about her work in Micronesia and being mentored for over a decade by master navigator Pius “Mau” Piailug who is considered the greatest wayfinder in the world. She eloquently reminded us of the innumerable ways of knowing that exist on the planet and the importance of preserving culture and the stories of our ancestors.

It was my observation that the leaders and visionaries who have accomplished the most in the world are, for the most part, “ordinary” people who became passionate about a specific issue. Most of these people are not geniuses with special abilities; they worked with other people and developed the skill set and the connections to bring about change.

A theme that was echoed throughout the conference was the inextricable link between social justice and environmental issues. In short, people are environment. Another emergent theme was that of women’s leadership and a call for what was referred to as “feminine principles” in leadership and decision making such as creativity, intuition, and inclusiveness.

These themes reappeared right off the bat at The Global Summit during an opening speech by Barbara Marx-Hubbard, world renowned futurist, author and evolutionary, as she shared an inspirational message and forecast of humanity’s current journey to a sustainable future- “Mother Birthing a New Paradigm”.

Global Summit II

The Global Summit II was an ambitious conference following a non-traditional format in which everyone was a participant involved with the conference. Speakers and workshops were formatted around the 7 stages of sustainability, with each series of workshops covering one of the 7 stages. I had the privilege of talking about my travel internship during the stage 5 : Identify, exchange & invest in critical information and appropriate technologies.

Here is the visual component of my presentation, which tells the story of my internship and travels:


Thank you for following my journey!
Liz Kimbrough

Travel Intern in Panama

I am writing from Bocas del Toro, Panama after a 3 week whirl wind of travel.

The Rainbow Hostel

I began my travels at The Rainbow Hostel, a forming community whose intention is to serve as a school for social sustainability. My time there was extremely grounding. Jananda, one of the residents had a lot of useful information about communities and projects to visit in Costa Rica. I left with a pocket full of contacts and confidence.

Liz and Jemma
Liz and Jemma

Before diving into the Costa Rica scene, my friend Jemma and I decided to take a side trip to Panama, which has taken us through the resplendent Panama City and the quaint mountain towns of Santa Fe and Boquette.

Organic coffee cooperative El TuteIn Santa Fe we toured an organic coffee cooperative called Cafe el Tute. This cooperative formed in 1937 when the Cafe Tute coffee plant began buying beans from local organic growers for a fair price. When they began, all of the machines were run manually with hand cranks and mules, today many of the machines are run on solar electric energy and processed with rainwater.  Basically, this small co-op caught on to the organic, shade-grown, fair trade coffee buzz before it was trendy!

In the breezy mountain town of Boquette we visited the natural Caldera hot springs . A collection of 12 hot pools and streams on a piece of land which was completely undeveloped. The family who lives on the land has resisted the many offers to build hotels on their land, and even to  pave the roads. They have chosen to live a simple life and in their words “protect this gift from God rather than profit from it.” After explaining this in a matter of fact way, the man of the farm shouted at the tree tops ”Niño! Niño!” MonkeyI thought perhaps he was calling his son but from far in the forest, a monkey came bounding down from the canopy and jumped into his arms. “This isn’t my pet,” he said, ” He is completely free.” And as the monkey kissed his cheek he laughed, “This is my friend!” I also got to hold the monkey, but he wanted to nibble on my hand…

So we left the tranquil mountain towns and headed for the rowdy Isla Colon, the main island in an archipelago off the coast of Northeastern Panama called  Bocas del Toro. On our first day there, I had the pleasure of meeting with Allie  from the Bocas Sustainable Tourism Alliance. BSTA’s aim is to preserve the geographic character of Bocas del Toro. They have set an environmental impact standards for hotels, restaurants, and tour operators. They also have programs to educating visitors on the local culture.  Many businesses are catching on that being a part of BSTA has huge benefits as tourists become more educated and the demand for eco-tourism rises.

The islands of Bocas del Toro have an issue with clean drinking water. Because of this, there is a government program which provides free rainwater catchment storage tanks to homes and businesses who are willing to build the rest of the system. Unfortunately, this program does not reach the more remote islands who still have large Indigenous communities. Fortunately, the organization Operation Safe Drinking Water is attempting to remedy this problem by providing rainwater catchment systems to indigenous schools and villages.  This is an excellent program that needs support. Check out the link above for more information.

Rainwater catchment tank being installed at indigenous school house

Our last day in Bocas del Toro, we went on a day trip to the island of Bastimentos to visit a small shop and permaculture project called Up in the Hill.  Janette and Javier, the couple who run the joint, bought what was once and abandoned banana plantation with poor soil and have transformed it into a permaculture garden with numerous native, medicinal and food plants.  Janette makes homemade chocolate and body products from materials

grown on site . Javier is also a local surf instructor. He has built rapport with the community, especially the youth, in this way and says that now many of them are coming to him for lessons in gardening and for plant starts from his native plant nursery. This is truly an inspiring project and family that I am honored to know about!

A chocolate seed pod and processed cocoa

I am now headed back to Costa Rica to visit the San Isidro area.  There are several intentional communities and farming projects in this high elevation region that I am excited to explore. I will be hosted by Finca AMRTA, a small nature reserve and organic farm. I will be both participating in their program and using the farm as a base from which to explore the area.  I will most likely be out of internet contact during the next week or so, but will surely have much to say in my next blog.

Till then, thanks for checking in…

Isabell (Liz), Appropedia Travel Intern

Travel Intern: Back to work after a….Peruvian appendectomy!?!

Ed: This was written 7 days ago, but we were only able to post it now. We’ll have another update from Isabel very soon.

Hello, this is Appropedia Travel intern, Isabel.

I arrived in Costa Rica today after a series of interesting detours…

My last blog was written about a month ago from the dreamy town of Mancora, Peru where I was attending a refresher week of Spanish classes and falling in love with surfing. I left Mancora near the end of June, feeling healthy and once again confident with my Spanish skills.

I accompanied my fried Kat to the airport in Lima, sad to see her go, but excited to dive into my internship with a visit to the office of Soluciones Practicas, an incredible organization using appropriate technology to address poverty in Peru.

Unfortunately, the day before my appointment, I began having terrible stomach pains and the owner of my hostel, Francis, insisted that I visit the hospital. After 11 hours in the emergency room and a myriad of tests, I was told I had appendicitis and needed to have surgery…right there in the Lima Hospital. I will soon be posting a personal blog with all of the exciting and nitty-gritty details of the Peruvian appendectomy and 5 days spent in the hospital.

For the purposes of this blog, I will say only that it was a life changing experience. I will also say that I couldn’t have done it without the kindness of a stranger, Francis Chauvel, owner of  Albergue Miraflores House Hostel.  He stayed with me in the ER, contacted my family, visited me in the hospital everyday, and threw a Welcome home partyfor me when I came back to the hostel!!! …Thanks Francis!

During my stay at the hospital, my mother (who was perhaps more traumatized by the experience than I was) asked me to come home to recover. I happily complied with her request and spent the monthof July in Tennessee with my family, following the doctor ordered diet (which was quite restrictive) and sleeping off the anesthesia in my system. After a full month of rest I feel both mentally and physically strong and ready to continue traveling.

I am excited to visit a few projects in Panama and Costa Rica and to return to Rancho Mastatal, an environmental learning and sustainable living center, which has become somewhat of a second home to me in Costa Rica.

As always, my schedule is flexible and I welcome suggestions for projects and places to visit in Panama and Costa Rica.

Hopefully I will have better luck this time around!

Thanks for checking in, Isabel

Isabell Kimbrough: First Travel Intern, First Blog

Exploring a lake in the Amazon
Hola! Isabell Kimbrough here! I have begun my journey and stint as Appropedia’s first travel intern.  (Follow the links for more info.)

In a nutshell, I just graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Botany and a passion for conservation and sustainable living. I saved my pennies for quite some time in order to do some traveling in South and Central America; and while I commend those who are able to travel free as a breeze, I come from a world of structure and need to feel that I am on some sort of mission as I wander. This is where Appropedia fits in. Members of the board of Appropedia had already birthed the idea of the “travel intern”, someone who would, during their travels, visit and report on successful projects for Appropedia. My internship is the trial run of this idea. I am excited and honored to have this opportunity.

I have begun my adventures and am writing from the rainforest town of Puerto Maldanado, Peru. My dearest friend Kat Fountain has been working on a conservation project in the state of Madre de Dios Peru , deep in the Amazon. It just so happened that she needed a field assistant and I just so happened to be a qualified biologist. What luck! So I joined her at the Sachavacayoc field station, a center for research, education and ecotourism. For a week we rose before the sun and spent the day exploring and experiencing the incredible Amazon rainforest.

This Amazonian hardwood tree named "La Purma" is 500 years old!

I have learned a lot in a week, not only about the local flora and fauna, but also about the situation of the people. Those working to protect and conserve this incredibly rich and biodiverse region of Peru face many threats and obstacles to conservation including (but not limited to): mining and subsequent mineral contamination in the water, logging for hardwoods, cattle farming, drilling for Petroleum, and slash and burn agriculture. The situation is, of course, very complicated and when taken as a whole, has the potential to be a little overwhelming. However, many of the conservationists and scientists I have spoken with here have a great deal of hope.

I personally find a sparkle of hope in this: There are many people and organizations whose sole (and soul) purpose is to protect this precious piece of the world. One of the biggest problems conservationists faced is that the lack of communication between groups and organizations who share the same goals. Call me idealistic, but it is my belief that as infrastructure for communication improves and these groups continue to collaborate and organize, the looming problems I mentioned before are well within our power to change. As we all know, even the biggest changes happen poco a poco.

This is why I am grateful to be a part of the Appropedia community. Every page, and each connection made, is a step towards change. Perhaps some of you have heard the expression “the revolution will not be televised!” I agree. I think it is being documented in Appropedia.org!

Till next time… Isabell