Draft summary and recommended next steps: brainstorming meeting

Submitted by patcoyle on Tue, 03/25/2008 - 15:13


Patrick Coyle <coyle.patrick@gmail.com>


Osmany Salas <osmany.salas@gmail.com>,
Edilberto Romero <edilberto.romero@gmail.com>,




Mon, Mar 17, 2008 at 4:33 PM


Thanks: for the great suggestions on next steps: Belize Open Source





Thanks Edilberto and Osmany,

I welcome the feedback and specific useful suggestions. I really appreciate your taking the time to respond.

We certainly do not want to compete with PFB. We would be thrilled if we can find ways to collaborate in mutually beneficial ways.


On Mon, Mar 17, 2008 at 3:36 PM, Osmany Salas <osmany.salas@gmail.com> wrote:

Great feedback from Eddie Romero. See my comments in red below each of Eddie's paragraphs.



On Mon, Mar 17, 2008 at 4:16 PM, Edilberto Romero <edilberto.romero@gmail.com> wrote:

From Programme for Belize's perspective, this initiative may or may not be a competition to some fo the activities of Programme for Belize.  As such, I am afraid I cannot formally join the group unless we can come up with something that is mutually beneficial.

The way I understand it, Belize Open Source (BOS) does not intend to compete with any current initiatives or organizations. Rather, BOS intends to complement and build on what is currently in place. This will need to be articulated in BOS's strategic plan, which should be formulated during the course of this year. I feel that we can identify areas that are mutually beneficial and complementary to the work being done by PfB and planned by BOS. This means that Eddie would be a welcome and strategic part of the BOS network.


That said, and apart, I think there may be activities that could be of mutual benefit is planned an executed properly.  One thing that Programme for Belize (PfB) has been interested is to promote sustainable development in its neighboring communities.  From that perspective, our sustainable timber harvesting program can lend itselt to it.  The idea is that we provide a certain volume of certified timber to a community group under consignment and they can turn it into value-added products (small furnitures, doors, etc.).  Once they sell these products, they can pay for the timber and stay with the profits.  It is like PfB giving them a zero interest loan.  The needs for this to materialize are the following: 1.) The community group has to be organizes with an acceptable and transparent accounting system; 2.)  They will need equipment (could be housed at the "Station"or "Outreach Center"); 3.) They will need the training and technical assistance; 4.) They will need assistance with the marketing and landing/signing a few sale/purchase agreement; 5.) They will need to manage the activity as a business.  PfB can provide the lumber, but the rest need to be provided by others, unless there is funding for PfB to do this.

Thanks, Eddie, for identifying potential areas for collaboration. Great ideas!


The issue of soil fertility is an interesting one.  I suggest you invite Marcos Osorio (who is with the Sugar Control Board, I believe) who has training in sustainable agriculture, and who has worked with a women's group on growing a few grain crops in August Pine Ridge.  My experience with growing crops on those soils is that, besides the soil fertility issue, there are nematodes problems which affect some crops but not others.  With the soil feritlity, the soil/filter press from the BSI factory is a good source of organic fertilizer but needs to be whethered before it is applied or will need to be applied long before planting due to the high temperatures on the fresh material.  Marcos also has experience with integrated pest management as can be witnessed with the innovative control of frog hoppers on sugarcane, which has led to a reduction in pesticide use and crop loss.  Who knows, he can also be a part-time instructor for some activities.  The idea is to develop organic crop production that could tap into the niche "hotel market" and can be certified by Rainforest Alliance, a New York NGO with regional office in Costa Rica.

Again, wonderful ideas! I agree wholeheartedly that Marcos Osorio would be a good additon to our team. I met him at the sugar cane industry forum I facilitated 2 weeks ago. He is my main contact for the discussion of potential collaboration with Muffles College in relation to a science laboratory. Marcos is tremendously knowledgeable in his field of agriculture.I can speak with him and try to persuade him to join our network.


In reading the notes the words of Soliz kept resonating in regards to the needs of women and the Pat's insistence of community benefit.  For that reason, a community assessment is important.  Soliz's paper/research/notes, although I was not there to hear, seems very important.  While it is important to target tertiary educational needs, it is important that the community needs are looked at, especially at the level of those which only reach grade eight, who are the ones that will end up directly impacting the natural resources.  Training and projects targeted to that level are very important.  The Timber/Furniture activity where PfB can help is one such example targeting directly that community need.  Another issue of importance is teenage pregnancy and large families without family planning.  Joining with the Belize Family Life Association (BFLA), there is an office in Orange Walk.  This should not only look at family planning but also at health issue especially related to women but should address family planning for the women, men and especially for youths.  This training activity will not be a profitable venture but will definitely have a major impact on curbing poverty and imrpoving the quality of life for the people in the communities.

I agree that a community assessment should be one of the first activities to implement. Its findings would be good information to integrate into the BOS strategic plan.


On the institutional perspective, the financial needs to run the operation needs to be considered apart form the project financial needs.  From there, the long-term financial sustainability needs to be crafted.  This could mean that there could be the establishment of an endowment and profitable ventures purely to ensure financing of the core operation and then the other project which should aim to at least cover is expenses through grant or projcet generated funds.

Agreed. The strategic plan would provide valuable guidance here in terms of prioritization and sequence.



Best Wishes,

Edilberto Romero.

On 3/14/08, Pat Coyle <pat@coyles.com> wrote:

Thanks again to all of you who were able to participate in the Belize
Open Source brainstorming meeting. If you were not able to make it,
we invite your participation and will follow up with you. Information
about this initiative is at http://belizeopensource.org/ and photos
from the February visit to Belize are in the image galleries at the
web site.

I have attached a draft executive summary and recommended next steps,
summary and detailed recap of the discussion from the Belize Open
Source Sustainable Development brainstorming meeting held February
22, 2008. (It is about 1.9MB in MS Word format, if you would rather
have a pdf file, please let me know.)

In parallel with development of the concept paper and longer term
planning, which we agreed to do, I recommend we proceed with the most
immediate, concrete idea - partner with Muffles to use the Belize
Open Source property to provide practical labs and in-service field
training opportunities for students in their new program in
environmental science which includes a focus on sustainable
development and agriculture.

This would also include partnering with Mary Ann Studer on her
Defiance College work in northern Belize which supports community
based development. Especially so, since she expressed interest in
educational collaboration with Muffles and other educational
institutions in Belize and has incorporated assessment of the August
Pine Ridge community and the Belize Open Source property in her
near-term work plans. In her 3/6/08 email, she indicated she will be
returning from a trip with students to Spain and Morocco just after
Easter and that she was very excited about the possibilities for
August Pine Ridge and the surrounding region and working with all of

This initiative would inform the near-term site improvements and
operations. It could change plans for the property in order to
preserve areas of the site as-is to provide "baselines" for
monitoring performance improvements achieved by using an integrated
natural resource management approach - part of the curricula and
field work. It should shape near term plans for the next steps to get
the initial operation up and running, as we get the caretaker in
place, fence the property, get initial livestock, and start first
small projects.

I think this is an exciting opportunity. I have described this in
more detail in the attached document and have drafted a straw man MOU
as starting point for discussion.

Feedback on this specific recommendation, the MOU, and the rest of
the draft document is welcome. If I have made errors, or
clarifications are needed, please let me know.

Again, I really appreciated your engagement and all the great ideas.
I look forward to working together.

Pat Coyle


Osmany Salas
BelNaRM Strategies
19 Guadalupe Street
Orange Walk Town
Tel/Fax: 501.322.3258
Mobile: 501.602.2535