Subject follow up RE: brainstorming: 40 acre property in Belize
From Pat Coyle
Ruth and Jodie,
Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. Thanks for both of your prompt replies expressing your interest. I am working full time, so attending to this initiative is a nights and weekends effort and my replies are not always as prompt as I would like.
I really appreciate your willingness to take a look at the initial materials I have at http://belizeopensource.jot.com
Ruth, I was so struck by your talk at the Seattle EWB session and our brief chat at break. Your family's many years of working in Belize, your ongoing visits taking students there, your experience in Jamaica and Africa, will be extremely helpful.
I'd love for you to get involved in this project. I think you could be a major player in making it work as an ongoing and sustainable initiative. When you spoke, I was reminded again about the importance of the skills you bring to bear in community mobilization, organizing. and working with the community to get their involvement and commitment. Since you are planning ongoing work in Belize, it seems almost too good to be true.
Jodie, you have so many things to contribute. I'd love for you to get involved. I was struck by the following points in your email:
Training at Seattle University and University Of Washington's Advance Standing Master of Social Work Program with emphasis this year on local community development
Emphasis on the importance of community building via collaborative efforts to improve the well-being of local Belizeans with local support
Travel-based experience, in Belize and Guatemala, that engaging local communities in the region you want to work or build in is vital to the success of your efforts - and the just and right thing to do
Interest in the ideas about planting and stocking (sheep) as a way to support local agri-business vs profit for the land owner without regard for native populations
Interest to become involved with an organization or project where the mission really is about sustainable community development with a preference for Belize or Guatemala
Interest in gaining practical experience working internationally
Want to be involved with the project
Currently working on a paper in Globalization course that is analyzing the dynamics of the cruise line industry and the impacts on Belize City's local economy
Open to be involved in a dialog with others about this
Manuel and Elda Soliz in August Pine Ridge are helping me. I spoke with Elda and let her know you travel to Belize and may contact her. They can be reached at 323-3010. They can show you or others the property. Natalio Soliz, Manuel's nephew, has email and can be reached at Natalio Soliz .
Another good contact is Mrs. Blanca Esquival, Women's Group Arts and Crafts Friends of Lamanai Gift Shop (at the lamanai riuns site). She and Elda are friends and she has been leading this initiative for women for some years. Her numbers are: 309-1015, 603-7243, and 606-7244.
Eric Coleman is also assisting me. He is in Belize City and can be reached at 203-2848. We just arranged to get another 100 of Mr. Sylvestre's improved selected cashew seedlings. With the 50 we obtained in August, this will give us 150 for an initial planting.
We have discussed cashews and other tree and crop options with Thomas Tillett, Ministry of Agriculture, who visited the site to assess the initial cashew trees planted in '77.
Enrique Rivas, formerly with Ministry of Agriculture and now Director and manager of reforestation at the Bante's NGO for bird rehabilitation in Cayo, visited the site and discussed overall approaches to the use of the property.
Mr. Sabido, with Programme for Belize, http://www.pfbelize.org/, spoke with me about the their agro-reforestation project in San Lazaro, about 10miles from the property. I was very impressed with the people I talked with there during my August visit. He suggested formation of a registered community group as a vehicle for potential collaboration with government or NGO programs such as theirs. He also indicated fencing the property and getting signs up is a way to begin to establish a presence.
Mr. Haylock, also with Programme for Belize, was very helpful in arranging for permission for us to drive from their facilities at La Milpa, through Gallon Jug, and Yalbac during our August '05 visit, The stay at La Milpa and the drive through that part of Belize was a high point in our visit. I have also discussed the project with him briefly.
I also came across the Trees for the Future and talked briefly with Dave Deppner at their MD, US, headquarters about the project and their work described at http://www.treesftf.org/projects/belize.htm
I reached Frank Brechin in Belize who has volunteered for them. He also has many years of experience with CARE outside, and for last 19 years, in Belize. He was very helpful and offered to refer me to Thara Gamero Blanco, Trees for the Future Program Belize Coordinator, and others who might be interested.
At the wiki site, http://belizeopensource.jot.com/CurrentDraft , the attachments to the messages include a response to Mary Kimball, Director, http://www.landbasedlearning.org/, about her suggestions to clarify the proposal. She is very busy and may not be able to provide feedback for a while. So I'd appreciate any feedback you might offer. Then the proposal needs to be cleaned up. The tasks showing as complete by the end of November need to be pushed out.
I see it as a critical part of the plan/solution to be able to have it run with a management structure that does not require my presence, so I am seeking ideas on how to put together a team to address this.
I think the the adjacent communities have many unmet needs that are opportunities for the kinds of projects that might be of interest to a number of groups.
My current priorities include getting people lined up who want to participate and setting it up as a non-profit in the states and a NGO in Belize.
Ruth, at Seattle, you joked that Belize has so many NGOs doing things there that they sometimes get in each other's way. Do you think there are alternative approaches we should consider? Otherwise getting the documents drafted to form both entities is high on my priority list.
Please give it some thought and weigh in if you have suggestions on that or anything else.
If there are people you think we should contact, please invite them in. I think you have access to do so and to edit the site. Let me know if you don't. This wiki tool is new to me.