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Reports from the Bioregional Education Classes of the
Eco-Ecuador Project

2007

Ramon Cedeno Loor replaced Valentina Caminati, who returned to Italy, as  Bioregional Education Manager in late 2006 and completed the 2006 Introductory classes in early 2007.  Ramon lives in the Maria Auxiliadora neighborhood of Bahia and is a teacher. He had been volunteering with Planet Drum's Bioregional Education Classes for several months before becoming the manager.   In May of 2007 Ramon began a new series of Introductory classes, and in October he initiated an Advanced class.  (The school year in Ecuador runs from May/June until September, and then again from October until January. From late January to late May there are no classes.)

Index to 2007 Reports

Ramon's Weekly Bioregional Education Report #8

January 10, 2007

On this day we were invited to work in the greenhouse at the Cerro Seco Reserve. We planted many different types of trees (Pechiche, Hobo, Suche). It was a very special day for the young bioregionalists since what they've wanted most is to be able to be a direct part of reforesting.

We were well received at the site and divided into two groups to get our work done. Afterwards we relaxed by taking a break and eating the fruit of full-grown Hobo trees. This day was so much fun, the time went by so quickly.

January 12th, 2007

Since we are approaching the 8th anniversary of Bahia declaring itself an Eco-city, we met today with all of the volunteers from Planet Drum to do some reforestation work in the park of Leonidas Plaza. This park is important because it is at the entrance of the city and it must have a lot of trees and look nice. We cleaned and painted the park and watered the trees there. It was a fun afternoon for the children. The mayor of the city and two council members came to help. One of them planted a tree for the first time and they all participated enthusiastically.

Translated by Clay.

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Ramon's Weekly Bioregional Education Report #9

January 17, 2007

We went to the Planet Drum greenhouse at the Catholic University to transplant trees. Some of the Planet Drum volunteers were waiting for us on our arrival. They carefully explained to the kids how to transplant and make compost. Then we split into groups to tackle the two tasks. The girls decided to transplant while the boys worked on the compost. Afterwards everyone helped with watering in the greenhouse.

January 19th, 2007

I met early with the students because we had to catch the ferry (gabarra) across the Rio Chone to collect Mangrove seeds on the beach at the other side. We met up with another group from a local community called 'Manglar Beisbol' (Mangrove Baseball), a baseball team for youths who gather seeds. We talked about the importance of protecting mangroves and the roles of estuaries in our bioregion. Then we all collected a number of bags full of the seeds that we will plant during the Eco-week.

Translated by Clay.

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Ramon's Weekly Bioregional Education Report #10

January 24th, 2007

We met in the Manuel Nevares park and sat under a tree. We began to have dialogue about everything we've learned in this class and the importance of being able to create a bioregion education class. I told the students they need to take advantage of all the information I have taught them. I also explained that they are now a unique group of individuals who can improve the environments in their communities. As young people they have their own, new ideas of how this can be done. At the end of the day we all planned the closing meeting of this bioregional education project.

January 26th, 2007

Before our ending festivities, I gave all the students a questionnaire with five questions about the class to answer.

  1. What have you learned in these ten weeks?
    • “Everything about nature”
    • “I learned about all the beauty that exists in nature”
    • “I learned about planting in the greenhouse and met some foreigners”
    • “I learned a lot about planting and what constitutes a bioregion”
    • “I learned how to appreciate an ecosystem”
    • “I learned how to share with my friends, and many things about plants, animals and all about nature”
    • “The importance of taking care of the environment”
  2. What did you like best in all this time?
    • “Everything”
    • “What I liked most was going to the dry tropical forest and all the games we played”
    • “I liked going to the forest and to Planet Drum's greenhouse the most”
    • “I liked when we went to Cerro Seco, Planet Drum's greenhouse and transplanting
    • “I liked going to La Cruz, Cerro Seco, when we took photos of us working and getting to know Tom (of Planet Drum)”
    • “The times when we were all together, painting in the park at Fanca, and celebrating the birthday of Raisa and the teacher”
  3. What did you like the least?
    • “I can't say”
    • “When there was a lot of sun and we had to hike over hills”
    • “When Tom left without getting to say goodbye, and that we didn't get a chance to plant trees in the sites because it didn't rain”
    • “That it's over”
    • “That some students didn't attend the last three weeks of class”
  4. What would you recommend for the next class?
    • “Nothing, because I liked it all”
    • “That we have a specific site where we can meet to have class”
    • “That the foreign volunteers don't change as often”
    • “That you only take diverse students who are mature”
  5. Would you return to be a part of this class?
    • “Yes!” (Everyone)

After answering these questions, we hiked up to Cerro Seco which we had chosen as the site to end the first term of Bioregion Education. We had a big barbeque and the students had a great time. We all stayed until 7 o'clock at night.

In the end, our class had 18 active students, though only 10 could attend the final three classes because of vacations. For the next term, it would be helpful to have more information in Spanish about what we are teaching the children, such as pamphlets for each of the subjects we are teaching (Bioregions, Birds, Trees, Food, Indigenous history, etc). This would make it easier for them to learn. It would also be nice to have more interactive work for them to do, such as planting, which unfortunately we weren't able to do this time because of the lack of rain. They always want to participate in activities and it helps keep them motivated and feel like they are a part of something bigger. But I was able to achieve my goal of having a large group of students (composed of a majority of girls) and next time I think I can recruit even more students.

Translated by Clay

(The vast majority of students have gone on break for a couple months. The classes will resume towards the end of April or the beginning of May. There are some students who aren't going away for vacations and are interested in continuing to have informal meetings on occasion. We will try to include them in greenhouse transplanting, tree planting and other activities when feasible. Clay)

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Ramon's Weekly Report #1

Bioregionalism Education
Summer Session 2007

May 30

This Wednesday we began a new cycle of Bioregional Education classes. Students received Bioregionalismo booklets made by Planet Drum volunteers. Clay passed out the booklets and welcomed the fifteen students who are from different parts of Bahia and San Vicente. With the help of some of the students who have been in this class before, we went over the characteristics which make up the bioregion of Bahia. After a discussion we began to read the booklet together. At home, students started answering some of the questions in the booklet.

June 1st

On Friday we gathered at the school to take a field trip to the Mirador (lookout) at the statue of a cross above the city. From on top of the hill overlooking Bahia we were able to point out the main distinct natural characteristics which define Bahia's bioregion such as the mountains to the south of the city, the Leonida's Plaza suburb, the green spaces within Bahia, the watersheds flowing into the Chone river; and the students were able to see first hand the examples from their booklets.

Additionally, we are planning to form a high school eco-club which will be called "Bioregionalistas Eco-Club".

Translated by Clay

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Ramon's Weekly Report #2

Bioregionalism Education
Summer Session 2007

June 6th & 8th

This week we split into three work groups of bioregionalista students to analyze an article by Peter Berg about bioregionalism from their booklets. During their discussion they made many conclusions, but also had a lot of questions about what a bioregion is and the Eco-city. Some of the students asked why Bahia is called an eco-city if it doesn't look like it. I answered that this is a process and that the changes don't happen immediately. The objective is to have the majority of people who live here develop a conservation consciousness and not to contaminate their environment. Also that it is now part of the students mission to help disseminate the information that they are learning in this class to their friends and families.

On Friday we took a trip to Leonidas Plaza for a walking tour through the neighborhood as we made our way back towards Bahia. The students noticed a lot of garbage along the road that goes to the beach. They also observed many birds, of which the species that caught their attention the most were the "lincheros," because of their color and song. We saw many varieties of trees. We even found a shark’s tooth lodged in a rock. One of the objectives of our trip was to prepare ourselves for the next class when students will have to make drawings of their own bioregions, remembering everything they saw while on the walking tour.

Translated by Clay

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Ramon's Weekly Report #3

Bioregionalism Education
Summer Session 2007

June 13th & 15th

On Wednesday the 13th class began with a new helper, a volunteer from the Planet Drum Foundation. We split into two work groups where the theme of the day was to remember the different sites seen on our various outings. Both groups had to draw the bioregion of Bahia, identifying various characteristics that make up a bioregion while drawing. They accomplished this with confidence. Afterwards, one person from each group gave a presentation of the drawings. This activity helped to reinforce the students understanding of what a bioregion is.

On Friday we went on a walk to Cerro Seco Reserva and followed one of the nature trails there. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to finish the hike because one of the girls hurt her foot. But later while sitting in a group together we saw a woodpecker, which none of the students had seen before. They liked its different colors: red, black and green. The students are talking about organizing a small cleanup one day since we've seen a lot of trash on our field trips. The class is also discussing the possibility of creating a small garden to grow our own food.

Translated by Clay.

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Ramon's Weekly Report #4

Bioregionalism Education
Summer Session 2007

June 20th & 22nd

This week we almost completed assignments in the Bioregional booklets. All that's left is to do the activities. On Wednesday we focused on detailing the themes of bioregionalism, such as climate, water and watersheds, culture, etc. We made three groups as usual and with the help of a couple of Planet Drum volunteers, reviewed the topics among groups. Unfortunately this day was short because all of the students have lots of homework from their regular school and were unable to analyze and synthesize all the themes.

On Friday the students and two of the Planet Drum volunteers hiked through the trails of the Cerro Seco nature preserve. It was a fast trip. On the ridge of the hill there is a resting spot and we sat there and finished the work that was left over from Wednesday's class. Group One began with a presentation by Anita and Mateo who talked about the need to protect the environment, have a culture of recycling, and make good use of waste, and about how the garbage separation program of the city does not work but should be working. Group Two also had an excellent presentation, in which they highlighted everything that we must be done to be able to live in a region. Then Group Three talked about the use of contaminating vehicles, especially the buses that take people to the Leonidas Plaza suburb of Bahia. They also talked about the different types of alternative energy. In conclusion they said we need to live in harmony with nature.

Translated by Clay.

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Ramon's Weekly Report #5

Bioregionalism Education
Summer Session 2007

June 27th & 29th  

On Wednesday we all sat down in a circle and began to explain the work of the day, which was to synthesize the entire Bioregionalismo booklet. We have covered everything in it except to elaborate some of the answers to questions. Emily and Laura arrived a little late to class, but when they showed up we formed our three work groups. In the groups we discussed the importance of knowing the characteristics of the bioregion and how to live within it. Class was a little short because the students had a lot of homework, but were able realize the objective of the day, which was to reach a general conclusion.

On Friday each of the groups gave conclusions from Wednesday's class. Once again everyone said that we need to live in harmony with nature, which means respecting the environment, not polluting, and not cutting trees, etc. We also began the next topic in the class which is soil. We talked about the types of soil that are present in this region. To show the class what layers of soil there are, we went for a walk down the beach south of Bahia. Where the water meets the land, the earth is cut and you can see the different layers of soil below the ground. We were going to walk back on a trail through the mountains, but the students saw a snake, and left running, throwing down everything they were carrying. It was actually a very fun day.

There are new kids from a different high school that would like to be part of our class. I told them that this was fine. Next week we will talk about the birds in the estuary.

Translated by Clay.

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Ramon's Weekly Report #6

Bioregionalism Education
Summer Session 2007

July 4th & 6th

On Wednesday I talked to the class for twenty minutes about birds and their importance in this bioregion, especially the birds that can be found in the Rio Chone Estuary. I explained the principal characteristics of the birds, the different species, their songs, and reproduction, etc.

Then we split into work groups. One group went with Angela (Planet Drum volunteer) and the other with me. After working in groups, students gave short presentations on the topics they analyzed.

On Friday we left the dock in Bahia in a rented boat to take a field trip to Isla de Los Pajaros (Island of the Birds) in order to observe the different types of birds that live there. We went with all the volunteers from Planet Drum and our friend Cheo who gave a tour of the island and explained more about the birds. The kids got to walk through Mangrove trees and saw lots of birds.

It was a really fun and great day.

 

 

 

 

Translated by Clay.

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Ramon's Weekly Report #7

Bioregionalism Education
Summer Session 2007

July 11th & 13th  

This week on Wednesday I was surprised when all of the students showed up to class early to begin work. The theme for the day was flora. We talked about the flora in this area and the different species of trees that are here. We were able to relate this class to the previous one, about the different birds in this region. We also talked about the problem of deforestation, and how the majority of the land surrounding us has been deforested. I explained how trees maintain soil stability and integrity with their roots and the decomposition of fallen leaves, in addition to providing habitats for birds and animals. It's because of these important reasons that there are groups such as Planet Drum and the Consejo Provicial that have reforestation projects. After class we took a walk around Bahia and ended on the ocean wall overlooking the water and watched the sunset.

On Friday we met up with Melissa and Angela, Planet Drum volunteers, to go on a hike up to the La Cruz overlooking Bahia. From there it was possible to visit one of the reforestation sites that Planet Drum has on a nearby hillside. The students could see the trees that Planet Drum planted in order to help prevent further erosion and so that more biodiversity can return to the area. On the way home we stopped by the store for tee-shirts where the students picked out the shirts that this group of students will wear for their bioregionalismo group.

Translated by Clay.

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Ramon's Weekly Report #8

Bioregionalism Education
Summer Session 2007

July 18th & 20th  

Wednesday we met as usual at the city park to begin another class.  This week's theme was Compost.  Planet Drum volunteer Melissa led the first part of the class and taught about the decomposition of organic materials.  There were nine different steps in process of how organic material decomposes that she covered.  She passed out materials detailing the process and read over them with the students.  They discussed garbage separation, how to make a compost heap, and how the bacteria and decomposers work to break down the materials to form nutrient rich soil.  They also talked about how the materials at large garbage dumps are often covered with dirt and don't receive enough oxygen for the bacteria to break down the organic matter, which can lead to methane gas production.  Finally, they discussed the uses of compost and how it can be a benefit in agriculture as a fertilizer for nutrient poor soil.     

On Friday we met with Planet Drum volunteers and took a trip to their greenhouse at the Catholic University.  While there they explained how they turn organic waste into compost for the trees.  

The students helped mix some of the compost they have there and prepared a new compost heap.  We saw the worms and maggots that live in the compost and help with decomposition.  The students got to water the plants and also helped plant Caoba seeds with the direction of the Planet Drum volunteers.  

 

 

 

 

 

And finally they transplanted Cascol seedlings that had sprouted in some of the seed beds.  It was a long afternoon with lots of work at the greenhouse, but all the students had a great time, and as the sun was beginning to drop in the sky, we caught the bus back to Bahia.

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