Upcoming Opportunities fro Paddling:
Many Amigos expressed interest and some said they would be willing to serve on a steering committee … now, renamed as the Environmental Executive Committee.
After three very productive meetings we are thrilled to say that we are well underway. Working cohesively our committee of ten, reviewed and refined our goals and strategies, then prioritized our programming selecting key programs to move forward. This work has created an important blueprint for Amigo’s environmental work over the next year.
At the same time, this is another invitation to you, Amigos members, to indicate interest in volunteering some of your time to assist with any of these activities.
Overall, the environmental goal simply stated is to help improve the quantity and quality of water available to San Miguel – by working to reduce the contamination of the water supply and ensuring that the supply is able to meet the needs of the city. Geographically the focus of most of Amigos activities is the municipal area.
1) Stream Observation Program – Susan Feldman, coordinator and project leader. This Program involves the active engagement of about 12 – 14 volunteers who each month ‘observe’ a designated sections of the arroyo Cachinches, the Rio Laja, and Presa Allende using a designed observation format and reporting their observation on an online tool which rates the observations, 0,1,2 (2 being a critical and reportable observation). It was first developed in early 2014 by the authors (Terry Griffith and Janna Owens) of the CWAP (Community Water Action Plan) and has been further developed for online use by Rebecca Pedrick-Case who also supports the online tool.
2) Monthly Shoreline Clean-up – Martha Donnelly is thecoordinator and project leader. This program involves coordinating volunteers who show up on the last Saturday of each month to keep the shores around the area where we launch our boats clean. (The area at Los Frailes is under the coordination of Amigos member, Paty Cardona) Amigos has installed trash cans (which are being used) and they need to be emptied a couple times a month. An Amigos member has provided a dumpster that will reside inside the Otomi gates for our use and it will be emptied by their staff.
3) Water Treatment Team (AKA, the San Miguel Viejo Team) – Ethan Feldman is coordinator and project leader. This group of 5 is working with the community of San Miguel Viejo to tackle the problem of sewage water being used to irrigate crops (and the resultant public health problems) as well as untreated sewage by-passing the SMA treatment plant and eventually going into the Presa Allende.
The main solution we have proposed is the creation and use of a lagoon (settling pond) as a water treatment mechanism (this being a major subject studied and proposed by the CWAP in late 2013). One of the obstacles is the actual amount of land required to construct the lagoon and the loss of it from agricultural production. Other solutions that can be utilized in conjunction with a treatment lagoon and generate revenue will also be explored with the community.
4) The Committee to Promote Sustainable Environmental Practices in Real Estate(working title) – Paul Roach coordinator and project leader. Working with the local real estate group, AMPI, the purpose is to determine how to help real estate brokers/agents incorporate a higher level of environmental awareness and ‘green’ practices into their business activities with buyers and sellers of commercial and residential real estate. This will involve knowing the particular environmental facts of this region’s water, air, and land use. These agents/brokers will know the resources that are available to promote a wide range of environmentally sustainable practices, how these practices can be used by those who may be building new structures or retrofitting, and how all such practices enhance the sale of regional properties. This will also enhance the involved broker’s competitive posture in the community.
5) The Coalition of Churches to Combat Climate Change (working title) – Becky Langrall is the coordinator and project leader. The purpose is to engage the faith communities in SMA to explore ways raise consciousness within their congregations around climate change, local environmental problems and especially water issues as well address actions that may be taken to help solve these problems. It could take different forms depending on the particular faith community and what fits their particular needs. We will aim for at least one annual sermon (or guest environmental speaker) and the congregation’s participation in one annual organized actions (on their own and/or in cooperation with CCCCC), such as on recycling or water conservation in the home.
6) Eco Salon – Iliana Lanzua and Bonnie Losick are coordinators and project leaders for this the program. The Eco Salons are gatherings of a small group of Amigos members and guests every 4 to 6 weeks intended to inform and stimulate discussion of local environmental issues and potential solutions. Conducted over a meal at de Temporada Farm Restaurant, it is an informal opportunity to explore relevant topics while encouraging volunteer participation and widening awareness of Amigo’s and their programming.
7) Collaborative Work – Amigos works with several other environmentally oriented organizations. Sometimes we initiate these collaborations and at other times we join the efforts of others. At this point in time, the collaborations are functioning as well as we have ever seen. We participate in many planning meetings. Mike Lambert will continue with this effort to build and sustain collaborative relationships.
8) Citizen’s Based Water Conservation Campaign – Becky Langrall, Pam Gould and Martha Donnelly are interested in working together to lead this proposed program. This program would take place across the SMA urban area by way of a door-to-door campaign aimed at raising awareness about the facts of the water situation in this region and attempting to engage as many households as possible to practice water conservation. This would be a year-long effort and would best work in conjunction with the local water authority, SAPASMA, and other NGO’s. Once citizens are aware and involved on some level, there is an increased probability of their willingness to become engaged in any larger effort to conserve water in other sectors of the region, for example, the use of water in regional agriculture. It all starts with an informed public committed to see change in current water management practices.
Other programs that will continue to be developed, to be poised for deployment at the right moment, are:
9) ‘We Save Water’ Campaign (working title) – This is proposed campaign oriented toward local businesses, especially consumer facing businesses, to conserve water and give them public recognition for their efforts. Recognition could take the form of window stickers, posters, and ads in local media, editorials, etc. This has worked well in some places in Mexico and in the U.S. and there are already existing standards that could be locally adapted to such a campaign in SMA. It is expected that such a campaign will be easier to develop after the Real Estate program is well underway.
10) Environmental Book Club – This proposed program would select readings relevant to local environmental issues, discuss, and outline the messages for publication. Amigos members are urged to submit titles (and a couple sentences describing the book or article). The project would involve as many Amigos members who opt to read the book, attend discussions, and assist in writing a summary. It is hoped that such program could begin in the September 2016. Once summaries exist, they can be very helpful in educating various constituencies.
11) Support the Environment – The proposed project involves all Amigos members and friends and other NGO’s. It may take different forms depending on the issues and actions, for example, writing letters and signing pétitions, but the purpose is to demonstrate support for actions taken on behalf of the environment. For example, we have recently learned about a letter that has been written to UNESCO detailing the possible ways that SMA is in violation of the environmental standards suggested by the World Heritage Site designation. This could be an example where letter of support could be submitted requesting that UNESCO officials require SMA to comply with prescribed environmental guidelines.
This is by no means a complete list of programs under consideration by Amigos and there is additional programming, which other NGOs are undertaking, and which Amigos will join (or has already!). Your feedback is invited.
Whenever Paddle – Special Outings
Have guests in town? Birthday or anniversary? Or, you just want to gather a group of friends for something really different? Arrange a ‘whenever’ paddle!
All we need is:
1) a three day in advance notice
2) minimum of four (maximum of 12)
3) 200 pesos per kayak Email: firstname.lastname@example.org