I am SO lucky that I found the provincial committee on the environment. It was pretty much by chance. I was in a shop buying my host mom a birthday present and told the shopkeeper about why I’m in Peru. She told me not to leave and went to find her friend who’s on the committee. He gave me his card and invited me to a committee meeting. That’s how things happen for me here. Some of the best contacts are the ones that appear while I’m going about other business.
The people on the committee seem really committed to working to address local environmental problems. The first time I went to meet with them, it turned out that they were sponsoring a huge parade that day to raise consciousness about the pollution of a local lake, Laguna Paca. All the schools of our provincial capital, Jauja, had their kids in the parade.
They put me in the parade, too
I attended the monthly committee meeting, which included a workshop on community organizing for environmental action.
That weekend, there was a trash cleanup at the lake, so I spent the morning picking up trash. Then we ate. After that, there was an amazing conference about the lake. There were speakers from a whole array of government agencies, several environmental experts, and, of course, the politicians. They discussed options, including the possibility of having the lake designated as a protected area. I learned a lot about the lake, but also a great deal about the culture of Peruvian conferences. And then we ate some more. Have I mentioned yet that food is really, really important here?
Here’s the committee, and Kristi and I, posing with a congressman (center, in white) after the conference.
It’s a lovely lake. This is a photo I took from above, one day while hiking.
The provincial environment committee is also busy with an initiative that involves visiting each community in the province to ask them what their environmental concerns are. Kristi and I went along to one of the meetings. Usually it’s community leaders, but this time it was mostly schoolkids.
Nevertheless, I learned the process they use. Later on, when my Spanish is better, I may volunteer as a discussion leader for the project. My main goal with the committee, though, is to serve as a bridge to bring some of the energy and resources of the committee back to my own community, Marco. There’s a lake in our municipality, too and it is also contaminated. The committee has promised to help get us a water analysis. And during the most recent meeting, one of the goals set for 2013 is to get environmental action committees set up in all the districts in the province. I'm meeting with the authorities in Marco soon to discuss the process. It would be GREAT for me if I had a local environmental action committee to work with. Wish me luck!