By Jeannine Perez
The attractive little blue and white building at Centro Paseo Miguel Hildago #67 houses an organization founded four years ago, when several people decided that there was a greater need for community involvement through an organization that would encourage working together to conserve the natural resources and beauty of the desert, mountains, and sea around Loreto. This beginning came during a time of much local development, and a group of individuals were concerned about the impact of that development on the environment and fragile ecosystem of this area. And so, Eco-Alianza was created.
The organization has initiated a number of activities and programs since its inception. It is involved with water quality and waste management projects, Earth Day activities, education for all ages, formation of Pescadors de Alianza (fishermen who are collecting data from the sea and sharing their expertise), outreach activities for families and young people, and research that empowers these young, their families, local fishermen, and others in the community to be heard by those who have the power to make and enforce environmental laws.
Edna and Gaby, who run the two-room office and give the children’s workshops, are beautiful young women with lots of energy and enthusiasm for their work. This enthusiasm is contagious.
I recently sat in on one of their workshops. In it, boys and girls identified marine birds, learned about the animals’ habits, had contests, went on field trips, and ended by creating surprisingly professional paper mache birds from plastic bottles and lots of glue, paper, and paint (and much patient instruction).
Here’s what Edna and Gaby had to say about their workshops and the organization:
What ages are the children at your workshop, what is the cost to attend, and can you tell us about your most popular workshops?
Our youth education workshops are geared toward children 9-12 years old. The workshops are free, with materials and employee salaries covered by donations. All of the workshops have been wildly popular for the children. The favorites are probably the camping programs “Camping Without Leaving a Trace” and also the one on “Sea Mammals.” It is hard for me to believe that many children who have lived here all of their lives have never before been in a boat, on an island, or seen dolphins or sea lions. The cost of a boat trip to Coronado is too much for many families’ budgets.
What are the greatest needs if Eco Alianzia? Can you tell us about some of your upcoming project?
We are always in need of funding for more environmental programs. Future plans include forming a club for young people who have formerly been in classes, with the idea of maintaining continuity and then growing our own mentors/helpers for future programs. We also plan to create an online magazine, hopefully with a new page for each of the four seasons, with the goal of giving a voice to the people of Loreto (including our young people). This program would become a forum to air views and write about many issues: problems, current research, solutions to problems, dates for planned activities, and it would give everyone a chance to participate and speak. We also hope that it could help instill a sense of pride in all the natural beauty we have here.
What is the hardest thing you do? ( I had my own idea of that, having stayed to help clean up after the workshops busy with pasting and painting birds, but they did not mention clean-ups. )
The waste management concerns and programs are currently the hardest to deal with, because Eco-Alianza has been embroiled in setting up the necessary groundwork, which takes time, and does not quickly show the progress made.
We ended our conversation with enthusiastic hugs and promises and Edna summed it all up when she said that “for our young people, this is so important. You cannot love what you do not know.” The education program has already touched the lives of many young people (and their families, who are often included), and I sense a growing awareness of pride and sense of ownership of the beauty here in Loreto.
For more information on the organization and its activities, visit the Eco-Alianza Facebook Page, or contact them at 52 (613) 135-1900.
Have you experienced an Eco-Alianza workshop or event? Share your comments with us!
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