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Proof of Concept for Organic Farming (Biocentinela + Rio Hondo Day 3)

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Our introduction to Biocentinela came in the form of an short video that was shown to our team at the Biocentinela head office in Guayaquil.  We learned about a number of the differences between organic shrimp farming (of which Biocentinela was the first) and conventional shrimp farming methods.  The point that stood out the most to me was that the waste water that Biocentinela releases from its shrimp ponds is actually cleaner/healthier when it is returned to the river from which it is originally pumped out of.

Biocentinela has received a number of different organic certifications and awards in its European markets for top quality organic produce.  In addition to a phenomenal product (confirmed by our own unofficial taste tests) Biocentinela has made some remarkable social and environmental progress as well.  Even though the owner, Javier Barragan, had not heard of the term “Triple Bottom Line” before our arrival, he was definitely running his business inline with his own Triple (or perhaps Quadruple) Bottom Line Values, with a strong desire to improve the social, environmental and spiritual wellbeing of his land and its people.

While Biocentinela has a lower environmental impact than conventional shrimp farms, due to their organic production practices, they have also gone out of their way to reforest a number of acres of mangrove trees on their farms.  The difference is visible just in comparing the view of Biocentinela’s farms to that of other conventional farms along the main waterway of Isla Puná.

Javier also believes that the health and wellbeing of their employees is of utmost importance.  In his words, “employees with bad energy will pass that bad energy onto the shrimp” and therefore they go above and beyond to ensure their employees are taken care of.  My own interpretation of this was that happy, healthy people make happy, healthy shrimp.  In addition to fair wages, provided meals and healthcare for their employees, Biocentinela also employs two mental health workers on a full time basis to work with employees in conflict resolution, diversity training, addiction problems and more.

In addition to the social efforts for their own employees, Javier is also committed to raising the quality of life for individuals in the nearby Rio Hondo community.  Biocentinela partnered with the Nature Conservancy to provide potable water to the community, built a dock that provides easier boat access and provides free medical care.

Following the morning meeting, we traveled to Isla Puná via boat to get to experience the shrimp farms and see their organic methods in process.

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While Biocentinela has 4 separate farms on Isla Puná, Jontec is the largest and center of operations.  The guest house where we stayed “Casa Blanca” was at the much smaller Seminario farm.

BGI Social Web for Social Change Blog Round-Up

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

When it comes to Design Solutions that Empower People to Radiate Joy, I am constantly impressed, inspired and intrigued by the thoughts from my fellow Bainbridge Graduate Institute students!

Here is a quick round-up of blogs from others in my Social Web for Social Change course that I’d highly recommend:

Doesn’t the Best Education in Life Occur Outside School?

October 26, 2011 2 comments

A fellow student in my Social Web for Social Change course shared a 2006 TED Talk entitled Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity as an example of a video that sparks social change.  (His follow up 2010 TED talk, Bring on the education revolution! is noteworthy as well.)

I completely agree with Sir Robinson’s assertion that “creativity, now,  is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”  He goes on to say that:

We are educating people out of their creative capacities.  Picasso once said this, he said that ‘all children are born artists; the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.’  I believe this passionately, that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it.  Or, rather, we get educated out of it.

The current public education system is flawed.  Rather than educating people in what they are good at, and allowing them to explore the things that truly make them happy, it pumps them through a standardized program with the hopes that they’ll all come out the other side with the same level of knowledge.  Unfortunately, this leads to a number of children being left behind, all around the world.  Especially in areas where funding for education is poor or nonexistent.  It is imperative that we begin to design new models for education that combat these challenges, empower children with knowledge that is both useful and relevant and can meet students where they are–both mentally and physically.

While up at Channel Rock this Summer, one of the student teams in the Creativity and Right Livelihood course I was TA-ing developed a revolutionary idea that did just that.  (Video of their final presentation below. Team members: Stephanie Milbergs, Jennifer Teehan, Paul Erikson, Dan Emory. Featuring Kyle Capizzi as Saul.) This team of students redesigned the school bus.  Typically, school buses are only used to transport students back and forth from home to a classroom.  They envisioned a bus that combined all three of these aspects (transport, home and classroom) into a mobile, residential school program.  This idea takes students to places they want to go, allows them to learn about a variety of cultures, from right in their own community to around the country, and allows for an educational process that adapts to the needs of its users.

Slum children attending a class outside the Chalta Firta School.

Slum children attending a class outside Chalta Firta School. (Image Credit: IANS)

I got a little excited when I heard about a school in Delhi, India that is doing something similar.  While they aren’t doing a residential program, they have decided to innovate on the school model to provide mobile education via a traveling bus.  The Chalta Firta School (the name means “wandering school”) on wheels gives 300 slum kids in 3 different locations around Delhi a chance to learn.

More public schools around the world need to redefine what a classroom is so that we can take more opportunities to empower children, where they are, while providing an engaging, creative experience that truly enhances their whole being.  As Ken Robinson noted at the end of his TED talk:

We have to be careful now, that we use this gift [of human imagination] wisely… the only way we’ll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are.  And our task is to educate their whole being so they can face this future.

I look forward to the day when I will see mobile schools driving through my own neighborhood and connecting communities around the world.

Read more about the Chalta Firta School in the Gulf News article Can’t Get to School?  Then School Will Come to You.

Search on.

October 23, 2011 1 comment

Social Web Learning Journal Post 3 | Personal Brand

October 16, 2011 3 comments

What others say about me

I’ve been working on further developing my personal brand.   I chose to follow the method that Suzanne Pinckney used for her personal brand, which was to choose 3 main words, then 3 additional words for each that help clarify and expand, followed by a paragraph for deeper understanding.    The one thing I like about Suzanne’s is that her page also functions somewhat like a resume, weaving her past experience and skills into the descriptions.  I need to work on that part a bit more.  Below is where I’m currently at… feedback is requested and appreciated!


 

DESIGN solutions that EMPOWER people to RADIATE joy!

DESIGN solutions, systems, graphics

I view design as a comprehensive word that can be adjective, noun and verb interchangeably.  In today’s world, we have massive systemic problems that require intelligent, integrated solutions.  With systems thinking methods, creative design processes and innovation tactics, designers will develop the path to a better future.  My BFA in Interior Design, MBA in Sustainable Business and professional roles such as Graphic Designer, Web Master, and Marketing Programs Manager have given me the skills to develop holistic solutions that respect people, planet, profit and purpose while being aesthetically pleasing.

EMPOWER people, community, self

Oppression takes many forms and holds us back as individuals and communities from reaching our full potential.  Through compassion, awareness and understanding we can empower ourselves and each other to overcome the oppressive forces that divide us.  Whether I’m offering harm-reduction education to GLBTQ youth, working with teammates in an academic setting, or giving financial support to college students around the world, I support others in their endeavors and empower them to make educated decisions by creating personal connections, thinking holistically and sharing information.

RADIATE joy, happiness, laughter

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” –Eleanor Roosevelt.  I enjoy life most when I am laughing.  The first step toward solving many of our social problems is to get to know our neighbors and to have fun together.  This is what builds relationships and thriving communities that will have the power to do great things.  To truly make the world a better place, we need to smile more often, have fun, and radiate infectious joy to those around us.

Blog Action Day: A Solution for Food Deserts

October 16, 2011 3 comments

Smiling Kid

It’s commonly known that food can affect our emotional state.  I’m sure we all can think back to a moment, perhaps in our childhood… perhaps just yesterday, when we took the first bite of some delectable treat and couldn’t help but smile as the flavors swirled around our tongue.  If you happened to be in the company of a friend, you probably even passed some over while exclaiming “you HAVE to try this,” although you secretly wanted them to take as small a bite as possible.

So, in thinking about Blog Action Day 2011’s topic of food, I thought it aligned quite well with the “radiate joy” part of this blog’s mission.  Of course, it’s also commonly known that our world faces an uncertain future when it comes to food security.  Just within the past week, I’ve heard a couple of stories in main stream news regarding changes we can and should make now to ensure that in the future we can support the food needs of 9 to 10 billion people on our planet.   The question remains: what are the design solutions that will empower people around food so they can continue to radiate in joyous situations like the one above?

American Food DesertsPerhaps the most important thing we can do is ensure that everyone has access to healthy, affordable food. In our country alone, it is estimated that roughly 13.5 million people live in a “food desert,” which means that they do not have easy access to healthy, affordable food in biking or walking distance from their home.  for more information about the problems of food desserts, check out the Fast Com. Design Blog post: The “Food Deserts” That Keep Americans Fat.

One step towards addressing the needs of those living in food deserts is currently in pilot testing by a team of Bainbridge Graduate Institute students here in Seattle and is so far receiving a lot of praise: Stockbox Grocers!

Stockbox Grocers

(c) Patrick Robinson / West Seattle Herald

Stockbox Grocers responds to this need with a miniature grocery that’s tucked inside a reclaimed shipping container and placed into the parking lot of an existing business. We innovate on the espresso stand model to build stores throughout urban communities, and provide fresh produce and grocery staples to those who currently without access to good food, where they live.

I am hopeful that this innovation will start to make a sizable dent in our food desert problem here at home and can’t wait until they begin to scale.  If you’re interested in learning more about Stockbox, just drop by for a visit to the their Delridge store if you’re in the Seattle area.  Otherwise, follow them on Facebook and Twitter

Learning Games: Not Just For Kids – Codecademy.com

October 12, 2011 2 comments

I believe that the main way to empower individuals is through education.  However, standard methods of education in the United States require both time and money that make it difficult to pick up new skills or interests outside of our daily work routines.  That’s why I love the idea of Codecademy!  By turning coding into a fun game and offering it free, they are empowering individuals to learn how to code who can then, in turn, use their new-found skills to make web pages, games and apps for whatever purpose they’d like.

Direct from their website:

Codecademy is the easiest way to learn how to code. It’s interactive, fun, and you can do it with your friends.

This site uses simple, clean design that encourages users to jump right in on the first page, even before becoming a member.

Codecademy Front Page

So the question that remains is in what ways can we apply these characteristics (fun, quick, easy, free) to other types of education or skill building?

For more about the design implications of Codecademy, checkout the Co.Design post Codecademy.com: Finally, An Interactive Coding Class That’s Fun.

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