February has been another month of activity here at LRFF in Costa Rica. On February 6th U.S. representatives of Sole Technology (makers of etnies shoes) arrived at Rancho Margot for a three day visit. Pierre Andres Senizergues (CEO and founder ), Rick Strassner (VP of Sales & Operations), and Roian Atwood (Corporate Sustainability Manager) from the U.S, Rodrigo Beeche, etnies representative here in Costa Rica and Osvaldo Jimenez our favorite videographer.
The Maleku Tribal Council arrived in the morning on Monday the 7th along with many other invited guests to participate in a full day of meetings, presentations, a tour of the ranch and a delicious lunch. Some of the other guests included Mario Coto, National Coordinator of the Biological Corridor Commission, Tom Miller, LRFF/US Board of Directors, German Aguilar of ACAT, Angel Guevara of SINAC, Carlos Ulate from MINAE, Odir Blanco of CONAI and Luis Diego Marin from Preserve Planet.
Yes, you guessed it, Sole Technology is LRFF’s new corporate sponsor. They have created a beautiful campaign called Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree for the new Jameson 2 Eco shoe they are unveiling this spring. Pierre Andres is an amazing business person, realizing early on that we are the gardeners of the Earth and thus have a responsibility to return something to her and care for her.
Pierre gave an amazing presentation to everyone present. The Maleku people were inspired by his personal story, literally living on the street of Venice Beach, California doing what he loved best, skateboarding, being discovered and now the CEO and owner of one of the largest sport companies in the world. He is an environmental hero, pledging that Sole Technology will be carbon neutral by 2020.
After introductions the Council read their Vision, Values and Mission statement in Maleku jaica, Spanish and then translated to English by yours truly. Ashton Maxfield, who is in charge of PR for Sole sent two pairs of the new Jameson 2 Eco shoes. They were displayed on the long table during the entire day. A green pair and a brown pair. At the end of the day when I tried to give them back to Roian he said that the shoes were sent down for Dan and myself by Ashton. Now after wearing them almost constantly for the past three weeks, they are my favorite shoes of all time. They got very dirty so I washed them in the washing machine and dried them in the dryer yesterday. They came out beautiful!
After the delicious lunch, Juan gave us the famous Rancho Margot tour of his completely off the grid, sustainable farm. To take the Tribal Council on this tour has been my desire since we began our work together. I felt they would benefit greatly from the example and put it to use for their future community.
The day ended late in the afternoon with presentations from some of the quieter voices. Irene Mejia told about women’s role in the Maleku culture, in the past and present. Marvin Elizondo and Evaristo Cruz Elizondo spoke about their group called the Buffaloes Without Borders (Bufalos sin Fronteras). This group has approximately 40 members, all young Maleku, led by don Marvin and Chino. They do voluntary work in the community improving the quality of life of their people through projects involving the quality of potable water, schools, reforestation and recycling campaigns.
We shared a traditional afternoon coffee and bid farewell to each other. The next day we would meet again at the Maleku Reserve for more interesting activities. Thank you again to Juan and Pierre Andres for being such great hosts and examples of environmental mindfulness.
As you will recall we were asking people to submit a video to the Ford Focus Global Test Drive contest and name us as their favorite charity. Two of our supporters did, Pedro Marata (photo at the beginning of this blog) and Zarqa Correa, from the Tony Samara Foundation and both videos won. The prize was an all expense paid trip for two to Madrid, Spain to participate in the Global Test Drive plus $10,000 to give to their favorite charity.
LRFF wishes to express our gratitude to Pedro and Zarqa. This donation is the first donation LRFF has received that isn’t earmarked for a specific project. Thank you both for the excellent videos you produced and helping spread the word, LET’S GET PLANTING!
The Test Drive took place from February 18th to 22nd. Ford asked each participant to create a unique event to promote Ford and the charity of their choice. Zarqa event has been approved and will take place the first week of April in Portugal. Pedro is planning his event to take place in Berlin, Germany, but more on this in a later blog. Each winner also gets to keep and drive a new Ford Focus for six weeks, so each event will take place around the car and the charity each winner chooses. You’ll see, this just keeps getting better.
The “Save San Luis, Save This Family” project up on Global Giving was funded recently and LRFF received the disbursement in February. It was with great pleasure we were able to give Mariano, Alba and their children the first payment for environmental services to conserve the beautiful 12 hectare forest that stands alone along the shore of Lake Arenal near the town of San Luis. The PES is for one year and during 2011 this forest will sequester a minimum of 180 metric tonnes of CO2 from the Earth atmosphere.
A side activity for some of us here at LRFF/CR is volunteering for GPAW, a foundation directed by Judy Reisman. Judy has done all of the fundraising and organization of spay/neuter clinics throughout Costa Rica for many years now.
Since we began our work at the Maleku Reserve Dan has been concerned about a serious dog over-population problem. He asked members of the Tribal Council if they would be interested in having a spay/neuter clinic and they all agreed wholeheartedly. Dan got in touch with Judy and during the week of February 14th two clinics were held, on consecutive days, free of charge to pet owners. Above you see Monique, a wonderful, caring veterinarian from Maine who came down with Judy during her vacation to treat animals. These photos were taken by Judy the first day as the team worked under the shade of a “suita” palm roof at a traditional Maleku Rancho.
Everyone turned out, whether they had pets or not. On the second day one lady told me how much she appreciated this great contribution to their community. For many years they have had the serious problem of unwanted animals, it’s pitiful. We neutered almost 50 animals over the two day period. Thank you Judy, Monique and all of the great volunteers who participated in this invaluable service.
Watch for the next blog about the big event Sole Technology is hosting on March 18th at the Maleku Reserve to commemorate the start of the Rio Sol Biological Corridor and the planting of 35,000 trees by LRFF with their help. Plans for the event are grand with many dignitaries, media and both the skateboard and surf teams for etnies here.
All of these happenings come from the true intention we all put into this work. From that comes more and more success, a broader audience and subsequently more support for our work. So come on everybody…
LET’S GET PLANTING!!