I wrote a version of this internal blog post in 2012 for staff at the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. At the time, I was leading Climate Action Planning, a project that developed local strategies for community-level action on climate change for the cities of Hazel Park, Ypsilanti and Southgate in SE Michigan. In this original blog post, I drew parallels between the environmental desires and challenges faced by small urban communities in metro Detroit with those experienced by small communities in the Amazonas. I edited this version for my own blog.
Immersion Travel Experiences: Life on the Amazon
In November 2011, Jim and I took a two week trip exploring four parts of Brazil: historical world heritage site and city, Salvador; beach Brazil, Imbassai; the Amazon River, Manuas and Tefé; and urban city, Rio de Janeiro. Whenever I travel internationally, I seek local immersion experiences, to go beyond the surface of typical tourist activities to really learn how the local people live. For me, travel like this fills my soul and I believe, makes me a more compassionate human being.
Our travel specialist truly delivered on my request for an immersion experience. For three nights out of our two weeks, we stayed at the solar powered Pousada Uakari, a floating eco-tourism lodge managed by the Mamirauá Institute, a biodiversity ecological research facility (click for google earth link).
Tourism dollars raised from the Pousada Uakari pay for local community projects and inspections to ensure the Institute and local communities implement the area’s sustainability management plan, which started in 1996. Eight communities from the reserve manage the Lodge, the employees, the contractors and the salespeople.
Sustainability in Caburini, Amazonas
Enhancing environmental sustainability in a remote rural community nestled deep in the Amazonas, I learned, is as difficult as trying to encourage inner-ring suburban folks to care about climate action planning. The three cities participating in our small city-climate action planning project share similar leadership and local engagement challenges as Caburini, a small community settled on the banks of the Amazon River located in the Mamirauá Reserve. And small means 140 people, total population. Although Caburini is located in one of the planet’s largest ecologically bio-diverse areas and the Amazon river is a top tourist destination for the adventurous, most local communities subsist on meager incomes and struggle to learn how to use resources more economically. In this part of the world, traditional ways of living are transitioning to new cultural norms that support ecological conservationism.
Getting to Caburini:
Trees are a big deal no matter where you live on the planet.
In support of the sustainability management plan, the Institute teaches communities economic alternatives for sustenance and income. In addition to the abundance of fish, local communities grow most of their food during the dry season behind their homes.