Dominica, St Lucia, Curacao….the common thread is the Caribbean Sea and this critical time for the survival of the coral reefs and most of the life in the sea. If climate change doesn’t make you feel the need to do something, go look at the reefs that have been covered with sediment eroded from the land or that have been killed by nutrient loading from sewage. Everyone can make a difference….and Maria is definitely doing her part!
Dr. Les Behrends, our technical director, and I got back from Dominica two weeks ago…..the wastewater garden was nearly complete by the time we left. We are honorary citizens of the village of Mero now..everyone was so wonderful and most have so little to live on. One guy told Les that “He believed in hard work, he didn’t believe in tired, he believed in hungry.” That says it all. We will be back in Mero this summer for the grand opening of the public toilet and the clean water camp for the youngsters of the village!
We were delighted to have 5 restaurants and one individual, Tom Kale, enter our inaugural salsa contest. The restaurants made some awesome salsa and it was obvious that people are very partial to different salsa tastes. It nearly ended up a 6 way tie, but truly, we had a 3 way tie for first place with Mojo Burrito, Amigo’s in Red Bank and Ayala’s on Signal Mountain all receiving equal numbers of votes to establish our 3 winners! However, El Meson, La Altena, and Tom all had significant votes as well and it could have gone to anyone. I think we need to have a larger voting population next time! Thanks so much to all our entrants. You are all winners!!
It’s not too easy pulling off an event after delaying it because of snow. It simply would not have been possible without the help of so many folks….esp Connie, Annette, and Angela! Without them, this party would not have happened! Then add Larry, John, Susan, Rebekah, Melissa, Lavonda, Emmy, Maria, Christine, Corinne, Nancy, Mary, and Tom…..who did amazing work and then Pam and Maureen were our auction ladies and Matthew helped set up. So many volunteers helped and so many folks were very generous in their donations and the Tennessee Aquarium, Leisure Time Dive, Pruetts on Signal Mountain, Contemporary Portraits, and Athens Distributing all sponsored our event. Nice. So thanks, one and all! You did it for the kids and the water, both in the Caribbean and home in the Tennessee Valley.
But we now know it was the right thing to do. In Tennessee, 5 inches of snow followed by .3 inch of ice just shuts everything down! Our electricity didn’t return until Sunday night. I can’t thank our organizing committee enough….they are simply awesome! We have rescheduled the Beach Party for MARCH 5th….and it will be better than ever!
In Mabouya Valley, St Lucia, a wonderful cadre of teachers spent a week of their summer vacation learning interactive teaching methods from Al Stenstrup of Project Learning Tree (www.plt.org) , Dr. Padgett Kelly from Middle Tennessee State University and the National Marine Educators Association and me. They even began to implement what they had learned by hosting a River Guardians camp for kids in the valley! In early December, I had the chance to visit with one of the teachers, Flora Renee, at her house high on the side of the valley. Her son, Denzel and another energetic young man, Danic, are leading the youth effort to measure the water quality around one of the pig farms where we are installing a biogas digester. With the guidance Caribbean SEA youth leader, Pernill, from Dennery, these boys are doing great work! They are destined to become great scientists! I think we need Natalia to write an article for the paper about our up and coming scientists!
Woohoo! Happy New Year and thanks to everyone who has helped us with time, talent or treasure! Jack Johnson’s charitable organization has just informed us that they are making a small contribution toward our work! Every contribution helps and we certainly appreciate it!
Caribbean SEA is celebrating our 5th anniversary this month! It is heartening to think of all the fabulous people and organizations that have made our success possible. It’s a tribute to all of us working together to protect the water environments of the Caribbean….from our first sponsors TVIG, Carilec, Cox Wood Products, Lucelec, and Project AWARE to everyone who works to keep the Caribbean clean…..congrats to everyone! We are all in this together.
Caribbean SEA is now an official St. Lucian company! Our office is based at the Carilec office in Castries and we appreciate their partnership so very much. We needed a local base of operations so that we can work more closely with our island partners and funders. See you in St Lucia!
After participating in Outdoor Chattanooga’s Outdoor Expo and going to the EcoExpo put on by Brewer Media, it is heartening to see such a diverse group of people who understand and are working to improve our environment. Look at the diversity of people involved in clean water…from our groups TenneSEA and Caribbean SEA where students and community volunteers work to raise awareness and improve the quality of our water to Tennessee American Water Company and the Hamilton County Stormwater Department. While speaking with Tim McDonald, the manager of the Stormwater Department (www.hamiltontn.gov/waterquality) , I was amazed that they only began work 5 years ago and received enforcement ability in the last year or so. The majority of polluted streams in Tennessee have either too much sewage (measured by E. coli concentrations) or too much sediment in the water. It is easy to understand why sewage is bad for our water….but dirt? Think of it this way….for creatures trying to survive in the lake or streams, too much dirt is like trying to breathe in a dust storm. They can’t do it. We have done an incredible job cleaning up Chattanooga’s air quality. Let’s now work together and clean up our water….we deserve it!
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