This past week I have been reading “Food not Lawns” by H.C. Flores. The book quotes another author, Tom Robbins, who describes water as “the ace of elements” which he illustrates as, “Always in motion, ever-flowing (…), rhythmic, dynamic, ubiquitous, changing and working its changes…”. With only a month left of our internship, we now understand that in order to gain as much momentum as the beloved Pacora River, we need to act like water. The most efficient way to do this is through collaborative efforts.
This past weekend, the interns at San Miguel scheduled a river clean up day. After arriving at our meeting spot at the Concha, a man approached us and told us that for most people, Saturday is not a good day to arrange a clean up because a lot of the community are 7th Day Adventists and for them, Saturday is a day of rest. Initially, myself and the other Kalu Yala interns were a bit discouraged at the thought that we would be cleaning the river ourselves. A major goal of the river clean up is to involve residents of San Miguel in order to create a fun and interactive day that promotes sustainability. However, after cleaning a bit of the river up ourselves, more and more children started coming out of the woodwork. The power of a group effort was obvious. The children’s enthusiasm encouraged us to work for longer, smile more, and collect more trash. Collaboration at its finest.
A major component of collaboration is communication. Although we sometimes struggle with communicating with members of the town, it is important that we are deeply in touch with helpful and beloved friends of Casa Llena- Aura, Noris, Jorge, and fellow interns. Aura is the keeper of the house, but also bears important insider information regarding rural life. Aura has a keen eye for the natural world, and has taught myself and the community outreach director, Lillian, how to grow tropical plants such as avocado and pineapple the way the locals do. She also recently let us know that our 6 am alarm, Alejandro the Rooster, is sick. Aura told us where to go to get medicine for Alejandro and what the name of the medicine was. When house issues arise, Noris will let us know who to call when our air conditioning or refrigerator breaks and when and how to harvest Yucca. And Jorge is an all-around handy man. When there is an issue around the house, the first person we go to is Jorge. The refrigerator is broken? Walk over to Jorge’s! Need a tool? Jorge’s! Guaranteed he has a solution or knows someone with the answer to our problem. And then there’s important issue of figuring out who has fed the animals to make sure all of them were fed once throughout the day-, not more (no matter how many sad eyes you get), not less. Communication at its finest.
And then there is the more stimulating collaboration. Although not vital for improving day-to-day efficiency, creative collaboration certainly boosts the morale. Constant creative collaboration occurs between the interns- in gardening, house projects (like our newly painted chalkboard wall), and in interpersonal artistic collaborations, like the ones mentioned in Heather’s blog on creativity.
The way Tom Robbins describes is how the interns strive to be. Collaboration helps us work more effectively when interacting with the community, planning events, and starting creative projects,. Just as the natural world is perfectly orchestrated, Kalu Yala reaches effortless harmonization by acting as water does- “ever-flowing, rhythmic, and dynamic”.