Thank You Tulum!

On a recent lovely yet rainy night, our friends in and around Tulum joined the Art of Conservation team and I at la Casa Rosa for our 2nd Annual Fund Raiser Gala. Despite the rain, the evening was filled of joy, enthusiasm, and much needed fundraising thanks to the generosity of the community. The AoC team; Manuel, Edgar, Anaïs, Esteban, Pato, Alyson Ball (member of our Advisory Council) and I feel honored to have received a plethora of encouragement to keep our efforts going. Not only was the event beneficial toward Art of Conservation's work, it also brought together like-minded people reinforcing a collective desire to conserve our beautiful natural spaces, shared biodiversity, and the preservation of indigenous cultures. The team and I feel energized and will continue giving it our all thanks to you our dear past, present, and future supporters.

Many special thanks to Ginger Tulum for preparing delicious food and drinks, Gwen Grosset of Destinations Weddings Tulum for coordinating, Los Padrinos for squeezing into our office space and playing excellent music, Anna Fishkin for her lovely photography, Charlie from Charlie's Restaurant & Bar for being a fabulous auctioneer, Dianne Harper and Marion Vaglio for accepting donations, and Sofie Selin for welcoming guests. Along with some of our students art work, a few talented local artists generously provided their art for auction; Emma Rubens and Belen de la Rosa and Gaston Scoppa. A big thanks to you!

Thank you friends for your support. We truly appreciate your generosity. We can't do it without you!

Please enjoy the photos below. I would've liked to included a million more. See the latest blog for more 2a Gala Anual de Procuración de Fondos coverage.

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With love and appreciation,

Julie Ghrist
http://www.art-of-conservation.org/

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Art of Conservation Launches Graduate Retreat, Art of Conservation brinda un retiro a sus graduados

Nurturing Connections. Reinforcing Lessons.

A Story and Video

Art of Conservation 2014 and 2015 graduates - including a few parents and teachers, as well - from the primary schools of Ignacio Gómez and Ford No. 198 bounced in vans down the limestone road snaking through mangrove stands. Sandy beaches and dunes lined the Caribbean coast on one side and wetlands and lagoons on the other. You could sense the excitement as we traveled to our first Art of Conservation Graduate Retreat. Two seaside homes, Casa Maya Kaan and Rancho Pepo, served as our home base for the two-day retreat. 

Please click here for our video.
Script, Camera, and Edition by Esteban Pliego. Original music by Bole. 

The AoC team and partners organized this two-day field trip to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, one of México’s largest protected areas, located on the Eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula; Sian Ka’an means origin of the sky in the Maya language. Because most of our students do not know about the 528,148 hectares of marine, coastal, and terrestrial ecosystems we knew introducing them to the spellbinding natural area would be an unforgettable experience for them.

Nature walks to the lagoon and beach, boats rides offering wildlife watching opportunities focused in on crocodiles and birds and a stop where fresh water meets the sea brought AoC lessons to life. Painting, a pause every now and then for quiet contemplation, trash cleanup, kite surfing, soccer, kayaking and swimming provided our graduates opportunities to practice creative expression and healthy living.

Relaxing under the evening sky on the porch of Casa May Kaan, everyone sang along with extremely talented musicians; Fede and Leo of Bole and Los Padrinos Magicos. Remigio, a gentle giant of a community leader and teacher, especially touched me as he sang a song in his native Maya language. Manuel got us all laughing and singing to Elephants Swinging on a Spider Web. Josmar, our 10-year-old student, reached for the microphone and sweetly sang Hijo de la Luna. Anaïs sang a French ballad.

The love and joy we shared was breathtaking. Our AoC Graduate Retreat strengthened bonds with our students and their families. And, the field experiences reinforced lessons important for graduates to model healthy living and sound conservation practices in their communities.

I hope you, my dear friends and supporters, continue seeing the quality in Art of Conservation’s approach to inspire children and their families to conserve biodiversity. The synergy with our AoC team, partners, and the local communities is real and making a difference here in the Yucatán, just as AoC did in Rwanda and our partner nonprofit Conservation Heritage – Turambe continues to do in Africa.

GRANDÍSIMO thank you goes out to the Howell family for hosting us at Casa Maya Kaan and to René Gonzales for hosting us at Rancho Pepo.

Special thanks to The Frost Foundation, German, Marisol and their family for their fabulous cooking and cleaning, Johan, Cedric, Julieta, Cecilia, Leo, Fede, Mariam, Gabbi, Miguel, David of Tulum’s Red Cross and fire department, Eliseo, Remigio, Isabela, Isela, Roberto, and Ángel Omar Ortiz Moreno with the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

The AoC field team: Manuel, Anaïs, Patricia, Esteban and I send our best wishes and deep appreciation for your present and future support!

With love,

Julie Ghrist
http://www.art-of-conservation.org/

P.S. You are most welcome to join us next July 2016 for Art of Conservation’s SECOND Graduate Retreat!

Nutriendo vinculos y reforzando lecciones

Video e historia

Los graduados de Art Of Conservation de las generaciones de 2014 y 2015, incluyendo a algunos padres de familia y maestros de las escuelas primaria de Macario Gómez y Ford No. 198, tomaron los caminos de sascab que serpentean entre manglares y dunas. Las blancas playas que delinean la costa del Caribe por un lado y las hermosas lagunas de Sian Ka’an en el otro. El entusiasmo se sentía en los chicos y en todos nosotros en nuestro camino al primer retiro para graduados de Art of Conservation. Casa Maya Kaan y Rancho Pepo nos recibieron como base para estos 2 días de retiro.

Dale click aquí par aver el video:

Guión, cámara y edición por Esteban Pliego. Música original de Bole

El equipo de AoC y sus aliados organizaron este viaje a campo en la Reserva de la Biósfera de Sian Ka’an, una de las áreas naturales protegidas más grandes de México, localizada en la costa Este de la península de Yucatán; su nombre Sian Ka’an significa “donde nace el cielo” y muchos de nuestros graduados no sabían que tiene una superficie de 528,148ha. de ecosistemas marinos, costeros y terrestres.

!Conocer esta maravillosa joya de la naturaleza sería una experiencia inolvidable!

Las caminatas hacia la laguna y la playa y los paseos en lancha nos ofrecieron una oportunidad para observar la fauna local; enfocandonos en las aves  y cocodrilos, e incluso un ojo de agua dulce que nutre con aguas de la selva a las lagunas, así como conocer la boca de la laguna hacia el mar y presenciar esa fiesta de vida donde las aguas fresca y salada se conocen. Los momentos para pintar, observar, limpiar las playas, jugar futbol o hacer kayak y nadar nos brindaron fantásticas oportunidades para expresdranos creativamente y vivir sanamente.

Al anochecer, recostados en la terraza de Casa Maya Kaan, todos tuvimos nuestro turno para cantar acompañados por una grandes músicos: Fede y Leo de Bole y Los Padrinos Mágicos. Remigio, profesor y padre de la primaria de Macario Gómez, siempre preocupado por preservar la lengua, nos deleitó con unas canciones en maya. Manuel nos hizo reír con las canción de los Elefantes se columpiaban en la tela de una araña y Josmar, alumno de Ford, pidió el micrófono para cantar dulcemente Hijo de la Luna, de Mecano. Anaïs también canto una cancíon belga en francés. 

En serio, el amor y felicidad que compartimos fue inspiradora. El retiro de AoC reforzó nuestros lazos con los estudiantes y sus familias. La experiencia en el campo para complementar nuestras lecciones es muy importante para poder vivir sanamente y aplicar las prácticas de conservación aprendidas en sus comunidades.

Espero que ustedes, mis amigos y aliados, continuen viendo en el trabajo de Art of Conservation una forma de inspirar a los niños y sus familias a conservar la biodiversidad. Las sinergias formadas con el equipo de AoC, aliados y las comunidades están haciendo un cambio real aquí en Tulum, México; de igual forma que AoC hizo en Rwanda y que nuestra aliada Conservation Heritage – Turambe  continúa haciendo.

Un GRANDÍSIMO gracias a la familia Howell por recibirnos en Casa Maya Kaan, así como a René González por recibirnos en Rancho Pepo y su energía y entusiasmo.

Gracias especiales a The Frost Foundation, German, Marisol y su familia por la deliciosa comida y limpieza, Johan, Cedric, Julieta, Cecilia, Leo, Fede, Mariam, Gabi, Miguel, David de la Cruz Roja y el Cuerpo de Bomberos de Tulum, Eliseo, Remigio, Isabela, Isela, Roberto, y Ángel Omar Ortiz Moreno y su apoyo por parte de la Reserva de la Biósfera de Sian Ka’an.

El equipo de AoC: Manuel, Anaïs, Patricia, Esteban y Julie les mandamos nuestros mejores deseos y una profunda gratitud por su apoyo presente y futuro! 

Con mucho amor

Julie, Founder of the Art of Conservation

P.D. Están cordialmente invitados para unirse el próximo año, Julio 2016, en nuestro Segundo retiro de graduados de AoC!

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AoC News from México

In a 5th grade classroom at Primaria Escuela Ford No. 198 in Tulum Pueblo, children proudly proclaimed, “I am an Art of Conservation graduate.” 

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Each graduate received this certificate. The design includes a few of the animals we studied:

motmot, spider monkey, jaguar and turtle.


Along with their certificates, this special group of children gathered their personal AoC Creative Learning Kits, now serving as a portfolio, recently stuffed with all the work they did over AoC’s semester long (90 plus hours) of one-health awareness classes.

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Manuel and Anaïs award AoC student Ángeles her certificate and AoC Learning portfolio of her work.

Ángeles, one of the many adored girls in our program, proudly introduced the AoC team to her mother and brother who attended AoC graduation. We took the opportunity to learn a bit more about Ángeles’ life in Tulum. 

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Ángeles with her mother and brother.


Ángeles shares a small, two-room house with eight other family members. Her mom and dad are both employed; her mother is a laundress and her father is a builder. We understand life can be challenging for this family, but Ángeles has gained a positive outlook. She expressed that the AoC program has made her believe in herself, and she now wants to do something more with her life. Ángeles’ mother is very positive as well and especially appreciates the bilingual instruction AoC provides.

Along with the majority of the other 34 recent AoC graduates, Ángeles will continue at Escuela Ford next year – Fall 2015 - in 6th grade.

We are pleased the school’s director has asked AoC to offer our one-health awareness and creative learning program at Escuela Ford school again. The AoC team and I will work with the current 4th graders, and we will have the opportunity to keep in touch with our recent graduates during their last year of primary school. We will continue to encourage them to serve their communities as mighty biodiversity conservation champions!

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The director of the school, Ms. Genny Yasmin Maza Sánchez, took the opportunity to speak with the children and parents about the serious issue of waste management. She thanked AoC for leading children to clean up the schoolyard, neighborhood streets, and beach.


I have seen many favorable aspects when closely partnering with a few schools for a number of years as opposed to spreading the AoC program too thinly across too many different schools. Our focused efforts create trust between AoC and the administration, teachers, parents and surrounding communities. “Here today - and back again tomorrow” is the approach that provides long-term benefits for children, their families and communities.

The AoC staff (Manuel, Anais, Edgar and me) and artists Pato and Pluma cheer for Ángeles and her fellow AoC graduates. They are a remarkable group of children.

I'll be in touch soon about our upcoming first ever AoC Graduate Reunion made possible in part by the generous gift from The Frost Foundation and Howell family.

On behalf of all of us at Art of Conservation, thank you. We appreciate your interest and support. Please be in touch if you have questions or would like to know more ways to contribute to our efforts.

With love and appreciation,

Julie
julie@art-of-conservation.org

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AoC Class of 2014 - Thanks To Your Invaluable Support

I have splendid cause for celebration! A few days ago we completed our first four-month afterschool program in México and the kids and I are reveling in happiness. I would like to highlight the class work of two students to illustrate what Art of Conservation’s Creative Learning and One-Health Awareness programming is all about.

Our first student, Quijano Canche 'Irene' Alejandra emerged as a natural class leader. She demonstrated her commitment by attending every session and practicing AoC Core Values in her every day activities--CREATIVITY was her favorite! 

 

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Irene, pictured at right, explores the Caribbean Ocean with classmates during an Art of Conservation after school program beach clean-up and scuba diving field trip to Soliman Bay. 

Irene excelled in drawing and painting exercises. Following our group discussion about the natural history of the endangered jaguar, she learned that this beautiful animal — which holds so much significance in Maya culture — needs its own special habitat to survive. It all starts in our own back yard, or the jungle, in Irene’s case. It takes teamwork among many to preserve the jaguar’s habitat.

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Irene’s watercolor of a jaguar with focus on shape and texture created during one of Art of Conservation’s class exercises.


Our second student, Poot Arellano 'Allan' also had perfect attendance. At our first class meeting, he seemed a shy, quiet boy. Since then, he has emerged as a confident, eager student with an infectious laugh! Manuel, my amazing co-worker, and I were so pleased to watch him blossom during class sessions.


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Allan, with his sister, at our recent Parents-as-Partners Open House standing next to a papier maché jaguar they helped make.

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By using a different color for each body part to facilitate the understanding of locomotion and dynamics, Allan created a spider monkey with a baby on its back using watercolor, oil pastels, and markers.

A central part of our curriculum relies on the generous donation of time and effort by local individuals working in various areas of one-health conservation.  By sharing their expertise with AoC students in the classroom, these volunteers enrich our programming and connect our students to what is happening in the greater community. Our students benefit by gaining a better understanding of the world around them. 

  • Local Drs. Filippo Aureli and Colleen Schaffner talked about studying wild spider monkeys;
  • Diver Anais guided the children on their first view under water with scuba diving equipment;
  • Razonatura's Olmo Torres Talamante conducted water monitoring with the kids at a nearby cenote;
  • Dr. Juan Erazo brought in his dog Juanito and talked about proper veterinarian care for our pets;
  • IFAW's Joachin talked about empathy towards animals;
  • Hawthorne Flaherty talked about the Maya tradition of building and sustainable development, and
  • Visiting artist Brian Corin demonstrated a variety of art techniques the children were then able to use in their class work.

We’re ready to continue working hard for our kids in the year ahead. The winter program has 23 children already enrolled, and we are planning to serve even more children in our summer and fall programs. 

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please consider a financial gift to Art of Conservation. All donations are tax deductible and directly benefit the children we work with. Any amount is greatly appreciated. 

MAKE IT PERSONAL. SUPPORT ONE CHILD.

A donation of $500 will provide the opportunity for one child to participate in our four-month, 28-session program. 

As a token of our appreciation, each of you who contributes $500 or more will receive a 2015 Primate Connections calendar, which includes a photo I took in Rwanda during one of my last visits to the magnificent mountain gorillas.

Thank you so much for your support. We look forward to a new year filled with conservation education, creativity and fun!

Sincerely,

 

Julie Ghrist and the AoC Team

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Hit The Ground Running

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

and I would like to share a few updates.

The moment I arrived in June to Art of Conservation’s new base of operations in Tulum, Mexico, I began following up on the contacts made during our scouting trips. As a result, I have already made a bunch of new friends and established new partnerships.

Art of Conservation is now officially registered in the country of Mexico and authorized to operate as a US-based 501(c)(3) non-profit. We have set up our temporary office, and are making rapid progress on the design of our new regional headquarters, which will be located in Tulum town. I have also started my Spanish lessons!

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Spanish lessons at El Camino Escuela Internacional de Idiomas in Tulum. My classmates are Cathy, Gary, and Lelle. Alejandra (standing and with a big smile) is a fabulous and patient teacher. 

On July 19th, we had a terrific turnout for our first Art of Conservation One-Health Meet-&-Greet held at Holistika in Tulum town.  

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Drs. Lucy, Ilze, and I hosted our first event at Holistika in Tulum.

Our agenda was a show and tell, of sorts, about our mission, history, and future. I made a presentation about the history of the organization; board member and Vice President Dr. Lucy Spelman described the need for one-health conservation and shared some examples; and, board member and consulting aquatic health expert Dr. Ilze Berzins reviewed the importance of taking a one-water, one-world, one-health approach to conservation in the Caribbean Basin.

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I shared what drew me to Africa and why I started Art of Conservation in 2006.

The event was catered by a local company, Ginger Tulum, and we served a delicious local watermelon cocktail along with lionfish ceviche, making the point that invasive species like lionfish make perfectly good eating, and this is one way to control their numbers. As you can see from the photos posted on my blog, everyone had a great time.

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Dr. Lucy Spelman shared samples from her students at Rhode Island School of Design. 

At present, I am focused on identifying communities and groups of children who would like to participate in our first round of one-health creative learning and one-health awareness programming in and near Tulum. I am very pleased to introduce you to our first in-country project member, Manuel del Monte, who has already been a huge help in the local community identification process. Together we are holding meetings with principals, teachers, children, and their parents. Manuel and I hope to be working with our first group of children soon. Once we get going, I will of course share more with you about the impressive knowledge Manuel brings to AoC plus updates from the field on our website, including photos and artwork. 

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Identifying communities and groups of children with the helpful support from new project member Manuel del Monte. (At Marcario Gomez Primary School, pictured left to right: Principal Eliseo Pech Caamal, teachers Isabel Garbiela Maldonado and Remigio Chan Colli, and Manuel del Monte.)

Would you like to help us out today?

Our priority for fundraising is to first support our operations in Tulum, second to fund the outreach programs for children and their families, and third to support our first One-Health Conservation Workshop which Drs. Lucy, Ilze and I are planning for later in the year. Please spread the word to friends and family – donations are essential for Art of Conservation to reach its full potential.

We’re so appreciative of the public support for this organization.

Finally, the news from Africa: Our newly created partner organization,Conservation Heritage – Turambe, or CHT, is continuing to work with eager young children. Their blog posts, as well as mine, can be seen on our website, www.art-of-conservation.org.

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The dedicated Conservation Heritage - Turambe team continues with their weekend classes at the Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club.

Thank you again for your support.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any further questions at julie@art-of-conservation.org.  

With sincere gratitude and love,

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Julie Ghrist
Founder and Program Director

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