Thoughts from Mark Spalding & The Ocean Foundation

World Oceans Day: A Chance to Remember Complex Connections

By Mark J. Spalding, President, The Ocean Foundation

In advance of my most recent trip to Mexico, I had the good fortune to participate with other ocean-minded colleagues, including TOF Board member Samantha Campbell, in an “Ocean Big Think” solutions brainstorming workshop at the X-Prize Foundation in Los Angeles.  Many good things happened that day but one of them was the encouragement by our facilitators to focus on those solutions that touch the most ocean threats, rather than address a single problem.

This is an interesting frame because it helps everyone think about the interconnectedness of different elements in our world—air, water, land, and communities of people, animals, and plants—and how we can best help them all be healthy.  And when one is thinking about how to address the big threats to the ocean, it helps to bring it down to the community level—and thinking about ocean values being replicated over and over gain in our coastal communities, and good ways to promote multi-pronged solutions.

Ten years ago, The Ocean Foundation was founded to create a global community for ocean conservation minded people.  Over time, we have had the good fortune to build a community of advisors, donors, project managers, and other friends who care about the ocean everywhere.  And there have been dozens of different kinds of approaches to improving the human relationship with the ocean so that it can continue to provide the air we breathe

Vet in Loreto

I went from that Los Angeles meeting down to Loreto, the oldest Spanish settlement in Baja California.  As I revisited some of the projects we funded directly and through our Loreto Bay Foundation, I was reminded of just how diverse those approaches can be—and how it is hard to anticipate what might be needed in a community.  One program that continues to thrive is the clinic that provides neutering (and other health) services for cats and dogs—reducing the number of strays (and thus disease, negative interactions, etc.), and in turn, the runoff of waste to the sea, predation on birds and other small animals, and other effects of overpopulation.

Mangroves Planted by TOF

Another project repaired one shade structure and added an additional smaller structure for a school so that children could play outside at any time.  And, as part of our effort to make already permitted development more sustainable, I was pleased to see that the mangroves we helped plant remain in place in Nopolo, south of the old historic town.

Yard Sale at EcoAllianza

Still another project helped Eco-Alianza on whose advisory Board I am proud to sit.  Eco-Alianza is an organization that focuses on the health of Loreto Bay and the beautiful national marine park that lies within. Its activities—even the yard sale that was happening the morning I arrived to visit—are all part of connecting the communities of Loreto Bay to the incredible natural resources on which it depends, and which so delight the fishermen, tourists, and other visitors.  In a former house, they have built a simple but well-designed facility where they conduct classes for 8-12 year olds, test water samples, host evening programs, and convene local leadership.

Loreto is just one small fishing community in the Gulf of California, just one body of water in our global ocean.  But as global as it is, World Oceans Day is as much about these small efforts to improve coastal communities, to educate about the rich diversity of life in the adjacent marine waters and the need to manage it well, and to connect the health of the community to the health of the oceans.  Here at The Ocean Foundation, we are ready for you to tell us what you would like to do for the oceans.

http://www.oceanfdn.org/blog/?p=2203

Building a Blueprint for Coastal Community Conservation

[first published by The Ocean Foundation, November 6, 2013]

Imagine ….

Imagine … a cadre of youth educated and dedicated to protecting and nurturing their environment and sharing that knowledge with family and friends …

Imagine … a group of energetic hands-on volunteers committed to solving local issues of water quality, waste management and resource protection …

Imagine … a community center where like-minded individuals come together, a gathering space for researchers, government organizations, local partners and fishermen to chart paths to preserve natural resources and their ways of life …

Imagine …  a staff of talented enthusiastic leaders guiding and directing activities of such a center with outreach programs in support of environmental goals …

Imagine … partners, sponsors, supporters, and Directors with the resources and connections to fund and support a foothold and voice in the stewardship of a wide range of environmental activities …

Imagine … relentless visionaries with tireless energy determined to make a difference, to manifest a dream, in a small seaside city …

Imagine these things … and then stop imagining, because they are real.

CenCoMa Building (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson)

CenCoMa Building (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson)

On October 19, 2013, the Community Center for the Environment, CenCoMA (Centro Comunitario para el Medio Ambiente), in Loreto, BCS, Mexico celebrated its formal dedication. Over 150 people turned out in support of the celebration, which began a blessing by the Padre of Our Lady of Loreto Mission, and was followed by a ribbon cutting by the representatives from the Local government, the Director of the Bay of Loreto National Park, Everardo Mariano Melendez, and Yvo Arias Salorio, Board President.

Delicious food and beverages were served to the enthusiastic guests who toured the new facility.  A large screen display provided a backdrop amongst the café tables set up for the event, with images that illustrated some of the perils that challenge the local environment The dedication solidified the physical framework of an on-going dream, where making a difference isn’t just something spoken, but actually taking place on a day-to-day basis.

Advisory Board Members/ Richard Jackson, Jill Jackson, Charles Mitchel and Roberto Lopez (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson).

Advisory Board Members/ Richard Jackson, Jill Jackson, Charles Mitchel and Roberto Lopez (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson).

At the heart of CenCoMA is Eco-Alianza de Loreto, founded in 2007 by a group of concerned citizens and friends in the Loreto municipality to support smart growth strategies in response to rapid development by outside interests.  Over the past six years, Eco-Alianza has strived to establish a sustainable community devoted to conserving the abundance and diversity of terrestrial and marine life.

In less than a year since it’s opening, CenCoMA has already become a valued asset to the community of Loreto. The Center is strategically located in the center of town and was made possible through a gift by the Linda and Anthony Kinninger Trust.  Renovations converted the property to offices and a public meeting space and were made possible by a donation from Engineer Hugo Quintero Maldonado, founding President of Eco-Alianza, Kathryn and Charles Mitchell, and an anonymous donation from a U.S. foundation.

The Center currently houses a Water Quality Lab for testing and office space for a professional staff of eight who conduct programs that include:

  • A Campaign for a Clean Loreto
  • Citizen Monitoring of our Marine Environment
  • Loretanos for a “Sea Full of Life”
  • Sustainable Fisheries Project
  • The Loreto Watershed Conservation Campaign
  • The Environmental Leadership Club
  • Environmental Education for Loreto Youth and Community
  • Outreach programs to celebrate conservation days, such as Earth Day, World Ocean Day, World Environment Day, World Water Day, Recycling Day

Along with those programs, Eco-Alianza is working with Loreto’s decision-makers to create responsible growth policies, a watershed conservation ecological ordinance, and fisheries regulations.  It is hoped that these endeavors will become an example for other coastal communities to follow worldwide.

Caption:  Tony Kinninger, Kenneth Quintero, Hugo Quintero, Lorenzo Ochoa, Everardo Mariano, Linda Kinninger, Horacio Cabrera, Jorge Magdaleno, Antonio Verdugo, Mayra Gpe Lopez Lemus, Lizandro Soto, and Lizandro Soto Martinez (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson).

Caption: Tony Kinninger, Kenneth Quintero, Hugo Quintero, Lorenzo Ochoa, Everardo Mariano, Linda Kinninger, Horacio Cabrera, Jorge Magdaleno, Antonio Verdugo, Mayra Gpe Lopez Lemus, Lizandro Soto, and Lizandro Soto Martinez (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson).

Eco-Alianza has embarked on collaborative effort to establish a “Sister Park” program to advance eco-tourism and job opportunity in the region.  To support this endeavor, it has partnered with the Bay of Loreto National Park, the Channel Islands National Park, the University of California Santa Barbara, and the Nature Conservancy.

The Center allows Eco-Alianza to expand its program capability, visibility, and outreach.  The Center will serve as a permanent symbol of conservation and preservation for the entire Loreto region for generations to come.

The Ocean Foundation (TOF) has been an integral part of Eco-Alizana since its inauguration.  TOF President, Mark Spalding and Vice-President of Programs, Kama Dean are members of the Eco-Alianza Advisory Board.  TOF has supported educational programs, the annual calendar, and general activities.  The original funding for the “Pride Campaign,” as well as a fisheries program begun by RARE Conservation were provided by TOF.  Advisory support was provided for CenCoMA.

Phase II of the expansion of the CenCoMA facility has just begun.  A fundraising campaign is underway to build a Natural History Museum and an Interpretive Learning Center on the property to support of the Bay of Loreto National Park and the Sierra de la Giganta region.

To continue the expansion of CenCoMA and help further the efforts of Eco-Alianza and its programs, your help is needed.  To find our more information about Eco-Alianza’s programs, or to make a donation, please visit Eco-Alianza’s website at: www.ecoalianzaloreto.org.

Donations are tax deductible in the U.S.A. or through our fiscal sponsor in the U.S.A., The Ocean Foundation. Click here to donate!

Thank you for being part of our dream.

Where I’m going …………

Baja California

Casa de Catalina

About 2/3 down the long length of the stunningly stark Baja Pennisula is the city of Loreto, once the capital of California. Home to the first mission in Baja in 1697, the town has grown from a small fishing village to a city of approximately 12,000 residents. The economic focus remains on tourism and fishing, but a healthy school system and a campus of the University of Baja California insure continued growth of intellectual resources.

Approximately one mile north of the city near the water’s edge sits Casa de Catalina.  This is where I’m headed …..

Palapa on the beach...

2 days and counting …..

Sunrise in Loreto

Countdown to Friday departure as the Baja Peninusla lures me south once again.  This trip, I’ll again have the joy experiencing the extraordinary and diversified beauty of the long finger of desert, rock and mountainous terrain.  If you’ve never done the drive, then you don’t really know Baja.

Cathy and Patrick are packing their respective bags.  This will be Cathy’s first road trip, and I’m excited for her to experience the open spaces.  We’re still jockeying between one or two cars .. but in any event, the clock is ticking and soon the open road will be under our wheels.

Plan is first night at El Jardin, the most serene motel tucked off the road just north of San Quintin.  The gardens surrounding the motel are amazing – even a small grove of orange trees fills out the back.  Early Saturday, we’ll book it for Loreto, checking into “Casa de Catalina” for a day’s road rest.  Supplies will be gathered and a joy trip to the Tiligues (Sunday open air market) to fill out the fresh veggie/fruit part of our food group.  Either late Sunday, or early Monday – depending on surf and social life conditions 🙂  – we’ll make the drive to San Juanico, surfboards and suntan lotion loaded on the Explorer.

The last two days have been registration, insurance – and the procurment of a sentri transponder for my car – the second in the ‘fleet’ – for easier crossing back into the United States.  It’s part of the Trusted Traveler Program of Homeland Security and it’s nice to be a vetted American.

Promises to self this trip : Stop for more photographs. Take time to sketch and to paint. Surf ’til you drop!

Lunch with the Governor!

Lunch with the Governor!

Had lunch with the Governor two days ago.  Not Schwarzenegger, although he’s on my list, but Narcisco Agündez Montaño, the Governor of Baja California Sur.

Narciso Agündez MontañoI’d love to report that I was able to press with him about issues of environmental protections and educational reform, but he was heavily involved with local politicos who had their own agenda.  At least I was seated at a table next across from him, as is shown in the attached photograph (he is the man seated on the left in the blue shirt).

Narcisco Agündez had come to Loreto to bless several public works projects, survey the damage from Tropical Storm Julio, and work politics.  He is a member of PRD, as is the current Mayor of Loreto, Yuan Yee.

The lunch was well attended by nearly every city official.  A band played several musical pieces and locally caught dorado with salsa and slaw satsified the tastes of everyone.

As I’ve said before, themost amaizng things keep happening in Baja.

Wild Trip to San Juanico and Beyond ..

ROAD TRIP~  with stove, parties, friends & whales.

And I mean – road trip!  Left Laguna mid-morning with overnight in Guerro Negro. Great dinner – as always – at the  Malarrimo Restaurant.  Got up before the sunrise and headed east.  Watched the sun slip over the lip of the Sierra as we dropped down the grade toward Santa Rosalia.

With great luck and no traffic, we pulled into Loreto around 11 AM.  Got the truck unloaded, and on call – Carol’s connection – Richon – arrived to look at the stove and what I need for installation.  No one believed I could get a stove installed in one day.  This IS Mexico. But I was driven and committed.

Val Wilekrson

Val Wilkerson

Barry and Val came by to chat – and stayed 🙂  That’s how it works in Loreto.  Richon brought Juan.  Alexander came over.   Jeanne stopped by and brought her girlfriend, who was fresh from fishing with Chris & the boys.

Steve was deep into rum & cokes until he realized that all the orifices on the stove needed to be converted from natural gas to propane.  Sobered him up (grumpily) fast .. and the job was done.

In the meantime, Jeanne kept saying she wanted to go to sleep and have tomato soup .. but now Steve was grousing about dinner.

Carol & Lee Boyd at Meditarraneo

Carol & Lee Boyd at Meditarraneo

We were supposed to eat at Mediterraneo, Carol & Lee’s excellent restaurant on the Malecón, but now it’s after 8…. and cranky is a good word to throw out. .. So.. with grand and gracious spirit, Jeanne opened her freezer, found ground turkey and a meat loaf was created.

There were potatoes at the house from Boots & his wife Arianna who had been staying while they searched for a place to live.  We mixed russet and sweet for mashed, crafted a salad of cucumbers and tomatoes.. and celebrated a feast.  Alexander had gifted Jeanne a bottle of tequila for her birthday, and this was the time to enjoy.

Wild night and tired, Steve and I crashed down.  Woke early for sunrise and a morning of client work – while we had DSL internet connections.

Catharine Cooper, Dennis Choate, Steve Kawaratani, Bill Clute

Catharine, Dennis, Steve, & Bill

We made an overnight stop in San Juanico where we partied – is there a theme song here? – with old friends and new. We were the guests of Dennis Choate and Donn Stein in their hacienda complex. Donn lent his palapa for the night .. sheets were hastily changed and the party began.

Dennis had good friends, Bill and his daughter, Cathy, staying in his guest house.   Once upon a time, Dennis and Bill had been arch sailing rivals, but now, spinnakers aside, they are best friends.  Dennis builds boats – Transpac and more – at his shop in Long Beach – Dencho Marine.

It might have been the case of wine we brought down for the boys, or maybe it was the fabulous food of the local chefs, but the evening was one of great revelry and memories were created out of deep laughter.

Sailboat racers, surfers, bikers ….. and thank god for the morning after – coffee drinkers.  Bill – you are forever my hero for the espresso!

We all drank too much, ate too much, and laughed harder than we imagined possible.  Dueling iPods provided music and Bill, CC & Steve traded iPhone tricks and info.  I woke up next to my vitamins .. Cathy in her clothes.  Too much fun …………..

Quick check of the surf, not much happeing, and Steve and I jumped back in the Hummer for the drive north along the salt flats to San Ignacio Lagoon.