Jun 3, 2011

Only Four More Weeks?!

Muy buenos días. I haven’t really blogged in a while other than that crazy quetzal post. To be honest, after being able to blog from EcoLogic project sites about things like water sources, agroforestry plots, and community meetings (things which I find really exciting and I’ll assume you do, too), it’s a little hard to blog about being back at a desk in an office. HOWEVER, I’ve got four more weeks down here in Guatemala and three of those four involve plenty of newsworthy happenings. So this is a blog post to get you pumped up for what’s to come!

Next week, I’ll be joining our entire field staff (12 staff members in total, including Country Program Officers and Project Technicians from Guatemala, Panama, Mexico, and Honduras and our Regional Director and Director of Programs) for a 4 day training/meeting in Honduras. For two days our field staff – which luckily includes me for now – will receive training on the use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) for Watershed Management. Then we’ll have 2 days of team meetings where each Project Technician and Country Program Officer will present updates on their work, which will include successes, lessons learned, technical advice, and future plans. For me, this is EXACTLY the type of information I want to hear. I’m really excited to listen to our field staff’s experiences and stories – they’re the people making the work happen day-to-day. I’ll be sure to keep you informed…

After this trip, I’ll have one week visiting our project in Sarstún, Guatemala. This area is on Guatemala’s Caribbean coast along the border of Belize. This region is quite different from the highlands where I’ve been. Out there I’ll be visiting with beneficiaries of our project with APROSARSTUN – families who have received fuel-efficient woodstoves, farmers who are implementing agroforestry methods, and fisherfolk who are committing to use sustainable fishing practices. Again, really excited, and I’ll be sure to post plenty.

After that, it’s back to Honduras for another week. This time, for EcoLogic’s All-Staff Retreat which we have once every two years. If you’ve ever been to the “Our People” part of EcoLogic’s website, then you’ve seen a picture from the last retreat. Pre-Chris, and pre-several others now working with EcoLogic. Now the reason for the retreat, of course, is not to get an updated picture for the website (although that will happen -- never fear!). It’s so that our entire staff – those based in Cambridge, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, and Belize – can come together to plan, reflect, review best practices, lessons learned and exciting new opportunities to do meaningful work, and also to simply spend time together and get to know one another.  This year we will visit a project site in northern Honduras and then spend a few days in meetings together, with time set aside for activities in the city of Copan Ruinas, an ancient Mayan site in western Honduras.

For many of us at EcoLogic, our relationships with those in other offices are almost exclusively electronic via email or Skype. It's been very exciting for me to finally meet some of my coworkers in person, and I have no doubt that this time we have spent working "shoulder to shoulder" will make us more effective and efficient collaborators in the future. For some at EcoLogic, the retreat will be the first time they have the opportunity to meet many of their colleagues.  For others the retreat will be something like a family reunion. But one thing’s certainly true for everyone: we're all looking forward to it! 

And after I'll return home, just in time for summer in Boston!

PS - There’s already a rumor that an all-staff soccer game is going to happen at the retreat – field staff vs. Cambridge staff. Bet you can guess which team I’m gonna play with! I know you’ll want to see a video, but I’ll just say right now that any footage I capture I’ll be selling to one of those sports bloopers production companies. Hey, relax, as a fundraiser for EcoLogic -- of course!

- Chris Patterson, Program Officer for EcoLogic
Chris collaborates closely with the senior program officer by writing grant proposals and project reports, investigating potential funders, and following trends in philanthropy, conservation, and international development. Chris was a fellow for the Ford Foundation's Difficult Dialogues Project and has documented his time working from EcoLogic's regional office in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala from March to June, 2011. 

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