Friday, July 31, 2009

Signs for the campsite

When we had our first meeting with the community, we talked about ways to make the campsite more official. People have been camping and picnicking under the giant cotton tree for years, but now that the community was going to start caring for and directly benefiting from visitors, we needed to show that things were a little different. Since no one lives full-time at the site, we decided on three signs and drafted the text for them there and then.

The first sign, above, marks the turn for the campsite from the road down to Nana's Lodge. The second, below, is to remind visitors not to throw their garbage in the toilet and to keep things clean. Garbage attracts flies, and since we're adding ash, leaves and sand to the toilet on a regular basis, the wood base and thatch of the toilet is pretty fly-free.

The young boy in the photo is Claudius, an Uptown local who kept me company while I painted the campsite rules sign, helping me amend the text when I ran out of space and carry the sign under the tarpaulin when it started to rain. When I dripped white paint between the lines, he tore off the outer husk of a ripe coconut, dampened it with water collecting on a leaf and made me an effective paint eraser. It's his arm in the Robertsport Community Campsite sign above. He's 12 and I invited him to start talking to young people in the community about ways Robertsport Community Works can support their needs. It would be great to have a rotating youth member on the Community Board.

The welcome sign was a challenge, as the smallest brushes they sell at hardware stores here were clearly too big for all the information we wanted to include. I used our camping kitchen knife to pare off half the bristles. Benjamin, who made the thatch around our toilet, tied the cuttings to a stick with some twine he found lying around and made me a smaller paintbrush. Without him, we would not have been able to fit the email on the sign.

As I was painting, it was fun to discuss the text and the signs' purpose with everyone who passed. At one point, I had a crowd of about five people debating how we'd fit the rest of the welcome text on the shrinking real estate of blue. As you can see, we managed well.

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