Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Beach Cleanup

One of the first actions of Roberstport Community Works will be to initiate a regular, highly visible, weekend beach cleanup. This cleanup will provide a half day of paid labor to at least six different community members. Since a growing amount of medical waste is washing up on the beaches of Robertsport, everyone in the cleanup crew will participate in a brief training that prepares them for handling glass, syringes or other potentially hazardous materials.

The cleanup crew will be chosen by the son of the community chief, who has expressed an intention to help us involve as many hardworking members of the community as possible. They will be provided with clearly labeled "Beach Cleanup" t-shirts in addition to leather gloves and trash bags--to remove any potential stigma that might pertain to picking up the trash of other people.

For the time being, we regret that no recycling options are available for our glass, metal and plastic refuse. In the coming months, we hope to partner with people and organizations who can help us discover what options exist for processing this waste in a sustainable fashion and how such options can be funded.

Robertsport Community Works

This space will chronicle the development and progress of Robertsport Community Works, a community-based NGO in Robertsport, Liberia based on the following principles:

1. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS is grounded on the principles of a community-based approach to environmentally sustainable development, and will work to foster and support the entrepreneurial spirit within and around the local Robertsport community. 

2. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS recognizes the biodiversity and ecological integrity of Liberia’s coasts are necessary and irreplaceable. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS is committed to preserving natural living and non-living diversity and ecological integrity of the coastal environment.

3. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS is dedicated to enhancing tourism and wave-riding opportunities in ways that will positively impact the Robertsport community and not adversely impact nearshore ecosystems.

4. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS is dedicated to enhancing sustainable energy, food systems and recycling within the Cape Mount County and Robertsport community, promoting local food production and renewable energy systems.

5. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS believes that education is essential to the future health and wellbeing of Cape Mount County and the Robertsport community. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS seeks to develop programs and utilize educational materials that are informative, factual, proactive, synergistic and fun.

6. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS strives to be accurate and nonpartisan in its communications with its members and the general public. In addition, ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS will express the unique values inherent in wave-riding — individualism, camaraderie, non-materialism, and an appreciation for human kind's historic relations with the Ocean.

7. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS is a grassroots organization, effective through the participation and support of the Robertsport and Cape Mount community, international and national governmental and non-governmental partners, and the private sector. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS activities emphasize the value of an involved community base.

8. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS will not permit sponsors to divert the organization from its mission or projects undertaken.

9. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, or national origin for any reason.

10. ROBERTSPORT COMMUNITY WORKS and its representatives and affiliations agree to abide by these principles and all rules and regulations governing non-profit organizations.

If the principles look like the ones Surfrider Foundation is based on, it's because they are -- with health education, recycling and food and energy sustainability thrown in for good measure. 

We're in the early stages of registering now, finding lawyers to help with paperwork and making the appropriate introductions to local government, community leaders, the private sector and others we'll be working with closely. 

All of us -- founders, community leaders, surfers, Board of Directors members, women in the sewing project, men employed by Beach Clean Up, and many more -- will be filling this space regularly with our successes and challenges, sharing our experiences and forging partnerships with others like us who are engaged in similar work around the world.  

Every month, we'll post our income and expenditures to encourage community ownership and organizational transparency. The same copy will be chalked onto a blackboard at the Robertsport Community Campsite for community members to see and respond to. More about the campsite in our next post.

We welcome comments, suggestions, and collaborative partnerships from all sides. 

-- Elie Losleben