“Uxuxubí is like a baby, and we can model its growth.” –Don Miguel Pani, Uxuxubí community leader
When we started to work on this project in January, we had no idea about the community’s values. During the first weeks in class, we discussed the importance of sustainability in our projects, and we realized that we didn’t really know anything about what the inhabitants in Uxuxubí thought about sustainability issues. We realized that we may need to be prepared to start from nothing. Are they at all interested in environmental sustainability and the nature surrounding them? What is their relation to money and what kind of economic arrangements do they have within the community? How do they value their cultural and social life? How is the community organised, do they have a leader? These were some questions that were raised during the first weeks.
Later, during our Skype sessions to Mexico, where in addition to the ITC team the leader of the community Don Pani was also present, we already found out that a) the community has a leader and b) the community is interested in environmental issues as well as in gaining more income. This was reassuring, as now we probably wouldn’t have to begin with convincing them about the importance of sustainability.
When we arrived in Uxuxubí, one of the first things we saw was this huge sign about their vision and mision.
Their vision, according to the sign, is to conserve a place where nature and humans can coexist in harmony with the environment that surrounds them, ensuring the wellbeing of their families through sustainable living.
Their mission is to offer a service providing activities with direct contact to nature for adventure lovers in a thrilling and ecological environment. It is also to protect and restore the Mayan jungle of Quintana Roo through programs with NGOs, public institutions and private business as well as to generate benefits for their community by diversifying their eco-touristic activities and farming.
This is something the community has agreed on to work towards and it was impressive to see it written down. It is not easy to put your vision and mission into words. The fact that the banner is located in a very central place in the village also reveals the importance of this message.
Don Pani kept emphasizing the importance of sustainability from the first time we met him in Cancún. In the picture above, you can see a bag full of trash that we were picking up during a walk in the jungle led by Don Pani. He encourages everyone to pick up trash if they see it, even if it isn’t theirs. And even though there is some small trash here and there, overall the place is very clean! This gives a good first impression when arriving to Uxuxubí and shows they practice what they preach.
“We want the one who comes to leave with a beautiful impression, to arrive to a beautiful place.” – Doña Nereida, Uxuxubí community member
Not only does Don Pani encourage everyone to pick up trash when they see it, but the village is also separating trash into organic and inorganic waste. This was something that we hadn’t expected to see. This is a visible way to show visitors about their environmental concern. There is one issue remaining, though, which is the correct use of the trash bins. We think that with the right education, this challenge can be overcome. The waste management after the collection is also something that, for the moment, is a question they are working on. In the past, there was a governmental program where the communities could get food in exchange for their trash. This program ended when the government changed, and for the moment there is no service that would come and bring the trash from Uxuxubí. They have to haul their waste themselves.
Something else that shows their commitment to nature is the use of renewable energy. They actually installed their first solar panel in the 90s – talk about pioneers! But unfortunately, that was stolen. Today, they have a couple of solar panels to get electricity to the community kitchen, toilet and water pumps. They are interested in installing more solar panels and maybe other sources of renewable energy, like wind.
“Our dream is to be the first community in the Riviera Maya using full renewable energy.” – Don Pani
For the moment, the community uses vehicles powered by gasoline. However, they dream of changing to clean energy for transportation as well, e.g. solar driven motorbikes.
“Animals were born free, and they should stay free.” – Don Pani
There are a lot of animals in the area, and among them are endangered species like the jaguar. Uxuxubí hopes to live in harmony with the animals surrounding them, meaning if they don’t disturb the animals, the animals won’t disturb them. They also want to engage in preservation programs, and they are working on joining a program for preserving the jaguar.
The kids have made inspirational signs in school with their own words about the nature and the environment in Uxuxubí.
Within the community, they have decided to construct buildings in traditional ways using local and natural material. They are working to get the whole community to honor this agreement.
The community has a clear vision, and we hope to able to help them reach it.