Workshop with the community

Back in Finland before our trip, we started to talk about having a workshop with the community members while in Uxuxubí. Since we didn’t really know how the community was organized, we waited to plan it there and then. During the last weeks before the field trip, we were able to at least prepare what we wanted to get out of a possible workshop, who we thought could participate and what material we could need.

The result was this mindmap:


Mindmap for the workshop. Prepared before the field trip

During our stay in Uxuxubí, we started to talk about having a presentation for them instead, during our last day. The presentation would tell them what we had been up to during our week there and share our observations and findings. When we began to actually plan the presentation, it developed to a half presentation, half workshop kind of event. We really wanted to hear the community members’ opinions and still get some more information while presenting what we had done so far.


Preparing for the workshop


Lawrence drawing the map

Answers to the questions we had thought of in Finland (the mindmap) had actually come up already during the week, so in the workshop we could go further to get even more information e.g. about their hopes for the future. Keeping it simple was important, as we had decided to keep the whole community together for the workshop without dividing into smaller groups. With around 20 people, it was possible to keep the groups as a whole, which was nice.


Me organizing insights


Working on the business model canvas for the community, which we in the end decided to not include in the workshop because we felt it would be too complicated and time consuming.

It was fun to prepare a workshop completely by hand. Our tools were paper and pens, no PowerPoints or Prezzies here. I just wish I would be better at drawing, as it would have been nice to draw instead of having to write everything. But I did my best to at least do some illustrations, although my effort to draw a crocodile mainly created laughter! It didn’t make it to the presentation…


Preparing for the workshop

We couldn’t really know who would actually show up for our small event since we didn’t personally invite everyone. We just hoped for the best. I was so happy to see that almost every one of the inhabitants came, and on time. Also some community members who don’t live in Uxuxubí permanently were there.


Happy that so many wanted to participate

We began our workshop by asking everyone to mark their favorite place on the map that Lawrence had drawn. This gave such a great start to the whole workshop, as everyone understood from the beginning that this will be an interactive workshop, not a traditional presentation from our side.


Almost all of the kids liked the lagoon best since they can swim and hang out with their friends there

After this ice-breaker the rest of the presentation went on quite smoothly:


Aaron presenting the current electrical infrastructure as well as ideas for the future by utilizing the map and post-its


Carolina presenting the characteristics making Uxuxubí a special place


We wanted to understand the different characteristics of each month in Uxuxubí and what community members find important throughout the year. To help out with her activity, Liz invited two helpers, Ramoncito and Federico, to write out important characteristics of every month with the help of the rest of the community. It became a bit chaotic since everyone was so enthusiastic, but with some guidance we got the specific information we were after.


Me talking about recycling and waste management. Proud that I made it through in Spanish and everyone at least seemed to understand me.


We shared some of the most important insights from the week.


We asked everyone to say how they would like to see Uxuxubí in the future. This time Aaron worked as the secretary so he could write it word by word in Spanish.



We ended the workshop by hanging up empty skill cards for every adult in the village. The idea came from the skill cards we hade made within our team. We asked the community members to write down skills for each other. Aaron and Carolina helped out, as not everyone can write, something worth remembering when organizing workshops.


At the same time, we asked volunteers to participate in a small video. We asked them to continue the sentence “Uxuxubí is…” and tell their thoughts about Uxuxubí.


To thank everyone for their kindness and for happily answering all our questions throughout the week, we wanted to give them some gifts from Finland. Here is me telling something about Moomin in Spanish. A big thanks to Moomin Characters for sponsoring us!

– Jennifer

Welcome To The Uxuxubi Project

This is an Aalto LAB Mexico project, a program affiliated to the Sustainable Global Technologies (SGT) course at Aalto University Finland. Every year through the SGT course, Aalto students are given hands on projects in different scopes which are aimed at improving lives and making the world a better place through sustainable technologies.

 In 2017, one of such projects is to implement a sustainable community-based tourism in a Mayan village called Uxuxubi in the Mexican Caribbean. The project is being executed in a collaboration between Aalto University and Instituto Tecnológico de Cancun, Mexico. The project starts at Aalto University in January 2017, where we formed our team and began preparations for a field visit of the Uxuxubi community. There are four Aalto master’s students in our group: Lawrence Ofosu Gyinaye, Elizabeth Miller, Jennifer Pitkänen and Niina Repo. We are also working with students from our partner university in Mexico during our visit to the community.

Our project is now in the diagnostic phase, therefore we will be collecting data and information about the village and identifying tourism potentials. Multiple stakeholders who are involved in improving sustainable rural tourism in Uxuxubí and the livelihoods of its residents will be brought together during this project. This 2017 diagnosis phase of the project will form the foundation for the project to continue successfully in the future in the development and implementation phases.

We invite you to follow this project as we present to you the exciting and beautiful scenery of Uxuxubi that promises to make it your next holiday destination. We will share our experiences and adventures in series of blogs everyday during our time in the beautiful community.

“Sitting at our back doorsteps, all we need to live a good life lies about us. Sun, wind, people, buildings, stones, sea, birds and plants surround us. Cooperation with all these things brings harmony, opposition to them brings disaster and chaos.” 
― Bill MollisonIntroduction to Permaculture

Welcome on board!