[Project Update] Selection of the Team & Other Stuff

I often wonder if people walking down the street think I’m maybe a little crazy. Firstly, because of my unkempt hair, it’s getting increasingly out of control; but mainly because sometimes I find myself grinning away as I am strolling along, lost in my thoughts thinking about all the possibilities and opportunities that keep on presenting themselves. I’ve noticed that people look at you funny when you are just walking along grinning to yourself, snapping you out of your thoughts back to the sidewalk. Often my head feels like it’s about to burst with all the stuff that we could potentially do, but then things quieten down until a few emergent actions appear. Things are going well; I know I keep saying that, but I guess that’s what happens when you set off into the unknown with a lot of enthusiasm, but very little expectation of success. Everything we achieve exceeds expectation, from here on out everything is a bonus, but with every new person that joins the project come a host of ideas and new possibilities, it just keeps growing.

Selection of the Team:

In hindsight I am glad that Josh had to pull the pin on our Upper Upper Marañon descent earlier this month. This allowed me to get back to Lima and work with Ana Teresa, Jack & Mariaelena more closely and complete the selection of our young team that will work on this project for the next year. It was difficult reading through more than 120 applications, all in Spanish, but with the help of Google Translate I made it through in a few days. We sat down and figured out what skills were most important in this team (Filmaker, Lawyer, Environmental Expert & Research, Communications, Graphic Design, Tourism) and then selected the best applicants for each role. It was really difficult as we narrowed down the list, there we a heap of really solid applicants, all incredibly excited to be a part of this idea.

We have selected 12 people aged 20-25, all with some really useful skills to bring to this team. On the 8th & 9th Nov we are all going for a weekend away to get to know everyone better. It’s kind of like an interview, but way cooler because we will go rafting, learn whitewater skills and hang out at the great little permaculture community of Tierra Langla. From this weekend we will select 6 to be our core team who will come on the expedition next year, but I hope we can continue to involve the other unsuccessful applicants too, there will be a lot of work to do as the project grows.

After we have selected the team, we get straight to work. The following info gives you a broad idea of what we aim to achieve over the next year; more opportunities will arise with more input from the team. This isn’t including any of the additional fund raising, grant applying and logistics that will go into making the expedition possible.

Goals for Group:

  • Become experts on these issues (meet with experts, ministries of energy & culture, developers create discussions between all parties – get the real facts).
  • Share our findings with as many people as possible, highlight the issues, get people thinking about the true costs of turning on a switch.
  • Document our journey to personalise the issue and create interest in the general public.

Targets- Deliverables:

  • 1 5minute Video released per month
  • 2 facebook posts per week
  • Maintain a running blog of things we learn, activities we undertake
  • Create an online library of scientific papers & references
  • A seres of Public Presentations, Events, Film Screening, Questions or Debates. Taget 1 per month. (Starting in February)

Broad Stages of the Project:

Stage 1: Learning & Documenting November 15 – Feb 15 The team will need to build up their own knowledge, and ability to work together, develop ideas & plans. They will meet with experts, view as much material as possible
Stage 2: Presenting Facts, Creating Discussion & Fundraising Feb 16 – May 15 Create forums, public presentations, debates and question sessions. Fundraise the remaining money we need.
Stage 3: Create News, Pre Trip Publicity & Trip Planning May 15 – July 15 Create as much pre-trip publicity as possible. Plan trip, and opportunities we can take advantage of on the trip. Plan out video aspects, storylines, storyboards etc.
Stage 4: Expedition July 18 – August 8 Document, learn, share enjoy.
Stage 5: Post Trip August 9 – October Post Production of video, sharing blogs, photos, experiences ideas. Creating as much publicity as possible & hype interest for the video
Stage 6: That’s a wrap October Release Video, celebrate with team. Wrap up this project. Look into opportunities how this material and experience can be shared further, if team is willing to comitt more time to continue working on this.

Because the project is going so well, I have kind of shot myself in the foot so to speak… There will be a lot of work just managing the project and leading this team- If I want it to be a success I will need to invest a lot of time to make it happen, and try to be around Lima more because it is really difficult to get the same results without face to face contact with people. Dare I say, this might mean slightly less paddling! No, I can’t let that happen. I will just have to be more creative in how I manage it all

Other Stuff (Not directly project related, but sort of)

Tierra Langla

Tierra Langla

The last week I have been living in Lunahuaná at a place called Tierra Langla. It’s a unique little community that is working towards becoming self sustaining. Growing a heap of fruit and vegies, and really looking at other ways to construct buildings and utilities using waste products and bio-construction methods. There is also a nice little class 2-4 (depending on the season) river in the backyard which can keep me happy.  While I need to be near Lima sometimes next year for meetings and events with the team, I don’t actually want to be IN Lima, maybe I can hang out here, we will see how it all goes. It’s a fun place to be, there are usually 6-8 travellers & locals living there (it changes as people travel through), everything is shared and delicious meals of local fruit and veg are cooked together. Usually some music is played in the evenings (or at any stage throughout the day), and definitely a swim or paddle in the river throughout the day to wash off after working in the garden. I have never been a ‘fan’ of salad, so to speak (I like it enough, but I would never rave about it) but it is different when I head out to pick a whole variety of types of tomatoes, carrots, 6 or 8 different types of lettuce to be added to a whole heap of avocado that has just fallen off the tree next to the outdoor kitchen. The eating that we do at Tierra Langla is incredibly fulfilling.

After the team is selected by mid November and I have worked with them enough to get started on the first stages of the project, I plan on heading straight down to Chile for a few months. Something is calling me there… I think it is the incredible kayaking. I am in a rush, because the best season is happening right now, and I want to get there before the crystal clear waters drain away. I will need to work hard to manage the team remotely (LOTS of Skype meetings, then more Skype meetings and emails, to make sure stuff actually gets done), but most of this time will be over the christmas period where everyone will shut down anyways. I justify this decision to leave the team and work remotely this way, but I recognise the cost is less direct energy and input I can give in the first few months: Firstly, some of the team members are in other places, thus they will need to remotely managed anyways and I will still be putting in a lot of energy to do this; Secondly if I was not the kind of person who prioritises kayaking and unknown adventure above almost all else, I would not be here now; therefore if I do not follow my dreams to Chile, I will no longer be that person and I will probably get sad and the project will fall in a heap and fail anyways. I gotta keep my dream and my inspiration alive, and there would be no point in setting out on an epic mission to save rivers, if the result of that is me spending more time than ever before in cities, not paddling on the rivers I love.

All in all feeling pretty good about everything. If someone had of asked me last year what my dream job would be, the answer would have been something along the lines of ‘something that combines adventure and exploring with environmental education, with a good amount of paddling thrown in’. I didn’t actually think that this kind of job existed, or that I would be able to find it. But now, that’s kind of what I have. I might not be getting paid for it, but thats a minor detail…




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