I was in the Amazon talking to a boy, Yuri, 8 years old. He had paddled out to meet my boat in a little dugout canoe his father had made him. His hand was cupped in front of him, he looked up at me timidly hoping for a hand out. I asked him what he wanted most from life. His reply blew me away: “A black 4×4 double cabin pickup truck.”
It wasn’t what I expected to hear! I knew for a fact Yuri had never seen a road in his life, living on the riverside where boats are the only transportation. He had never seen a car, so it seemed like such an ironic statement: “A black 4×4 double cabin pickup truck.”
Yuri may not have a road, but he does have television reception.
He is surrounded by lush green forests, friends, family, community, biodiversity… yet he believes himself poor. In fact, we who drive 4x4s would probably say that Yuri is poor. This is perhaps one of the greatest misunderstandings of our time: equating material possessions with quality of life.
The media presents a degenerating, impoverished image of Yuri’s lifestyle, and entices him with false role models with perfect faces and spotless shirts who can eat all the French fries they want.
What they don’t tell Yuri about is the growing garbage dumps, the slums and the fast cash into the pockets of a few wealthy citizens made off the sweat and toil of the masses … one of whom Yuri may soon be.
A high maintenance infrastructure that relies on petrol already exists in the nearby city; there is no need to create a similar situation in his village. Instead we can present Yuri and his family with a positive image of the way of life his people have been living.
The grass is always greener on the other side right? Now people all over the world who own 4×4 pickup trucks wish they led a simpler life along a river somewhere where there are no roads!
Yuri may or may not pursue his desire for a set of wheels.
He may or may not aspire to go into sustainable lumbering like his father.
What we can do is present him with another perspective on the way of life he seeks in consumer society.
We have the opportunity to demonstrate to Yuri and his community a positive view on the way they have lived in harmony with nature for centuries.
Here we have the opportunity to serve these people by giving back the value to local industries. With enthusiastic community oriented activities motivating local sustainable lifestyles we can inspire many.
We can expose the frailty of the state of our planet and society with documentation- documentaries like 11th Hour and Food Inc.
People may need to go through the experience themselves to discover the falsehood of consumerism as a way of life,
But the reality of our planet with its accumulating toxins indicates that there isn’t time for everyone to learn the hard way. We are at the end of the line- if we allow Yuri’s village to turn into a gas guzzling society we are truly lost.
Our communities are in bad shape. Trash fills our streets, our air is polluted, chemicals are in our food. There are people living in gutters and people intoxicating themselves into insanity. Children are being beaten and abused, others sold into prostitution before puberty.
Governments are very happy let us think they are doing the best they can. They give us vaccinations and welfare. We have public schools where we are all taught to be productive law abiding citizens. We are supplied with television programs that show us how everyone is out to get us. Mass production is allowed use of genetically modified seeds to be grown with chemicals so that we can all be fed.
Lo and behold we are now sicker, more distorted, and hungrier than ever.
In the news we see that 15 million will be invested into education next year. Yet you may find that 15 billion was invested into war fare last year.
Where are the priorities coming from? Are governments really interested in our well being? Or are they occupied with the funding from the large corporations that hold sway over the economy?
Can we continue to expect governments to change our lives for us? To expect another hand out just to get through the week?
What we certainly can do is take life into our own hands. Bring back community power and make decisions according to our values and respect for each other and the planet. Use our local resources to live sustainable lives giving back to nature.
Its time to reconnect with our truth and re-establish balance on the planet.
Stop the thought patterns at the root- our own minds, where we unconsciously support the great petrol giants, the plastics industries and mining, by our dependence on corporations to provide for us.
We can stop the pollution by become independent of mass corporations, growing our food locally, supporting our local mom&pop shops supplying our families with sustainable prosperity that will last for generations.
Its time to think of long term solutions to our problems.
Once we realize that it is we- the consumers who keep the cycle of pollution and distortion in process, we can stop. We can refuse. We can reuse, we can sustain.
This project is a non-profit act of service which aims for preservation of the forests and rivers of the
Amazon in Brazil.
Communities influenced by industrial activity have been growing in the Amazons since Europeans first came to South America and mixed with the natives. Just recently (growing in the past 30 years), mainstream products of the capitalist world have become available to these people in large amounts. Products with plastics, metals, batteries and chemicals form the main source of pollution here. The heaps of trash gathering along the banks of the Amazon grow and residue flows into the ocean. At times, the waste is burned in open fires which directly causes harmful pollution to the people and the ozone.Battery acids and chemicals kill off the river fauna.
These disrespectful actions are caused by poor education, lack of information and uninformed educators.
This can all be prevented with proper information networks, sustainable waste management techniques, and people willing to spread the information regardless of government support.
- InforAmazon aims to offer free information on sustainability to local river residents in a hands on manner. Information on composting, recycling, landfill management, reusable products as opposed to disposable items, renewable resources and environment conservation. Conscious awareness of cause and effect can be raised if we apply focused action.
The project will be based on a river boat with a converted to bio-diesel fuel engine. It will travel along the river to communities that live bordering the waters of the Amazon.
The target communities consist of 1-15 households where they maintain themselves with basic agricultural or forestry practices.
By teaching people sustainability we are able to create a friendlier, cleaner, safer world, holding on to the natural resources that we still have.