SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 11, April 2016 - Page 71

In the 1980s Indonesia had over 42 million acres of mangroves, an area the size of Wisconsin. By the 1990s half of them had been ripped out for firewood, timber or to create fish, lobster and shrimp farms. But the Indonesian government and public opinion have started to shift to support restoring mangrove “green belts.” Madgid Blongkot started a mangrove plantation on a beach in North Sulawesi. He employs five people and provides 600,00 mangrove seedlings a year for restoration efforts.

There are all kinds of peace in the world. The peace of reconciliation, the peace of community. That night I got a taste of the peace of restoration.

People make choices. They have a reverence for what nature provides them with and the wherewithal to make choices that support that. It speaks to our capacity to act collectively, when we know what we need to do to take care of ourselves and our communities.

There were other choices that had changed life in the village dramatically. The village elders had elected to spend funds granted by Bunaken National Park on a well. In many parts of the world people are trapped in vicious circle because of one simple thing: lack of access to clean water. Whatever money they make in a day, the lion’s share of that is often spent on water. The United Nations estimates that one out of ten people in the world lack access to clean water. Drilling a well for the village freed up resources for things like education, food, and health care.

I stayed in a small lodge nestled in the jungle, Bahowo Lodge. The owners Phil and Paula Larcher, supported a wide array of projects, among them a health clinic, a village school, a school bus, a sponsorship plan for students, including university students, and costs like replacing a broken pumps for the well.

As a civilization we’ve suffered from “infinite-titis” – the damaging assumption that the ocean, the forests, our water supplies are infinite. Now we are navigating a world of limited and depleted resources. What was happening in Bahowo was ample evidence that there’s a resource that’s not only not depleted, but in fact underused: our capacity to change, to innovate, and to come together as communities. “What if” questions unleash that capacity: What if we started drawing on that resource as if it were almost infinite? What would we do? How would that change our world?