"Transforming Communities" Celebrates Creative Conservation

It's the 10th of August in Belize, and the sun is making its descent after a hot day in Belize City. Guests begin to gather at the Mexican Institute and the two hundred photographs on display are soon the center of lively exchanges across the room.

Transforming Communities is the centerpiece celebrating the multi-year partnership between leading conservation organizations in Guatemala and Belize and CAI. The exhibit highlights the three years of intense collaboration, discovery, learning, and knowledge exchange alongside the rising stars of the Gulf of Honduras Creative Conservation Project - the community leaders featured tonight as the artists behind the photos.

The photographs rekindle the experiences and great memories of the creative activities and projects implemented in the field, guided by the CAI-designed Creative Conservation Curriculum. The sounds of laughter and cheerful reunions ring throughout the two exhibition halls as participants from partner organizations interact and engage interested guests.

The Transforming Communities exhibit served to create a community platform to communicate the experience of life, work and culture of conservation heroes as they educate and engage with local communities. It was the perfect set up for the next day: the final training session in creative leadership and engagement with CAI.

We had a productive and refreshing morning with team members from Ya'axche Conservation Trust, Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), Southern Environmental Association (SEA), Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD), Belize Audubon, FUNDAECO, Wildlife Conservation Society and Tikkun Olam Belize (TOD). Each team member reflected upon how they experienced personal growth or gained new approaches in their work from their training and field projects, and shared their favorite moments depicted in the photos. Next, team members created group sculptures to represent how creativity and the arts impacted their conservation work.

Mid morning: A coffee break, and then it's time to explore the online Creative Conservation Curriculum - everybody expresses excitement about seeing how their work in the field was applied to a variety of conservation topics such as a climate change, sustainable fishing, reef protection, pollution, gender equality, alternative livelihoods and natural resource management through theater skits, puppetry, music, photography, mural paintings, radio drama and other art modalities.

We are so proud and grateful for the opportunity to collaborate and support these organizations in their important conservation work across Belize and Guatemala.

Thank you all for being part of this journey!