Island Community Buildings Part 2
In my last entry I talked about how important it is for many of the communities Seacology works with to create a community center or public building in exchange for the decision to establish a conservation area. In these cases, when the building is finished, an opening ceremony is held at the center followed by a celebration and shared meal. If Seacology expedition participants are able to attend one of these ceremonies during a Seacology trip, they often describe it as an incredibly significant and moving event.
Going back in time from this opening ceremony to when the project began we can understand how such an event can be so moving. Over the course of the previous year or more community members were discussing the project, thinking over the details, drawing plans, meeting with officials, and volunteering their own labor to make sure the construction and conservation process would result in a useful and successful change for their own generation and the next.
The construction itself was headed by a general contractor and a project leader to organize activities, but a lot of the work was carried out by members of the community. Occasionally construction would have slowed down during important holidays or during seasonal fishing or farming activities.
In the end when all the plans have been realized and the opening ceremony is taking place, the community center stands beautiful and new. One large room is full of children playing and adults mingling, a small kitchen and small washroom stands to the side. Fresh drinking water is scarce in many island communities, so a water catchment tank is sometimes just outside for kitchen and washroom activities. Solar panels are sometimes on the roof to provide some light during future evening activities. The overall design is usually simple, but it provides the most necessary elements in a structure to allow people to meet as a group, discuss their present and future plans, and carry out daily community activities.