Blog Posts

ACT partakes in Ruby for Good 2018 to develop offline geostorytelling app Terrastories for remote communities

June 13, 2018

At Ruby For Good 2018, a team of programmers in the Ruby language worked to develop the open-source and offline-compatible Terrastories application, designed for remote communities to map their place-based storytelling traditions. ACT will be using this application for oral histories projects with the Matawai Maroons in Suriname and other indigenous communities elsewhere in the Amazon.

Continue »

President Santos Announces a Decision Today

April 10, 2018
Members of indigenous community in Caqueta, Colombia work on a community map

After waiting 27 years, the indigenous governments of non-municipalized areas of the Amazon finally will be able to manage the money from their national government transfers without intermediaries.
In Leticia, the Presidency, the Ministries of the Interior, Finance and Agriculture, DANE (the Colombian national statistics agency and the Colombian National Planning Department recognized the governments of 36 indigenous reserves that occupy 26 million hectares of practically intact territory and that had existed in a state of legal limbo with respect to territorial zoning that prevented them, in effect, from governing what is theirs by law.

Continue »

A Light in The Forest

April 3, 2018

Imagine that you live in a rainforest many hours from the nearest city. You are very poor, and life is precarious. A parade of soldiers, drug dealers, gangsters, and fortune hunters comes through the village from time to time. They take what they want. You can’t stop them, and no one comes to help you. One day, a man from the government comes and hands you the keys to your land, and says, “Here’s the forest, here’s the river, here are the animals, the plants, the fruits, the fish, the birds, everything on it – it’s yours. It’s now your job to protect it and manage it. That’s what you wanted, right? Good luck!”

Continue »

Mocoa, Colombia: One Year After the Landslide

March 30, 2018

“…This magical land of water and rainforests is a giant water factory, much threatened by reckless development which is poorly planned and badly executed. The indigenous people who make their home have cautioned about deforestation, against building a road that caused enormous damage, resulting in landslides that killed well over a thousand people. Despite repeated warnings that were ignored by “experts,”  on April 1, 2017, a disastrous avalanche destroyed much of the village Mocoa taking with it hundreds of lives mostly children and displacing thousands of families…”

Continue »

Aluakumá, the Big Bat: Oral Histories in a Waurá Community

November 21, 2017

Oral Histories in a Waurá Community: In the village of Ulupuene, which partners with ACT, two elders and community leaders passed away: the regional “keeper of songs and dances,” Yakuana, who took with him a vast wealth of knowledge about Waurá cultural practices; and most recently, Aluakumá (“Big Bat”), a village elder, shaman, and healer. Both men were revered, and their kin expressed that they had lost more than just a loved one—they had lost an unrecoverable repository of cultural knowledge.

Continue »

Enhancing Youth Awareness About Suriname’s Extraordinary Natural Richness

April 13, 2017

Earlier this year, a completed series of Junior Park Ranger guides was presented during a special event in at the Tori Oso cultural center in Suriname’s capital city of Paramaribo. The purpose of the series is to enhance the awareness of both indigenous and non-indigenous students regarding Suriname’s extraordinary natural richness.

Continue »

Elías García, the Guardian of Native Seeds

March 20, 2017

On the banks of the Caquetá River, in Colombia, lives Elías García Ruíz, a member of the Murui Muina indigenous group who collects and cultivates native seeds such as that of the cacay tree (Caryodendron orinocense), which is disappearing from their territory because of selective logging of trees of high commercial value and an alarming advance of deforestation.

Continue »

Clean Water for a Model Amazon Village

September 30, 2016

The Waurá of the Ulupuene village in the Xingu, Brazil came to us with a problem: their water supply had become contaminated by soybean crop pesticides. These pesticides are carried annually to the rivers of midwestern Brazil, often rendering the water unsuitable for human consumption. The Waurá had one request: clean water drawn from an open deep well with the support of the Amazon Conservation Team.

Continue »

School of the Arts: Ulupuene Villagers Visit Their Sacred Cavern

September 14, 2016

An important piece of this effort is allowing Waurá youth to experience sacred sites that, until now, have only existed in their imaginations and the stories of their elders. Because of this effort, we were thrilled when we were given the opportunity for ACT to visit Kamukuaká Cave, one of these sacred sites, with several Waurá villagers from multiple generations.

Continue »

Debut of Mississippi Kite in the U.S. Capital Area Prompts Reflection on Climate Change

August 31, 2016

In 1987, my friend Dr. Rob Peters and I were having dinner somewhere in Woodley Park on a temperate June evening. Although I had been involved in tropical forest conservation in Costa Rica, climate change was not a hot topic at the time. Rob, a biologist , began talking about his research. I remember his agitation at the fact that people were not paying attention to what he felt was a looming catastrophe for humanity: the rising temperature of our atmosphere.

Continue »