Friday, October 12, 2012

Knowledge holders add value to the 3D model of Tobago

Historical and cultural knowledge emerges along with awareness on environmental change

SCARBOROUGH, 06 October, 2012.  Excitement is growing as the blank 3D model is populated with data.  What is astonishing is that nobody uses satellite images or existing maps where to source information.  All data comes from memory, and one added piece of information offers new cues to memory, hence everybody is discovering and learning by doing.

A team from Golden Lane add their data to the model
Day by day, more information is added to the once blank model.  The second group of informants arrives to transpose their information.  And still, members from the first group of informants are returning to the workshop because, according to them, they went off, did some research and have returned to “add more value to the model”.

The residents of Tobago, the actual custodians of local and traditional knowledge are eager to put their stamp on the model.  As the updating of the map legend continues, some of them are resolute in their view that present as well as past names of map features, like points, areas and lines must be included.

The participatory 3D model exercise is being facilitated by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) with financial and technical assistance from The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) and the United Nations Development Programme, Global Environment Facility - Small Grants Programme (UNDP GEF-SGP).

Historical perspective

The excitement of the participants echoes around the Island and the P3DM initiative  is attracting keen interest from Tobagonians from all walks of life.  Laura Williams of Golden Lane returns to the workshop with Lyris Walker and Veslin Alleyne in tow; they have information for the model.

Gang Gang immortalised on the model!
Lyris says she is glad to be a part of the project because it is “for the people by the people”.  Pointing to places she had forgotten about, she says the project is successful because it is “very educational”.  She jogs her memory for details while consulting The changing society of Tobago, 1838-1900: Vol I and II a historical publication written by Susan E. Craig-James.  This historical publication should inform the P3DM, says Lyris.

Lyris, Laura and Veslin are excited to see the point on the model which identifies Gang Gang Hill in Golden Lane.  They tell of the legend that gave the hill its name: Gang Gang Sarah was a witch who flew from Africa to meet members of her family who were captured and brought to Tobago after being sold into slavery.  In Tobago, Gang Gang Sarah met and married Long Tom.  After her husband died, she attempted to fly back to Africa, but fell to her death from the top of the silk cotton tree which she had climbed to begin her journey.  She could no longer take off because she had eaten salt and salt makes it impossible for witches to fly!

Tobago has a rich cultural history, but the legends are heard less frequently as the years go by.  To preserve the island’s past, a Heritage festival is held annually to celebrate all aspects of the island’s history.

Climate change adaptation

Contributing to the participatory 3D model overwhelms Bryan Bain of Belle Garden.  He understands the importance of the exercise because he has seen the effects of unsustainable harvesting practices and climate change in his community.  He talks of crab catchers harvesting thousands of crabs weekly.

A fisherman from Castara is oriented to
the model by one of the trainees
He admits that he also harvested over two hundred crabs per week, in 2005.  Back then, he says, crabs walked “by the hundreds in the wetlands”, while at present only four or five perch above their holes.  As a result of the dwindling crab population, Bryan says he has stopped catching crabs and is now assisting in encouraging hunters to leave the young crabs to thrive.  He adds that he joined the Belle Garden Wetlands Association and Environment Tobago to meet like-minded people to preserve the environment.

Bryan also points to deforestation as a major problem in his area.  This, he observes, has lead to the shortage of wildlife in the forest, among other things.  He feels that the P3D model will make members of the community more aware of the damage they are causing.  Increased awareness, he notes, should bring about enough change in people's attitudes and trigger changes in the way they act.  He plans to build a P3D model of his village to enhance tourism.

Similarly, Goldberg Job, informant from Belle Garden, says people have to be encouraged to adapt to climate change by changing their lifestyles.  He says people must be told to tie the roofs to their houses to prevent these from being blown away during adverse weather conditions.  Additionally, he notes that fishermen should build bigger boats and invest in technology in order to continue fishing further afar from the coastline.  He wonders whether architects are part of the P3D model-making.  He is told that he is the architect, as well as the other informants.

The work on the participatory 3D model of Tobago continues apace.  Another group of informants is expected on Sunday.  If the trend continues, the same group of informants that came on Saturday and Friday will return to further contribute data on the model.

Related posts: 

No comments: