34 THOUSAND STUDENTS Mobilized. Yesterday was rather epic. I presented the ecobrick Mt. Prov phenomenon to a room packed with teachers, principals and leaders from Caloocan– a densely populated urban poor district of Manila. I explained that just as community collaboration had started cleaning up isolated villages, the same no-cost, no-machinery solution could work here.
Indeed! The presentation was at Camarin Elementary, where Dr. Ogot, a passionate environmentalist principal, has already mobilized her 6000 students to make ecobricks: “It wonderful to see the students and parents are already picking up wrappers around the school for their bottles”. And, they already had over a hundred ecobricks, plus sand and cement in place for “Russell’s live demonstration” (I had worn my good clothes and certainly wasn’t expecting to be mixing and laying concrete!). But, after the presentation everyone (including a thousand nearby students) gathered around to watch us build a bench in under an hour.
The best part was reading the visions of the students tapped to the ecobricks (“I see a Caloocan with no more pollution”). The kids aren’t just packing plastics, we also have them meditatively envisioning how beautiful their community’s environment can be. Each brick they hand in has their vision or prayer from their environment written upon it. This is surely the most powerful part of the whole process.
Caloocan will be our first urban test of ecobricks. The sum total of students in the schools represented by the leaders at the meeting was 34,000! We have systems in place now to track the various metrics involved so that we can show to other school boards and communities the net effects. 34,000 students is a lot, but it is also just the beginning.
UPDATE: The schools are already building with the bricks!