Climate March in Monteverde

Steve Padgett Vasquez is a UGA doctoral candidate in Integrative Conservation and Geography doing research at UGA Costa Rica. His research focuses on using freely available GIS and remote sensing software to help conservation efforts in the Bellbird Biological Corridor. During his two-week stay, he attended a local march raising awareness about climate change. Today, he shares his account of the march and this video he shot as well.

Shortly after arriving at the UGA Campus in the valley of San Luis in Costa Rica, I noticed a poster about an upcoming climate march. At the time I didn’t realize that I was going to be involved in something bigger than raising local awareness about climate change. This march was parallel to the People’s Climate March in New York City and timed in anticipation of the UN Climate Summit.

Despite only knowing where the march was going to start in the town of Santa Elena, I managed to convince three UGA study abroad students to go with me. What we saw at the local high school were hundreds of people from all ages and representing different elements of the Monteverde community getting organized to raise awareness about climate change. With sirens blaring, a Red Cross ambulance led the march. Incorporating Tico culture into the march, a group of high school students dressed in “trajes típicos” with the colors of the Costa Rican flag danced to the beat of a makeshift band. Colorful signs and posters, usually attached to shovels, followed a group of street performers. Along the way we passed a tree where a sloth was resting, which energized the march.

We made it all the way to the new Catholic Church, but the event was far from over. Awaiting us behind the church were trees brought from a nearby nursery. Volunteers gathered around and started planting the trees in an old cattle pasture in an effort to help reforest the Monteverde region. When I decided to join the march and document the event, I had no idea that I was going to be part of a bigger narrative. With all the attention being focused on the People’s March in New York, I am glad that a small community in Costa Rica helped raise awareness and turn words (and posters) into action!

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