Nature Deficit Disorder

That’s the term coined by author Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, an account of how children are slowly disconnecting from the natural world. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle discussed a new poll of 333 parents by the Public Policy Institute of California addressing this very topic. The poll found that 30 percent of teenagers did not participate in any outdoor nature activity at all this past summer. Another 17 percent engaged only once in an outdoor activity like camping, hiking or backpacking.

Horseback Riding

A nationwide study conducted by the University of Maryland found that between 1997 and 2003, the proportion of children ages 9 to 12 who spent time hiking, walking, fishing, playing on the beach or gardening declined 50 percent.

Depending on where you live, there are usually no shortages of activities in which to partake. The problem may be the countless distractions. Can beaches, hikes, and family time compete with iPods, cell phones, and MySpace?

At Playa Viva, we think they can. Releasing baby turtles, sleeping in a treehouse, or horseback riding on the beach are the antidotes to nature deficit disorder. For both kids, and parents alike.

A Sense of Urgency

USGBC LogoI’m attending the United States Green Build Council’s annual Greenbuild Conference in Chicago, Illinois (www.usgbc.org), and there is a palpable sense of urgency permeating all the talks, sessions and impromptu meetings going on here. Its like we have finally reached a tipping point — no longer is the existence of global warming being debated, but rather how severe the effects will be and when will they manifest. And there is a recognition that if we keep up with ‘business as usual’, we are going to be seeing a major assault to our way of life, our country and the entire world within as soon as 10 years. Due to our addiction to cheap energy, specifically coal (See Ed Mazriya’s talk, more on that in another blog…). Bill Clinton’s keynote address on Wednesday was a call to arms: President Clinton’s message is that the environtal movement needs to be the biggest countrywide and worldwide call to action since World War II in order to stem the tide of global warming. And not only will this massive effort reap benefits to the overall health of our world, but the positive economic effects will be staggering as well, in a positive way. There is evidence of this in all countries that have adopted the Kyoto Protocol.

Seeing Paul Hawken talk yesterday brought a distinctly personal message to the movement: Environmental sustainability and social justice are inseparable. This movement is not about supplying healthier air and living wages to the rich — it is about treating everyone who lives on this planet with humanity and respect. Only when we recognize that we are all deeply connected can we affect positive change to the world we live in.

We have a lot of work to do, but the journey, while deeply distrubing at times, is a beautiful journey into the possibility of how we can find deeper meaning in our lives, not just mine, but all of our lives.

I’m flying back home, to Truckee CA this afternoon (yes, I recogize the hypocricy of flying…) then driving to San Francisco for yet another green festival — the SF Greenfest. More later…

Restoration

Together with the trees that are already there such as, Crataeva tapia and Bursera excelsa, the idea is to recreate the original vegetation of the dunes. With this project we hope to stabilize the dunes, suppress the proliferation of plants with thorns, improve the soil and cool the climate by trapping humidity and adding more shade. These trees will also protect the orchards from the salty breeze of the ocean.

Peak Season

2722 Baby Turtles Being Released at Playa VivaSadie, Catherine, Tim, Brian, Kirsten and others releasing turtles at Playa Viva

We just got the monthly stats in from the turtle sanctuary, Tortuga Feliz, at Playa Viva.  This is definitely peak season.  The team reported for Sept: 714 new nests, 67,451 turtle eggs (avg of 95 eggs per nest) and 29,723 turtles released. In October, the numbers are off the charts: 439 nests, 41,574 eggs and 64,787 turtles released. These are incredible numbers. The work of this group of all volunteers should be highly commended. We hope to help find additional funds to support their activities. The leaders of the Tortuga Feliz told us they believe they are either the largest or second largest turtle sanctuary in all of Mexico. 

We just visited the site on Oct 26th and released 2722 turtles. We were told that over 4000 turtles were released the day before. Joining us were new Playa Viva team member Sadie Kaufman,  Catherine Krantz (Editor of local magazine “Another Day in Paradise“), Real Estate Agent Tim Sullivan (from Ixtapa Real Estate) and Brian and Kristen Furano (from The Grain Collective).

Sadie, Catherine, Tim, Brian, Kirsten and others releasing turtles at Playa Viva

We hope you can join us in supporting and visiting the Tortuga Feliz.

Good News, Bad News

aca-through-charette-7-16-06-153.jpg

A recent report released by the Travel Industry Association outlines the results of a survey into habits and choices of the green traveler. According to the report, 50 percent say they would be more likely to use an airline if they knew it took the initiative to offset carbon emissions, used newer, more fuel efficient jets, or implemented recycling programs. Almost six out of ten (56 percent) stated the same thing for car rental companies (those offering more fuel efficient and hybrid cars). And fully 54 percent stated they would be more likely to patronize hotels or resorts they knew practiced environmental responsibility. 

 13 percent of travelers would be willing to pay higher rates or fares to use suppliers who demonstrate environmental responsibility.

According to the survey, consumers would favor properties that actively tried to prevent beach erosion (oceanfront hotels), allowed guests the option to reuse towels and sheets, reduced their energy consumption by using energy efficient lighting/low flow toilets and showers, and supported community environmental causes.

And, not surprisingly, Americans’ sense of environmental responsibility manifests itself in many other ways: eight out of ten (78 percent) U.S. adults consider themselves “environmentally conscious,” according to the survey. In fact, more than half:

• Turn out the lights when they leave a room (85 percent);
• Practice energy efficiency by regulating air conditioning and heating when not at home (67 percent);
• Recycle trash (60 percent);
• Shut off water while brushing teeth or shaving (60 percent);
• Try to use more energy efficient light bulbs (59 percent);
• Keep showers short (53 percent).

Good news – The report validates some of the basic ideas behind our business model.  Today’s traveler is getting greener and greener in their purchases. 

So what’s the Bad News – Travelers are not necessarily willing to pay much more for environmentally friendly choices.  

Film Crew On Site Captures Turtles Laying Eggs

Turtle Release

Gaston and Carlos, who are filming a documentary of the “Making of Playa Viva”, were on site in September to catch the sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs.  A short film of this will be posted when completed.

First Impressions

How do you start a blog about a project as deep as Playa Viva? Just like every other achievement great and small, with a first step.  Rather than try to describe Playa Viva, or give a first impression, I’ll just leave it up to the members of the Playa Viva team to each give you their own point of view through this blg, like a single refraction on a diamond facet, and by joining each of these slivers together, you can get a complete view into the whole.  Thank you, David Leventhal, Principal, Playa Viva.