Have you ever had a travel experience you knew if shared could make the world a better place?
Altaire Cambata and Justin May guess that your answer is, “yes,” and they are in the planning stages of just such a project.
The name of their project is “Interwoven,” inspired by the metaphor of the colorful Indonesian ikat. They believe that like the ikat, intention and mindfulness can draw together disparate units of human perception and form a cohesive network, the result of which evokes a sense of beauty and harmony.
Both Altaire and Justin learned important, developmental lessons beginning at an early age during their travels, and they are using an upcoming journey to Indonesia to share what they consider to be an important concept from which we can all learn, that realizing the interconnectivity of all species on earth, and how we affect one another in ways that are very real but not always obvious, can lead to stronger global relationships. Their philosophy is that by taking a greater interest in the complex, open systems we are each a part of, we will naturally pursue more sustainable options. A few of these complex systems refer to the origins of our food, the cultural and biological footprints of the products we buy, industrialization, the climate, and our relationships with other people.
If able to acquire the appropriate resources to embark on their journey, Justin and Altaire will be living in Indonesia for a month and will be traveling to remote locations and volunteering with local, social entrepreneurial ventures. Along the way they will be recording their experiences through manual and digital photography, video, interviews, and writing. The region is an important backdrop for their message mainly due to international demand for Indonesian forest products such as wood, paper, textiles and palm oil, a demand so insatiable that it has lead to the rapid degradation of the country’s natural and cultural landscapes. The Indonesian rainforest is the only second to the Amazon for its capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and is deforested at about 2 million hectares a year, thus contributing to climate change and biodiversity loss.
The forests are also home to 25 percent of global fish species, 17 percent of the world’s bird species, 16 percent of the world’s reptiles and amphibians, 12 percent of mammals and 10 percent of the world’s plant species as well as a large number of micro-organisms such as fungi and invertebrates. It is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. Many of these organisms have economic value – they serve as food and medicine across the globe. However, these life forms are also valuable for other reasons: nature inspires the design of helpful inventions, life forms remain untapped resources in terms of potential medicinal use for diseases such as HIV-AIDs and cancer, and genetic diversity possesses intrinsic value; in other words, it has evolved over millions of years as an essential component of its ecosystem and is valuable in its own right to survive. This immense amount of biological wealth is being affected by unsustainable practices on the land and in the oceans of Indonesia. This project will highlight how individual actions around the globe significantly influence the well-being of all animals – humans included.
Currently, Indonesia is also home to about 500 different ethnic groups, but as place-based peoples are forced from their homelands into urban centers, cultures and languages are fading.
The project will result in reporting, blogging and a film which will reveal the interconnectedness of humankind and non-human species through cross-cultural dialogues, and the opportunities we as human beings have to collectively ensure a sustainable future through our consumer choices as well as the way we conceptualize foreign places. It is especially important for Interwoven that the information is inviting, engaging and accessible to those who typically do not have the time or resources to reflect critically on global issues.
Altaire expressed, “On my travels, I meet people who are beginning to associate so many negative concepts with America, a country that has a tremendous amount of heart, creativity and potential for leadership. I think that by creatively and compassionately reminding people, Westerners especially, that our actions make significant impacts on the well-being of the planet, it could lead to some interesting discussions.”
Izilwane a nonprofit environmental e-zine, will host Interwoven’s multi-media journey online. If you too are interested in becoming a citizen eco-reporter, contact Izilwane at: ExecDirector@izilwane.org.
All photos courtesy of Brad Wilcox, founder of the Reef Artisan Collaborative of Indonesia.