During Phases I and II [2004 to 2007], the project initiated a community-university research alliance between the rural agricultural communities of Santa Maria de Dota and San Marcos in the Los Santos Region, Costa Rican universities and environmental organizations, and VIU. This collaborative research alliance seeks to create alternative forms of sustainable economic development in the Los Santos Region of Costa Rica. The project has three major research themes:
In the Spring of 2008, Vancouver Island University's Heart of Gold project adopted a new focus for future research and student learning experiences in the Los Santos region of Costa Rica. As the project has been in process since 2004, strong community connections have been made within the communities of Santa Maria and San Marcos. The project did begin with a primary focus of assisting organic farmers with value-added aspects of coffee production, however all parties involved felt that they were ready for a bold new direction in this community-university economic diversification endeavor. That bold new direction is the creation and development of the Los Santos Eco-Trail.
Our work in Costa Rica to date has resulted in regional awareness of the empowerment project, linked local communities through workshop and educational gatherings, generated educational materials for local residents on alternative coffee production models and community-driven tourism initiatives, initiated agro-tourism educational tours and home-stay accommodation on five local organic coffee farms, generated forest based economic activities data for the Nubotropica Foundation's rainforest protection campaign, initiated the development of a full risk management plan for operations of the project in Costa Rica, and initiated an ecotourism network for local businesses and home-stay families. All of these outcomes are 'on-going' in addition to the major undertaking of the Los Santos Eco-Trail.
Our method of participatory action research is based upon the principles of
"I want to live, I want to give... I crossed the ocean for a Heart of Gold." (Neil Young)
website designed by reiko allen
last updated in 2009