Change is all around us

Be the change you wish to see in this world!

January, we celebrated World Environmental Education Day. We celebrated this day with our friends and colleagues from Bodhi Surf, Bahia Aventuras, Hotel Bahia Azul, ASOGUIBA and others. Youth and adults alike participated in a street cleanup, trashcan clean-out, and sign painting and placement. The signs were an expansion of the “Yo No Tiro Basura” sticker campaign that was established during the Festival of Whales and Dolphins. We topped it all off with an amazing lunch of “arroz con pollo” or rice and chicken, were almost everyone brought their own eating utensils.

WorldEnvironmentalEducationDay-2015 youth-making-a-difference Yo-No-Tiro-Basura-Geoporter


It’s time for an “Organización sin fines de lucro”

Geoporter community members have been working hard these first two months starting the process and paperwork to obtain a non-profit status in Costa Rica, or what is known as an Organización sin fines de lucro. This status will provide Geoporter with additional opportunities.


Additionally, community members have identified the projects and goals they wish to accomplish during 2015. We’re taking the leap from three community based projects to six. The projects include:

    • Clean Streets, Clean Waters
    • Participatory Whale Monitoring
    • Coastal Escuelas
    • Aguas Grises / Aguas Contaminadas (new)
    • Coastal Reforestation (new)
    • Flaura / Fauna (new)

Always in our hearts

Bahia Ballena experienced a huge loss at the beginning of 2015. One of Geoporter’s key supporters, Walter Brenes, and owner of Bahia Aventuras, was taken from us all too quickly, along with two other colleagues Cezar Fonseca and Daljit Singh of Bahia Aventuras. The community is still recovering, taking one step at a time and continuing to keep these individuals in our hearts as the sun rises each day without them. Here is a wonderful piece highlighting the our dear friend Walter from our colleagues at Bodhi Surf.



In late May we will be having our annual in-person Board of Directors meeting. What are other organizations doing that Geoporter should be aware of that can help us to continue to grow and improve? We are still young and have room to learn from all of you. If you know of something, we’d love to hear from you.

Trip of a Lifetime for one local Elementary School Teacher

Escuela-Verde-Margarita-computer-T3GThe adventure begins, and with this adventure comes knowledge and skills that will be brought back to Costa Rica to share with other teachers and students. Margarita Morales Gamboa, a teacher at Escuela Verde, a local bi-lingual elementary school that Geoporter works with, applied to and was accepted to attend the 2014 Esri Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS (T3G) week-long institute this summer in California, USA. In its 6th year, T3G offers a professional development opportunity for formal, informal and non-formal educators to build their skills for teaching other teachers learn why and how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS), or computer mapping.

Margarita is very excited to be attending the T3G institute from June 15-20, 2014. She cannot wait to “learn about the technology to use with her students and be able to help other teachers use the GPS and GIS.” In her application, Margarita had to create a big project about Costa Rica, mapping the location of her house and other amenities using an online platform for GIS, ArcGIS Online. Upon acceptance to T3G, Margarita was “so happy to have the permission and opportunity to attend, but very worried about getting a visa for her trip.” Getting a visa to the U.S. is not an easy task for many Costarricenses. Many apply several times before finally getting their visa.

On her first visit to the U.S. Embassy, Margarita was successfully approved for her visa to travel to the U.S. and attend the T3G Institute. With the visa in hand and an excitement that is hard to control, Margarita is set to head off and learn how she can advance her current GIS skills and how to bring back additional skills to run a workshop back in Bahia Ballena for other teachers in the area when she returns. Acceptance into T3G requires that all attendees conduct a training event for other educators in the year following their return.

While getting accepted and receiving her visa are the key components, Margarita’s trip would not be possible without the support of many businesses and organizations who have stepped up to make sure she is able to attend. As part of getting accepted to T3G, Esri will put Margarita up in a hotel with one other attendee for her time during the week. Geotecnologias S.A., based in San Jose, Costa Rica is sponsoring Margarita’s airfare to Los Angeles from San Jose. GISetc has offered to cover Margarita’s meals expenses while she is attending, and Escuela Verde is covering Margarita’s classes while she is gone. School is still in session and the kids need to continue learning. Geoporter is thrilled for Margarita to have this opportunity and looks forward to working with Margarita to teach others how they can use GPS and GIS in classrooms and to map community issues.


Students help school earn Bandera Azul recognition

Students from Escuela La Flor de Bahia help their school earn its first Bandera Azul (Blue Flag). Students is grades two through six (2-6) worked with Geoporter and community volunteers weekly for seven weeks to work on its waste management initiative. As such, students participated by mapping and collecting trash on school grounds, the adjoining soccer field, and street in front of their school. Quickly picking up on how to use GPS units, the students were off and running, collecting and recording the locations of where they picked up trash. They then downloaded their GPS points, creating their very own School Trash Map.

View Larger Map

The data the students collected was sent into the Bandera Azul program along with other school identified initiatives that include: water management, risk management, environmental education, status of health services, promoting clean spaces, developing an integrated waste management plan and energy. Before April of 2014, Escuela La Flor de Bahia will celebrate by raising its first blue flag on school grounds as part of the Bandera Azul program.



Huffington Post: Making an Impact One Person at a Time

Back in March 2013, we received a seed grant from the Pollination Project for $1,000 to support the creation of our Geospatial Technology Lab. The lab enabled us to offer trainings to residents here in Bahia Ballena at different locations around town and into Escuela Verde and Escuela La Flor de Bahia. At the end of the year, the Pollination Project was seeking input from their first year’s daily-awarded grant recipients to reflect on how the Pollination Project has helped seed change in the world. Geoporter responded with The Pura Vida of the Pollination Project: The Costa Rica Geoporter Story.

Our summary of how our Pollination Project award made a difference was selected as one of 10 incredible impact stories. Being selected rewarded Geoporter with an additional $500 award which we will use to support the expansion of our geospatial technology lab and highlighting Geoporter in the Huffington Post.

While the article highlights one person, we at Geoporter know that without all the community volunteers and everyone involved in this project, we wouldn’t be where we are today and making the impacts that we are. So thank you to all those involved in Geoporter!


On your mark, get set…..Snap!

Yep, you’ve got it. For more than a year now we’ve managed to build a collection of thousands of photos. We are going through these photos to find a few of our favorite photos (this is going to be really, really, really hard) and we want to share these photos with you or someone special.

So here’s the deal:  We know you have many special people in your life. So just find one and when you DONATE ANY AMOUNT you wish to our FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN (you have until December 28) and we will send a digital holiday card to this special person wishing them a Happy New Year. The holiday card will share some of our favorite moments since we’ve been down here. While all you have to do is identify a person (or people and donate a few different times), your gift will keep on giving! If you have several people you can make a few donations in their name. Your contribution will continue to help Geoporter make a difference educating community residents here in Bahia Ballena and other new communities, how to use geospatial mapping technologies.

Here’s a quick look at just a few of our favorite photos. But I must tell you, we have thousands!

Monitoring Whales on National TV in Costa Rica

The Festival of Whales and Dolphins brings many people here to Bahia Ballena for two weekends in September, including many TV stations. This year, our second year here for the Festival, we connected with Repretel, a national Costa Rica news station. After watching the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, speak at the opening festivities, we were connected with Repretel through individuals from MarViva, with whom we’ve met with before and explained the Geoporter projects.
Repretel asked to see how the GPS units were being used to monitor the whales in Marino Ballena National Park. We were send Repretel out with Bahia Aventuras and their guides and captains Reymer, Cristian, and Marlon, to show them the process of recording the whale sightings with GPS.
While the seas were a bit rough for capturing video, here is the report that was broadcast on Repretel, Channel 11 this past Wednesday, the 12th of September.
Repetel Geoporter Video