Highlights, Jordan

Amman is not known for being green, and recycling, for the majority of people, is still as yet a shadowy concept. And yet, we of Udavi Payanam found plenty of ecological projects to get involved in.

Here are the highlights:

Attending the Think Green Conference and learning about the current thinking on ecology in the Middle East.

Volunteering with Entity Green Training, a recycling company that trains hotels in recycling, creates new products from recycled materials and has started a new recycling collection centre.

How I helped: By researching for a report about community attitudes towards scavengers and building prototypes of products from recycled materials.

Visiting the Aqaba House, a green building and ecolodge specially designed to maximise natural light, use shading, and solar cooling to reduce energy consumption. It is the first ecological building in Aqaba.

Discovering the Creative Co-op of Reuse, a program run by the Life Centre, Aqaba that trains at-risk women in the production of jewelry and handicrafts from recycled materials.

How I helped: By trading ideas of similar projects and writing an article to get the word out.

Discussing ideas with the Couchsurfing Jordan Environment Group, and finding lots of ways to promote ecological action.

Jordan has developed very rapidly and Amman has quickly lept to become a world-class city–I think its more than ready to also be a sustainable and ecologically-minded city. I met a lot of hardworking and inspiring people there who are making a change. From this, I see a lot of potential for Jordan.

If YOU, the reader, find yourself in Jordan, check out these places and contribute your own steps to change!

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recycled material takes form

Using one side of a juice carton as a base, I constructed a purse from recycled fabric that I had collected in India. From a few scraps that would have otherwise been thrown away something substantial emerged…

photo coming soon.

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Activate. CS Jordan Environmental Group. Let citrus juices flow across the desert.

Get aware
Get involved
Last week we called a meeting of the Couchsurfing Jordan Environmental Group to discuss the current environmental issues that we’re facing and plan activities for the coming weeks.
A few critical environmental issues we’re facing in Jordan–
-water shortages and misuse
-recycling, the lack thereof
-littering and lack of awareness
-vandalism of the caves
Challenges–just cleaning things up is not sustainable, because people will grow complacent by expecting cleanup efforts to continue without their imput. At the least you need to clean up, pull schoolchildren, and a wide range of community members into the process, and leave behind a sign that encourages people to leave the place nice. Maybe on the first few days post some friendly enforcers to hand out informational phamplets (from recycled paper) and field questions on why not to litter, in the wadi, for example, where families typically come, picnic within the first 100 meters and leave a scattering of debris which more families come and scatter over.
From this discussion we brainstormed a lovely way to produce environmental action from a synthesis of social groups.
We identified Couchsurfing as a catalyst. Its a versatile network through which travellers flow, bringing untired energy, and fresh ideas wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string.
Couchsurfing is limited by the nature of travelling; that the stay of travellers is typically brief. They dont possess the time to see grand projects come into flower or fruition. But they can serve a vital function: to fuel longer projects with fresh inspiration and short bursts of energy. To keep environmental projects fresh, juicy and flowing like rivers of fruit punch.
It’s significant to note, from pervious cleanup efforts, the admiration which which kids regard foreigners, whom they seldom see, involved in cleaning up their natural environment and the environment which they and their families probably scattered with plastic cups once but will do so no longer.
And couchsurfers, working along with schoolchildren, working along with community organisations, could be a potent (but non-toxic and environmentally friendly) combination.
The four stages of Awareness:
-Fast Asleep
-Just woke–still groggy
-Full Power

And here is something environmental you can do immediately if you are in Jordan. It fulfills two important criteria–it’s easy and it costs nothing. Join the Couchsurfing Jordan Environmental Group–go on, jump in, the water’s nice–get involved in the events that are happening and organise your own event. They need manpower and womanpower.
Here’s the link to the CS Jordan Environment Society: http://www.couchsurfing.org/group.html?gid=21708 (can we call it CSJES for short?).  Join. Do it. Now. If youre not in Jordan start your own environmental group through CS or somewhere else.
Heres another way you can start your own group:
A global campaign that mobilizes communities to clean up the world. Associated with: UN Environment Programme. Located in: 120 countries, most likely including yours.

Why am I writing this?, perhaps you wonder. Why am I spending my weekday morning writing this when I could be watching television or shopping? Why am I spending my time trying to encourage YOU, the reader, to do something regardless of whether youre in Jordan or New South Wales or Northern Irtusk or Southeast Tajikstan. Because I can see the potential for change. I know that we multiply that potential as we begin to create change. And potential is the fabric from which actions are made.
With our thoughts we make the world and with our actions we pull our dreams into being. With our fears we make four walls around us. Until we make a window the currents of inspiration on the air can’t drift in. My greatest fears have already coughed out their feeble sickness on me, and with the stones from the fallen wall I will make a bridge. Right now it’s an invisible bridge. But as I bring my dreams into being the stepping stones emerge.
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Two Words on Wadis

the stunning wadi we hiked in

About hiking in the wadis of Jordan I can say two words. Stunned by the natural beauty and saddened by the unnatural rubbish we found there.
Typical picnic behaviour is–
Gather your family, relatives, and extended family (fun)
Build a fire, swim in the river, picnic (fun)
Leave your rubbish wherever it falls and down look back (terrible).

the hideous rubbish we found there.

****disclaimer**** this is not the “actual” rubbish we found in the wadi, but very closely resembles it. The “actual” rubbish can be found, quite easily, all over Jordan.

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Transmuting Cans to Lampshades: Notes from a Successful Recycling Workshop

the bottle bubble purse has unlimited openings!

Saturday, 29 May marked the first official day of a two week workshop oriented towards artists and designers to construct objects and prototypes out of recycled materials. Organised by Amman-based recycling company Entity Green, the workshop provided all the space, tools and materials necessary to create new objects out of what was previously rubbish but now will be rubbish no longer. And the first session was a success. The small but potent group of attendees began to create a range of objects from the materials provided. Theresa began immediately to cut into soda cans, curling them into a playful lampshade. Jo stitched plastic matts with the wire from discarded cables and created a partially see-through bag just large enough to carry a notebook. Belal created soda can plant holders, created a plastic ring and bracelet and found a simple but elegant way to recycle plastic mats into coasters that matched the furnishings of the room. Elliot fashioned a belt from a sheet of flexible plastic material and remelted old wax into a candle in a soda can mold with a wick from an old cloth slipper. Recycling artist Hana Faouri began to weave multicoloured plastic bags into string for sodacan and wire jewelry. And I constructed a belt from orange juice cartons and sculped a bubble-like bag out water bottle tops and clear plastic tape.

At the end of the afternoon it was easy to see that a wide range of useful objects are iminantly realisable from recycled materials given the time and space to construct them. We came empty handed and left with a pleasant feeling of surprise at what the seemingly useless discard could, in just a few hours, become. Now imagine multiplying this and expanding it across a wide scale. The best way to start? Organise a recycling workshop of your own. Deconstruct the overlooked by-products of the modern world and build yourelf startling hybrids with new applications. Your materials in this way can take on a new life, a life previously unimagined but seeable with a new creative vision.

More pictures viewable on our facebook, Udavi Payanam.

What you can do:: Host your own recycled materials workshop.

::Find a large, clean workspace

::Gather together some materials–plastic bottles, cans, fabric scraps, cardboard etc

::Bring tools for assembling them–scissors, wire, tape, staplers and glue

::Invite people

::Add water and stir! Experiement, mix materials, people and ideas, and see what you come up with. You will be surprised.

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Litter with a Dose of Imagination

Udavi payanam has been involved in the last while in contructing beautiful and useful objects from senselessly discarded waste.

i didnt not have to go out of my way to find this many cigarette packets

Smoke swirls around everything in Amman. It curls upward from the idle moments at shopfronts and around the ceaseless activity of the souks. More smoke has probably drifted across the stones of the Roman ruins than you could know. It swirls in the restaurants, coffee shops, bars, living rooms. Smoke swirls on the rooftops until you can no longer see the tops of the minarets. Born on a cough that echos through the haze, ideas form.

...and from cigarette packets constuct a tower...

What would it be like to gaze across a skyline of cigarette packet towers, smothering the horizon in a cramped press, in front of a curtain of black smoke?

From litter to structure, from empty to inhabited, from hand sized to life size.

Transformed cigarette packets reach skyward toward the future in a monument to transformation. Imagine if this sculpture were building size.

the cigarette-packet structure of the future

Imagination lends waste a new potential.

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what we conserve

A stiring quote from Jordans Royal Conservation Society.

“In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught”.

This is one reason environmetal education is so important. What we do not know we cannot love.

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