Climate Projects

While of course, we want to reduce and offset our emissions and limit our impacts, we cannot eliminate climate change overnight. Climate change is a very real, and very current issue that people all over the world are struggling with in different ways. Often it is forgotten how negative the impacts of climate change can be because we ourselves don’t see them right in front of us. However, for some communities, like the ones the Puerto Rico Project Center works with, these effects are life-changing and catastrophic. It isn’t enough to limit climate change from growing, we need to support the people who are already struggling to bear the weight it has caused. The best way to do this is through climate and resiliency-focused projects. 

Our team did site visits to some of the other teams here in Puerto Rico to see firsthand the work they were doing and speak with their sponsors. The biggest takeaway we gained from this was how important these projects were to the sponsors and how much they truly impacted their communities. An example that shows this exceptionally well is the example of the groups working in Cubuy at a community center. The community center is being built from an abandoned school to become a place where members of the community can go to get food, education, medical support, and ultimately shelter when necessary. One group was tasked with helping design the space and create methods of outreach, while the other was assigned the role of planning the roofs and where solar panels and water entrapment systems could be placed. When we spoke with Javier Valedon, the sponsor of these projects and president of Id Shaliah, we realized just how important this place really was. He spoke of times when water was gone for weeks on end and times when family members couldn’t reach medical help in time due to the distance. Hearing him talk about his dream for this center was truly inspiring. 

Our team hosted an open zoom discussion for project center directors to voice their opinions about our project and its goals. When we brought up the idea of recommending more climate and resiliency-focused projects, a valid concern was brought to our attention. Some project centers are in areas that simply don’t have the resources or sponsors or even need for entire resiliency projects and asking advisors to force a project that doesn’t fit, is not helpful to the student IQP experience. However, this combined with a beach cleanup we attended inspired us to create this secondary recommendation. Making students aware of community volunteer activities they can participate in is not only helpful to the community’s environment but to enrich the students’ experience by getting more hands-on experience in these new communities.