Written by Rare Conservation Fellow Cathy Demesa
I had not heard of The New York Times. Is it a popular, credible newspaper in the United States? To prepare for the interview I read three articles by the reporter, David Bornstein, and studied the way he writes. I like his column. It makes a lot of sense.
I was quite nervous about the interview. I woke up at 6 a.m. I was still recovering from the flu, so I had three cups of ginger tea with honey to prepare my voice and hopefully avoid coughing. My bedroom, my sanctuary, still smelled of herbs because the night before I had a massage with oregano, “damong maria” and calamansi to help with my cold.
I outlined my project to promote sustainable fishing in Tinambac, Philippines and wrote down a bunch of information on sticky notes. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget to give credit to the community and local government. The community used to be a big part of the problem with overfishing in my town, but now they are really the solution. They are the ones making changes now. With the strong support of the local government, I merely facilitate the process by motivating and inspiring the community.
David called my mobile at 9 a.m. and asked if we could talk via Skype. The call lasted about 30 minutes and was disconnected about four times because of the bad Internet connection I get in my home.
David was really good at asking questions and seemed to pick up the information very quickly.
I told him that the social marketing campaign I am running in partnership with Rare promotes pride and ownership of the marine sanctuary. (It is therefore called a Pride campaign.) I gave him a bit of history about my site: before more than 90 percent of the fishers were using illegal methods like dynamite. The community used to be happy with that because they knew they would get free fish and the local officials were apathetic towards enforcement of the law. In my ten years of work, the power of Pride has had the most impact and created a lot of change in the community. What we are doing is engaging the community in every stage of the solution: they perceive the problem and think of a plan to solve it. We just help the resource users become resource managers. They lead the protection of the marine sanctuary and also own the benefits.
I think his most difficult question he asked was, “What have I learned from running a Pride campaign?” I could talk about that for a whole day!
Read more about Cathy’s campaign here.