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NICH Partners with Organizations for the Development of a El Pillar Museum Exhibition

The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) and the Exploring Solutions Past -The Maya Forest Alliance today signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the development of a Museum Exhibition showcasing the Forest Gardens and the Maya of El Pilar. The exhibition will symbolize the need for action as it relates to climate change and will show how to reduce temperature, maintain biodiversity, conserve water and build soil fertility. Doctor Annabelle Ford from the alliance spoke about the importance of the collaborative effort.

Dr. Anabel Ford, Director El Pilar Program: “To me I see this collaboration as a really exciting opportunity to bring the academy into the broader national educational sphere. We see this partnership as creating a way of understanding the landscape, how we can take the action of the forest gardens which are traditional both in Garifuna, Maya, Kriol villagers even urban gardens and they all are helping to reduce temperature. You put a tree up it’s cooler than no tree. You maintain biodiversity everyone wants a different tree, you conserve water by actually having a tree , something over the land you are cooling the temperature below and that helps the earth build soil fertility, reduce erosion and what I say care for people and our planet, something we really need to start thinking about. And this collaboration will bring the quite able and very very talented staff of NICH and the museum to really bring some of the thoughts that I have. They’re wonderful but they’ll say you use too many multisyllabic words and we need to actually capture people we’re gonna capture them from primary, secondary, even people who know something about it we want them to be able to come out and be able to learn. I’m really excited about it.”

Ford also elaborated on how this project will help improve understanding of sustainable solutions for climate change, derived from lessons of the past.

Dr. Anabel Ford, Director El Pilar Program:  “Everyone thinks that the Maya civilization is great which I have never heard someone say it was a phony or a bad or anything it’s pretty amazing and they sustained a lifestyle in the Maya forest for more than three thousand years and it is obliging of us to understand if they were able to create such a glamorous and profound and variable civilization on the grounds right here we can do it too and I think anything that humans have done in the past can really inform how we can go forward in the future and I think this COVID I think if Cynthia was here she would say this one thing “With COVID we have had to really look to our own resources and planting our own plants –  Laverta has Soursop, like unbelievable,  and having our own fruits and vegetables right in our home that is something we can depend on we don’t have we don’t have to go to a store, we don’t have to buy we can buy some things like if we wanted to have I don’t know we want to have anyway a strawberry or even an apple they don’t grow here but you don’t need those you have the mango one season, you have the soursop and other things and if you have them right in your own home and even in the rural component it’s something we might want to look at is that what would be sustainable there is don’t go whole into one thing. Let’s say someone says we can buy peanuts next year and just do a hundred percent peanuts, do fifty percent of your land in peanuts and fifty percent in that which will support you then you are food sovereign. This whole thing about food security we really want to have food sovereignty and I think the last year and a half has shown us how important sovereignty is.”

Dr. Ford will lead the charge of creating content and the groundwork will be done by the Museum of Belize. The museum’s Elona Smiling expressed her excitement for this project in this morning’s presentation.

Elona Smiling, Curator, Museum of Belize

Elona Smiling, Curator, Museum of Belize: “It gives us the chance to showcase our talents as we have said before but what I’m really interested in is ensuring that we are being extremely open to our community so that their voices are the head of the narrative of whatever story we choose to put forward at the museum. So we’re hoping that with this exhibit we are going to create more partnerships and to include those who need to be included within this exhibit. As it evolves as well what we are hoping to do is not just to put forward and exhibit but to also create more avenues so that we are more dynamic with whatever stories that we’re putting forward if it’s just exhibit, travelling exhibits or even educational programs through the museum and through our partnerships.”

The exhibition will be mounted in Belize City but has a travel component to all Houses of Culture and some libraries nationwide.