On the evening of September 26th members of Unidos por Bocas (United for Bocas) had an extremely productive meeting with Mayor Martin Downer, expressing their concerns and ideas for modern living in the archipelago. In the August issue of the Bocas Breeze, Emily Talentino wrote a profile on the mayor where Downer assured the community that his office door is always open. A man of his word, he made himself completely available that evening at the Bocas Beach Villas for a three hour open-door session in which many important subjects were discussed at length.
The outcome of the meeting was the beginning of an initiative to grace the islands with 100 new trash receptacles. The tentative agreement was that the mayor would pledge his support by the municipality taking responsibility in the regular removal of the trash from the 100 new bins. In a follow up meeting on October 12th, he confirmed the trash removal pledge and he also was able to offer support in the way of $3,000 of municipal funds toward the manufacturing of the 100 new public trash bins. David Gillingham of Finca de los Monos spearheaded the production of the bins and he and his wife Linda did cost analysis of the project finding that an estimated $5.500 would be necessary for the initial production of the 100 bins. It was decided that the trash bins themselves (and maintenance of them) in turn could be assisted through community fund-raising efforts and/or businesses sponsoring the bins. Ideas for a fund-raising event were immediately set into motion.
Since there are so many different cultures residing and visiting the islands of Bocas del Toro, the thought of an international culinary fair was met with great enthusiasm and an October 30th date was set. The event will be as such: businesses and residents will donate a specialty dish while artists and performers will collaborate with their talents. Tickets will be sold for the community and tourists to enjoy the entertainment and food and all this for the cause of funding the purchase of 100 new trash bins. By the time of this publication, the event will have already happened but everyone is hoping for a strong turn out!
The great people of Unidos por Bocas are also getting their hands dirty in another project to improve the Simon Bolivar park (main park between 2nd and 3rd street, next to the Governor’s Palace). When it rains, the park gets muddy. There’s been an initiative to add and compact sand to improve drainage and keep it dry. Chris Vasquez and Dario Smith made some great improvements on September 20th (see page 10 “Come Together”). Since then, labor and tools have been requested from the municipality to address the standing water problem and the mayor has pledged his support in this manner as well. The organization looked for ways to find sand and the most environmentally low impact option was to buy it from Changuinola. Albeit expensive, at least the “Changuinola way” would leave the beaches untouched. The group posted their concerns on-line and were met by the immediate support of a part-time resident who would prefer to remain anonymous. Thanks anonymous!
And thank you to the members of Unidos por Bocas. Most of all, thanks to the Mayor Mayor Downer for being receptive to ideas from all sectors of the community, making himself available and pledging the support that he can. If you love Bocas and want to help from afar, check out Facebook (Unidos por Bocas) or their website www.unidosporbocas.com and www.unitedforbocas.com to see how you can contribute to the prosperity of your favorite Panamanian Caribbean islands!