Spotlight on Biocultural Leadership Day Three: A Day at the Museum

By Kael Shipman 14 November, 2013

Cambio Creativo of Colón

Cambio Creativo of Colón

Photo: Anna Gili, Earth Train

Panama is Our Museum

The main event of the day was a big one, introducing an important theme in the cultural and ecological thoughtscape of Panama and the world. With "Panama is Our Museum", Earth Train and Panama's Biomuseo—the Frank Gehry-designed museum of Biological Diversity—sought to promote the idea that the beauty of Panama is all around us, from the primary rain forests of Darien and Earth Train's own Mamoní Valley Preserve right down to the trees growing out of the rooftops in Panama City's Casco Viejo—and that the people and culture of Panama form an integral part of that beauty.

For Panama is Our Museum, we invited 8 groups of kids from various grass-roots NGOs around Panama to present works of theater, music and dance to demonstrate aspects of Panamanian culture and appreciation for Panama's native flora and fauna. Among the invites were Gramo Danse, Cambio Creativo, OJEWP, Fundación Trabajando por un Futuro Mejor, Alouatta Sanctuary, Eco Creando, Misión Águila Harpia of the Brader Highschool and an independent group of kids from the village of Cangandi in the Guna Yala.

Halit Khoshen dancing with a guest

Earth Train's Halit Khoshen dancing with a guest

Photo: Kael Shipman, Earth Train

Among the truly memorable highlights of the event was an interactive drum circle lead by Panamanian percussionists Alfredo Hidrovo and Eric Blanquicet in which the children were instructed to drum specific rhythms on plastic buckets. Alfredo has been hosting the so-called Luna Llena de Tambores in Panama for 3 years now and it was a thrill to have him lead the show in the Old Officers' Club at the Bio Museum for us. With 90 kids from diverse backgrounds around Panama, the energy was high, and even Jane got a dance in!

While in attendance, the kids enjoyed bagged lunches delivered by the Panama International Hotel School and got to be the first group of kids ever to tour the yet-to-be-opened Bio Museum galleries!

Junglewood Picnic

After the kids' amazing performances were over, we shifted into the evening event, an informal gathering to highlight the continuing development of Junglewood, a collaboration between Earth Train and Fundación Danilo Pérez. Also fully catered by the Panama International Hotel School, the event kicked off with a showing of Earth Train's newest documentary short, followed by a surprise performance by students and staff from Fundación Danilo Pérez and an exciting new composition by Shea Welsh based on a traditional Guna song performed live together with a child from Cangandi.

An hour of music ensued, featuring performances by guitarist Julian Lage, percussionist Tupac Mantilla, guitarist Juanito Pascual, guitarist Shea Welsh, violinist Graciela Núñez and Bassist Brad Barrett, after which the audience was lead by Tupac Mantilla in a collaborative percussion piece performed on pieces of bamboo from Earth Train's Mamoní Valley Reserve. The day was exhausting, but a profound success! Thanks to the whole Earth Train team who made all this possible and a special thanks to our friends at the Biomuseo for rolling with the punches today!

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