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Mangrove Roots Activism

  • Oct 14, 2010 · 4:00 PM
  • Galeri If

I know this is shamefully late notice, especially after such a long silence. It's been a hectic year. But something's got me very excited and however late, I wanted to share it, and hopefully hook up with some of you.

For the last four years I've been following the adventures of a good friend, author Bernadette Gilbertas, as she's chronicled the work of Senegalese conservationist Haidar El Ali in his efforts to encourage his countrymen - and especially countrywomen - to take conservation into their own hands, not just to ensure the future of what remains of the environment on which they depend, but to improve it. In this short time, the volunteer planting of mangroves in the Casamance has shot from none, to 5 million seedlings this year and an expected 6 million next year, making it for the record the world's largest tree planting endeavor. More importantly, with the long depleted fish populations already recovering.

Exceptionally, Haidar El Ali has taken two days off from the villages he loves to raise awareness here in Paris and sign the terrific book that resulted from Bernadette Gilbertas' perseverance. The two-day book-signing is taking place at the Galerie If on the rue Mazarine, from 11 am to 7 pm. I stopped by today, and Yann Arthus Bertrand's broadcast featuring Haidar, "as seen on TV" a few weeks ago, is showing. The book and the show are in French, but the man's charisma and enthusiasm is catching in any language, so if you want to discuss grassroots initiatives or simply soak in the inspiring atmosphere, I hope you'll stop by. I'm planning to around 4 pm. Would love to meet again.

One more thing, all of the proceeds from books signed at the gallery (20€, with amazing photos) go directly to the conservation efforts of the organization run by Haidar: Oceanium. Am I ptiching my friend's book and the planting of mangroves in the Casamance? You bet I am. And for inspirational grassroots intiatives in general. Hope to see you there, but if not, I won't wait so long for another event.

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