Inhabitants of a tiny Colombian community island, Santa Cruz del Islote, which is completely self-reliant and focusses on sharing resources, have opened up their island to the world virtually so the world may learn to be as sustainable as they are.
Virtually, people can explore the entire island, complete 9 lessons, learn about the community and graduate from the school of sustainability.
Located just off the northwest coast of Colombia, Santa Cruz del Islote is only a little bigger than a football pitch. It’s home to an eclectic mix of about 500 islanders who don’t have access to public facilities like running freshwater, electrical grids or sewage networks – and have little in the way of natural resources.
With a lack of these facilities, simple chores like washing dishes become an activity that requires sharing and cooperation. Residents must take care of their water supply, and put a great emphasis on making careful use of their resources.
The virtual project, known as School of Sustainability, has been created in collaboration with Google, creative agency SanchoBBDO and MediaMonks, and Colombian bank, Bancolombia. School of Sustainability features a Street View-like recreation of Santa Cruz del Islote, allowed visitors to explore the island in 360° and watch interviews . The project is designed to help viewers think twice about how they use the world’s resources.
Residents of Santa Cruz del Islote tell their personal stories about life on the island when it comes to their economy, community, and the wider ecology of the world.
Among those residents relaying their stories are Jorge Luis who has an incredible amount of experience with fishing and teaches how he shares the work and resources with his fellow fishermen to ensure no one goes to bed with an empty stomach. Rocio Barrios de Hoyos, who is responsible for collecting the money for the electric bill on the island. She shares her method of work and her thoughts on paying what you have and for what you need.
Islanders on Santa Cruz Del Islote rely on fishing to sustain themselves and have done for generations. As human effects like overfishing and pollution cause growing problems to marine life, communities just like Santa Cruz del Islote will be the first to feel the effects.
On Santa Cruz del Islote, when people do not have the means to access something, they join together and thus, by sharing, they are able to have a better quality of life — from paying energy bills to feeding their families.
By focusing on sharing and love, the teachers of the island hope to grow the lessons of sustainability — not just on the island, but for all. The islanders police themselves, and it starts by learning to care for the world and others around them.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea