The island of Guam is set to witness a transformative journey as four grantees take a stand for nature and culture through the Fina’maolek Grant, an Urban and Community Program by your Guam Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Soil Resources Division. A total grant amount of $28,225 has been awarded to foster education, cultural understanding, and environmental stewardship.
Discover the possibilities through four different projects from local groups, each tackling some of Guam’s most pressing issues in Urban and Community Forestry.
Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence – Inetnon Yo’amte Project
Founded in 2006 as Guam’s sexual assault and domestic violence coalition, GCASAFV has a steadfast mission – to foster safe, healthy, and violence-free communities. Over the years, they have built a robust network of nonprofit and private organizations, government agencies, and community partners. Together, they work towards maximizing resources and integrating best practices through community outreach, training, and services for the island’s communities.
Empowering Through Education:
With a history of receiving almost $8.5 million in federal funding for training and outreach activities since 2007, GCASAFV has been at the forefront of addressing sexual assault and domestic violence. Their reach extends across the Pacific, engaging ten college campuses in Guam, CNMI, Palau, Marshall Islands, FSM, and American Samoa to address sexual assault policies and prevention programming. They’ve also facilitated training on the intersection of health, domestic violence, and human trafficking with community health centers and service providers across the region.
In partnership with CW Holdings, LLC, GCASAFV is embarking on a project that will rejuvenate and heal not just the environment but also the spirits of the community. The Inetnon Yo’amte Project will take root on CW Holding’s property at the Medical Arts Center (MAC) in Dededo.
This core project team includes key volunteers, community leaders, and support from National Organization of API Ending Sexual Violence. Their collective goal is to create a healing space for those dealing with trauma.
Three Transformative Components:
Demonstration Tree Planting: In a gesture that symbolizes healing from Typhoon Mawar’s devastation, GCASAFV will plant 119 trees across three acres. This includes rare endemic trees such as Ifit, flame trees, chiute, langiti, and foxtail palms. Partnerships with organizations like TOHGE and NBCFI will help plant the trees and create a permanent ‘rest area’ for future community gatherings.
Pathway to Health ‘n Wellness: A designated walking path through the property will promote better health, allowing visitors to enjoy the healing garden while keeping track of their steps. Stepping stones along the path will mark milestones, and incentives like donated seedlings will encourage the creation of home gardens and more tree plantings.
Educational Talk Story Sessions: The healing garden will not only be a place of natural beauty but also a hub for sharing knowledge. Community healers and volunteers will host talk story sessions to educate the community about the incredible benefits of endemic trees and plants for health and the environment. These sessions will include seating areas for people of all ages and mobilities.
The Inetnon Yo’amte Project is poised to become a valuable resource and green infrastructure, creating a space where the community can come together, learn about the importance of trees in our lives, and heal from trauma.
This transformative project addresses:
- Health and Well-being Connection: Spending time in nature is known to have positive effects on physical and mental health. A healing garden will provide opportunities for exercise, fresh air, and exposure to sunlight. Moreover, it will mitigate air pollution, heat, and noise levels, contributing to a healthier community.
- Community Engagement: The Inetnon Yo’amte will serve as a gathering place, fostering social connections and a sense of belonging. It’s a space where people can learn about the importance of trees and nature in our community, building a stronger, more connected society.
- Cultural Practices for Therapeutic Benefits: Certain plants and elements in the healing garden have therapeutic properties. Local herbs promote relaxation, and colorful flowers uplift the spirits. The garden is a tranquil environment for relaxation, meditation, and reflection, reducing stress levels.
The Inetnon Yo’amte Project is a symbol of healing, recovery, and community building. Follow GCASAFV on Facebook and Instagram @guamcoalition to stay updated on the progress of this amazing project and learn how you can get involved. Together, we can nurture both our environment and our community’s well-being.
Guma Yo’Amte – House of Traditional Healers
Guma Yo’amte – House of Traditional Healers, is a beacon of cultural preservation and holistic well-being in our community.
Guma Yo’amte is dedicated to bridging the gap between western medicine and traditional healing practices. Their goal is to improve the health of our people and our land by nurturing the indigenous CHamoru healing traditions. The group already shares their wisdom and knowledge at outreach events, schools, and conferences. Their commitment to equal opportunity ensures that their services are accessible to all.
With the support of a $8,538 Fina’maolek grant from your DOAG FSRD’s Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program , Guma Yo’amte will plant sixty-eight medicinal trees and shrubs. These include Anonas, Luluhut, Alom, Gaogao, Ahgao, Hamlag, Agalondi, Agatelang, Ladda, Aplokhating-palao’an, Lodigao, Granada, and Sibukao, among others. Their project partners include the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant.
Guma Yo’amte will also engage the community through outreach activities, teaching them about the medicinal uses of these plants and how to process the healing recipes. They will also create educational materials and videos to spread awareness of the åmot (medicine), preserving traditional healing practices on Guåhan and the Marianas.
The overarching goal is to create a safe and accessible space for healing, where the community can learn, practice, and perpetuate our traditional knowledge. Guma Yo’amte envisions bringing our community directly into nature to gain hands-on experience with medicinal plants and other native species, promoting natural biodiversity and cultural significance.
Join us in supporting Guma Yo’amte as they embark on this enriching journey of cultural preservation and holistic well-being. Together, we can ensure that the traditions of our ancestors continue to heal and strengthen our community.
Interested volunteers can contact Chauntae Quichocho (Chauntaequi@gmail.com).
Kurason I Sengsong – Dededo Rainforest Restoration Project
Discover the beauty and heritage of Guam’s rainforests with Kurason I Sengsong. With the support of a $6,288 Fina’maolek grant from your Guam Department of Agriculture’s Forestry and Soil Resources Division, Kurason I Sengsong has embarked on an incredible mission.
Since 2014, Kurason I Sengsong’s commitment has been to restore an 11-acre invasive shrub forest back to a traditional limestone rainforest. The aim is to provide active stewardship for a publicly accessible endemic and native limestone rainforest. This not only promotes Guam’s unique plants and animals but also fosters education, community building, civic pride, and indigenous heritage. Located in the Kaiser subdivision and easily accessible via roads and sidewalks, the Kurason I Sengsong Nature Park is adjacent to two elementary schools and one middle school, making it a unique and valuable resource for the community.
Preserving Guam’s Natural Heritage:
The restoration model employed by Kurason I Sengsong mirrors the description of the Breadfruit dominant canopy rainforest on the Northern Plateau as documented in pre-World War 2 botany literature. Their planting plan includes 16 dokdok trees per acre, aimed at reviving the lost endemic breadfruit rainforest canopy.
Education and Outreach:
Kurason I Sengsong is committed to engaging the youth, aged 7-18, in endemic plant and animal learning through the KIS Guam Service-Learning program. High school students can complete 10-hour modules in service to the Dededo Rainforest Restoration Project. They offer a wealth of resources, including workshops, field trips, tree propagation, planting activities, and maintenance efforts.
A new youth program, the Citizen Forester learning module, is on the horizon. Led by their experienced staff, this program will provide young participants with hands-on experience in the Nature Park.
Celebrating Indigenous Culture:
Kurason I Sengsong envisions a brighter future by celebrating Guam’s indigenous culture. Their 10-year goal includes hosting an annual Dokdok (endemic breadfruit) Day, where the community will come together to celebrate the harvest and sharing of the hutu (large nut/seed) of the endemic breadfruit.
A Glimpse into the Future:
As Kurason I Sengsong continues its dedicated efforts, they aspire to restore an additional 10% or 100 acres of the Dededo Rainforest Restoration Project in the next 10 years. With the first phase of restoration starting with an abandoned 11-acre parcel and the proposed Phase 2 for Typhoon Mawar recovery, they have exciting plans on the horizon.
Partnerships are forming to make this vision a reality. In 2024/2025, there’s a commitment from Smithbridge Guam to provide an entry pavilion accessed from Catalina Lane. Additional goals include the restoration of an additional 40-acre parcel across Santa Monica Road north of DRRP and the transformation of abandoned Kaiser HOA greenbelt parks.
Diverse Planting for a Sustainable Future:
Kurason I Sengsong boasts an extensive knowledge of endemic and native plants on Guam. Their DRRP planting at the Nature Park is set to have the greatest diversity of any civilian planting project on Guam. The tireless volunteer work of their KIS Citizen Forester, Justin Hale, has allowed them to commit to planting an extensive list from their KIS Native Plant Nursery. Justin has also been instrumental in forming the KIS Guam Native Plant Society.
Kurason I Sengsong looks forward to the new school year and hosting educational groups and High School Service Learning students at the Dededo Rainforest Restoration Project. The enthusiasm and support from their partners for Phase 2 Typhoon Mawar recovery of DRRP give them hope in their ongoing efforts. To connect with them, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guåhan Sustainable Culture – Guåhan Grows
Guåhan Sustainable Culture is on a mission to create an educational board game called “Guåhan Grows.” GSC was awarded a $3,399 Fina’maolek grant from your Guam Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Soil Resources Division for the creation of “Guahan Grows”. This captivating game will allow our young learners to delve into the significance, functions, maintenance, and challenges faced by our precious local fruit trees. The project includes the creation of 30 copies of “Guåhan Grows,” with the aim of donating 25 copies to elementary schools that have already been engaged in workshops or school garden initiatives, such as PC Lujan Elementary School.
Guåhan Sustainable Culture’s project journey begins with thorough research. They are tapping into curated produce guides, resources from the University of Guam’s Center for Island Sustainability, and insights from their farmer coalition. This research will focus on essential aspects:
- – How to grow and maintain local fruit trees.
- – Understanding the ecological and cultural significance of local fruit trees.
- – Identifying threats to local fruit trees.
- – Exploring the historical role of these trees in supporting Guåhan’s food systems.
The board game itself will combine elements from popular games like Trivial Pursuit, Sorry, and Monopoly, ensuring an engaging and educational experience. Local artists, including Ron Castro from Island Icons, will lend their creativity to design wooden play pieces shaped as local fruits such as papaya, banana, lemmai, starfruit, coconut, and mango.
Making it Real:
To bring “Guahan Grows” to life, Guåhan Sustainable Culture will collaborate with Board Games Maker.com, who will manufacture and ship game materials to Guam. These materials include 120 card decks, 180 personal game boards, 30 bifold 18x18in game boards, and 30 18x10x3 in boxes. The wooden player pieces, seed pieces, sapling pieces, and tree pieces will be meticulously crafted by Ron Castro at the University of Guam’s Makerspace in Chamorro Village. Each game copy will include 4 card decks, 6 personal game boards, 6 wooden player pieces, 1 game board, and 1 box.
Guåhan Sustainable Culture isn’t stopping at the board game. They are creating a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation designed specifically for 3rd to 5th grade students. This presentation will dive into the importance, functions, lifespan, and threats facing different local fruit trees. The first 10 minutes will educate about local fruit trees, and the final 5 minutes will introduce “Guåhan Grows.” Following the presentation, students will have the chance to play the game.
Join Us in Learning and Growing:
Guåhan Sustainable Culture aims to educate and inspire young minds while fostering an appreciation for our island’s natural treasures. This grant allows them to donate one board game copy to 25 elementary schools and retain 5 copies for outreach to other schools.
Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project and follow Guåhan Sustainable Culture on social media @gusustainable for more information on how you can get involved and be part of this educational revolution.
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Let’s grow a greener Guam together!
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