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March 21, 2012

Giving Back – A Look at Project Wave of Optimism

WHAT IS PROJECT WOO? Project Wave of Optimism, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, takes a grassroots approach to promote sustainable community development in the surfing regions of Latin America. By traveling to far-flung global surf destinations, the international surfing community…

Giving Back – A Look at Project Wave of Optimism

WHAT IS PROJECT WOO?

Project Wave of Optimism, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, takes a grassroots approach to promote sustainable community development in the surfing regions of Latin America.

By traveling to far-flung global surf destinations, the international surfing community is able to witness firsthand the daily struggle faced by the majority of the world’s citizens. This interaction between the surfing world and the developing world presents a unique opportunity to create relationships with local residents and support the growth of their villages in a meaningful way.

Project Wave of Optimism firmly believes that international surf travel has a profound impact upon the local populations of Latin American surf destinations.  However, few coordinated efforts have attempted to use this opportunity to support locally-lead development initiatives.  In light of this, Project WOO commits to work in the area of critical overlap between surf tourism presence and host community efforts to improve their quality of life.

Through their on-site, hands-on approach, WOO strives to:

  1. Build positive relationships within the community
  2. Establish ourselves as a proactive ally of the local people
  3. Encourage local empowerment, raise awareness of local issues, and support local management of resources
  4. Promote local participation and leadership in the identification, planning and execution of community development projects
  5. Provide technical guidance and material support for local development initiatives

Gigante

The village of Gigante lies on the southwestern Pacific coast of Nicaragua. It is an exceptionally scenic and very isolated village inhabited by a few dozen families. Fishing remains the community’s main source of income, and most families make between $4 and $7 a day, depending on fishing yield.

A sleepy village, Gigante is quickly becoming a destination for foreign surfers who want to surf empty, world-class waves. The surrounding waters are teeming with beach breaks, point breaks, and outer reef breaks. In other words, there is exceptional surf potential in the area. Surfers are also attracted to Gigante because of its seemingly timeless feel. The lack of paved roads, reliable electricity, commercial development, and the scarcity of other foreigners attracts surfers who wish to ‘get off the beaten track’.

Ironically, these qualities are adding to the growing presence of surf tourism in this small town. There are already three upscale foreign-owned surf hotels in Gigante that cater to international surfers. There are also several land development projects in the immediate area that are rapidly changing the cultural and physical landscape of the region. It is becoming more common to see rented SUV’s with surfboards roll through town looking for a place to stay or a bite to eat. Local community members and foreigners alike see this potential for growth and are beginning to actively promote it.

Gigante has yet to develop into a full-blown surf destination, but it is creeping in that direction. Project WOO launched our pilot program in Gigante precisely because it sits in the crosshairs of growing surf tourism and land development. We are organizing with the people of Gigante – as they are increasingly inundated by outside influences – to ensure that they have greater control over the growth of their community.

For more information about the community of Gigante and its people, please view the 2007 Gigante Community Profile, 2007 Gigante SWOT Analysis and the 2008 Gigante Census.

Check out the video below for more information on how Project WOO is making a difference…

Reef Redemption & Project WOO

Hope you enjoy this video, major thanks to REEF for their support.

[button link=”http://www.projectwoo.org/take-action/donate/” color=”silver” window=”yes”]Donate to Project WOO[/button]

Posted by Chris

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