Agents of Change: the future is now
For the first time in her life, eighteen-year-old Monserrat Martínez was leaving Mexico, heading to the Galápagos Islands to join her fellow ‘Agents of Change’. Selected amongst hundreds of applicants, Monserrat was considered the most qualified young community leader in Latin America as part of the ‘Agents of Change’ competition hosted by MTV, in collaboration with the program’s sponsors Lonesome George & Co.
Participants from Galápagos and Monserrat Martínez engaged in a series of experiencedriven activities that tested their mettle: emotions, abilities, resolve, and decisionmaking… For founders Georgina Marten and Eduardo Balarezo, Monserrat’s presence had been crucial and inspiring. It helps bridge the gap between isolated Galápagos and the world. “It was interesting to see the difference between social issues here on the islands and those Monserrat described in Mexico,” recounts Robert Balfour, program coordinator. “They are worlds apart. But after sharing experiences, a deep connection was made. The attitude and solutionseeking were the same.”
The Agents of Change Academy was founded by apparel company Lonesome George and Co. Christened Mind-Shift-Impact, Lonesome George & Co. seeks to build awareness as a vital tool to bring about change. Geared towards empowering youths in the Islands to challenge their social and environmental realities, the Academy creates an ideal framework for the Galápagos community to confront its challenges, many of which have yet to be identified, let alone tackled. Joining the spirit and philosophy of two established leadershipbuilding programs – Outward Bound Ecuador and Ashoka Avancemos – Agents of Change fights hard to burst the Galápagos’ bubble.
“When they first begin the program, some haven’t even travelled to other islands in the archipelago,” explains Georgina. “They barely understand, if at all, the importance of the Galápagos on a global scale. This was one of the reasons we developed the program.”
The Galápagos’ social threshold is complex. Human presence in a conservation icon such as this, especially in large towns like Puerto Ayora, poses a problem not only to the environment, but also to the town’s own development, sustainability and overall wellbeing. “We see a certain passivity in the young people. And we really need these kids to be active and care about their homes and their surroundings if we ever want to make a difference for such a vital, and fragile, world like the Galápagos.”
Lonesome George & Co. is more than a producer of ‘responsible’ clothing, one seeking to spread environmental awareness and the spirit of conservation. It is also a company with a clear social purpose. The academy, in this context, “seeks to develop social outreach, generating competition amongst youths in Galápagos, and promoting environmental awareness,” says Eduardo Balarezo, one of the founders. 10% of sales are thus donated to each participant enrolled in the Academy.
Upon her return to Mexico, Monserrat said goodbye with tears in her eyes, while the remaining Galápagos agents of change prepared to present their projects to their communities, taking their first steps towards making a difference in the Galapagos, and the world.
Para mayor información / For more information: www.lonesomegeorge.net/academy