Saliagua: A Story Of Ecological Injustice

| February 11, 2011 Print

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Saliagua: What Is It?

Interactive activity – in the form of a play – that outlines the social, political, economic, and ecological impacts of oil extraction in a country in the Global South.  This exercise serves as an introductory tool to talk about the interrelationship between race, poverty and the environment in a global context.

Why Do it?

  • Help participants integrate an ‘ecological lens’ into their existing political work.
  • Get participants to see the interrelated nature of social, economic, and ecological injustice through a faith based perspective.
  • Highlight the intensifying nature of the ecological crisis our planet is facing and how this crisis severely impacts poor communities, indigenous communities, and displaced communities.
  • Highlight the importance of resisting these impacts and the importance of building a movement for ecological justice anchored around the needs and vision of poor people, indigenous people, and communities of color.
  • Understand how globalization, industrialism and capitalism are driving ecological destruction on a global level.
  • Connect participants’ personal experiences with ecological destruction to the broader economic forces causing it.
  • Provide a contrast between the ecological balance found in many indigenous communities and the social/ecological degradation imposed once big corporations start mining resources from indigenous land.

Time: 1 hour

Materials Needed:

  • Scripts for each of the 10 characters in the play + the narrator (11 copies)
  • Simple props for the 10 characters in the play. Possible examples:

1. Corrientes River- Water (PROP- Fish cardboard cutout)

2. Lacundún Forest- Trees/Forest (PROP– Tree cardboard cutout)

3. Chief Strongheart- Indigenous person (PROP– Bow & arrow)

4. Abuela Aguaslimpias-Villager: (PROP– Fishing net and basket of vegetables)

5. Missionary Sooyoung: Columban missionary (Cross hanging around neck)

6. Miguelito/Miguel Migrante: Small child turned Migrant Worker (PROP – Hard hat & beer bottle)

7. Dr. Dinero- Landowner (PROP– Tie, blazer & cell phone)

8. Presidente- President of Saliagua (PROP– Presidential Sash)

9. MegaBank Banker (PROP– Top hat with $$ signs + timer)

10. CEO OF PB: Oil Company Executive (PRO – Huge PB logo pinned to chest)

  • Additional Props:

a. Fish Cardboard cut-out for Abuela Aguaslimpias

b. Big cardboard $2 billion check

c. Sign that says 1 YEAR LATER

d. Sign that says 6 YEARS LATER

e. Poisoned Fish Cardboard cut-out for Abuela Aguaslimpias

f. Toxic Icon for the Corrientes River

g. Cut Tree icon for the Lacundún Forest

h. Sign that says 12 YEARS LATER

i. Big cardboard $4 billion check

j. Sign that says THE END

k. Table, if possible

  • Butcher paper with Training Goals on it (see below)
  • Butcher Paper & Markers to scribe participants’ reactions to the play, with the Debrief Questions written up on them in advance.

Directions

1.    Prior to the play, you should create a ‘stage’ area with 10 chairs on ‘stage’ for the characters. The characters’ props and their script should be placed on their respective chairs.

2.    Begin the training by telling your audience that you are about to enact a play that will last about 20 – 30 minutes. Quickly review the Training Goals of the play with your audience:

  • To see the interrelated nature of social, economic, and ecological injustice.
  • To highlight the intensifying nature of the ecological crisis our planet is facing and how this crisis severely impact poor communities, indigenous communities, and marginalized communities.
  • To understand the importance of resisting these impacts and the importance of building a movement for ecological justice anchored around the needs and vision of poor people, indigenous people, and communities of color.

3.    Ask for 10 volunteers to be characters in the play.

4.    You (the lead trainer) will be the narrator. You read all of the Narrator parts

5.    When the Script is finished, break participants into small groups and have them discuss the  Debrief Questions for 20 minutes:

  • Do you know of anyone who has lived an experience like the one described in the play? Family members? Friends?
  • How is the situation in the play connected to our lives here in the U.S.?
  • Do similar situations and dynamics play out here in the U.S?
  • How should our organizations be responding to the eco-crisis described in the play? How is it relevant to the work our organization does?

6.    If time permits, have a reporter from each small group briefly summarize what each group talked about. (Feel free to conduct some or all of the debrief questions in the big group if that feels more appropriate.)

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