A gorgeous morning greets me. Although, I’m no bird expert, I can distinguish the harmonious trilling of warblers and sparrows in the distance. This musical gift brings me great joy. I hope that wherever the morning finds you, the sounds you perceive are equally pleasant. Get out there early and take advantage of another wonderful day.
The Blue Flag concept originated in France in 1985. Back then, French coastal municipalities were awarded with the Blue Flag for complying with sewage treatment and bathing water quality criteria.
In 1987, the “European Year of the Environment”, the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe (FEEE) presented the French concept to the Eurpoean Commission, and the Blue Flag Programme was launched as one of the year’s community activities. In addition to sewage treatment and bathing water quality, criteria for obtaining a Blue Flag on a European level included other areas of environmental management, such as waste management and coastal planning and protection. Marinas were also made eligible for the award. **
The Blue Flag program was introduced in Costa Rica in 1995 and became ‘effective’ in 1996. In an effort to be more inclusive, international and national revision of the program have made non-coastal towns eligible to participate in this worthy endeavor. With the expansion of the program, the criteria has become more rigorous and unified. The program debuted in Atenas quietly in 2003 in the Central School of Atenas, under the guidance of director Miriam Vargas and her team of dedicated teachers, students and parents. In 2004, the school received its first Blue Flag, recognition for the arduous (and continuing) work of beautifying classrooms and hallways, fixing bathrooms and instituting a permanent recycling program, among other things.
Güísaro, known locally as “The Health Path” because so many people walk, jog, run or bike through it, enrolled in the program in 2007. Early Friday morning, I was present when this community raised the flag for the fourth time, marking the conclusion of one cycle and the beginning of the new one which will hopefully bring them recognition again at the end of this year. I was delighted to have been invited to the celebration and happy that I had remembered to bring my old-fashioned, but reliable camera, since the event included a short dance presentation by a group of grammar school students who were performing for the first time.
Although the spread of the Blue Flag program in Atenas has been limited to the central district, I am optimistic that more communities will join as conviction for the need to protect of our natural resources becomes ingrained in Atenas’ identity. I admire the perseverance of the group from Guisaro, for despite their many limitations (no financial resources, few volunteers, lack of community awareness, etc.) they continue to strive to make their community an example to follow. I invite you to learn more about the program wherever you live. Future generations will thank you and will continue the endeavor. That’s a good thing, don’t you think?
Have a wonderful day, a terrific week and I’ll see you here next time, Marietta