Paradise & Peril: The Sustainability Stakes in Panama

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Zoe St. John farm tour

Kalu Yala agriculture director Zoe St. John discusses the food they are growing to feed the community. (Colin Boyle/Medill)

Northwestern University
Kalu Yala is host to small scale agroforestry in the Panamanian jungle — rows of alternating crops integrated with the natural environment, an image of the symbiosis that can exist between humans and the environment.
Northwestern University
Abelardo “Tito” Nuñez Davies first came to Pelican Island 15 years ago. It was much larger then. The small hut he and his mother share started out in the middle of this tiny oasis of sand. Now, the ocean laps at their doorstep. 
Northwestern University
The indigenous Guna people of Panama prepare to leave the islands they call home due to rising sea levels, while entrepreneur Jimmy Stice builds a sustainable town in the jungle of Panama. Elizabeth Guthrie of Medill reports.
Cartí Sugtupu island

The bustling island of Cartí Sugtupu serves as a hub for the Gunas living in the Comarca. Cartí Sugtupu includes a solar-powered school, as well as a hostel and supermarket, among its amenities. (Abigail Foerstner/Medill)

Northwestern University
As Panama's indigenous Guna islands begin sinking into the surrounding waters, local entrepreneurs with successful eco-friendly businesses could prove the revolutionary power of small-scale innovation, Medill's Molly Glick reports.
local transportation is via boat

Traveling on boats is the main mode of transportation between islands of Guna Yala, and most are operated by local Guna people. (Luodan Rojas/Medill)

Northwestern University
Separated by miles of ocean and a 2-hour drive, or a 50-mile hike, through the jungle, Guna Yala and Kalu Yala are two of Panama’s most sustainable communities, but they also are starkly different. Medill's Luodan Rojas reports.

The starting point of the hiking trip was at Kalu Yala - a sustainable community in the
Panamanian jungle. (Grace Wade/Medill)

Northwestern University
Fifty miles over four days. Seven hikers left Kalu Yala, a sustainable eco-town in the Panamanian jungle, to trek to the Caribbean Sea and quickly discovered an untested trail and faced other challenges head-on. Medill's Nadine Daher ​reports.
Zoe St. John farm tour

Zoe St. John gives Northwestern University students a farm tour. (Colin Boyle/Medill)

Northwestern University
Medill's Nadine Daher reports that residents and interns at Kalu Yala are working on adding hiking trails around the community to the AllTrails app, which allows you to use your phone as an offline GPS tracker. 
Sights and Sounds of Guna Yala – March 2018 by Colin Boyle
Sights and Sounds of Guna Yala – March 2018 by Colin Boyle
Northwestern University
Speckled just north of the vivacious Panamanian coastline is a chain of islands facing the threat of disappearing. The islands' daunting fate is not determined by the doing of their inhabitants, but rather by the world around them.
The road to Kalu Yala
Northwestern University
Medill's Colin Boyle covers how Kalu Yala staff and media interns coped with the hard-hitting docu-series while still working sustainably in a Panamanian jungle.
Guna in San Blas Islands

Diwigdi Valiente says that many older Guna people don’t understand climate change, especially since they have lived traditional lives that contribute very little to the problem. (Alex Schwartz/Medill)

Northwestern University
Medill's Jessica Mordacq reports from Panama: The San Blas Islands and Kalu Yala are two very different environments in Panama that both revolve heavily around tourism.

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