The Team Behind ‘Eco Kit Puerto Rico’

“Most of the items are related to providing light, power or food,” explained Aris Mejías, shown here at work. (Via Manhattan Times)

To ensure that donations to help Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane María did not end up doing further damage to the island’s already ravaged environment, a group of artists got together to design “Eco Kit Puerto Rico,” different elements of which people could order from Amazon and have delivered to the Loisada Center, where the kits are assembled and sent to partner organizations in Puerto Rico for distribution.

Gregg McQueen reports in The Bronx Free Press that three artists and “environmental activists” are behind the initiative: Puerto Rico natives Aris Mejías, Isabel Gandía and Jeca Rodríguez Colón. Also involved in developing the plan was Loisaida Director Libertad Guerra, who said the initiative “was aligned with the center’s ongoing work with artists and creative partners with a social bent.” Items in the kits include heirloom seeds, solar lamps, manually chargeable flashlights, compact gas stoves, and collapsible coolers.‎

“The co-founders of Eco Kit were all part of the Loisaida creative community of collaborators since 2014. We had collaborated before,” said Guerra. “The very day after María hit, we were already assembling the production team for AbrazArte, an artistic benefit relief event. We also talked about the imminent waste management crisis the island was about to confront.”

The Eco Kit concept, full of inventory for the “post-María layperson” (including items such as peppermint oil to keep the heat and mosquitos at bay), was informed by input from the Institute for Socio-Ecological Research (ISER) Caribe, an environmental advocacy group based in Puerto Rico.

“We learned about the most arcane renewable systems and technology,” she recalled.

Go to The Bronx Free Press to read why waste management is a critical issue in Puerto Rico, and why most of the items in the kits, according to artist Aris Mejías, “are related to providing light, power or food.”

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