The disastrous flooding which caused large portions of the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road to collapse in November 2014 provided the basis for Andy Noel’s Art From Trash (AFT) initiative within Manzanilla and its environs.
Through the project, he is hoping to encourage his fellow villagers, particularly young people, to take stock of the possible destruction that can be caused to the environment by the indiscriminate dumping of garbage and other waste within communities.
Noel, a drama teacher at Manzanilla Secondary School, said the wanton disposal of garbage has been found to cause much destruction to the natural environment.
He said garbage could instead be used in productive endeavours.
“The unprecedented flash flooding devastated the road from Manzanilla to Mayaro and the road had to be rebuilt. As a result of that, a whole different commute had to be arranged where vehicles had to pass through Rio Claro and other areas to get to parts of east Trinidad, which was very costly to commuters,” he said in a Sunday Newsday interview.
Noel recalled reading a newspaper article which quoted the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation as saying that the intense flooding had been caused, to some extent, by the indiscriminate dumping of garbage - a situation which gave way to clogged drains and watercourses.
“So, I came up with the idea that if it is we teach the young people how to recycle and use their waste in a positive and creative way, that it should be a step in the right direction on how to curb the problem that we are faced with.”
Noel is a student of the Festival Management Programme, Carnival Studies Unit, Department of Creative and Festival Arts, St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies.
The year-long course, which began last September and ends in May, is being managed by Jo-anne Tull, lecturer and coordinator, Carnival Studies.
He said a component of the programme involved conceptualising an idea for an intervention whereby participants could utilise art in any organisation to bring about positive change.
Noel said he later came up with AFT as a means through which the participants could use discarded items to create works of art.
He said: “The objective of the AFT project is to introduce the concept of transforming trash into art and craft to members of the Manzanilla community and guide them to create art and craft from items that would have once been considered trash.
“In addition, the AFT seeks to raise awareness by stimulating dialogue on environmental issues as well as to develop and showcase their creative skills and abilities. This creative approach to invoking environmental consciousness is developed to inspire participants within the Manzanilla community to become agents of positive change within their community while maintaining an eco-friendly equilibrium between human behaviour and environmental needs.”