Project #ChangeOurPerception

What comes to mind when you see the word “Mexico”?

1. Drugs? Partying? Politics?

2. How about whale watching? Gourmet food? Safe beaches?

Chances are that you pictured the first line before the second line. These days, the media is giving Americans a terrible idea of Mexico. Here is an excerpt from Cheryl Butner’s and my post:

“Tourism in [Mexico] is actually really interesting. With the American tourists being scared away for several years now because of what our media is telling them, there have been the obvious really bad consequences, like any businesses related to tourism are struggling to stay open, if they haven’t closed already. But there has been a positive side to this too, in my opinion. As an example, I’ve been going to Tijuana for over 20 years. Before all the drug wars in Mexico and economy crashing in the US, it was pretty much like you would see in the movies, a lot of gringos going down there to drink, party, pick up prostitutes, get drugs (legal and illegal), and little kids on the streets begging for money. Now that the American tourists are pretty much gone, Tijuana has really cleaned up and is actually starting to be known as a cultural and food capital. Many newspapers, blogs, etc. have written about how Tijuana is a new gourmet food destination and even some of the shows on the Food Network and Travel Channel have featured Tijuana. Plus the economy in other parts of Mexico (particularly in the big cities) was not as hard-hit as the US was, so the numbers of Mexicans traveling and vacationing in their own country is way up, which is really great. So you see some of this in the Upper Gulf towns as well, especially with more Mexicans vacationing there now than there used to be. Hopefully the number of Mexican tourists will continue to grow to help make up for the drastically reduced numbers of American tourists, which will probably stay really low for a long time.

All of this makes me wonder if, in cities like Tijuana anyway, the American tourists had more of a negative influence than a positive one. Hopefully after Mexico gets control over the drug problems and is able to overcome this unwarranted stigma of being a dangerous country, it will be able to reinvent its image and get away from being known by Americans as a wild party destination, because the country has so many diverse and incredible experiences to offer tourists. It’s already starting in Tijuana, so hopefully the positive changes will continue.”

I am trying to start a new campaign to get more tourists to view Mexico as the pristine, calm food and animal paradise that it has become, as opposed to the drug-filled war field that our media makes it out to be.

If tourism can go up in Mexico, many more successful businesses can be run, giving less need for gillnet fishing in the Gulf of California. If we want to save the Vaquita, there needs to be incentive for the fishermen to stop fishing, and this is the best incentive there is.

It’s time to #ChangeOurPerception.

#ChangeOurPerception

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Updated 8-bits

First of all, I know I am writing a lot of short posts right now of basically only artwork. Hopefully I will be writing more long posts soon, as the last few weeks in the Vaquita world have been relatively slow.

I am considering creating a series of digital paintings of endangered and/or very interesting cetaceans in pixel form. Below are what would be the first two entries, the Vaquita (a huge update from the last one) and the Maui’s Dolphin, both large and thumbnail sized. And who knows…the Vaquita could be used in the app!

8-bit Vaquita

8-bit Maui's Dolphin

8-bit Vaquita thumbnail

8-bit Maui's Dolphin thumbnail

Book signing recap

Here is the email I received from Beth Whittenbury (mother of William, Muskwa Club President) who so graciously helped me out by setting up and attending my “book signing” today:

“Hi Aidan:

Today went really well. They made two sales of your book, but I talked to about 20 people. I gave them all flyers with your blog address and also asked them to “like” the Muskwa video so that we can start to show the Mexican government how many people actually care about the Vaquita. You might want to ask friends and family to do the same as I do think it will make a big difference. Also, if you haven’t already subscribed to “TheMuskwaclub” YouTube channel, please do so that we can start streaming videos when we get to 100 subscribers. Everyone I talked to couldn’t believe a 13-year-old wrote and illustrated the book. They were also really impressed that you were donating back your proceeds to help save the Vaquita. Really good press for you! Also, I was wearing your “Save the Vaquita” shirt. 🙂

The event today was covered by both our local TV channel and our local paper. Your book should be prominently featured both ways over the next two weeks. So, overall, I would say it was a very successful day!”

The table that Mrs. Whittenbury manned to raise awareness for the Vaquita and my book.

The table that Mrs. Whittenbury manned to raise awareness for the Vaquita and my book.

I cannot thank Mrs. Whittenbury enough for all the help she has given me with the book, and I might not have even gotten it published in the first place if she didn’t refer me to CreateSpace.

Also, today my 9-year-old sister made the clay Vaquitas below. Please feel free to send me pictures of your Vaquita crafts at gl.tamarin123@gmail.com (especially your recipes) so I can post them on this blog. Thanks!

Clay Vaquita

Clay Vaquitas

I’ll be back

Here is what the t-shirt looks like (they simplified my drawings’ colors and details for easier printing):

front-big

back-big

big_thumbnail

I have been and will continue to be extremely busy for the next few months, due to the publishing of my book, the creation of the VCS, and helping coordinate National Save the Vaquita Day (July 6). I may not be able to post as many things during this time. But believe me, I am going to have a lot of stories to tell when it’s all over.

Social media

After reading the pages and some posts on this blog, you will know a few things: One, I am a kid with an obsession for a porpoise that I might never see. Two, the porpoise is extremely endangered due to entanglement in gillnets. Three, it will be gone within a few years without the removal of the nets from the only place they live, the northern Gulf of California. That’s really the most important stuff.

Next, you might be thinking, “Well, I would like to help this thing, but I don’t have much spare money, and I don’t live near where all of the cool events take place to help and learn about it. Anyway, what could I possibly do to help it when there are scientists who are actually trying?” Then you might click out of the page.

I had the exact same thoughts. Living almost as far away from it in this country as possible, I felt like I was missing out on all of the booths and fundraisers and such. I donated a few hundred bucks over the period of a year, but I knew in the back of my mind that such money is dwarfed by the already millions of dollars spent by the Mexican government. Don’t get me wrong, donations to groups like ¡Viva Vaquita! are vital, but it doesn’t always feel that way. You want to know the best way to help the Vaquita from your chair that is nowhere near Mexico, right?

The answer is social media. That’s right, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, Google Plus+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace, DeviantArt, Tumblr, WordPress, and many more. Post something about the Vaquita. Tell your friends and have them do the same. What’s better: one person donating $100, or 200 people each donating $15? Not only does the second one equal 30 times more money for the Vaquita, but 200 people, rather than one, learn about it, and it’s likely they will pass it on too.

So the next time you want to post a status update on Facebook, write about the little Mexican porpoise. As a matter of fact, do it right now. Go ahead, Facebook is waiting.