Ominous


 

©ToniaAllenGould

 
A murder of crows flew over hundreds of them, each as dark as night, wings wildly flapping

CAW-CAW-CAW-ing from the painted and falling dusk sky, high-up overhead

There we stood, feet planted, necks stiff from watching the sheer lot of them pass by on their way to another world

Ominous. 

TA Gould

The Bones of Freedom


photo by Tonia Allen Gould

Don’t think your freedom is deserved because they served – that’s absurd. Freedom is not just a word. Freedom is a privilege granted you. Paid by sacrifice – in red, white and blue. But, have you paid back your due?

Are you being a good citizen? Respecting your fellow men? Showing up to vote again? Fighting for what you believe in? Showing gratitude to whom you depend? Time and time and time, again?

The tax on freedom is to do your part

From the start…

And from your heart…

Do they really have your loyalty?

Those men and woman who keep us free? 

Or, is this just another fruitless holiday? 

One where you get to stay… 

At home – with pay?

-TA Gould

Hug-A-Tree on our island of “Corte Magore” and Keep Nicaraguan Kids in School


HugATree on Corte Magore and have your tax deductible donation work to keep Nicaraguan children in school through the Finding Corte Magore project.

HugATree on Corte Magore and have your tax deductible donation work to keep Nicaraguan children in school through the Finding Corte Magore project.

Join us on our first money-raising initiative for the Finding Corte Magore​ project. With your tax deductible $250+ donation – you, or someone you love – can be memorialized forever by “Hugging a Tree” on Corte Magore, at Hog Cay, Bluefields, Nicaragua​. I promise you, with every ounce of my being, your money will be put to very “GOOD” use.

On Google Maps the Coordinates for Corte Magore at Hog Cay are the following:

11°59’25.2″N 83°45’09.7″W

Here´s an aerial view of the island.

Tree Huggers® are created using high-grade stainless steel and are noted for being the only tree plaque that gently wraps around the tree (by means of plastic-encased springs) and expands without harming it as it grows! It will not rust or corrode or release any harmful toxins or chemicals that could harm the tree.  There are hundreds and hundreds of trees on Corte Magore at Hog Cay, Nicaragua – and we anticipate that eventually, every one of them will be memorialized by our donors.   Click here to make your tax deductible donation.

The Finding Corte Magore Project Problem: 42% of all children along the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua drop out of school by sixth grade, if they ever enroll at all. Poverty in Nicaragua drives kids out of school and into the workplace. (The Guardian).  They drop out because they don’t have shoes to walk to school, because they have to watch their siblings while their parents work, or because they have to work to support their families. They drop out because they see school as pointless. Guess what? They’re right. There are no jobs waiting for students if and when they graduate. Which means poverty will live on in Nicaragua forever. Unless…

Solution: Our project, led by Author, and Entrepreneur, Tonia Allen Gould, along with her team, aims to start to reverse this cycle of poverty in one large region of Nicaragua by driving sustainable, best practices, social good tourism to Bluefields via the island of Corte Magore at Hog Cay, Nicaragua. Our social enterprise works like this: Eco-Tourists and Flashpackers visit our island in Bluefields, driving revenue to fund programs such as: Jobs and job training on the island for locals seeking to better provide for their families, such as eco-building, island maintenance, security, hospitality, transportation, and cooking, training they can take back to their communities to earn money. By showing kids along the Atlantic Coast that their parents can be trained and then gainfully employed, we can offer children hope for a better life for themselves. Hope that may start to reverse the cycle of poverty.  By providing job opportunities for parents and making school meaningful for students, the island will free students to stay in school, go after their dreams, and spread prosperity as they become business-owners, entrepreneurs, tourism professionals, artists, scientists, coders, teachers…

We also intend to fund educational programs for students in Nicaragua – programs like a floating educational barge that delivers teachers and and school supplies to remote indigenous regions, after school sports and crafts programs that only students who stay in school can partake in, or on-island biodiversity and environmental learning research camps for older students.

The Finding Corte Magore project will establish ecotourism operations in under-developed and ecologically vulnerable areas, and set the precedent for sustainable development in a way that prevents the destruction of pristine natural habitats by irresponsible tourism. The FCM business model will be validated in the Hog Cay pilot site in Nicaragua given the biodiversity attributes and relative lack of development in the area, as well as the recent influx of visitors to the country. The FCM platform will subsequently be exported to similarly vulnerable areas with a viable and repeatable business model that creates investable and scalable opportunities to promote sustainable development.

Meanwhile, we intend to build a global, K-12 environmental learning curriculum from eco-projects happening on the island -which is an identified bio-diverse hotspot, projects that have research attraction from many of our potential partners and universities, as well as will put locals to work with proper training:

  • Building our Eco-Beach complete with a volleyball pit
  • Mangrove protection and devising ways to eliminate natural, island erosion
  • Building the bar and commissary
  • Renovating the basketball court with recyclable products like used tires
  • Building floating casitas
  • Training of locals to do construction, learn hospitality, cooking, bartending and how to captain a panga, etc.
  • Creating a Zipline from one part of the island to the other or connecting the island to a neighboring island via zipline that won’t infringe on passing boats
  • Eco-Spa – Building natural, spas from collected rainwater
  • Lighting the island for evenings
  • Building eco-sensitive tree houses on the island
  • Rebuilding the island’s suspension bridge
  • Artisanal Fishing Demonstrations with natives
  • Creating Cultural Excursions like to the Garifuna annual anniversary celebration
  • Coral Reef Restoration Projects
  • Turtle Protection and Migration Projects
  • Building Photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collectors to convert solar radiation into thermal and electrical energy to power the island and how people may be use similar technology to power their lives after a hurricane
  • Farming Mussels in the lagoon to clean up the brown water
  • Various Eco-Farming projects – (we have access to an eco-farm across the lagoon) – training on planting and growing foods in tropical climates despite global warming
  • Figuring out how to divert town rain water and brown water from flowing into the lagoon
  • Creating and traveling with our floating educational barge to indigenous regions, bringing education to children who otherwise can’t access education
  • Inventing hurricane resistant “kit” housing for poor coastal communities led by a team of engineers in a think tank
  • Building a bird sanctuary
  • Creating Vertical Gardening Systems despite the clay soil which is conducive to growing certain types of food only
  • Implementing fishing best practices
  • Introducing diving to the area and along the many shipwrecked boats
  • Finding the tradewinds and introducing surfing to areas which are untapped or undiscovered

No other tourism venture strategically connects the dots between social good, environmentalism and education – making our project the first of its kind and further promoting sustainability by making the number of visitors, to the island, virtually limitless. Planned educational opportunities at FCM are extensive and do not just include educational experiences consumed by the eco-tourists we attract. Rather, we see an opportunity to build a K-12 environmental educational platform that makes FCM virtually accessible from anywhere in the world. A FCM student/teacher/professor/university inspired curriculum will be at the core of our offerings.

We have been in talks with many notable agencies and insitutions such as NOAA, Conservation International, CREST and UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science. Sustainable, best practices and conscientious travel is imperative to this region or it may be devastated by tourists. That said, the tourism is still coming to the region regardless, here’s why:  Eco-Tourism is already happening in Nicaragua  A dirt road from Managua that normally takes twelve hours to drive, is currently being paved. This connects the Atlantic Coast to the rest of Nicaragua without having to fly.  Lonely Planet calls Nicaragua the Top 4 place in the world to visit  The Canal de Nicaragua is a shipping route under construction through Nicaragua to connect the Caribbean Sea (and therefore the Atlantic Ocean) with the Pacific Ocean.

Our business partner is: Ambassador Francisco Campbell, Nicaraguan Ambassador to the U.S. and owner of 29-acre, Hog Cay. FCM has negotiated a 15-year leasehold already on the island. We are halfway there to make our vision at Corte Magore a reality.

Hog Cay Google Coordinates: 11°59’25.2″N 83°45’09.7″W.

We believe the dreams of children are the most precious resource in Nicaragua – but also the most squandered. So many dreams go unfulfilled due to extreme poverty. Something needs to be done about this.  Every child deserves a shot to go after their dreams, and the Finding Corte Magore Project intends to give it to them. We believe that achieving dreams can not only elevate children above their birth circumstances, but also their communities and, over time, their nation.

We have acquired the island through a lot of hard work and dedication, and now we need to build it out, develop programs and put the island to work to keep a nation of children in school.

Finding Corte Magore is a California Benefit Company. The purpose of a benefit corporation includes creating general public benefit, which is defined as a material positive impact on society and the environment. A benefit corporation’s directors and officers operate the business with the same authority as in a traditional corporation but are required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on shareholders but also on society and the environment. Finding Corte Magore at Hog Cay, Nicaragua is a Nicaraguan joint partnership formed under Nicaraguan law.

Project hyperlinks:

Finding Corte Magore – findingcortemagore.com

Tonia Allen Gould – toniaallengould.com, author and founder

FCM YouTube Channel

Tonia YouTube Channel

FCM Twitter – @cortemagore

FCM Facebook

Donate to FCM via PayPal (Donations are charitable and tax deductible)

Oh, and one day, we hope to see you visit us on Corte Magore!

Aerial Photo of Hog Cay - Left The Bluff and Caribbean Sea - Right Bluefields - Top Rama Cay - Bottom Escondido River

Compelling Reasons Why This Book Should Be in Your School Library


Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore Book CoverPut Me In, Coach!

Children’s rhyming picture book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, tells the adventurous story of Sam, a tenacious land and sea fiddler crab who finds himself on the sandy shores of an idyllic island named Corte Magore. He wants to stay there and live there forever, but he’ll have to overcome obstacles to accomplish his dream. This book teaches children about courage and tenacity – to stand up to bullying and to fight for what they believe in, while also teaching them the importance of dreaming. Sam’s story is told in one big epic poem. This book is geared towards children ages 4-7, although all young children seem to enjoy it. Here’s why: 

The book is written in rhyme. Rhyming verse aids in early-development learning and recall. The British Council writes about teaching children English:

“…playing with the short texts of rhymes, children explore the mechanics of the English language. They find out how language works and become familiar with the relationship between the 44 sounds of English and the 26 alphabet letters – information which helps them when they begin reading to decode the sounds that make up words. The value of this type of language-play with rhymes in early learning is both underestimated and undervalued.”

The book utilizes many different poetic devices – typically difficult to teach children –such as alliteration, point-of-view, stanza, meter, repetition, assonance, personification, and my personal favorite, onomatopoeia. Poetic devices are used to take the reader to a different time or place and helps with imagery. Education Portal says:

“Poetry can follow a strict structure, or none at all, but many different types of poems use poetic devices. Poetic devices are tools that a poet can use to create rhythm, enhance a poem’s meaning, or intensify a mood or feeling. These devices help piece the poem together, much like a hammer and nails join planks of wood together.” 

Books Written in Prose May Be a Dying Art. Authors like Seuss and Silverstein paved the way for poetry in children’s literature, yet it’s hard to find new children’s books today written in prose. Carol Hurst intimates why it’s best to not let this great art die in the following excerpt taken from Hurst’s article on the website:

“…along came Shel Silverstein. He wrote poems about picking your nose and selling your baby sister and adults (some of them) winced and kids guffawed and kids’ poetry was changed forever. Now we’ve got the gamut of emotions and subjects in kid’s poetry. Poetry, of course, be it for child or adult (and the distinction is not always clear) is very much a matter of perception. Poems speak to the individual, even more than stories do, and some are not speaking to you — at least not right now. The rules of poetry selection are the same as for the selection of any kind of literary material that you’re going to use with your kids. It must speak to you as the living breathing adult you are before you can help it speak to kids. If it’s supposed to be funny, it should make you laugh or at least smile. If it’s supposed to be sad, it should choke you up a bit. If it’s a description of a thing or a feeling, it should help you see it or feel it in a new way. So, which of all the books of poetry will you choose for your classroom? Every one you can afford.”

Erin Koehler writes, “The more picture books I read, I start to notice the ones that catch my interest the most, and the ones I end up re-reading several times in a row, are the ones that feel the most poetic. By that I mean that even though the language may appear to be “simple” the language is actually rich in complex diction, syntax, and imagery–not to mention attention to rhythm, sounds, and pacing. Sound familiar? Like a poem maybe?”

Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore is published in more formats than the average book. In addition to hardcover, softcover, an audio version, and a soon published Spanish translation (being published for the Finding Corte Magore project) did you know this literary gem is also available in a picture book app available exclusively for the iPad? The iPad version, for all you tech-based schools, boasts interactivity, professional narration, full animation and an original musical score produced by Nashville singer and songwriter, Robby Armstrong. (Hint: Sam is a “fiddler” crab.)

Finally, have you ever heard of SpongeBob SquarePants? Of course you have! Kids love sea creatures! What we all admire most about the television series are the unique characters, setting and bold use of color. When one of my good friends told me her brother, a Storyboard Director for SpongeBob SquarePants would be interested in working on the book, I knew I had found the right art director. “Mr. Lawrence” -who incidentally is also the voice of Plankton, then brought in his colleague, another SpongeBob storyboard director, Marc Ceccarelli, to produce the original character art and many of the final illustrations.

So, as promised, these are succinct, definitive reasons why this book should be in a school or public library, despite my newbie authorness and utter lack of literary famelessness (I’m a writer, I get to make-up words.)

As always, thanks for the ear!

Tonia Allen Gould, Author

Click here to Order Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore on Amazon.

She Will Die In Her Race Against Time


Camera poised and ready to shoot, I stand and wait as the Monarch paratroopers glide in, iridescently adorned in polka-dotted trimmed uniforms of orange and black. They’ve stormed my garden, sailing over it, scanning and probing it for flight fuel to carry them along their journey.

I zero in on one lone butterfly, fluttering overhead – her wings flapping hard against the late summer’s breeze, the full span of them glistening against Midday’s high sun. She finally maneuvers low to navigate her perfect landing, descending onto the tip of the buttercup-shaped lantana where she sips her nectar, letting It nourish her completely before she takes flight again. In moments, recorded only by the click of my shutter, she drunkenly ascends and joins her airborne troop.

I am saddened to know, in probably just a few short short weeks – she will die in combat – for she has always been in a race against time, like some people I have known and loved and lost. The butterfly’s brief lifespan, despite her sheer will to live, was always destined to be fleeting. And, so I feel special that we shared our brief interlude, here in my garden, where she stayed with me awhile on her personal flight home.

Tonia Allen Gould
©2014 Tonia Allen Gould, All Rights Reserved

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Like Mother, Like Daughter…I See the Thoughtful, Burgeoning Writer in Her


AA033461Dalliance
By Whitney Gould
Reprinted with Permission, Copyright Whitney Gould, 2014, All Rights Reserved

I am Soul; I move like a needle and thread.
I pierce the crisp air with elegance and grace.
You breathe me in as I dance.
You breathe me out as I dance.
The gentle breeze is my partner and I follow his lead.
Your soft whisper interrupts my routine.
I move about the room like a paintbrush
dancing across an endless canvas. There is no paint.
You want my warmth so I blanket you with my dewy kiss –
as I escape the walls you have entrapped me in.
I dance.
I dance until I can dance no more.
You breathe me in.
You breathe me out.
My endurance fades; I leave barely a trace –
only the remnants of my dewy kiss.
You thirst for my Body; you can’t wait until I die.
Handle with caution as I can burn.
Blow me away and I will soon return.
I am Soul; I move like a needle and thread.

My daughter, Whitney Gould, is a Sophomore at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California. Whitney emailed me this poem to get my take on it. She said she had to write a poem, due tomorrow, from the perspective of another person or object. Her poem perspective is about the steam of a coffee mug. I think she nailed it. But, I’m a clearly smitten, biased mother.  How did she do?