E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Gran Canaria

What It Once Was … Ayagaures

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As I have mentioned in the first weblog post of the series, every week I am planning on creating an entry over here under the heading What It Once Was … to share with you folks some of the different pictures that I have taken over the course of the years from some of the different areas affected by the recent fires here in Gran Canaria, as a way to help remember what it once was and what will be again over the next few months / years. It may be a slow process, it will take plenty of healing, but I am pretty sure that we would eventually get there.

Over the last few days, I have been getting lots of positive feedback comments on this series of posts, specially from folks who keep reading of my weblog(s) and who live in the island, as a way to help  us remember the immense beauty that most of these places used to have and which I am sure will blossom again very soon! So while I understand that this series may not have much to do with the main theme from this weblog, at least, for the time being, I hope you can understand how I am planning to continue with it as a way to help me release some of the pain that we have all gone through, specially for those of us who feel those burnt areas had a special place in our hearts.

One of those places is the area known as Ayagaures, specially the upper part of the area, where you would be able to find a couple of dams and some stunning views! In the past, I have been sharing a couple of weblog posts to detail some of that beauty, but over the weekend I have been uploading some more pictures into my Flickr account from the last time I was there. To me, it is one of those special places from the South of the island, where in less than 15 to 20 minutes you are in the countryside enjoying lots of green, the mountains, the dams, a wide range of different birds stopping by here and there. Ideal for long and extensive walks. And if not judge for yourselves. Here you have got a couple of the pictures I have shared just yesterday:

I am surely going to miss this place for those eternal and peaceful walks, while it starts its slow and lengthy recovery, but one thing for sure is that I am planning to come back, perhaps this very same winter with the first drops of rain, and check how nature has started its healing process, hoping that everyone out there would have become by now much more conscious of the serious damage that just a single match can create in a matter of hours!

Oh, and if you would want to find out some more about the catastrophe that this has been for us all, check out the following YouTube video that Manu Moreno has put together (Perfect combination of tunes and pictures to reflect how most of us feel at the moment) and which I am sure will make people think of the fatal consequences of provoked fires.

Don’t forget as well to check out his photo and video Web site over at GranCanariaFotos, where you would be able to find lots of other pictures and videos about the fires at the same time that you would get to see some other stunning pictures of the island itself with all of its beauty.

Speechless! Yes, that is right, that is the only word that comes to mind at the moment… Thanks, Manu!

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What It Once Was … Palmitos Park

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As the fires from Gran Canaria and Tenerife continue towards making really good progress and be completely extinguished, still with some minor, completely isolated and under control patches here and there, I thought I would go ahead over here and start something that I have been thinking quite a lot about during the course of the weekend and most of last week as well. During the last few days, there have been a number of folks sharing their thoughts and opinions on the outcome of the fires. And a lot has been said about it whether the catastrophe could have been avoided or not, but instead of just following that thread I am going to take another approach to it all. At least, for the time being. Perhaps at a later time I would share as well my two cents and what I have learned myself from this tragic experience.

However, this new approach is going to be a lot closer to me than whatever I could have ever anticipated. While doing a recap of the recent events, over the course of the weekend, talking to some friends on the outcome of the fires, I realised that quite a few of the emblematic places from the South of the island of Gran Canaria have suffered tremendously from the fires. I get to visit those different places quite often and have got tons of pictures from what they used to look like, but not what they look like today with the devastation.

So what a better way to pay tribute to those special places from Gran Canaria that got burnt than to create a weblog post every now and then over here, and share a bunch of pictures that I have been taking before last week’s disastrous set of events and which I will be uploading into my Flickr account as well as time goes by. I think it would be really nice to share with you why those different places are special, at least, to me, and why I am really looking forward to when things would go back to normal, like a whole bunch of us have been sharing thus far, and see those stunning places come back to an re-energising life, the same one they have always had.

So to get things started here is the first of a serious of weblog posts that I am going to tag as "What It Once Was …", where I will be sharing with you a couple of comments about the particular space and then share some pictures of what they used to look like and, I am hoping, that when the right time comes, I will be able to share with you all the dramatic change, for the better, I am sure, that they would go through over the next few weeks, months, years, etc.

Without much further ado, the first place I will be talking to you about is one of the most emblematic tourist attractions from the island: Palmitos Park. Half zoo, half theme park that used to host an incredible amount of flora and fauna and which, unfortunately, has been so severely affected that it would be about a year before it would open up to the public again. Most of the animals survived the fires, but the different buildings and the flora have been very badly damaged. So this is one of the wonderful places I will be looking forward to when they re-open again. I am sure it would be much better, much bigger, much more impressive and just basically focusing on what matters, the flora and the fauna of not only the island of Gran Canaria, but from all over the world!

Here are the promised pictures…

You can find more pictures from the series related to Palmitos Park and What It Once Was… at the following URL, or look also at a previous weblog post that I have shared some time ago.

So, will you join me when they re-open the place to check out most of the beauty that has been left behind? … And so much more? I surely hope so…

One year goes by lightning fast. I just can’t wait for it!

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Blogging and Crisis – The Fire in the Canary Islands and the Role of Knowledge Management

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This week is probably one of those weeks that I feel most of us could have done without. The disaster of the fires of both Gran Canaria and Tenerife has been one of those that leaves with you a deep sense of sorrow and a mark that will remain there for a long while. I am sure that from here onwards things will improve a great deal, the countryside will recover all of its own beauty, burnt houses would get re-built, people would go back to their usual routines, etc. etc. Yet, I feel that things would never be the same.

While I have been trying to share with you some of what we are going through in the last few days with the fires I just couldn’t help thinking about the superb weblog post that Rob Paterson put together a couple of days ago on Blogging and Crisis – The Fire in the Canary Islands. In it, Rob comes to the conclusion that blogging could surely well be a good medium to get the message across in a crisis and get everyone informed and up to date with the latest developments, as well as identifying how technology could serve for a better purpose than just all of that techie stuff we are used to: Getting people together helping them manage those specific critical moments in a much more efficient and effective way by making use of social computing.

While I agree with him 100% on his argument, I am starting to think that I would want to take things further into the next level, at least, as far as Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Communities and Social Computing are concerned.

Over the last few hours, now that the fires are on the verge of being totally extinguished, there have been a number of different discussions, mainly taking place locally, on whether this catastrophe could have been avoided, at least, to some extent. There have been some concerns about some degree of lack of coordination between the different groups involved and the local population, and while those discussions keep going on, I just couldn’t help thinking about a weblog post I created a while ago where I commented on some Knowledge Management Rules by Dave Snowden.

[…] if you ask someone, or a body for specific knowledge in the context of a real need it will never be refused. If you ask them to give you your knowledge on the basis that you may need it in the future, then you will never receive it” (Emphasis mine)

That is just so accurate! I bet that if we would all have applied some of those different KM rules from the very beginning, things would have been completely different. As a starter, different groups would have found out about themselves and what they know, and how that relates to other groups and their knowledge. Secondly, they would have had a chance to collaborate and communicate from way before, giving them an opportunity to learn the strengths and weaknesses from all groups, which would help tackle crises like this one much more effectively. People from the various groups would get to trust each other much more, because of the information and knowledge they have shared all along, next to all of that social capital they would have built,, around that very same subject: the extinction of fires on a massive scale. And the list goes on and on and on.

I don’t want to make this weblog post longer than necessary, so I would probably be commenting on this at a later time some more, but I can imagine how incredibly different the situation would have been if people from those groups would have had access to blogs, perhaps a wiki, Twitter (Of course!), social bookmarks of meaningful resources, podcasts from different group members, tagging, syndication, etc. etc., yes, the whole lot around social software, in order to help them share what they know with others so that when that knowledge is really needed everyone would know how to react and help coordinate everything in such major crises and most importantly people would trust each other to do the job properly and fully coordinated.

Remember the motto “Think globally, act locally!” that I have talked about in the past? This is probably what Knowledge Management has been about all along, and perhaps the right direction to help tackle crises like the one we have been going through in the last few days.

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Heroes and a Token of Gratitude

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As the news items about the recent fires in both Gran Canaria and Tenerife are starting to die out, now that they are all under control and it would be just a matter of hours for them to be completely extinguished, I thought I would share something over here that I think it would be a good time to mention, since it is hardly ever covered most of the times.

Most people who know me would probably tell you how fond I actually am about the T.V. series “Heroe”. I love it, I have been religiously watching episode after episode ever since it came out and will probably do the same for season 2. However, after the last few days, I must confess that the word “Heroes” has turned around into a new, and special, meaning for me. And I guess by now you know where I am heading.

Yes, that is right, they hardly ever get the due credit for a well done job where mistakes can be rather costly (For everyone!); they hardly ever get the recognition, respect and admiration they surely deserve from day one from all of us; they hardly ever get the gratitude from those who they save their lives or their most precious belongings and memories, so earlier on this morning I thought that this is the least I could do for a good bunch of folks (Firefighters and members of the UME special unit and all of the different volunteers who have helped in the extinction of the fires!). My heroes:

(Courtesy of Noticias de Navarra)

(Courtesy of El Pais)

(Courtesy of Canarias7)

Thanks ever so much, guys! You probably do not realise much of what you have just done in the last few days, but one thing for sure is that we would always remember what you have saved not just for ourselves, but also for our children! Thanks!

Oh, and talking about a token of gratitude, from here I want to sincerely thank as well the online edition of Canarias7, which has been an inspiration for us all on how crises like this one should be reported to the general public, both in the Canary Islands and the entire world. They have done an incredible amount of work reporting by the minute the different updates on the fires, they have been receiving a bunch of comments from various different folks out there watching through the news anxiously and share with us some of that drama, and they have been sharing some incredible pictures that people have been taking over the course of the last few days and share them as well with us all to give us a sense of what the disaster was like.

A couple of my fellow bloggers (Links in Spanish) seem to agree with my thoughts as well, I am glad that has been perceived that way all over the place, because they surely have been fundamental in keeping the local population informed, and involved, in everything that was going on during those tragic moments. So, from here, my most sincere congratulations to Canarias7, and in particular to Esther Pérez, for the superb piece of work done throughout showing us all that it is possible to be timely, accurate, responsible, and involved in delivering news to whom it matters. Us. So thanks a bunch for that!

As far as the local T.V and whatever other traditional news media sources, I think they need to catch up a lot with Planeta Canarias. Sigh.

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Gran Canaria – The Beginning of a New Dawn

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This is probably one of the very last weblog posts that I would be creating where I would be massively linking to a number of different stories that keep popping up both from within the traditional media as well as within the Spanish Gofiosfera on the recent tragic events where one third of the entire wooded area from the island of Gran Canaria is now gone after the fires have all been under control. And a similar situation, thank goodness, is starting to emerge in Tenerife.

There was a reason why I was linking to a number of different resources, more than anything else, it was all due to the fact that I wanted to share some of the grief that most of us is going through at the moment. That painful experience of seeing how one good chunk of you is taken away just like that in a matter of hours and without any further questions.

Back at the beginning, when I was first writing the initial blog post from this series I mentioned how it hurt, how painful it surely was to witness that tragedy taking place and myself not been able to do much on the subject. Now a few days have passed by and still feel the same, like something that I was part of was taken away from me very abruptly. For good.

In one of my twitterings earlier on today, I realised that most of the pictures from the collage that I have for my Twitter background are actually from several of the different places that are now completely devastated by the fires. Yet, there they are, as impressive and stunning as ever and with a strong message that at one point in time they will be back! Just like in the good old times, but better. Way better! I am not sure if I would be here still that long, but if I am, you bet that I am going to enjoy the time quite a bit where I will be capturing those precious little moments that will remind me of what it all once was and where we have moved on to: onwards!

Because there is no other way to go. Now more than ever we need to move on, we need to learn from our past mistakes, we need to ensure that events like this one would never happen, at least, at a similar scale, of what we have witnessed since Friday last week. I, for one, would be incredibly excited about when that time would come, because I know it will be coming back again, and at that point I would be as much proud as I used to be (Still am very much so, in case you are wondering!) of one of the places that accepted me back three years ago, with no questions asked, like if it was the prodigal son coming back home. Finally! I never left home. I know now. Perhaps too late. The beginning of a new dawn starts now! Want to join me?…

Oh, and before I let you go, I can certainly recommend checking out the index of YouTube videos that various different people have put together that CanariasBruta has been able to collect thus far. And also watch the following one as reported by mainstream media (In Spanish):

And here you have got a couple of pictures that different folks have been taking thus far:

Courtesy of Canarias7:

Courtesy of tonyatlantico:

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Gran Canaria Fires – Now Officially under Control! Finally!

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I know that over the last few days I have been sharing a number of different weblog posts that do not have much to do with the main topics that I get to discuss over here, but I hope you can understand what we are all going through over here. Catastrophes of this proportion should not, must not, be forgotten. So, today, nearly six days after the fires started in Gran Canaria, I am very happy to share with you all, just in case you may have missed it, that the fires in Gran Canaria are now officially “under control”, according to several news items.

The one in Tenerife is still being stabilised and the one in La Gomera is now also extinguished. It has not been a pretty sight all along for the last few days, having over 35,000 hectares of woodland (Pine trees, mainly) being wiped out between Gran Canaria and Tenerife (Around 20,000 in Gran Canaria alone, one third of the total woodland area from the island!). Yes, I know, the proportions of the disaster are just tragic, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, the horizon is starting to look closer and closer than ever before. And I am very happy to see that. About time, too!

Yes, we all know that things would never be the same. They just won’t, but life goes on and the sooner we recover, the better. I am sure that in the next few days a whole bunch of conversations, discussions, analysis of the situation and whatever else would be put together (I may be able to share some thoughts on those at a later time), but in this weblog post I just wanted to share with you as well some of the magnitude of the disaster at the same time that I would place a whole bunch of links in here around what the international press and media are saying about the last few days.

You would have to remember that the Canary Islands are a very popular holiday destination with over 12 million visitors per year approx. so it is of no surprise the extensive coverage that the fires have been given all over the place, considering that very soon plenty of those tourists may be heading back here again to spend their vacation, specially during the winter time.

It surely is very nice to know that plenty of people out there are thinking about these tragic events and are wishing us all getting back on track soon, including nature doing what it knows best, so for all of that I would want to give a special thanks! for being there and for the support. It is greatly appreciated, to say the least!

So let’s have a look at the international press coverage of the events:

Irish Times, Innovations Report (Germany), Vakantie.PaginaBlog (Netherlands), Trouw (Netherlands), Fok (Netherlands), Handelsblatt (Germany), derStandard (Austria), Die Zeit (Germany), Aftonbladet (Sweden), Aftonbladet (Sweden), Corriere della Sera (Italy), Alice Notizie (Italy), Corriere della Sera (Italy), Le Monde (France), Le Figaro (France), France24 (France), The Times Online (UK), Faz (Germany), IlMessaggero (Italy), Diario de Noticias (Protugal), Bild (Germany).

As you can see from the above links, quite a bit, actually. In the mean time, the blogosphere keeps coming up with more and more updates, some of them with some incredible video footage as well!In this particular link from Canarias7 you would be able to check out some of the different pictures that have been taken over the course of the days that relate to some of the kind of impact this tragic set of events will have on the islands. Just below I have shared a couple of them, courtesy from Canarias7, while I am awaiting for more to come through the Flickr group.

So, the good thing is that fires in Gran Canaria are now officially under control, there would be lots and lots of work that would need to be done, but, at least, we are finally starting to see the light. And that is good news. Now off to the next challenge: bring the entire island to what it once was. A paradise!

(Still is…)

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