Transforming tyres into vehicles of peace
Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
Transforming communities through old tyres is the mantra of Germany-born environmentalist and martial artist, Dennis Eckart, who uses old tyres to beautify inner-city communities and spread the message of peace in violence-plagued areas.
Eckart said what was originally an effort to develop the art of Capoeira in Jamaica and its use to promote peace and non-violence, blossomed into a budding environmental project, Eco Pots, that has been initiated in several tough inner-city communities in Kingston.
"Eco Pots is a project out of a non-profit organisation called Capoeira Alafia. What we have done is to engage youths in environmental projects where they transform used car tyres into planters, urns, and other useful products that can be used to beautify their communities. It can also be done as an income-generating activity," he explained.
Eckart, who is also a certified fitness and nutrition trainer as well as a qualified Capoeira instructor, has been in Jamaica for the past eight years teaching Capoeira and showing community-based groups, schools, and government agencies how to care for the environment by turning old tyres into treasure.
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art form that combines elements of dance and music.
"I worked with Mountain View, Arnett Gardens, and several other communities with the Eco Pots concept, and it helps persons to have a better appreciation for the environment and what we can do to sustain it through recycled items while offering them an alternative skill of earning income," Eckart said.
Eco Pots has gained traction as the Environment Foundation of Jamaica is currently funding one of its projects called Diffusing the Thrash Time Bomb, which is aimed at teaching 1,000 people about recycling car tyres. The one-year programme also involves the use of 10,000 truck and car tyres to build a retaining wall in the Peters Rock area (seven miles outside of Kingston).
"We are available for recycling workshops, community projects, staff training, among other related projects, because the more persons get involved in this easy, cost-effective habit of turning old tyres into reusable items, the better it is on the environment," said Eckart.