In the beginning
In November, 1990, Dr Nat Quansah received a visit in northern Madagascar’s Manongarivo mountain area from 24 year old Canadian Jay Godsall. Nat agreed to help Jay launch a new approach to solving environmental problems – challenge youth to solve problems, don’t tell them what to do.
Dr. Nat told Jay to start at home with a local program, then bring Canadian and Malagasy youth together to solve problems related to the disappearing rainforest. Jay returned home and asked his friend Stephanie Sitzberger to help him launch an international charity. They went to see U of T professor Bill Graham (future Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence) to ask him to join the board of directors and help raise money. By 1992, Nat’s students were working full-time on the project and collaborating with the Crees of Quebec and future Prime Minister Paul Martin. By 1993, Nat was sitting beside Dr. David Suzuki and Dr. Joe MacInnis at EVE’s second film festival with youth from across Canada. By the mid 90s students from Canada were living in Africa and working with African youth to launch solutions to problems.
1990 - At age 24, EVE founder Jay Godsall travels to Madagascar to research a documentary on the costs and benefits of foreign aid. He meets Malagasy scientists who argue foreign aid would not be necessary if local ideas could be expressed clearly and put into action. Jay offers to create a program to teach local science students filmmaking so they can express their ideas in a powerful medium used by leading scientists, Jacques Cousteau, Dr. Joe MacInnis and Dr. David Suzuki. Malagasy scientists say that only those who intend to convert ideas into action should be taught filmmaking. Jay returns to Canada to raise funds for this program.
1991 – Jay presents the idea to a friend, 23 year-old Stephanie Sitzberger who had just returned from living in Paris and Japan. The two register Environmental Vision Exchange (EVE) as a non-profit corporation. Jay and Stephanie try to raise funds for a project in Madagascar, but are asked by funders to prove the project at home.
1992 - EVE’s first project involves 30 youth aged 14-18: 10 Crees from the Waskaganish Band; 10 Quebeckers from Montreal; and 10 youth from downtown east Toronto. EVE works with leading Canadians from each community including Cree chief Billy Diamond, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario H.N.R. Jackman and former Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin. Youth visit each community and make documentaries outlining ideas they have to improve their environments. Malagasy botanist Hery Ralaimaro visits Canada to participate in EVE’s first video festival hosted by Paul Martin.
1993 - EVE becomes a federally registered charity. EVE expands coast to coast with its youth exchange concept. This includes communities from as far west as the Haida Nation of the Queen Charlotte Islands and east to Carbonear, Newfoundland. Ethnobotanist Dr. Nat Quansah arrives from Madagascar to join Dr. David Suzuki and Dr. Joe MacInnis for EVE’s second video festival held in Toronto. EVE develops a bottom-up project management system and introduces this system to a group of youth in Regent Park, Toronto, who launch their own youth environmental action organization called HOOD ecologic.
1994 - EVE begins developing an exchange between Canada, South Africa, Madagascar and Burundi. South Africa faces its first all race elections, Burundi is descending into genocidal war, Madagascar is a newly formed democracy and Canada continues to be distracted by unity problems. EVE raises funds for this exchange involving youth over the age of 18: Malagasies, Burundians and South Africans visit Canada; Canadians visit all three countries. EVE approached Idea Bank, a broker and developer of ideas, with a concept to use AIRSHIPS and THE WORLD WIDE WEB to collect ideas for peace and sustainable development.
1995 - Apple Canada donates computers and offers technical support for a project called Kick-Start. Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) offers funding to help Canadian youth learn to use computers and video technology to convert their ideas into self-employment opportunities. Of the 20 youth participants in the Kick-Start Project, 65% become self-employed in industries related to computers and TV/film. From the Kick- Start emerges a non-profit venture called Rukundo which helps newly arrived refugees in Canada develop credibility and employment through community service and media training.
1996 - Developed with Idea Bank, EVE proposes the Infostructure Project, which receives further assistance from HRDC and Apple Canada. This project builds information infrastructure, offers Internet access and provides media training programs in areas of Toronto where people cannot afford computers. This facilitates the creation of Hyperlink, a non-profit organization offering media training to underprivileged youth managed by three youth participants in the project.
1997 – With the success of Infostructure in Canada, the concept is proposed to government and other funders as a project for Madagascar. Refined and developed through Idea Bank, the Nature Network Project is created with assistance from HRDC, Apple and a number of private businesses from Canada and Madagascar. Twenty young Canadians travel to Madagascar to work with Malagasies on researching and developing ideas to help protect Madagascar`s unique eco-systems. These ideas are submitted to Idea Bank from which two projects for 1998 are derived. Canadians are given the task of creating business plans including visual graphics, financial plans and a strategy outlining the execution of their ideas. Within months of completing the project, 90% of the participants are realizing the goals set out in their plans.
1998 – EVE develops two new project ideas with Idea Bank. Both projects challenge Canadian youth to develop cross-cultural skills and use new media to promote the exchange of ideas. The World Heritage Project focuses on establishing World Heritage Sites in unique eco-systems in Mauritius and Madagascar. Canadian Export concentrates on exporting Canadian culture to the Indian Ocean, particularly Canadian values in health, education and environment.
1999 – EVE completes the two projects and begins the Mazava Project.
2000 – EVE concentrates on developing Mazava health projects. This involves developing an online platform for managing infectious diseases by creating networks of doctors and entrepreneurs in biological Hot Zones where infectious disease outbreaks originate. The platform is developed and linked to handheld devices. Mazava starts building its human network in Africa, Asia, Latin America. This project is ongoing.
2003-2006 – EVE launches a new sustainability program called The Savoka Project. This involves developing programs for protecting Species-at-Risk and Cultures-at-Risk. The project is launched with a focus on Parks Canada and First Nations living in and around the Greater Parks Ecosystems. The project is presented to the federal Canadian government for funding. The idea is rejected. EVE takes the idea to Africa and Madagascar and starts developing a new funding strategy. The Savoka Project is ongoing.
2007 - EVE agrees to manage The Solar Ship Foundation to support building hybrid aircraft able to access cultural and biological Hot Zones without the need for fossil fuels, roads or other infrastructure.