First and foremost: we have a great deal WE can learn from THEM with regards to small scale agriculture, low impact lifestyles, living simply, and community values. Through stories, discussions, and various linkages, (including in some cases potentially having our members be able to communicate with them via email) our members will have the opportunity to have windows into their lives, thoughts, and views. On occasion, we’ll be trying to arrange a visit or two from them.
Secondly: We’ll be exploring ways in which we can help them with their economic reality by supporting their efforts at maintaining their culture and teaching them to be more self-sustainable. In many places, small family gardening practices, once a common traditional knowledge, have been abandoned in exchange for chemically enhanced mono-culture crops, which they often sell to buy food from large-scale farming operations. Most crops are grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers, which are completely unregulated in these countries. Many farmers die from exposure to these chemicals. The most unfortunate part of this situation is that, through the eyes of most farmers, there is no other option. They no longer remember traditional methods or how to grow food sustainably. But families in small communities (who almost all grow crops) are interested in learning the tools which will allow them to care for their lands and the health of their families, growing food sustainably. It is our hope at CECLA that we can do our part to bring them this knowledge, starting at the community level, and helping it spread to neighboring communties.
All of these cultures have unique artisans and craftspeople, and many produce goods that may be of interest to our members. We’ll highlight some of these crafts on our web site, and in our lodge. Weavings from Alonso Pilla, master weaver of the Salasaca culture; soaps produced by farmers committed to sustainable agriculture in the Darien Province of Panama, and so on.
In this way we hope to do our part to strengthen the global community, share cultures and perspectives, finding out what works best to lead us into a better future.