In Monquentiva, a village in the municipality of Guatavita in Colombia, three generations of farmers associated with the COLEGA de Guatavita Cooperative are demonstrating that their cooperative tradition allows them to face with optimism some of the great challenges posed by the global changes affecting humanity. The cooperative, managed by José Ignacio Tamayo and presided by Elías Romero, is celebrating its 24th anniversary, reaching higher and higher levels of welfare for its 50 members, thanks to a practical interpretation of cooperatives under its particular social, environmental, economic and political conditions.
What began in the 1990s in Peru, with the struggle against the indiscriminate use of pesticides, has not ended, but the Alternative Agriculture Action Network (RAAA) has combined protest with proposals in its actions, favoring dialogic debate with irrefutable arguments resulting from ongoing participatory research. Working in a network, articulating and bringing together many initiatives, Luis Gomero and the RAAA practice a fruitful alternation between impact, denunciation and protest on the one hand and dialogue, proposal and alternative actions on the other. The prohibition of the so-called “dirty dozen” in the 1990s, the moratorium and its renewal to prevent the entry of GMOs into Peru, the prohibition of highly dangerous pesticides and stopping the export of chemical precursors from some European countries to Peru, the foundation of the association of ecological producers of the Chillon Valley (APEVCH), one of the epicenters of the use of agro-toxics in the coun try, with its weekly bio-fair in Carabayllo and the organic point in Qatuna Markets are some of the defeats achieved.
This motivating experience is about Lore and Feli, about these two characters, with their children Sara and Juan, and revolves around the challenge we al know in our lives, in the search for the answer to the question: what are we called to be? After a very brief interlude in conventional life, Lorena and Felipe opted for more than gratifying bets: to build an associative experience in full horizontality, circumscribed to alpine landscapes in tune with dignified crafts manship and the option of permacultural family life, embraced by the forest.
In Catachilla and Rancho Nuevo, two communities in the municipality of Santivañez, Cochabamba – Bolivia, a group of people have managed to adapt to the climate crisis, particularly to extreme water stress, through their family agro-ecoforestry gardens. As a collective, they mark a route of mutual nurturing, based on “learning by teaching and teaching by learning”; recovering from their socio-environmental relationship common goods such as water, soil, biodiversity and seeds, as well as food culture. Everything begins as an initiative, induced from different projects, gradually achieving a full emancipation from these external supports. The group is constituted as “Ecohuertos Agroecological Producers” and “Eco-Huertos Agroecological Fair” and, perhaps most importantly, they have taken ownership of their process. This transfer of protagonism, from the project to the self-determined and autonomous process of the community fabric, is a common path that many projects seek to achieve but seldom achieve. To the question: why was it possible to achieve what is so difficult to achieve? Usually, there is no possibility to adapt the project to changing and changed realities, thus ending the project in a failed attempt to accommodate reality to the logic of the project…it seems that here the opposite happened.
In the highlands, north of the Mexican capital, there is sun all day long, more than three hundred days a year. When Gregorio came from Germany to do a social year in the diocese of Tula, he only knew the climate of his home land. It became a lifelong challenge for the young man to discover and further develop ways to use the energy provided by nature. He man-aged to locally manufacture a solar heater, a pioneering model in its time that can still be found on the roofs of many hotels and residences in the area.
Since then, inventions have become the guiding thread of Gregorio’s life, a self-taught man with a long life. With his company Trinysol, he remains true to his motto: “Concentrated solar power for everyone and everywhere”, with unique approaches.
Jarillas, elsewhere better known as Caña Brava (a type of cane), is a reed that usually grows on the marshy banks of rivers. Tlacotal, the Nahuatl name for the place where jarillas grow, is a community in Iztacalco, one of the mayorships in the southeast of Mexico City. The Miramontes River, at that time emblematic for Tlacotal, became a canal; but the jarillas are still in the orchard of the Cultural Center that bears the same name. This cultural center is a reference for Mexico City for being managed from the territorial community, cohesioning the social fabric and the sense of community at the scale of the neighborhood locality, with a tireless work from the culture and urban identity. It is an icon for the development and self-determination of an urban community, involving the third generation, giving tangible form to the demands of the people of Tlacotal in their struggle for the right to the city.
The Mezquital Valley, in the Mexican highlands above two thousand meters above sea level, 4 hours north of Mexico City, has been for centuries the most important production area of aguamiel, the sweet juice harvested from magueys, appreciated since the times of the Aztec Empire. The climate, with a lot of sun during the day and cold nights, as well as the semi-desert vegetation favor the use of maguey and nopal cactus. The indigenous Hñähñu families, the original inhabitants of the valley, planted maguey
(agave salmiana) and nopal cactus, producing pulque, the fermented drink made from aguamiel and maguey honey, a concentrated sweetener of the aguamiel (mead: an alcoholic drink made from honey). The colony and then modernity seemed to put an end to this cultural work, but there seems to be a rebirth of this ancestral agriculture, rejuvenated thanks to innovation.
“The potato is sad” – this phrase we heard frequently on our tour in the rural area of Chinchero, near Cusco, Peru. Water stress leaves no choice; rural communities, because of the need to adapt water management to the climate crisis, started to plant water: But in order for this resilience not to be directly consumed by an excessive use of water resources by urban centers, it is necessary to understand the necessary reciprocity in the territory.
Kusi Kawsay, Quechua voice translated into English as happy life, is the name of the Andean school in Pisaq, Cusco-Peru, whose purpose is true to its name: to produce happiness in the lives of students, teachers, collaborators and their families. Its recipe sounds as simple as it is novel: Waldorf pedagogy contributes part of the methodology and the teaching content comes from the Andean culture and cosmovision. The result: a school that strengthens cultural identity and prepares for life in harmony, beyond competitiveness and individualism. A bet, which at the beginning has had to swim against the current; now it is gradually becoming a reference.
Dario Estrada, born in Tumaco, Colombia, has always had a keen interest in everything related to power generation. During the pandemic, in one of those free moments surfing the internet and watching a video of someone generating gas with drinking water, changed Dario’s life: “gas for everyone!”
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