If Wixarika, or Huichol, culture and language have a future, if the world view of this magical people persists, if their sacred lands remain a spiritual sanctuary, the tireless struggle of Jesús Lara Chivarra will not have been in vain. The death of this indigenous fighter leaves a void in the hearts of many.
While most people were celebrating the holidays, others from Canada to Mexico mourned the loss of a leading Wixarika scholar and teacher, a cultural ambassador and an indigenous activist whose work on behalf of indigenous unity spanned North America.
Yuka+ye Jesús Lara Chivarra’s path took him from the Huichol Sierra to the halls of power. He hobnobbed with rock stars and artists, he faced down police and corporate executives, he taught college students, film producers, attorneys, journalists – but he was always most at home in his village.
It was one of those heartwarming victories that can renew your faith in the possibility of achieving justice peacefully. Mountain villagers in Ahuisculco, Jalisco, who had camped out for months in front of bulldozers were finally able to broker a land swap with the sugar company that was threatening their water supply. Here’s how they did it.
Church bells clanged, fireworks exploded and a brass band blared as the Virgin of Ahuisculco made her way down the streets of her town Wednesday, part of a procession of hundreds of villagers celebrating the victory of their fight to save their water supply.
After nearly three months camped out in front of bulldozers that threatened their drinking water supply, the villagers celebrated the news of the project’s cancellation with a Mass and one final fiesta in the encampment as they prepared to disassemble it and resume their lives. Continue reading →
The battle to defend the natural springs of clear water might not only have gotten this Jalisco community to protect its natural resources, it might also have unified the residents like never before.
Townspeople from the Jalisco village of Ahuisculco have maintained their encampment blocking a construction company from damaging their drinking water source, with reinforcements coming in for the holidays from as far away as California to show their support.
“It’s been very heartening to see that our people are staying strong and committed despite the fact that these are days when most people want to be home with the family,” said Juan Carlos Montes Medina, a local veterinarian who has been one of the leaders of the Committee in Defense of the Natural Resources of Ahuisculco.
The ad-hoc group formed in September in response to the excavations in the recharge zone of the treasured blue springs that provide their village with natural potable water – a rarity these days in Mexico. Villagers just passed the two-month mark entrenched in a roadside encampment blocking the construction site, complete with a tent chapel housing their precious Virgin of Ahuisculco.
The Jalisco village of Ahuisculco was one of the few places in Mexico where residents could open their taps and drink fresh, clean water. But an anonymous corporation moved in last September and began digging. After a while, the villagers’ crystal-blue springs ran a muddy brown. That’s when the camp went up.
AHUISCULCO, Jalisco – The grey mists of morning rise in the valley of Ahuisculco, bringing the new day to the roadside encampment where ten hardy villagers have spent the night around the fire, drinking coffee and sharing stories to ward off chill and exhaustion. One by one, reinforcements begin to arrive from the nearby village with chicharrones, chismes and good cheer.
It’s another day in the plantón, the protest encampment blocking the path of the bulldozers – where hundreds of villagers of this town of 5,000 have taken a stand for more than a month to protect their water supply from the excavations of a shadowy corporation that has yet to be identified. Here in the entrance to the construction zone that menaces their springs they’ve blocked the construction with their bodies, building a temporary encampment complete with kitchen, port-a-potties, sound system and now an open-air tent chapel with their beloved “Chaparrita,” the miraculous Virgin of the Ascension. Continue reading →
Rob Hopkins is one face of the Transition movement, but there are many more. In the Spanish-speaking world and particularly in Spain one of those faces is Juan Del Rio.
Del Rio, author of a new book in Spanish on the movement of transition, La Guía del Movimiento de Transición (February 2015), was one of the first outside the English-speaking countries in pushing this movement forward and researching its evolution. Del Rio shared his thoughts about his new book, the way in which Transition developed in Spain, the cultural differences and similarities, the Occupy and Indignados movements and more. A Spanish version of this interview can be found on the Magis website.
One of the early Transition Town initiatives was launched in Ensenada, Baja California, by an American expat, Robert Frey. Frey went to Queretaro, Mexico, in 2010 to a permaculture class taught by Raul Velez, founder of a nonprofit environmental education project called Ruta Ahimsa. Frey invited Velez to Ensenada to do some permaculture trainings, and shared his excitement about the new initiative he’d launched. Velez accepted the invitation – more to see Baja California than to learn about Transition.
“Actually I was skeptical,” Velez recalls. “I thought, OK, I live in a country that has been colonialized by European culture, and then the American way of life – another concept from another part of the world and we need to apply it now and change.’ But I was ignorant.”
Three weeks after Velez’ visit to Ensenada, Frey was found murdered in his own home.
Once there lived a permaculturist, far from the city on an old Irish farm. Together with his wife and four children they had nearly finished creating the house of their dreams, a house of cob in a grassy ecovillage with an organic farm. By day he taught permaculture in a nearby college; by night he broke bread with his family and neighbors.
Then one day it all went up in flames – a conflagration that turned their dream upside down, but led them to begin a movement that has swept the world.
That man was Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Towns movement. It began as a collection of seemingly small and disparate initiatives, but now they’re scattered across the globe: a community-based solar power grid in a Japanese village; a mural project in Michoacán; a barter fair in Queretaro; a community bakery in a Brazilian favela; and a time bank in New Zealand, to mention a representative handful – and they are all local expressions of a movement that has taken root all over the world, employing a wide range of creative techniques to confront some of the most overwhelming challenges of our times. Continue reading →