Above: First Encounter, Vision Council: Call of the Sage – Teopantli Kalpulli (November 2015).
By Laura Angélica Almazán
The call of the caracol has called us together once again. The family has reunited one more time to continue with a mission that started more than two decades ago, and gets more and more relevant every year. The more difficult the times seem to be, the more heavily the economic, environmental and social crises weigh, not only in Mexico, but all around the planet, the fact that the Guardians of the Earth keep on gathering to sow seeds of change is a light of hope in the middle of the darkness that seems to rule the world.
The Vision Council-Guardians of the Earth is an organization dedicated to creating encounters where people who believe that a better world is possible can carry out a living and not virtual experiment of building a utopia that is turning into an ecotopia, to offer up their knowledge and talents in service of the Pacha Mama, and concur with other activists for life who believe that the solutions for today’s problems is to focus on the possibilities instead of the protests, to engage instead of worrying, to build instead of destroying.
Art and Culture Council, Call of Quetzalcoatl, Chalmita, 2013
People from all ages, of diverse tribes, countries and traditions have converged in the 13 occasions and far-flung locations in Mexico that this multifaceted event has taken place, and each time the varicolored tribe of dreamers and Change seekers gets bigger, as they find here the perfect space to take a concentrated look at the reality they dream of and are already working every day to construct.
Plenary session: Call of Quetzalcoatl, Chalmita, 2013
But as the tribe grows, so do the expectation and needs for carrying out the encounter. To build an ecovillage that for a week will host hundreds of people reunited to involve themselves in cultural and educational events, ceremonies, productive projects, environmental workshops and – most of all – to coexist and share their visions and ideas of how we can rescue humanity from the decay in which it is submerged and restore the connection with Mother Earth — a work that requires the participation of all and each one of those that feel themselves called to this family of dreamers and doers.
But the Vision Council is working long before the encounter takes place; at least a year of previous work is necessary to organize an event with the impact that the Vision Council has achieved in its 22 years of existence. That is why the founders of this initiative have launched a call to summon all those who might be interested in participating from the beginning in conducting this grand social, ecological, political and spiritual experiment.
The passing of the sacred staff of power, Teopantli Kalpulli, Octubre 2014
After four consecutive events carried out in four unforgettable Novembers in Chalmita, at the Nierika Center, a breathtaking space in the mountains outside of Mexico City, the XIV Vision Council will change its headquarters, returning to a place that hosted it in 1995: the Teopantli Kalpulli in San Isidro Mazatepec, Jalisco, on the Western side of Mexico. Both the Vision Council and the Teopantli Kalpulli have evolved enormously in these 20 years, and this is the perfect occasion to celebrate and share those changes and achievements, as well as to set new goals and challenges to continue working together for the Awakening of the Consciousness.
The first meeting to form the Consejo Semilla Xalisco, or Seed Council – the work team that will start the activities of planning and preparation to carry out the Vision Council of 2015 – took place on October 18th and 19th of 2014. The Teopantli Kalpulli received the founding members of the Council – Alberto “Coyote” Ruz, Odin Ruz, Laura Kuri and Arnold Ricalde – other participants that have dedicated their work and energy to many editions of such creative events, as well as new members who wish to join the team for the first time.
Laura Kuri, co-founder, Vision Council – Guardians of the Earth
Always with the permission of the four elements, represented in a beautiful altar, sitting in circle around the fire as our ancestors used to do and having the presence and authority of the Elders that lead the host community, various meetings took place during the weekend, in which the inhabitants of the community and the visitors had the chance to get to know each other and share our ideas to start working together to organize the XIV Vision Council: “The Call of the Sage”, a name chosen democratically by the participants, due to the abundant presence of this magical, sacred and medicinal plant in the zone where the Teopantli Kalpulli is located. The date when the event will take place was decided democratically, as well, and with due respect for the presence of the Full Moon: from November 21st to 27th, 2015.
A year seems a long time; but given the dimensions of the event that we want to carry out, and the current conditions of the Teopantli Kalpulli, it is evident that the 13 months that separated us from the encounter were hardly enough time to complete all the work required. In first place, the community, as it is right now, doesn’t have the capacity to host the number of people expected to attend – around 600 – which means that it is urgent to begin working now to convert this tiny community into a space that can meet the needs of hosting, feeding, hygiene and safety of all the participants.
Planning composting toilets and campgrounds
The Xalisco Seed Group started to sketch the requirements that need to be fulfilled to host several hundreds of people during a week: camping spaces, community kitchens, laundry and dishwashing stations, restrooms, showers, etcetera. Of course, all that implies many resources, both material and human: a lot of construction and remodeling work is required, taking into account both the social and environmental impacts, and it is important to be able to count on the knowledge and advice of different specialists in a variety of areas, and also to meet the requirements that the community’s authorities establish for an event of this scale.
Field inspection and survey of spaces, Teopantli Kalpulli
At the beginning it seemed like an almost impossible task, as the group conducted a tour of the 37 hectares of houses and fields that comprise the community; but with the help and interest of all the participants in the meetings –some of whom were architects and permaculture designers with experience in bioconstruction and other useful skills – it was possible to narrow down the stages that the project should have, to outline the next steps and dividing the workload by commissions.
For the first stage, it was decided to begin with the Commissions of Administration, Logistics, Fundraising, Communication, Volunteers and Social Movements. According to each one’s aptitudes and interests, each one of the members of the Xalisco Seed Group of the should choose a commission and organize with the other members to start working on projects ranging from the construction of showers and composting toilets, installation of rainwater harvesting systems, mapping and the capacity calculation for the Teopantli Kalpulli, recruiting of volunteers, publicity, planning the budget, designing strategies for fundraising and studying the needs of nearby communities to find ways to incorporate them into the events – because the master plan, after all, is to leave a greener, more conscious bioregion in its wake.
Construction of composting toilets, Teopantli Kalpulli, Dec. 2014 (Ananda Ríos)
But not all was work and planning during this first encounter. The experiment of creating a more harmonious and organized society starts with us, so all the necessary tasks to live together during the weekend were performed by the participants to the encounter that are integrating the Xalisco Seed Group: we all had to coordinate to prepare the food, make all the arrangements to enjoy the moments when we gathered to eat, to clean up after the meals, etc. To cook and serve the food for a large group of people is a magnificent opportunity to implement everything that is theorized during the meetings: collaboration, dialog, organization, tolerance and harmony are essential in order to successfully achieve that activity we all love and that we cannot do without: eating. That is one thing for which we are always ready and enthusiastic.
The healthy and delicious food we enjoyed during the weekend presented an affirmation of our best intentions of working as a team and carrying out a successful event that during a very special week in November 2015 will nourish the bodies and souls of hundreds.
Wrapped in an atmosphere of harmony and joy, we also prayed, meditated, danced and sang together, blissful and spontaneous, reaffirming one another of the main ideas of the Vision Council: that spirituality and connection with the Earth are beyond any religion or tradition. That the only creed we who seek a better world must profess is LOVE.
When the weekend was over, we had managed to be more than a work team; we had become a real family. We returned home, aware that as long as we are willing to put aside our individualistic ego and seek the communal welfare before our pure personal interest, and as long as each one of us are very clear about the tasks we have to accomplish and we fulfill our duty with joy and dedication, things will flow and the Universe will take care to arrange whatever is necessary for our goal to be reached.
The race against Cronos has begun. We have a titanic job ahead and to be sure, there will be moments when it will seem like a year is not enough for all the labor that needs to be done, but while we keep the faith and determination strong in our hearts, we will know that our effort is worth it, for it is focused in reaching a dream that we share with more and more human beings. All of our energies, time and dedication will be offered to sow the seeds of change and new consciousness in the new generations, a seed that will sprout in a more conscious humanity and a happier planet.
The Vision Council currently seeks creative, energetic participants everywhere. If you’re interested, contact tracylbarnett(at)gmail.com.