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Visionary gathering brings regenerative development to Caribbean shores

All the pieces are beginning to come together for the XV Vision Council – Guardians of the Earth “Call of the Water” gathering. This year, the itinerant ecovillage and high-impact social movement has set its sights on Mexico’s Caribbean coast near the border with Belize. The gathering is set for the shores of the magnificent Laguna de Bacalar, which in Mayan means “Gate of the sky where the reed grows,” also known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors.

Sian Ka’an Bakhalal, the Lagoon of Seven Colors – site of the XV Vision Council, the Call of the Water

This year, as it was in 1992, the goal is to protect a unique coastal ecosystem, organizers say.

“We are talking about a unique lagoon ecosystem in imminent danger,” said Santiago Palomar, one of the event organizers. Palomar and others on the team have been working to strengthen community networks and to teach techniques applicable for protecting the bioregion.

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Spirituality Council, XIV Vision Council – Call of the Sage, Teopantli Kalpulli, Jalisco, Mexico, 2015. (Santiago Palomar photo)

For seven days in November-December, hundreds of environmentalists, healers, artists, activists, spiritual seekers and people from all walks of life will create community for a gathering which, unlike most festivals, is designed to leave the site better than they found it. From Nov. 26-Dec. 3, the open-air ecovillage will be the site of workshops, ceremonies, forums, performances and celebrations, all geared toward shifting the paradigm to one more in tune with the rhythms of the planet.

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Bioconstruction workshop: Building together, Vision Council – Call of the Eagle, 2010, Chalmita, Mexico State (Tracy Barnett photo)

The Vision Council – Guardians of the Earth is a self-organized group of committed visionaries who work in a variety of ways to change human awareness and attitudes towards Mother Earth, the original indigenous cultures, natural resources and all living beings. It is a network of diverse organizations and individuals that work in a variety of social, ecological and spiritual realms. Council members believe that only by integrating many complementary visions will we create comprehensive and sustainable proposals applicable at the local, bioregional and global levels.

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Consejo de Visiones 1993, Nanciyaga, Lago de Catemaco, Veracruz (Holger Hieronomi photo)

In the spring of 1990, in the eco-village of Huehuecóyotl in the Mexican state of Morelos, the idea for the Vision Council was born at the meeting: “Regarding the Nature of the Guardians of Sacred and Scientific Traditions,” with representatives from ecological movements, spiritual groups, indigenous nations, scientists and artists. The first one was celebrated the following year in the Otomí-Ñahñú Ceremonial Center in Temoaya, in the State of Mexico. The gathering was the inspiration for the creation of the Center of Education of Indigenous Traditions and Languages in Temoaya.

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VII Vision Council, Tulum, 1997 (Holger Hieronomi photo)

The following year, the Vision Council was held in the fishing village of Mazunte on the coast of Oaxaca. In those times the village was known as a killing field for the endangered sea turtles that frequented its coasts. Thanks to the deep connections and awareness-raising resulting from the Vision Council gathering organized there – as well as support and capacitation for a low-impact sustainable tourism model – the village of Mazunte is now a model for sustainable tourism in a coastal setting. This is the precedent that organizers of the event in Bacalar are hoping to follow.

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Cayuco Maya, Bacalar (Santiago Palomar photo)

The town of Bacalar is the most ancient inhabited settlement of Quintana Roo and is located in the heart of a region of lagoons, an extensive area of wetlands, mangrove and rainforest, habitat for thousands of species of flora and fauna, some of them unique in the world. The area’s unique beauty is attracting a rapid increase in tourism, and there is neither the infrastructure nor the regulatory oversight to manage this influx, putting the fragile habitat in danger.

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Bacalar is habitat for an endangered population of manatee (Courtesy photo)

There is no wastewater treatment program or solid waste management for the area, which threatens to be overrun in a short time without intervention. There have also been uncontrolled and unsupervised farming activities, with five thousand hectares deforested recently for monoculture. All of this is in spite of the fact that the lagoon is the third-largest freshwater lake in Mexico and the most important source of fresh water in the region.

Consejo organizers together with local groups like Agua Clara Bacalar are pressuring the government to take the necessary actions to protect the watershed before it is too late.

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Rubén Albarrán of Café Tacuba performs with Hoppo!, an alternative musical group that performed at the Vision Council – Call of the Deer in 2011. (Tracy L Barnett photo)

Meantime, organizers are busy setting the stage for a busy educational and ceremonial program during the day, and inspirational, socially conscious entertainment at night, with a full lineup of performers each evening. They are also laying the groundwork for an environmentally sensitive gathering with bioconstruction workshops, composting toilets, a recycling system, and a packet for each participant with biodegradable soap, insect repellent and sunscreen.

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XIV Consejo de Visiones, Call of the Sage, Teopantli Kalpulli, 2015 (Santiago Palomar photo)

Vision Council participants will live for a week in community, on the land, with the intention that the temporary ecovillage they are building will support  the permaculture and bioconstruction project at the Cayuco Maya. The group will work to promote the collective mapping of problems and solutions in Bacalar and building up the Transition Networks in Quintana Roo, based on a bioregional perspective.  

Youth Council, Call of the Sage, 2015 (Tracy Barnett photo)
Youth Council, Call of the Sage, 2015 (Tracy Barnett photo)

They will also celebrate the reconnection of kindred spirits from far and wide. All are invited to heed the Call of the Water and join this far-flung family of visionaries. If you listen carefully, you may hear it, too.

More information and registration can be found here. 

Consejo de Visiones – Guardianes de la Tierra posts updates daily.