"While concepts like punctuality, mutual respect, no put downs of self or others, and listening when someone else is speaking may seem like obvious guidelines to form a positive community, a commitment to actually practice and hold each other accountable to observe these agreements is profound in a culture where showing up late, malicious gossip, and interrupting a speaker are painfully common."
"Artisan facilitators should of course share what they know, but beginning and experienced artisans all benefit by remaining humble, enthusiastic about learning, and committed to encourage and affirm their fellow artisans. So many artisans said that the thing they most wanted to bring back to their communities was this spirit of working in a mutually supportive environment."
"Both men and women wore garb made with bleached llanchama tree bark painted with graphic figures from Bora clans. Several wore headdresses made with the feathers from macaws and parrots. They discussed the importance of nature and craft-making in their culture and then launched into a lively dance where the men chanted and pounded sticks into the ground to the rhythm of moving around in a circle. Visitors joined the undulating lines to share the vibrant energy."
"Artisans in this special group would be expected to make a significant number of chambira bird ornaments since these are our best-selling products, but they could also meet their target with our orders for woven butterflies, belts, guitar straps, hot pads and other crafts. While the opportunity to earn a steady income, learn to make new crafts (like woven dragonflies) and gain other benefits through this program was interesting to many artisans, meeting the craft-making goal still seemed very high to many."
"Our deeper common root emerged when she saw our baskets made by artisans from Chino and a photo of Liria - the artisan who was the daughter of the Tahuayo River shaman who had first trained her in these forest medicine traditions over 25 years ago. She later felt called to deepen her understanding and connection to ayahuasca, its companion chacruna and cacao."
"It was heartwarming to see four artisans carefully inspecting every nursery bag and taking out detritus. They had learned from our community forestry consultant how to identify the chambira palm seeds that were viable (not eaten by insect larvae), wait for a sprout to emerge and then place it in the soil so the sprout would grow up toward the light and the root would grow down into the soil that is firm but not too compacted."
"When entering Raquel's house, I saw a pair of young three toed sloths munching on some cetico leaves. Raquel had rescued these and other local wildlife for many years. Their diet dictates a slow pace, but I felt my yoga teacher would also appreciate their graceful economy of motion."
"We first went through the list of 25 birds that we regularly sell and agreed on which prices would stay the same and which ones would get a higher price if they were more complicated. We next presented our idea of forming a special group of artisans who would receive extra benefits if they sold us at least 200 quality crafts every 6 months and became an artisan facilitator. "
I woke up around 3:30 am to the sounds of singing. While I was groggy, I finally realized I wasn't going to get back to sleep. I got dressed and went to the “locale” assuming I would find people engaged in singing hymns during the wake. What I found, however, was a group of adults and children merrily dancing around. I sat outside on a bench, and the fellow next to me told me there were certain games that were only played at wakes ("velorios") to help people cope with the deep sadness that accompanies the loss of someone from their community.
When Elle came into our booth, she immediately spotted our yellow Papilio butterfly ornament. I asked her about her attraction to this craft and learned an emotional backstory which she generously consented to let me share.