Check out this video about fair trade made at this year's conference of the Fair Trade Federation. Campbell's voice is the initial piece of narration ("To be a member of..."). You can also see one of our signs about Amazon handicrafts.
This is "Fair Trade Federation" by The Invisible Lens on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.
We present a quick tour of the Community of Botas de Brillo Nuevo, from the Ampiyacu basin. Community where we work with artisans and their wonderful art.
Hopefully you enjoy it.
DAILY LIFE IN CHINO It's generally really nice to wander around Chino and similar villages in the Amazon in late afternoon-early evening. People have finished working in the fields or wherever and like to hang out watching or playing volleyball while kids play, and the sunsets are usually gorgeous. As it starts to get dark, though, the mosquitoes start to get very active. While local folks just slap their bare legs and keep doing whatever they are doing, I usually seek refuge at that point for my dinner so I'm not providing a meal for as many mosquitoes.
I'm probably going to need to sign off for a week now since I'm leaving with our team for a couple of workshops and meetings in the Ampiyacu. Best wishes to all friends.
HILBERTO - SUNGARO FISHERMAN EXTRAORDINAIRE FROM CHINO We held an artisan workshop last week in the village of El Chino on the Tahuayo River. Just as I was waking up in the morning, someone came to the house where we were staying and called out that Hilberto had caught a big sungaro - did we want to see it? As usual, I grabbed my camera and went down to the river. I love both the striped patterns on this "don cella" catfish as well as its taste.
I have pretty much given up trying to fish during this time of the year because most fish are hard to catch in the flooded forest. I asked Hilberto how he got this big one. I suppose I should have expected his taciturn response - "with bait."
My host Walter told me that Hilberto and his brother Gardel have become specialists in catching this type of catfish by going out at night when these predatory fish are most active. They understand its habits, haunts, and feeding preferences very well so they can try a variety of both cut and live bait to catch their preferred quarry. Walter is a good fisherman himself (he has been my guide several times), he readily admitted that he had no where near the knowledge or skill to do what these fellows did.
Yully bought the whole fish for us which allowed us to provide fish soup for our entire group for one dinner and fried fish for breakfast the next day.
GETTING STUFF DONE IN IQUITOS
While it can be very hard to get certain kinds of things done in Peru in an efficient way (like standing in line for hours to pay a bill at a bank), it’s a fun adventure to get other stuff done in a fun, timely and affordable way. I went out on Sunday to get some basic supplies for our house and got most of them at a modern store called Quispe, but right around the corner I found a fellow named Elmo who is the owner of one of the typical mobile micro-stalls (about 3 x 2 x 5 feet) that is his shop for his business to make copies of keys and help people with other kinds of locks. He first used one of those simple machine to make a rough cut of the key copy from the original. He then used a narrow grinder to fine-tune the copy.
I was really impressed that he used a hand caliper to measure the depth of each notch in the original key and the copy he was making. He eyeballed any minute differences because the calipers had no graduated lines on them. Elmo had been doing this work for 30 years so I felt pretty confident that his keys that cost me $1.25 each to make would work. He gave me his phone number to reach him just in case. His copies got me in my house just fine, but I’d like to see him again just to learn more about his life.
While the lease that we signed to rent our new house for CACE in Iquitos said everything was in good working order, we’ve discovered a few things that needed fixing to make the place more comfortable, safe and functional for our needs. As soon Tulio moved into the house, he met our neighbor Jorge who quickly became our go-to motorcar driver. When we mentioned to Jorge yesterday that we had a few plumbing issues that needed tending to, he said he had a friend who could handle them.
Julio showed up ten minutes later. They quickly determined that the threads in the faucet in the kitchen sink were stripped, the sink in my bathroom was leaking because the pipe under it was totally rusted through, and the sink in Tulio’s bathroom was clogged and just needed cleaning. After several trips to the hardware store to get various new pipes, glue, and tape, Julio donned my headlamp and used his and Jorge’s collection of old saws and wrenches to replace or clean all of the degraded items.
Julio returned this morning and spent the better part of the day doing four more tasks: 1) installing new pipes connecting our elevated water tank in the back patio to faucets in the work sinks so we could distill our rosewood material with an abundant supply of cooling water, 2) installed a new section of mosquito netting in my bedroom, 3) installed a new section of mosquito netting in the space above my bathroom, and 4) fixed up a wire in the back patio that was loosely connected by duct tape that was hanging out of a busted piece of PVC pipe.
We paid a total of about $25 in materials and $50 in labor for all seven jobs and everyone felt good about the tasks that were done. Julio looked around the house as he was leaving and said “please call me if you need anything done. I can fix your roof, put up a wall…….” Tulio told me tonight that Julio is someone who is referred to here as a “mil oficios” – someone who can do a thousand things. I know we have handymen in the US, too, but I’m awfully glad that I met Julio here.
STINGLESS BEES AT CHINO One of the houses I also visit first at Chino belongs to the veteran artisan Romelia and her husband Jorge. Jorge is one of the folks in the village who has maintained several wooden box nests with stingless bees as part of a honey producing project developed under the guidance of German Perilla from George Mason University in Virginia. While these bees don't produce as much honey as their stinging honeybee counterparts, their honey is highly valued for its strong flavor and medicinal properties.
During my last visit, Jorge's nest boxes were in his back yard. This time, he had placed both at opposite ends of his kitchen to keep a closer eye on them. I took several shots of bees coming and going out of the entrance tube as well as the guard which is always on duty to prevent the entrance of unwelcome visitors (other bees, flying ants, etc.) who might wish to invade to prey on their young.
Check out the video Beekeeping in the Amazon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca2kYBJN4tI) focused on a stingless bee project developed with Maijuna native communities by OnePlanet.Org and its director (and CACE board member) Michael Gilmore.
FINDING BEAUTY ALL AROUND YOU - 360 video Please check out the latest CACE video FINDING BEAUTY ALL AROUND YOU – 360 VIDEO (at: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/amazon-native-artisans-and-rainforest-conservation/ that CACE made for our submission to the 2018 GlobalGiving Video Contest. It has scenes of traveling on the river, Bora artisans collecting chambira palm leaves in the forest, women gathered at a skill-sharing workshop to make new handicrafts. This is our first video shot with a 360 degree video camera so you can literally look all around the scene by clicking on the up/down/left/right arrows on the screen or moving the viewpoint of the scene with your mouse. The video was shot and edited by Tulio Davila and narrated by Campbell Plowden. You can also see the video on our Amazon Ecology channel on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4sqNCJ8Wz8. I hope you enjoy looking around the Amazon from the artisan's point of view.
This project will help build sustainable livelihoods and conserve rain forests in ten native and campesino communities in the Peruvian Amazon by promoting planting, sustainable harvest and sale of value-added non-timber forest products. It will empower over 200 native artisans and woodsmen to create...
CACIQUES AT CHINO I spent a wonderful 4 days at the village of El Chino on the Tahuayo River earlier this week. I went there with our CACE team and three artisans from San Francisco on the Maranon River so they could teach Chino artisans how to weave several types of birds that they could sell to us and tourists who visit their village. One of my favorite birds to see in Chino and other parts of the Amazon is the Yellow-rumped Cacique (Cacicus cela) locally known as "pau car." Like other oropendulas (Latin for "hanging egg"), they weave nests in colonies which hang from the branches of a tree. Their calls are varied and often sound like large falling drops of water. I hung out near a tree with many nests to try to get a few good shots of the birds darting in and out of their nest entrances. More about the workshop tomorrow. See some videos with sound of the cacique at: https://www.hbw.com/ibc/species/yellow-rumped-cacique-cacicus-cela
Amazon rainforest hit by surge in small-scale deforestation, study finds https://news.mongabay.com/2018/02/amazon-rainforest-hit-by-surge-in-small-scale-deforestation-study-finds/?utm_source=Mongabay+Email+Alerts&utm_campaign=ab7ad60990-mailchimp_peru_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e1ea8b5f35-ab7ad60990-77138285
Amazon rainforest hit by surge in small-scale deforestation, study finds
Deadline approaching! Submit your organized session/workshop proposals to "Belém +30", XVI Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology by February 20. Individual paper/poster submissions open March 1 and close April 5. Online submissions and more information https://www.ise2018belem.com
BARRANQUERO BIRD LANDS AT THE BARRANQUERO CAFE (AND ONLINE)
Last year I walked into a new hip coffee shop in State College called the Barranquero Café and noticed photos and paintings of a long-tailed bird I recognized as the blue-crowned mot mot – an insect catching bird I’d seen in the Birds of Peru book I’d been perusing with some Amazonian artisans.
It was great to meet the Barranquero’s owner Susan Jermusyk and learn that she gave her shop the local name for this beautiful bird that frequents the Colombian highlands where her coffee comes from. Beyond inviting us to sell a variety of our crafts in the café two times last year, we agreed to commission our talented artisan partners in Peru to weave a model of this bird she could sell in her café year-round. \
On my next trip south, I gave photos of the bird to artisans from the village of San Francisco on the Marañon River, and six months later four artisans showed me their prototypes. Susan thought they were good, but the orange breast of the Amazonian type didn’t seem quite like the bird she knew. She gave me a few photos she had taken showing the yellow breast of the Colombian variety which I shared with our Peruvian artisan friends.
I was thrilled that Susan and her staff were excited to see the newest barrranqueros – especially the expression in their eyes and black spot below the neck. We are both happy that this trans-American fair-trade collaboration can benefit local people in Peru and Colombia.
Please visit the Barranquero Café at 324 E Calder Way in downtown State College to buy one of these unique ornaments and enjoy some tasty Colombian coffee and food.
You can also find a few barranquero ornaments online at: https://amazon-forest-store2.myshopify.com/products/fair-trade-christmas-tree-blue-crowned-mot-mot-ornament-orbp46c. See these and other fair-trade ornaments and crafts for sale at our online Amazon Forest Store at: www.amazonforeststore.org.
Learn more about the blue-crowned mot mot (Momotus coeruliceps) and hear its call at: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/bucmot1/overview.
680000 acres of Amazon rainforest may be lost to Peru’s new roads Check out this story from Mongabay News about two proposed roads that would threaten huge areas of the Peruvian Amazon. https://news.mongabay.com/2018/01/680000-acres-of-amazon-rainforest-may-be-lost-to-perus-new-roads/?utm_source=Mongabay+Email+Alerts&utm_campaign=d891496145-mailchimp_peru_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e1ea8b5f35-d891496145-77138285
PERU DECLARES NEW NATIONAL PARK IN NORTHERN PERUVIAN AMAZON Amazing news about the creation of a national park in Loreto near the area where CACE has been working with native communities in the Ampiyacu River region. https://news.mongabay.com/2018/01/peru-declares-a-huge-new-national-park-in-the-amazon/?utm_source=Mongabay+Email+Alerts&utm_campaign=25fd65a4fe-mailchimp_peru_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e1ea8b5f35-25fd65a4fe-77138285
LORETO REGION, Peru — Starting yesterday, 868,927 hectares of forest in Peru’s Loreto Region will be protected through the creation of Yaguas National Park, comprising a mega-diverse ecosystem that, until…
MARVELOUS SPATULETAIL HUMMINGBIRD - ORNAMENT FOR SALE
The Center for Amazon Community Ecology (CACE) has just received a limited batch of colorful Marvelous Spatuletail Hummingbird ornaments for sale online in our online Amazon Forest Store at: https://amazon-forest-store2.myshopify.com/products/fair-trade-christmas-tree-hummingbird-woven-ornament-orbp43. Proceeds create sustainable livelihoods for native artisans and support health, education, and conservation in their communities.
These ornaments were hand-made from chambira palm fiber by 17-old artisan Heriberto Vela from the village of San Francisco on the Maranon River in association with CACE.
The marvelous spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis) lives in small regions of the northern Peruvian Andes. The male uses its tail feathers to court the female of his choice. This hummingbird is highly endangered due to destruction of its habitat, hunting, and its its inherently small population.
Read more about efforts to protect this and other rare birds at https://abcbirds.org/bird/marvelous-spatuletail/. Thanks to David Cook Wildlife Photography for permission to use his photo of this bird in the wild. See original at: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/5a/46/4c/5a464cb9a5fab1dbc46d9133e7b0a867.jpg
AROMATIC SOAP AND AYAHUASCA AT BELLEFONTE VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS SHOW Sales of our Amazon handicrafts at the show yesterday were steady but slow. Down times gave me a chance to chat a bit with my vendor neighbors Bethany Carter and Heather Emminger who were selling their cold pressed soaps in their BelleNaturals line. I was impressed by their extensive knowledge and use of a variety of essential oils in their products. I was very happy that Heather bought and agreed to show off the necklace made by Peruvian artisan Damaris Esther Panaifo Coral that she got from the CACE booth that featured a round piece of moonstone, ayahuasca vine, and a pair of tiger eye stones. The moonstone looks clear when held to the light, but it beautifully reflects other colors behind it.
ORNAMENT CRITTERS AT TAIT TREE FARM Here are four of the dozens of Christmas tree ornaments available at Tait Tree Farm in Centre Hall, PA. Come to the farm to cut your own tree and give a loving home to one of our unique animal ornaments made by artisans from the Peruvian Amazon. Critters in these pics are: Peruvian striped owl, hoatzin, chestnut eared aracari, and two-toed sloth.
HANG A FRIENDLY SLOTH ONTO YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE FAIR TRADE SLOTH ORNAMENT NOW AVAILABLE FROM THE AMAZON FOREST STORE https://amazon-forest-store2.myshopify.com/admin/products/321163460637
It was a mystery to me why our sloth Christmas tree ornaments sold so well at music festivals this summer. They are undeniably a rather strange cuddly creature, but perhaps their popularity was partly due to a sloth playing a (slow) worker in motor vehicle department office in the movie Zootopia. thanks for supporting our artisan partners from the communities of San Francisco and Amazonas who make these cool ornaments out of chambira palm fiber
IT'S GIVING TUESDAY - THANKS VERY MUCH FOR SUPPORTING OUR WORK TO SUPPORT ARTISANS AND FOREST CONSERVATION IN THE PERUVIAN Visit www.AmazonAlive.Net to make a donation to the Center for Amazon Community Ecology. We will receive matching funds from GlobalGving through midnight tonight. With sincere thanks, Campbell
ARTISANS SEPARATING CHAMBIRA FIBER After artisans strip leaflets from chambira "cogollos" in the forest. In the comfort of their homes (or in this case in the artisan house in Chino), they grab the bottom end in between their big and fourth toe, make a nick at the top with a little knife and then pull down on the long strong fiber. This is the prime part of the leaflet for making quality handicrafts. They also separate out the secondary part (carapa), palito (spine), and waste material (bagasso).
HARVESTING AND WEIGHING CHAMBIRA PALM LEAVES After morning introductions at the Artisan Leadership workshop in Chino, we took a large peque peque (motorized dugout canoe) about half an hour upriver to a path that took us to the forest fields of three artisans. Walter showed the group how he attaches a saw to a pole and then taught Francisca how to use this to harvest a chambira "cogollo" (leaf spear). While artisans have traditionally used a machete to harvest these, the women in Chino was one of the first groups to use a pruning saw since it allow the artisan to cut this leaf without damaging the ones next to it. Each of the three small groups harvested 3 cogollos and then weighed them whole before stripping off the leaflets that they brought back to the village to process. Note that Graciela is holding the upper end of the cogollo with a shirt to protect her hand from the spines on the main pole. As usual, Francisca showed how to do every task with a smile. I'll discuss how these measurements will help the artisans. I hope these photos can help other people realize the amount of work fand care involved in producing a woven handicraft even before the weaving begins.
ARTISAN LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP - DAY 1 We began our most recent artisan leadership workshop in Chino by dividing participants from different communities into small mixed groups to share their knowledge about the best ways to harvest chambira. It was fascinating to hear about their approaches and identify important things they did not know - such as how many new leaf spears grow on one tree per year. We then went to the forest to do some harvesting. But before getting down to business, two artisans split open a mature macambo fruit and snacked on its seeds.
MEET ESTELITA - CREATIVE ARTISAN, LEADER, MOM AND BODEGA OWNER Meet Estelita Loayza Ihuma. I met her first as one of the artisans from the village of Chino on the Tahuayo River that makes the beautiful chambira palm fiber baskets. In recent years, though, I have gotten to know her better as the President of the artisan association from her community. Many artisan groups elect presidents, but I have never met anyone in this role who has done so much and earned so much trust from her fellow artisans as Estelita. When she joined our Artisan Leadership Program workshops last year, it was a marvel to watch how quickly she also earned the respect of artisans from all of the communities. She articulately discussed how the Chino artisans were in a similar position to other artisan groups ten years ago and how they have progressed since then. They were working primarily as individuals until an opportunity came along to sell more crafts to visitors from an eco-tourism lodge. Estelita helped her fellow artisans improve their craft making, brought them together as a cooperative group, helped figure out how to shift husbands from being adversaries to advocates for the women artisans, took on quality control for the group, and become a pioneer in improving management of chambira palm trees. As Estelita remains a positive force in her community, I hope that CACE can work with Estelita to strengthen artisan groups in other places. Oh yes, in addition to making crafts and guiding the artisan association, she is a mom to a cool grade-school boy and runs a little bodega (general store) on the ground floor of her house with her husband.
BEE VISITING BLUE FLOWER After I'd finished buying crafts from the Chino artisans in their new artisan house, I found a spot outside that I thought would make a nice natural backdrop to take pictures of the artisans with their crafts - this meant a place with interesting plants and even lighting. After I was done taking pics of Madita, I looked around a saw that a few bees were making the rounds of pretty blue flowers. I don't know what kind of bee or flower they were, but I always liike to take shots of pollinators in action. I like seeing how the blurr of the wings shows that the bee doesn't just flap them up and down - they can swirl them around to hover or go anywhere they want.