More settled

OK, so I am starting to feel more settled now than I was yesterday, and therefore also more comfortable with all the changes and uncertainty.

For one, I move to L´s house yesterday since Y left for BsAs. Since this is the house where I lived for 5'6 weeks in 2007, there is comfort in the familiarity of the place as well as the neighborhood. She lives at the southern extremity of the city, in a neighborhood that is still more reminiscent of a small town or village than of a bustling city. Everyone knows everyone, you shop at the nighborhood tienda, the little shop selling quesadillas, the lady who makes the wonderful licuados. The Mexico City overrun by Walmart, McDonalds, and boutiques with names like "American Hot" (I promise Im not making that one up!) ´seem to belong to a different time and place. it helps, of course, that her still very much a farmer father keeps dogs, birds, rabbits and roosters in the house. I woke up to the rooster ´s call this morning, and it´s hard to feel trapped in a big city when that happens!

So, I´ll be in the city longer than I wanted to be here... will be spending 3 instead of 4 weeks in the mountains. L and Y are both overwhelmed by the things that need to be done before June 15th, at their universities, places of work, and for this project, so I´m going to help out with some fundraising work... mostly, editing a video of past workshops, which will accompany funding proposals for the next workshop. Yes, less exciting than being out in Zoatecpan right away, but this work needs to happen in order for that work to happen, so ah well.

Talking to L yesterday also reassured me about the project. Ironically, what reassured me was the realization that they already know they don´t have a vision or long terms sense of the work they are doing. Unfortunately, for reasons that range from funding to local politics in the village between the church and the women´s cooperative we work with, they are not sure they will continue working in the same region beyond next year. Thus, a certain level of fear as far as committing to a long term project there, or even building up too high hopes for what they could accomplish there. I did try posing questions about if we could find ways this year to make the work there sustainable in the future, if there was a way to build enough ownership for the older children and the members of the community to take off from where we leave, but I think the degree of work that would require is overwhelming for them right now. Fair enough, they are doing this project on top of being full time students and working part time, I can see why time and money have become precious resources. Their collective, they do hope to maintain, they do hope to continue working with children of indigenous communities and of migrants, just perhaps in other partes of the country. So, scaling down our ideas for the summer project considerably.

Here´s what it will probably look like at this stage: the children of Zoatecpan, aged 4 to 10, are preparing a book of local flora and fauna, with photographs and/or dired flowers and leaves, names of the plants and animals in Nahuatl and Spanish, and traditional uses of the plants and animal prodcuts. A biologist friend of L´s is helping them identify the less common plants, and their grandmothers are treasure troves of wisdom about possible medicinal and other uses of pretty much any plant. This book will then be compiled, and provided we get funding, 1000 copies will be printed for the local school(s) and students. It´s a fairly simple project, but it can accomplish several important objectives, from working as a team to understanding their environment better, from giving them a sense of pride in their work to bringing their lives and their geography into a classroom that teaches them only in Spanish and only about a world far removed from their own. In some ways, I would have preferred doing more long term work, but in other ways will also be good to have an open and closed project by the time I leave. Let´s see how it unfolds.

And before I sign off, here´s a story I cant get out of mind and should provide us all with some food for thought. L told me yesterday about an indigenous community in the North of Mexico that she visited a few months ago. There are only about 60 surviving members of this tribe and linguistic group, and they have long faced terrible discrimination. Recently, the community came together and decided that none of them were going to have children because they want the langauge and the community to die with the current generation. It gives me chills just thinking about it... what does it take for a people to decide that they no longer want to exist... not just in their current form but in any form? Shiver.