Take a Deep Breath

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Today is a day to do just that, take a deep breath and receive the moment.  The time Cameras 4 Change has spent here in Mexico has been in a word magic, or as they say here, “magico”.  Much like the beat of the drums of the Aztec Concheros, we have been drawn to the rhythm of many different ways of life here in Mexico.  First with the IRRI/Paz Paz Bus Project (partners include IRRI arms Isla Urbana, Sistema Biobolsa and Proyecto ConcentrArte) In DF, the largest city in North America, with over 30 million people, you can imagine the hustle, but we worked in Quiltepec, high on the south side overlooking the teaming city.  Life here is very different and the community amazed us with their ingenuity, and pride.  This coming Saturday we will finish the project there, culminating in a local exhibit and celebration.

As part of our objective with Cameras 4 Change, we also love to provide key imagery for the organizations we work with.  This trip certainly provided that opportunity.  Two of the partners Isla Urbana and ConcentrArte work in La Cebolleta, a remote Huichol community deep and high in the Sierra Madres.  Working on this project named Hata Tukari (Water is Life in the Huichol language Wirikuta) was an astounding experience, away from wifi via a 15 hour journey.  We also met and worked with Taller Lu’um (Mother Earth in Mayan) is the inception of partners Santiago Cosio Pando and Alan Favero.  The organization works with different indigenous women in Mexico providing a business model for women to sell handmade artisinal goods.  Since “transformation” is one of our tag words, the time spent in this community was exactly that!

I was also able to take a small printer and make photos for some of the community there, it was very exciting to share images of them with them!  Photos are so important to people, so make sure you print some of yours soon!! I can not wait to share some of the images!

Again I want to thank you, all of our supporters both here in Mexico and in Canada (and everywhere else too) for helping us to be here.      mex logos comp                      Our Partners and our supporters!!!  Muchas Gracias!!

Paz Paz Bus Supporters

 

Day 2 at a glance – or “The Beauty of Quiltepec”

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The second day of the C4C program in Quiltepec took place on Sunday June 8.  It was rewarding to see the participants return with as much or more enthusiasm.  Two girls had to race to be on time, coming from a function at their school, their mother came later to sit and talk with us, she wanted us to know how much they were enjoying the program, and how they were running to get there as soon as possible!

Working in informal communities can often be catch them if you can!  Members have so many challenges to life, and Quiltepec is no stranger to this.  So you know that you are doing something right if they come back!  They are however, fiercely proud of the paradise that they live in, and many of the participants photos showed just that, the beauty of Quiltepec.  Quiltepec is nesteled high above the south end of Mexico City, the community members have an astounding array of gardens, plants, trees and flowers, along with an equally large assortment of animals: sheep, cows, horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, and chickens.

But the heart of this community lies in the way they live, work and support each other together.  This is the familiar way in Mexico, values are deep for family and community, you make things happen together.  So apparent in the way our workshop came together, we needed a tarp up, and electricity, we asked Silvia one the community leaders, and of course it happened!

We are so fortunate to be welcomed into this incredible community, this place of beauty!  Thank you to all who are making this happen from the participants, the community leaders (especially Silvia, Maura and Elena) our ground partners (IRRI, Sistema Biobolsa, Isla Urbana, ConcentrArte) and our partners Nikon Canada, Fluevog Shoes, and  Porticus!  Un Buen Dia!

Thea Grivakes distributes a file to each of the students with their photos from the first day! Always exciting.

PPBWS DAY 2_0003Elena looking at her portrait and shots that she took on day 1.

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Lalo, Maura, a community member and Guillermo pose for a shot.PPBWS DAY 2_0008

Lily reviews and gives tips from a prepared slideshow.

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Students chose themes to work from for the dayPPBWS DAY 2_0038Off they go to shoot!

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Reviewing and editing work with the studentsPPBWS DAY 2_0045 PPBWS DAY 2_0062

The end of the day group shot!!PPBWS DAY 2_0015

Nely and Carlos, two of the young adults that attended – both very talented!PPBWS DAY 2_0019

Silvia brought some beautiful flowers to us to take home.PPBWS DAY 2_0021

Maria, Rachel, Lily and Thea PPBWS DAY 2_0077 PPBWS DAY 2_0079

Rachel with Silvia, a strong community leader and pretty great photographer too!PPBWS DAY 2_0086 Lily says goodbye to Silvia, we form such strong bonds working in these places.

Quiltepec Community C4C Workshop Day 1

Today we worked with 15 different community members in Quiltepec, a full range of boys, girls, men and women came together in a remarkable setting high atop Mexico City.  Silvia one of the communities leaders who helped to arrange logistics in the community also took part, it is wonderful to see all ages take up the cameras and create their own photos.  Today was all about getting to know each other and for the participants to get to know the cameras.  I am always excited to see what the participants photograph, but the look on their faces when they get the cameras in their hands is always incredible, what a gift!!!

Silvia brings us a snack from their gardenPPBWSDay1_0001 PPBWSDay1_0002 PPBWSDay1_0004Working under a tarp overlooking the city

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First shots with the Nikon Coolpix!PPBWSDay1_0024

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The Team: Renata Fenton, Liliana Riva Palacio, Thea Grivakes, Cate CameronPPBWSDay1_0030

The Workshop location in QuiltepecPPBWSDay1_0040

 

Quiltepec

We have been in Mexico City for less than 48 hours, and we are keeping a pretty busy pace!  Our first day was used to settle in and get basics taken care of, capping it off with a team meeting in the evening.  The four women we will be working with come from 3 different NGO’s, Renata Fenton and Carmen Hernandez of Isla Urbana, Rachel Smith from Sistema Bio Bolsa, and Liliana Riva Palacio of Proyecto ConcetrArte, are all formidible forces in terms of the work they do here in Mexico.  The Mexican ground partners all collaborate on interdisciplinary projects around natural resources and education, through the NGO platform IRRI Mexico (Instituto Internacional de Recursos Renovables AC) and C4C is collaborating on the Agua Nuestra Vida project funded by the Porticus Foundation.  Being involved with so many partners can be a tricky road to manoeuvre but working with these ladies is proving to be fantastic, their knowledge and experience is amazing, but so are their hearts!  It is so great to be able to work and learn from them, see all that they are doing and share our process too.

QUILTEPECa_0004 Carmen Hernandez lilililiana Riva Palacio

“Quiltepec”, the name resonates with the romance of the Aztec language; tepec actually means mountain, and the informal community we will be working in is literally on the top of a mountain on the south end of Mexico City. Today our meeting took a different turn however, as the road we needed to access the community was peppered with high security swat team police, who told us we would be going up at our own risk and we would have to walk up.

Driving towards Quiltepec

QUILTEPECa_0002 QUILTEPECa_0003Carmen Hernandez speaks with three very serioso police, who told us that the army was about to arrive and the road was blocked!

Carmen decided that it was too risky, and so we will wait until tomorrow when hopefully the whole sting operation is over!  Thank goodness for ground partners that know the score, and when to make the right decisions!

In the meantime we are taking the time to fully organize ourselves and get more background info on our community!

Quiltepec is a small informal community nestled high up (around 8000 ft) amongst 8 other pueblas in San Miguil de Xicalco in Distrito Tlalpan, one of the 16 Delegacions of Mexico City (DF).  Beside and behind it are homes that are recognized by the delegacion of Tlalpan, and so they have water, electricity, sewage and other infrastructure, but not so Quiltepec.  The children of the community however do attend school down the mountain, but as far as the policy makers are concerned, they do not exist, and so therefore they do not need to provide any infrastructure in the way of basic needs.

Isla Urbana decided a few years ago, that they do have the right to water and to begin installation of their Rainwater Harvesting Systems whenever they had some extra resources to do so.  So a relationship began and has grown tremendously which has been wonderful thing for this community, because now, the community has numerous rainwater harvesting systems, as well as two water treatment systems, 5000 liter water cistern, 4 hydroponic systems and 4 biobolsa bio digesters.

Our goal tomorrow will be to meet with the 15 chosen participants and dig right into our program. Tomorrow we fully expect to come home with many photos of the kids as they get their hands on the Nikon Cameras and run with them!! Stay tuned!  Hasta Pronto!!!

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