by Lucia Battegazzore
C.A.S.A (spanish acronym for Council of Sustainable Settlements in Latin America) is the Latin American branch of the Global Ecovillage Network or GEN. It was formed in the Call of the Mountain in January 2012 to ‘coordinate the networks of various sustainable initiatives, both rural and urban, family or community, nomadic and educational, etc.” These types of initiatives, which are expanding rapidly in Latin America and worldwide are contributing in a big way to the regeneration of Planet Earth at this important moment we are living planet.
The recent Latin American Permaculture Convergence (or CLAP ) was held from the 15th to the 21st of June in Varsana Ecovillage south of Bogota Colombia. For 5 consecutive days the different open air and indoor spaces of the host community hosted a buzzing 140 people from over 16 countries, which shared tools and strategies in the process incubating and birthing the Latin American Permaculture Network. Some of the countries present included Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina, Germany, United States, and even Russia!
Wirikuta is a region in the desert of San Luis Potosí, Mexico that is considered by the Wixarika or Huichol indigenous people in Mexico one of their most important sacred sites. The Wixarika people are known worldwide for their unique visionary art and for proudly preserving their spiritual identity despite a destructive civilizing process of over 500 years. Each year, for probably thousands of years, the Huichol people make a pilgrimage that has, as its starting point, the Sierra Madre Occidental (specifically the states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Durango) where they live permanently. The pilgrimage culminates in the desert of Wirikuta and recreates what they consider to be the path of their ancestors. In the desert, the Huichol greet the sun, leave offerings and perform ceremonies that are designed to maintain harmony and balance on Planet Earth.
Located in the plains and mountains of the Sierra de Catorce, in the state of San Luis Potosi, Wirikuta is a place of extraordinary cultural, spiritual and natural wealth. In 1999 UNESCO declared it one of the 14 sacred natural sites in the world to be protected. It is also one of the Natural Protected Areas of semi-arid climate with the highest biodiversity in the world. However, the Mexican government has conceded a large part of this region to companies that seek to exploit the mineral wealth of the area. This threatens not only the permanence of the semi-arid eco-system and biodiversity, but also the cultural heritage of the Huichol people. Recently Project Nuevo Mundo along with several Mexican environmental organizations such as Manos a La Tierra, Organi-K A.C. and the local team ‘Colectivo Patas Verdes’, organized a 3-day hands-on permaculture workshop that took place in ‘La Flor del Desierto’, a community ecotourism project located precisely in the region of Wirikuta.
During the spring of 2014 I participated, along with 20 other people as an “Econaut”, as part of the “Earth Odyssey”, a journey through different eco-centers and community projects in Central America. For 3 months we lived and traveled in two different buses thru Califorina, Mexico and Guatemala. The Earth Odyssey was an experiment in co-creating a mobile Ecovillage documenting sustainable project in Central America and also bringing eco-solutions to communities in the places we visited. The result of the journey was a series of experiments focused on implementing ecological solutions with our team and within the communities we visited and a series of 5 showing the results.