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Earth Day 2020 marked a milestone for The Esperanza Project. We took our first baby steps into the world of broadcasting with our very first online program: Esperanza is the Antidote, a lineup of Esperanza Project collaborators from the USA to Argentina. Given that the 2-hour program was assembled and executed in just two days, we were amazed and proud of the results — and we think you’ll like it, too. Here we share a few highlights.
Because The Esperanza Project is headquartered in Guadalajara, Mexico, we began with a welcome from two indigenous Wixárika youths who are currently sheltering in place with yours truly, Esperanza Project Editor Tracy L. Barnett, led by Bernardo Tzeliekame Ramírez.
After a brief introduction we zoomed right down to the bottom of the continent — to Argentina, where Esperanza Project Foundation cofounder Hernán Vílchez, director of the internationally acclaimed film Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians, talked about his memories of Bernardo and Yamina during the filming of the movie in their community in the high Sierra Madre, when they were still children.
That film, and our subsequent collaboration, led to the origins of the Esperanza Project Foundation and Esperanza Project Film & TV, a showcase for the international interdisciplinary team that has continued to produce films and series that raise awareness in our society since the 2013-14 filming of the Peyote Guardians.
After a musical intervention from singer/songwriter and Soulpath Worker Trina Brunk, Sicangu Lakota Spiritual Activist Cheryl Angel beamed in from a horse gifting ceremony in rural South Dakota.
“Today something really special is happening all over the world,” said Cheryl, who was a passionate leader and Water Protector at Standing Rock. “People are remembering that it took 50 years for us to get this far — to make the policy changes that we needed to protect the air, to have the Clean Water Act. We are in reverse mode now, so we can’t be complacent in our love, in our visions, in our words, in our actions.
“There’s no room for complacency anymore. We’ve got to become spiritually active and we’ve got to move our bodies and use our minds and our hands to steer clear of the danger that’s ahead. I believe something good is coming — something extraordinary. Because we know it’s time; we have to move forward, and I see people moving forward every day.”
Amy Christian, longtime artivist and puppeteer from Santa Fe, shared an initiative she helped coordinate with 100 people from Extinction Rebellion Climate Action Santa Fe — a remarkable project using art and creative coordinatio to overcome shelter-in-place rules, pulling together a powerful visual call to action.
Ivan Sawyer presented the multimedia collaborative Voices of Amerikua’s new and enormously popular Online Library, which has brought to thousands during the global quarantine a growing collection of free films and online media projects highlighting a efforts to protect the culture and rights of indigenous peoples and Mother Nature throughout the Americas.
From Brownsville, Texas, Felicia Rangel-Samponaro told the remarkable story of the Sidewalk School for Children Asylum Seekers across the border in Matamoros, a volunteer initiative that has grown to a school that has hired 15 asylum seekers to teach more than 160 children stranded with their families by the Trump Administration’s Remain in Mexico policy.
Noelle Romero of Mexico City’s Ecobarrios project, an innovative program bringing ecovillage principles to urban areas, was one of many expressing optimism that this crisis will lead to a new direction for humanity
“Now that people are in their homes, wondering: Now what? I don’t have a job, or my job is on standby, or my business is closed — people begin to get desperate,” she said. “This is the right time for the Transition — and this is what Ecobarrios is about.”
These days Noelle and her colleagues are working toward the launch of a new Virtual Ecobarrios website, a platform for networking and sharing of techniques and success stories from the Ecobarrios projects.
Ecobarrios Coyoacán presentation by Noelle Romero, Ecobarrios Mexico City
Following up on the theme of hope, Tami Brunk, environmental writer, astrologer and founder of the brand-new Earth Sky Woman Podcast, reflected on the fact that human beings use only a tiny portion of our potential.
“My sense is that part of the reason we don’t use our full potential is because we live in a culture of profound separation from each other, where there’s a tremendous amount of isolation just from the way our communities are built, so we don’t have access to that type of connection that arises when we live in healthy connection in community,” said Tami.
“In the course of our most recent evolution, we’ve become completely disconnected from what all of our ancestors had — which was a sense of profound intimacy and connection with the more than human world… and my sense is that there’s this eco-sapien that’s arising now in a critical mass of human consciousness… so many people are waking up so rapidly to the possibility of something far better than what we’ve been experiencing.”
Other highlights included Earth Day organizers Hugo Sierra of Guadalajara 350.org and Laura Wacker of Mid Missouri Peaceworks, who have not let the quarantine slow them down in their work to stop the climate crisis. Columbia, which has long been the home to some of the largest and most colorful Earth Day gatherings in the country at the University of Missouri’s Peace Park, took Earth Day itself online this year with a variety of offerings, including the Earth Day Virtual Art Show on Climate Change.
Talli Nauman, founder of Journalism to Raise Environmental Awareness, veteran environmental and indigenous rights reporter and educator, spoke about covering Lakota Country for Native Sun News Today, breaking the story about the resistance movement at Standing Rock long before the national press corps arrived.
“It is better to light a candle than complain about the darkness,” reminded Dr. Ana Ruiz Díaz, who has labored for years to shine a light on the issue of transgenics, collaborating with the class action lawsuit that has banned permits to sow transgenic corn in Mexico since September of 2013. A weaver of social change networks since her youth, she spoke of the nearly 30-year-old Vision Council-Guardians of the Earth, and compared the interconnection of social movements with a thread of precious beads.
Maria Ros, psychotherapist, permaculture designer and developer of Inner Ecology
Closing out the program was “Inner Ecology” developer Maria Ros, a permaculture designer and a psychotherapist. Maria reflected on the concept of the border effect — the idea that at the richest ecological systems are created where two ecosystems or two seasons come together.
“Right now I think that we are living in this border effect,” reflected Maria. “I think we are in this beautiful, blessed transition — we’re coming from what we thought our lives were going to be, and that is never going to be the same — and where we are going, we don’t know. We have some ideas, and we hope it’s going to be sustainable, and better than what we have now; but for sure it’s going to be a new cycle…. and we have so many resources at our disposal. And it’s kind of messy – but we have what we need… and this is our time to shine.”
Esperanza is the Antidote: Live Feed Lineup Wixárika Welcome: Tzeliekame and Yamina Ramírez – Guadalajara, Mexico Inroduction: Esperanza Project Editor Tracy L. Barnett – Guadalajara, Mexico Hernán Vílchez, Huicholes Film, Esperanza Project Film & TV – Buenos Aires, Argentina Trina Brunk, Singer/Songwriter and Soulpath Worker – Portland, Oregon Cheryl Angel, Lakota Sacred Activist – Lakota Territories, South Dakota Sarah Towle, The First Solution – London, England Amy Christian, Wise Fool & Extinction Rebellion – Santa Fe, New Mexico Ivan Sawyer, Voices of Amerikua – Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico Hugo Sierra, 350.org Guadalajara, Union of Concerned Scientists – Guadalajara, Mexico Laura Wacker, Peaceworks, Earth Day Coalition – Columbia, Missouri, USA Felicia Rangel-Samponaro, Sidewalk School for Children Asylum Seekers – Brownsville, Texas Noelle Romero, Ecobarrios – Mexico City Ana Ruiz Diaz, Consejo de Visiones/Defensa del Maiz – Mexico City Talli Nauman, Journalism to Raise Environmental Awareness – Spearfish, South Dakota, USA Ana Barón, Canto al Agua – Bogotá, Colombia Tami Brunk – Earth Sky Woman Podcast – Prairie Home, Missouri, USA Maria Ros, Inner Ecology & Closing Meditation – Los Angeles, Calif.
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