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Finding Light in the Darkness: Esperanza shines through a year of trials
Resilience and Resistance mark the Year of the Pandemic. Here are just a few of the stories.
By Tracy L. Barnett Posted in Esperanza Project, Social Change on December 29, 2020
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It was a year that this roving reporter began in a refugee camp, taking inspiration from the asylum seekers who had passed through hell to arrive at our borders, and from the people from both sides of the border who had shown up to accompany and support them. We all sensed it would be a tough year, with crises swirling around us in all directions – we just didn’t know how tough. Nor did we anticipate the brilliance with which people would respond, all across the Americas.

But respond they did, and our team has been hard at work all year, capturing and sharing those stories so that our readers can be reminded that there are in fact heroes all around us — everyday heroes who are working with commitment and creativity and courage to push us into a new paradigm.

Here we share with you some of the highlights – but first, a small request. Some of you know that on Earth Day 2020, we launched our Patreon campaign, which gives you the ability to pitch in to support our work a little bit each month. We thank our patrons with exclusive content: personal stories, behind-the-scenes stories, and a first look at some of the year’s most important work. You can join us on Patreon – Our patrons are now giving us nearly $200 a month, and that is really making a difference for us, but in the year ahead we are shooting for $500. We invite you to make your tax-deductible Patreon signup by clicking HERE today – or alternatively, you can make a monthly or one-time donation on PayPal, which charges a lower commission, RIGHT HERE.

Back to our everyday heroes, some of whom are just holding the line for human decency, like the women and men responding to the humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border, a story that we told in a multitude of ways for Yes! Magazine, Global Sisters Report and the Houston Chronicle, and Sarah Towle’s powerful series and upcoming book, The First Solution.

Others are indigenous peoples, standing up to the steamroller of modern industrial civilization to defend their own existence and that of all life on Earth — people like Hermus Bettelyoun, Monique “Muffie” Mousseaux, Jean Roach, Cheryl Angel and others with the Mni Luzahan Rapid Creek Patrol, working to bring Covid testing and a measure of safety and dignity for the mostly indigenous inhabitants of the Rapid Creek tipi camp for the homeless.

It was a year that began with Indigenous women, like Diné scientist, musician and activist Lyla June Johston, standing up to the powers that be from inside the electoral process, running as a candidate against a powerful New Mexico politician beholden to the interests of the fossil fuel industry — and ending with the appointment of an Indigenous woman, Debra Haaland, to the highest office the US holds over Indigenous peoples.

Some of you will remember our first foray into the world of webinars with “Esperanza is the Antidote” on Earth Day, featuring 22 of our amazing collaborators and world-changers, when we launched our Patreon campaign (Here is the video, if you’d like to take a peek at us).

Our next online event was in solidarity with the inspiring Susana Valadez, whom some of you enjoyed reading about in “From Sunset Strip to the Sierra Madre to a Nobel nomination,” and “From Beads to Seeds at the Huichol Center.” In May we joined forces with Susana and her crew to present Live from Huichol Country: Susana Valadez & Friends.

That was followed in July by a mega event that The Esperanza Project helped to organize, along with Clement Guerra, director of the epic climate justice film The Condor and the Eagle. Together and with the collaboration of Guadalajara and Voices of Amerikua, we organized the Bilingual Americas Premiere of the film, with a powerful discussion featuring film and movement protagonists including Bertita Cáceres, daughter of the Goldman Prize winner and slain Lenca water protector Berta Caceres.

The Lakota Nation stood strong against repressive governments and corporations, defying an order to remove their Covid-19 checkpoints, launching a #LandBack movement, fighting homelessness and the pandemic, and drawing the eyes of the world on Independence Day to the sordid history of Mount Rushmore and the desecration of sacred Lakota lands. Thanks to Indian Country Correspondent Talli Nauman’s hard-hitting coverage of Indigenous territories throughout the US, our readers enjoyed a window onto the frontlines of Indigenous resistance. You can see her full lineup of articles by clicking HERE.

For these and so many other stories, we give thanks to the One Foundation, which has underwritten some of our team’s work this year with a generous grant. We are beyond grateful.

Still, the funds fall far short of what is needed to truly have the impact we need to be having in these dangerous times. We need your support to keep generating our special brand of regenerative journalism. Please consider joining us on Patreon or on PayPal today, and help us continue lighting the darkness with our stories of Esperanza. From our family to yours, we send our love and best wishes for 2021 and beyond.

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