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Renowned artists, healers, wisdom keepers, scientists and changemakers will be among the participants in a unique transformational gathering that celebrates its 16th encounter with “Embrace of the Amate” in Tepoztlan, Morelos — returning to the place where it was born.
The Vision Council has been carried out for more than 30 years and “has been a detonating and inspiring event for other great events,” said the Art and Culture Council’s Salomón Bazbaz at a press conference held to announce the details of the coming event, Dec. 4-11 in Meztitla Scout Camp. The Council has been the inspiration for other great events and movements, such as the Forum for the Rights of Mother Earth, Cumbre Tajín, CASA (the Council of Sustainable Communities of the Americas), and many others.
“Many tribes come together: Indigenous peoples, but also punks, hippies, artists, healers, traditional doctors, ecologists, environmentalists, and we all come together with a series of dynamics and systems that help us to live in much more in contact with nature, and we learn how to take care of our natural world and our culture, our territory,” said Bazbaz.
At the forefront of the cultural events is the All Species Festival, featuring Trío Santa Cruz, que es de Tepoztlán, Estusha, Afrodita, Osuna, la Santa Rumba, también de Tepoztlán, Olinka, Moyenei Valdés que viene de de Chile, Roco Pachucokote of Maldita Vecindad, Alyosha and friends, and many others.
On the ecological front, the two-day Water Forest Forum on Dec. 6 and 7 will bringing together local community members with scientists, ecologists, community leaders and expert facilitators to collaborate on solutions to the many problems facing the Chichinautzin Corredor, the forest that is the main source of water for the 23 million people of Mexico City and all of Central Mexico.
Beatriz Padilla, coordinator of the Water Forest Forum, spoke of the importance of the group that is working to shift the destruction that is occurring now in this critical habitat.
“This forest is the main ally, the great benefactor of the most densely populated area of the Mexican Republic, is a provider of water to more than 23 million people or depending on how you see it, more than 40 million people. But without a doubt, about one-fifth of the population of the Mexican Republic depend on this forest and all the environmental benefits it provides us, such as not only water, but also climate regulation, flood prevention, soil retention And perhaps the greatest environmental service it provides is that it is home to an extraordinary biodiversity that is what makes all these environmental benefits possible.”
The forest, which lies between Mexico City, Cuernavaca and Toluca, is home to 2 percent of the entire world’s biodiversity. Nevertheless, it is being destroyed at an alarming rate; according to the Institute of Geography of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, every year 2,400 hectares of this forest are lost, which is equivalent to destroying an area of 9 football fields per day.
“The fact that the Vision Council has taken the Water Forest as its theme and that it is giving so much importance to the possibility of strengthening of this social fabric, is something really very fortunate, because the problems that besiege the Water Forest, such as clandestine logging, the growth of urban sprawl, the use of agrochemicals — from all fronts, from Mexico City, from the state of Morelos, from Toluca, from the State of Mexico, from the populations inside the water forest and from organized crime that comes from other regions such as Michoacán — the water forest is under unprecedented siege that is degrading it at an astonishing rate, and that the problem may have dire repercussions for this generation and future generations.”
The forum will be bringing together key players in the ongoing struggle to save the Water Forest.
“The only way we are going to be able to reverse this trend in the region is by joining forces,” said Padilla. “And this is what the Water Forum seeks…is to strengthen that social fabric, to reach those great agreements, that understanding, to collaborate in the long term for the conservation of this forest that benefits so many people and that if we lose it, it will have repercussions, not only in the central zone of the country, but also in the entire Mexican Republic.”
But the Water Forest Forum is just one event among many, as Vision Council Production Coordinator Ivan Sawyer García explained, laying out the landscape of the entire gathering.
“It is an experience of living together in a community, of creating this community experience together, of meeting in the morning, dividing ourselves into clans, into work groups, exploring the different thematic spaces that exist in the village. “It’s quite an experience. From morning to night there are different activities you can choose from: temazcal (sweat lodge) ceremonies, yoga, artistic presentations, workshops, service with the local community, forums such as the Water Forest Forum. There is a Solidarity Economy forum, a Latin American Meeting of Sustainable Alternative Communities, a meeting of local agroecology.”
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Bazbaz described the gathering as “a very large space where there are many spaces, there are various scenarios, there are films with a very high environmental and cultural content, there are workshops of all kinds, and a section for children which is the Children’s Council,” said Bazbaz. “For children it is a fantastic thing, because seriously, children change their vision and we all live in a sociocratic system, where decisions are made jointly, where the different councils contribute their knowledge and their work for the well-being of the people,” said Bazbaz.
There is also the Youth Council, the Natural Time Council, the Mother Earth Council, the Wellbeing (Health) Council, and the Cosmovision Council (Spirituality and Traditions), among many other subgroups.
“I can tell you that in my own experience and that of many people I know, the Vision Council is a cathartic event, it is an event where you are not the same when you arrive as when you leave,” said Bazbaz.