We Are All One Tribe @ Words of Power
Friend and writer Richard Power included me in his Blog, Words of Power, about Burners making a difference outside of Burning Man, which includes Burning Man founder Larry Harvey. Photo taken at Burning Man by Carol Jahshan.
“I began my work in 2010 after I raised funds for the Cofán in the Ecuadorian Amazon to build an arts and crafts center for them, supply them with internet and laptops, materials and buy stock from them of their traditional artistry as well as collections we co-created. My emphasis is on the Amazon, because it is the lungs and climate regulator of the planet, as well as a natural pharmacy with many yet undiscovered medicinal species. Indigenous communities have been the stewards of these forests for centuries and hold ancestral wisdom and culture vital to us all. The Amazon is also an area that continues to be exploited for countless natural resources needed by the world: from oil, gas, wood, foods, medicinal plants, metals, etc. Industries continue to encroach upon indigenous communities, whose livelihoods are disrupted and changed once an indigenous community is contacted. They are then unable to fully live in their traditional ways. This is due in major part by contamination from the practices of these industries. These communities can no longer grow healthy, uncontaminated foods in their land or fish from their rivers. They are forced to depend more and more on the modern world, yet left without the tools and skills to meet their needs.
“This is where my work comes in…
I work predominantly with women artisans from indigenous Amazon communities. My goal is to pinpoint a community’s traditional artistry, select the most high quality traditional products they make, as well as co-create collections of fashion accessories, wearable art and home products based on their traditional artistry, then connect them with markets in their own country and abroad. I have also created a dedicated website to sell the artisans’ exquisite work of wearable eco fashion, made with sustainable materials from the rainforest. In this way, the artisans can generate a sustainable living from their own traditional work. I am still in the growing stages of this mission and currently work with the Cofán in Ecuador and the Awajún in Perú. Other communities have contacted me to visit and work with them in this same way, so as we get funding and sales pick up, I’ll be able to work with more communities in the Amazon. This work is aimed at helping these indigenous communities remain in their territories as protectors of the rainforests, while they generate a living where they can thrive, from their own ancestral traditions and wisdom, while using modern tools (as needed) to enhance their lives as they cultivate their culture.”
Violeta draws inspiration and renewal from Burning Man.
“Burning Man is about community. A place where all are respected regardless of personal inclination. We have a freedom to express in creative ways. I love the gifting system that happens for one week at BRC. How beautiful it would be if we could actually live in a place where money is not needed. Where we all have all we need and we can share our gifts. It’s a great ideal. Of course, we all have to pay to get in and use money to stock on food and water before the event, but riding around on our bikes and stumbling upon a great spot to have a bite to eat or drink without having to have monetary exchange is an interesting experience.
“Burning Man in some ways resembles the indigenous communities I work with, because for that week, we are all one tribe living with low tech and surrounded by powerful natural elements. My senses are fully open and aware. I feel this same way when I am in the Amazon. It is the only time, when I can fully turn off from daily must-dos and tune into something higher. It fully re-energizes me each year to continue my creative work. The dust adds to the ethereal other-worldly experience for me.”
And from Violeta’s perspective, what does Burning Man offer the world?
“Burning Man offers the world a canvas for full creative expression and new way of looking at life. I love to be as minimal as possible and see how we can live with the bare minimums. We use a little hobo stove (my husband made while on his solo motorcycle journey in South America) to cook with a few sticks of dry wood that we pick up along the way in the forest, which lasts us a week, and sleep in our car or tent. We truly need very little to be happy. It tests a new system where we can share and come together creatively to make a better world. The leave-no-trace model should be implemented by all industries. That alone would create a sustainable and healthy world for all species. All things are living beings. I just wish Burning Man were more environmentally friendly, aside from the leave no trace model.”