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Jun 26, 2018

Life along the Ampiyacu River

This past February and March, I made two trips to visit several of our partner communities in the Ampiyacu River area – once to help with a workshop where artisans learned how to make three types of woven bird ornaments (see Report #27) and the second time to deliver a new batch of rosewood tree seedlings. While spending time in Amazon villages is second nature to me, I wanted to focus this report on sharing some images and related stores that may help you appreciate the different way of life of the people who live in communities along these smaller tributaries of the Amazon.

1 & 2. Our trip to the Ampiyacu usually begins by taking a large boat from Iquitos to the town of Pebas. The gas stations located on floating houses near the port provide fuel for all locals and travelers who need fuel for their smaller boats or motorcars. I liked the image of a cat feeding on something at the entrance to one of these houses. As I got closer, it seemed to be some kind of salamander. When the cat became aware of me, the meaning of his/her look couldn’t have been any clearer.

3 & 4. Even in the small town of Pebas, the evidence of campaigning and the pitfalls of local politics are highly visual. Many houses become full-size murals for people running for mayor. I often stay in a hospedaje (small hotel) owned by a former mayor who is constantly visiting the festivals of neighboring villages to animate his base for his next run. Municipal and/or regional government funds were used with great fanfare to build a narrow paved path from Pebas to the large Bora village of Puca Urquillo so people could travel the few miles in a motorcar in 10 minutes instead of making a 30 minute trip by river. One of the bridges needed to cross streams going into the Ampiyacu collapsed within months of completion and remain unrepaired for over a year.

5, 6, & 7. One daily activity for people (almost always seemingly women and girls) who live in these communities is washing clothes in the river. For families with a lot of kids, this also means spending time hanging wet clothes out to dry. This can take a while in the rainy season since they often need to brought inside. Almost all of the wooden houses take on a familiar grey weathered look, but every now and then, someone has added a creative flare to brighten the look of their home.

8, 9 & 10. Where there are no roads, much of life along the river depends on using small boats. Most families use a peque-peque (a dug-out canoe with a small motor) to get around, but it’s also common for one man to go out in a smaller craft to fish near the village. The fellow in this photo first ignored us, then scowled at us, then gave us a big smile when I waved while passing by. While boats can last for several years, their duration depends a lot on what kind of wood they are made from Eventually, they get beaten up to the point where it’s not worth it to repair them and they get waterlogged. At least their degradation does not present the eyesore and troublesome waste products left in the wake of our dead cars.

11 & 12. Where income is low and there are no markets nearby, people who live by the river and forest depend on wild animals to satisfy an important part of their diet. Men may dedicate a night or several days to hunting trips, but they are alert to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. While going up the Yaguasyacu River from Pebas to Brillo Nuevo, we spotted an agouti swimming across the river in our direction. When it detected us, it quickly changed course and swam in the opposite direction. Our driver Oscar followed it back to the bank, jumped out of the boat, chased it through the brush (it wasn’t able to climb up the steep hill), grabbed it and dispatched it. I was admittedly silently routing for the agouti to escape, but I completely understand how this event helped Oscar provide several days of meat for his family with a minimal investment of time and no money spent on ammunition.

13 through 17. When we arrived in Brillo Nuevo, Yully asked our artisan friends to come by our house with any crafts they had finished from the previous order. A group led by Casilda has proven to be the best organized since they finished their group’s hot pads and hair barrettes on time even if some of them are more comfortable having their picture taken than others. They are now learning to do their own quality control before delivery their crafts to us. Ena and others use a lighter to burn off bits of the loose chambira fiber hanging off of their hot pads.

18. Some years ago Brillo Nuevo used a good chunk of the funds we provided in our “social rebate” program (from a percentage of our craft sales from their village) to build a little house which they intended to a be “community pharmacy” – a place where one of their own residents could sell common medicines to members of the community in a way that would be more convenient than getting some from the government health post that was frequently closed or didn’t have medicines available. The project worked well in the first cycle, but unfortunately when the person in charge of the pharmacy went to the city to buy new medicines, she simply left town and never returned to the village. The experience left them sour on the concept since they didn’t feel like they could trust anyone else to do this job better. The house was later converted to a sort of village communications center since it now houses the solar powered ham radio (mostly used to communicate with other villages) and public telephone. One person does have the job of answering any incoming calls and using a loud speaker to call the person to the phone or go track them down at their house. They get no salary for this duty but customarily receives a tip from anyone who has been alerted to a call. No telemarketers need bother calling.

19, 20 & 21. Ancon Colonia is the village that is farthest up the Yaguasyacu tributary. I don’t go there often, but I am always amazed with the diversity of animal pets I find in this small community surrounded by forest. This time, I saw a boy and his sister share their affectionate embrace with a pet armadillo. When they released it to the ground, it immediately went into action scouring the ground for any worms, beetles or other tasty invertebrates. Dogs are also common pets, but I thought it was unusual to see one pooch enjoying a cushy shady spot on a tangle of fishing net under a house.

Thank you very much for your support of our project.

1. Cat at Pebas dock
1. Cat at Pebas dock
2. Cat in Pebas with salamander
2. Cat in Pebas with salamander
3. Mayor candidate mural on houseboat in Pebas
3. Mayor candidate mural on houseboat in Pebas
4. Broken bridge on path to Puca Urquillo
4. Broken bridge on path to Puca Urquillo
5. Women washing closes in the river
5. Women washing closes in the river
6. Children and clothes at Ampiyacu river house
6. Children and clothes at Ampiyacu river house
7. Pink house near Pebas
7. Pink house near Pebas
8. Family in peque-peque en route to village
8. Family in peque-peque en route to village
9. Smiling man fishing from dugout canoe
9. Smiling man fishing from dugout canoe
10. Sunken boat in Ampiyacu River
10. Sunken boat in Ampiyacu River
12. Agouti swimming across Yaguasyacu River
12. Agouti swimming across Yaguasyacu River
12. Oscar and agouti
12. Oscar and agouti
13. Casilda measuring chambira fiber hot pad
13. Casilda measuring chambira fiber hot pad
14. Ena burning hot pad "champoso" (loose fibers)
14. Ena burning hot pad "champoso" (loose fibers)
15. Casilda artisan group from Brillo Nuevo
15. Casilda artisan group from Brillo Nuevo
16. Casilda with three models of hair barrettes
16. Casilda with three models of hair barrettes
18. Public phone in Brillo Nuevo
18. Public phone in Brillo Nuevo
19. Boy with armadillo pet in Ancon Colonia
19. Boy with armadillo pet in Ancon Colonia
20. Pet armadillo in Ancon Colonia
20. Pet armadillo in Ancon Colonia
21. Dog in fishing net in Ancon Colonia
21. Dog in fishing net in Ancon Colonia

Links:

Apr 2, 2018

Ampiyacu and Chino artisans learn to make Amazon birds

I loved attending two workshops that CACE organized last month for top-level artisans from the Marañon River to teach fellow artisans from the Tahuayo and Ampiyacu River how to weave bird ornaments with chambira palm fiber. In the first workshop, brothers Kleiber and Jamner from the village of San Francisco spent two days teaching 24 artisans from Chino how to make the channel-billed toucan, tropical screech owl, purple gallinule and wire-tailed manakin. The group included men and women from sixteen to sixty years old. I had been buying bird ornaments from Marañon artisans for two years, but this was the first time that I and artisans from these other regions saw how they were made from scratch.

Surrounded a dozen eager artisans in one half of the artisan meeting house, Kleiber asked everyone in his group to first form a ball with chambira by wrapping a strand around and around its center until it reached the size of a large cherry to form the core of the body. They next formed a second smaller ball for the head, connected the two with a three-inch long piece of wire and then wrapped fiber around this to form the neck.  In the following hours, they progressively attached other bits of wire which they wrapped with different colors of fiber to form the wings, tail, beak, legs and feet. As the first day came to a close, everyone in Kleiber’s group had a bird that resembled a toucan while the members of Jamner’s group each produced an owl. We placed all of the ornaments on a bench and asked the group to point out features that they thought were well made and which ones could be improved. The details and expression of one of the artisan’s toucan were even better than the one made by her teacher. Norma said, “I’ve seen this bird in the forest around here all my life, but now I know I can bring it to life for others through my art.”

Kleiber told me, “It was incredible to me to see how fast these artisans learned how to make this complicated bird. I really appreciate how seriously they got involved with this process. It’s harder to get people from my village to focus on this kind of thing for this long.”

Romelia and her husband Jorge both learned how to make an owl and gallinule from Jamner. Jorge said, “I’ve been a carver for years and can weave a basic chambira bag, but I never thought I could make a little bird as beautiful as this.” Estelita who is the president of the Chino artisan association called Manos Amazonicas (“Amazon hands”) said, “This workshop was valuable for all of us. We can now design and make new kinds of crafts to sell to CACE and tourists. I know these visitors will want to buy crafts representing some of the birds they can see in our forest and by our river. This workshop also attracted new people who haven’t been part of our association before. It would be great to increase our group with more dedicated artisans.”

Two weeks later, we convened another skill-sharing workshop in Puca Urquillo – the dual Bora and Huitoto village near the town of Pebas on the Ampiyacu River. We recruited Pablo, another artisan from San Francisco to join Kleiber and Jamner as teachers since we had invited artisans from all of our partner villages in the region. About 40 artisans joined us for breakfast, and this number swelled to 66 as people arrived from more distant villages. Our artisan teachers had their hands full so many participants so we scaled-back the pace and had each one teach the 20-23 people in their group how to make one bird well in two-days. The featured birds were the Amazon kingfisher, lineated woodpecker and rufescent tiger heron. There was a lot of energy in the “locale” (community meeting room) as dogs and wandered around and participants swapped bits of chambira of different colors, but they soon settled into a focused flow of watching their teacher demonstrate each step in the process, try it themselves and then refine it with feedback from their teacher. Some artisan moms breastfed their babies while they weaved, but kids who were three years or older played non-stop on the stage or ran around outside.

This was the first time that these artisans had made a bird, and they were not making easy models. The tiger heron (which they called the “puma garza” – mountain lion egret) required sewing multi-colored loops onto the chest and then carefully cutting them to resemble the bird’s ruffled feathers. The woodpecker had a bright red crest on its head (like Woody Woodpecker) which needed shaping and combing to look just right.   Kori said, “I feel like I’m learning to be a hair-stylist for birds.”

As Tulio interviewed artisans outside the workshop, most offered two similar comments. The first was that it was hard at first to make their bird, but the teachers explained the process well and they were confident they would get better with practice. The second was that they all wanted to have another workshop to learn how to make different types of birds. Maria Elena said with a smile, “I’m proud of the kingfisher I made; now I want to learn how to make a macaw.”

A week later, I had a farewell dinner with Kleiber and Jamner at a restaurant in Nauta where we discussed workshop highlights and ways they could engage their student artisans even better. They were excited about teaching more workshops and wanted to keep making new models of birds themselves. They were anxious to try and raise their bird craft-making another level by making more birds in flight so I gave them a dozen photos of various species with their wings out. The day before I left Iquitos for home, I received a box with new prototypes made by the pair in the past ten days. I was astounded by the life-like shape, colors and fine touches on their flying hoatzin, roseate spoonbill, purple gallinule and black-collared hawk. It’s great to know that we can support a few top artisans to keep pushing the boundaries of their creativity while enlisting their support to welcome other artisans to this journey of weaving beautiful birds of the Amazon.

Jamner showing Romelia how to weave owl in Chino
Jamner showing Romelia how to weave owl in Chino
Artisan feet holding chambira palm fiber
Artisan feet holding chambira palm fiber
Sarita weaving bird with baby in Chino workshop
Sarita weaving bird with baby in Chino workshop
Artisan weaving wire-tailed manakin bird ornament
Artisan weaving wire-tailed manakin bird ornament
Jorge and Romelia with purple gallinules and owls
Jorge and Romelia with purple gallinules and owls
Rosa and three daughters from Chino with birds
Rosa and three daughters from Chino with birds
Purple gallinule and tropical screech owl ornament
Purple gallinule and tropical screech owl ornament
Channel-billed toucan and purple gallinule models
Channel-billed toucan and purple gallinule models
Kleiber showing Liz how to make tiger heron model
Kleiber showing Liz how to make tiger heron model
Artisan daughter and tiger heron ornament
Artisan daughter and tiger heron ornament
Artisan sewing eye onto tiger heron ornament
Artisan sewing eye onto tiger heron ornament
Artisan sewing wing onto tiger heron ornament
Artisan sewing wing onto tiger heron ornament
One artisan weaving; one artisan nursing
One artisan weaving; one artisan nursing
Pablo shows artisan how to cut wire with pliers
Pablo shows artisan how to cut wire with pliers
Bora artisan making lineated woodpecker
Bora artisan making lineated woodpecker
Jamner artisan group making kingfisher ornaments
Jamner artisan group making kingfisher ornaments
Cutting achira seeds to make eyes for woodpeckers
Cutting achira seeds to make eyes for woodpeckers
Bora artisan Kori with woodpecker ornament
Bora artisan Kori with woodpecker ornament
Young Huitoto artisan with kingfisher ornament
Young Huitoto artisan with kingfisher ornament
Flying hoatzin ornament
Flying hoatzin ornament
Flying roseate spoonbill ornament
Flying roseate spoonbill ornament

Links:

Jan 2, 2018

It takes more than a village

Banner photo for CACE report #26
Banner photo for CACE report #26

Dear GlobalGiving supporter,

I admit that I had planned to write a succinct letter like ones that many non-profit organizations send to their supporters in December that sum up their accomplishments for the year with one last request for a donation.  In a quiet moment, however, I decided not to write about what we did because what kept coming to me were images of people I have appreciated so much for their help in different ways.  I am proud that we now work with over fifteen villages in the northern Peruvian Amazon, but putting this report together made it clear that it takes a lot more than one or fifteen villages to do what we do.  It needs artisans dedicated to improving their craft and helping each other; it needs our super-committed small team in Peru; it needs scores of volunteers giving us their time and expertise, it needs hundreds of people buying our partner’s crafts; it needs partnerships with trusted organizations, and it needs individuals and foundations willing to show their faith in our work with gifts of $10, $100, $1000 or $10,000.  I hope you enjoy learning about some of the people who made a difference with us in 2017.

Artisans

It would take a book to share the best stories about the artisans we work with, but a few touched me deeply this year.  Doilith is part of a family group of artisans we've worked with in Jenaro Herrera since 2007.  While they began making some cool insect ornaments years ago, Doilith has taken this art to a new level.  She has used photos and caught butterflies near the forest to draw figures of new species in a special notebook and then used those colorful patterns to carefully weave chambira palm fiber into beautiful replicas of these species.  Earlier this year, she went to Brillo Nuevo with us to show Bora native artisans how to make their own butterfly ornaments. I was so impressed with her natural teaching ability, care and patience with other artisans.  See more at: Butterflies and Dora’s family group of artisans.

I first met Estelita in 2008 as one of the artisans who wove beautiful chambira baskets in the campesino village of Chino on the Tahuayo River.  As President of their association, she has helped her fellow artisans develop new products, create norms for quality control and chambira management, build an artisan house with support from an eco-tourism company, and win respect for women artisans from their husbands and community.  She has earned trust from her peers by exploring new ideas, acting with purpose and integrity, and making decisions by building consensus.  When we organized the Artisan Leadership Program that brought together artisans from more than a dozen communities, Estelita inspired them as well by sharing her encouragement, insights and energetic approach to every challenge.  See more at: and Bringing artisans together and getting out of the way and Artisan leaders gather in Nauta to share info, ideas and fun.

Most of our partner artisans are women, but we happily work with male artisans as well.  We bought a lot of calabash tree pod ornaments from a master carver named Rider from the village of Puca Urquillo, but when he hesitated to share his skills with other artisans for awhile, Lucio from Brillo Nuevo stepped up and said he would do his best to teach others.  He didn’t have Rider’s talent for carving animals from an idea in his head, but giving Lucio photos created an avalanche of beautiful designs of courting herons, hummingbirds pollinating flowers, and otters fishing.  His patience, attention to detail and openness to feedback has made his work the gold standard in the Ampiyacu and better than every carver in Iquitos.  We are fortunate he is also an avid teacher to the growing number of teenage and mature artisans who want to learn this craft.

Another innovative male artisan we have just began to work with is 16 year-old Heriberto from the village of San Francisco on the Maranon River.  He first learned to weave chambira from his mother and then improved living with his artisan uncle.  Heriberto has used his imagination, creativity, and photos to create the best new models of Amazonian birds we’ve seen so far.  These include complicated species like the chestnut eared aracari and marvelous spatule tail hummingbird.  He is also a cheerful and capable teacher who is enthusiastic about sharing his talents with artisans in the Maranon and beyond.  See more at: Exploring egrets and new partners on the Maranon River.

My first visit to the Cocama village of Amazonas in 2016 was marked with a stark contrast.  Their artisans warmly welcomed me and demonstrated how they dyed chambira fiber with several plants.  Their crafts, however, were mediocre compared to ones I saw in nearby San Francisco.  While most artisans initially react with anger or sulleness when we don't buy their crafts, Francisca (“Panchita”), the Amazonas artisan association president told me “Thank you for sharing your honest comments about our work.  Please tell us how we can make them better.”  Her forthright approach reflected her attitude that shifted when she and her family almost drowned in a river accident when she resolved that just being an average artisan was not good enough.  Panchita wants herself and her colleagues to become great artisans, and their improvement in the past two years has been dramatic.  There was no better for feeling for me last year than seeing smiles of pride on Amazonas artisan faces when I bought one or more of their woven birds, turtles or baskets.  They had worked hard to make better crafts and they knew it.  See more at: Second chance to become a great artisan.

CACE Staff in Peru

It is difficult to overstate my gratitude for our project manager Yully.  She joined us as substitute field assistant on one trip to the Ampiyacu in 2009 and has been the core of our work in Peru ever since.  Yully had already worked on ecological field studies under tough conditions and had experience working with forest-based communities.  With CACE she has led teams of men searching for copal resin in primary forests, trained farmers to measure rosewood trees in their fields, handled every aspect of our work with artisans, organized the logistics of bringing together workshop participants from five river systems, managed delicate relationships with partner villages, federations, governmental and non-governmental partners, and taken care of our administrative, equipment, and housing needs in Iquitos.  We have no accomplishment in Peru that has not been facilitated by her hard work, versatility and integrity.  One particular challenge was sensing when if was OK to approach and when we had to back away from a community where some artisans want to make crafts with us but more families want to make money by growing coca.  See more at: Navigating choppy community waters to make smooth bottle carriers.

We first met Tulio when he was contracted by the Field Museum to help teach photography and video skills to young people from the Ampiyacu.  We next brought him on board to document our project activities.  His easy rapport with people made him ideally suited to interview artisans about their lives and gather information about their economic realities.  He has prepared learning materials for artisans including an illustrated resource manual, instructional videos with artisans and produced the video on the CACE GlobalGiving home page.  He co-facilitated every Artisan Leadership Program workshop and showed he knows how to present serious topics in interesting and interactive ways and how and when to include fun activities that sometimes had a serious point.  He has also been a great companion to share a beer, play cards in a cheap motel room, photograph a bird flying across the river, and cruise around Iquitos on his motorcycle looking for a new house for CACE.

Italo has been a field assistant with CACE since 2007 in our study of the ecology and sustainable harvest of copal resin in Jenaro Herrera.  He has used his keen knowledge of the forest, woodman’s skills, and physical toughness to track resin lumps on hundreds of study trees.  While Italo lacks a high level of formal education, he has dedicated himself to advancing the project and improving his literacy skills with a CACE sponsored tutor.  While prospects for cost-effective harvesting of copal resin in primary forests seem tough, Italo is exploring other ways we can tap this potent aromatic resource.  See more at: Letting go of the idea we love the most.

Volunteers

I’d like to thank several of the many people who volunteered for CACE in 2017 in both the U.S. and Peru.  Retired photographer Donna first contacted us through VolunteerMatch.Org in response to our search for photo editors.  Several weeks after we met at a restaurant in Ohio, she and her husband Chris arrived in Iquitos to help us.  She taught our media coordinator Tulio how to take quality studio photos of our crafts, and Chris showed Yully how to maintain our shredder. They then donated Donna’s Nikon SLR camera to us when they went home three weeks later. 

I was exhausted from setting up my double-tent at the Romp Bluegrass Music Festival when Tessa and a friend walked into my booth and asked if they could help.  They joined the melee of arranging crafts, lights, and plastic tropical plants and then left to catch a late-night band.  Tessa came back the next day and every other day until the end of the festival.  Beyond helping with sales, she applied her artistic talent to create the Draw a Toucan activity that enlisted kids and adults to draw a picture of this classic tropical bird or any animal of their choosing to post on our Amazon Art Gallery.

Brenda defines the term “super volunteer.”  She was a stage manager at the Philadelphia Folk Festiva and still made time to bring me bags of ice to cool my drinks and helped pack up at the end.  This year, she helped set up my booth at the beginning and take down my booth at the end at both the Falcon Ridge and Philadelphia Folk Festivals.  These tasks alternately include heavy lifting, ingenuity, aesthetic sensibilities, and a lof of patience.  I am indebted to Brenda for hanging in there with me with humor and true grit until the last board was tucked away in the trailer at 2 or 3 am.  Her amazing parents then picked up the torch and helped me run the craft sale at Lancaster Friends Meeting this fall. 

Thanks to many other wonderful people who helped us at 30 other events this year.  Special shout outs to the couple who helped me bail water out of the middle of my tent during the Grey Fox festival; Stu, Bill, and Phyllis who kept me laughing and fed; Lois, Nancy and Larry for their long hours of service, and Jackie who wowed me with her gift for connecting with people.   Jeremy spent 100 hours helping us improve our online Amazon Forest Store.  His work designing special pages will allow us to present stories and images about the people, plants and places that went into making the beautiful products made by our partner artisans.

Our board members and advisors contribute to CACE’s efforts in a whole different way.  CACE directors Kat Alden, Michael Gilmore, Audrey Maretzki and Robin Van Loon are mentioned in other parts of this newsletter.  Jim Finley has generously shared his experience since I walked in his door in the Penn State Forestry Dept. as a graduate student in 1995. He served on my PhD dissertation committee and has helped me brainstorm approaches to almost every major idea and CACE related challenge over breakfast for the past 12 years.  Virginia Hubbs has been a key spiritual advisor, fundraising coach, and conduit to grants from the Caye Foundation.  Chris Benner has connected us to students in the Everett Program at the Univ. of California at Santa Cruz who have used their media skills to put together videos to promote our sale of the Amazon Guitar Strap.   

Craft buyers

Thanks to the hundreds of people who bought crafts from CACE during 2017 at festivals, craft fairs, special events at churches, online and stores owned by friends of CACE.  I especially appreciate people who have come back to our booth at the same event for two or more years in a row.  Their purchases of our fair trade handicrafts topped $30,000 which broke our annual sales record. This process generates significant income for artisans and their families and helps fund improvements to heath, education and conservation in our partner communities.  See more at: Did you make all of these crafts? and What does it really mean to practice fair trade?

I would like to thank a few special craft buyers: 1. Lisa C. welcomed me to the fire circle of Painkiller Ridge camp at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 2016 and then brought a contingent by our booth in 2017 to welcome us back and encourage them to buy a craft. 2. One inebriated fellow came by our booth at the Romp Bluegrass festival late one night and attached two of our woven parrots to his hat.  His inspiration opened up a new approach to marketing these ornaments that normally only perch on Christmas trees. 3. John D. bought several crafts and discussed my past and his upcoming trip to Peru for several hours. 4. Fellow vendor Quetzal drew the best bird of the season for our Amazon Art Gallery.  5. Matt and Allie put together our rainforest puzzle is less time (5 minutes) than anyone else in the summer. 6. Colleen Kattau and other musicians who bought an Amazon Guitar Strap and sang for us. 7. John Tait and his staff at Tait Trees who have sold our Christmas tree ornaments in their shop for seven years without taking any commission. 8. Susan Jermusyk – owner of the Barranquero Café in State College who hosted two craft sales and commissioned our artisan partners to make a replica of the “barranquero” bird.  This is the local name in Spanish for the blue-crowned mot mot that frequents the mountainous part of Colombia where her coffee comes from. 

NGO Partners

CACE is blessed with many partnerships with fellow non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other groups.  Our relationships with Camino Verde (CV) and its founder Robin Van Loon are important to CACE now and will likely become even more so in the near future.  I was introduced to Robin by our board member Audrey Maretzki who was also on a foundation board that first supported CV then brought us together to support a joint project.  Building on CV’s experience planting thousands of native trees at its base in the southern Peruvian Amazon, our first collaboration focused on the rosewood reforestation project in Brillo Nuevo.  Three years after showing the Bora farmers how to plant the seedlings, Robin returned to show them how to prune the trees so we could extract their essential oil.  Robin's team has now figured out the technical and bureaucratic aspects of managing forest lands, distilling leaves and branches and exporting the aromatic oil.  CACE and CV have also cooperated on fundraising and communication projects and are exploring new ways to integrate our operations.  We aim to combine our skills, assets and networks to conduct innovative research and community-based projects that conserve forests and support forest peoples.  This partnership is also exciting at a personal level since Robin and I have easily shared ideas of how cooperating could amplify our impact, and developed an honest and caring dialogue to navigate this process.

It is also important to acknowlege CACE’s growing relationships with the NGO Minga Peru who introduced us to their partner communities along the Maranon River.  We now work directly with some of their artisans to improve the quality, diversity and marketing of their handicrafts.  Minga Peru has also supported our artisan work by hosting three of Artisan Leadership Program workshops at its Tambo Minga training center near Nauta.  CACE board member and key advisor for our work in Peru since 2008 is Michael Gilmore who founded the NGO One Planet.  OP conducts research, community development and conservation projects with Maijuna native communities in the Napo River region.  CACE is exploring ways to further support handicraft development in these communities.  CACE appreciates the work that FECONA (Federation of Native Communities of the Ampiyacu) does to support 15 native villages in the Ampiyacu watershed as well as its role in facilitating CACE’s work in this region.  We much enjoyed working with their president Liz Chicaje who promoted organizing artisans in her region and giving them new opportunities to sell their crafts in Iquitos and Lima.

Donors

CACE couldn’t do any of its work without the funds to pay for our programs and staff.  We very much appreciate the New England Biolabs Foundation’s support for our work in Peru since 2013.  Beyond its grants, its executive director Jessica Brown has welcomed our allies Camino Verde and One Planet to NEBF’s strategic group of grantees it funds in the Amazon and connected us to our new key partner Minga Peru.  Allan Thornton became a colleague during our time with Greenpeace and then supported me to gather evidence about pirate whaling in the Philippines, tiger bone trade in Indonesia and illegal logging in Honduras after he founded the Environmental Investigation Agency.  Many thanks to Allan and EIA for its grant to CACE in 2017 and renewing its support for us in 2018.  Patricia Shanley has supported my work to develop the sustainable harvest and marketing of non-timber forest products since we both worked in Brazil in the late 1990’s.  She has been an invaluable advisor to CACE and sponsored several Amazon handicraft sales at her home.  This year she and her husband Chris facilitated a vital grant to CACE from the Melza and Frank Theodore Barr Foundation.  I could not have strated CACE in 2006 without the faith and gifts of Sheri and Dayton Coles.  Their welcome support and keen interest in our progress and challenges continues to this day.  Kat Alden is another charter CACE backer and friend whose positive energy, ideas, and financial support (with her husband Bill) has been critical.  I also sincerely thank many friends and family members whose regular donations have kept us going and growing.

Finally, thanks to Emily James and other staffers at GlobalGiving who have created a unique platform to direct donations to CACE and thousands of other worthy projects.  This year Emily selected me to be part of the first GG mentor program.  She also acted as our liaison to a GG ambassador visit to our field sites in Peru and arranged for CACE to offer its crafts to GG staff at its office in Washington, D.C. during the holiday season.  In addition to supporting platform partners to improve their online fundraising, GG also provides numerous valuable opportunities to help its members communicate more effectively with the people they were created to serve.

Doilith showing artisan to make woven butterfly
Doilith showing artisan to make woven butterfly
Estelita measuring baskets with artisans
Estelita measuring baskets with artisans
Lucio with carved calabash rattle ornaments
Lucio with carved calabash rattle ornaments
Heriberto with bird ornaments
Heriberto with bird ornaments
Panchita with woven egret tray
Panchita with woven egret tray
Yully with artisans at workshop
Yully with artisans at workshop
Tulio photographing coati
Tulio photographing coati
Italo monitoring resin lumps on copal tree
Italo monitoring resin lumps on copal tree
Donna with artisan, capybara and squirrel monkey
Donna with artisan, capybara and squirrel monkey
Tessa and the Draw a Toucan game at CACE booth
Tessa and the Draw a Toucan game at CACE booth
Volunteer Brenda with spatule tail hummingbird
Volunteer Brenda with spatule tail hummingbird
Lisa with woven bottle carrier at CACE booth
Lisa with woven bottle carrier at CACE booth
Quetzal bird drawing at CACE booth
Quetzal bird drawing at CACE booth
Matt and Allie and rainforest puzzle at CACE booth
Matt and Allie and rainforest puzzle at CACE booth
Colleen Kattau playing with Amazon guitar strap
Colleen Kattau playing with Amazon guitar strap
Hoatzin and aracari ornaments at Tait tree farm
Hoatzin and aracari ornaments at Tait tree farm
Robin and rosewood crew in the rain
Robin and rosewood crew in the rain
Emira from Minga Peru coaching audio interview
Emira from Minga Peru coaching audio interview
Liz C. - Artisan and past FECONA president
Liz C. - Artisan and past FECONA president
Jessica Brown (NEBF) and Campbell Plowden
Jessica Brown (NEBF) and Campbell Plowden
Sheri and Dayton Coles
Sheri and Dayton Coles
CACE board member Kat Alden
CACE board member Kat Alden

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