The San Javier Community Cultural Center, lovingly built by a small Baja ranching community, was destroyed in Hurricane Odile. The community enterprise empowers and trains local leaders, teaches youth and visitors the value of their cultural heritage, employs local youth, and encourages regional economic development through sales of traditional artisan craft, food and produce. While ranchers put their own farms together in the aftermath of the hurricane, they need support to rebuild the Center.
The Cultural Center was originally built in 2012 in response to the San Javier community's desire to prepare themselves and benefit from the opportunities and challenges presented by an ever modernizing world. After hundreds of years of self-sufficiency, Baja's small-scale farmer/ranchers are struggling to learn how to connect to a larger economic market, benefit from increased tourism, and support their children's education while working their land and preserving their cultural identity.
The Cultural Center provides a forum for cooperation to address pressing community issues. It offers a connection for ranchers to a market for traditional artisan craft, hand-made cowboy gear and produce at the Center and through a regional Farmers' Market. Local residents go there to learn to be guides and offer tourism services. By engaging youth both as Center managers and through workshops in the secondary school, it helps train youth as entrepreneurs and cultural/environmental stewards.
Before the hurricane, the community was feeling significant accomplishment and inertia at having set the goal of building the Cultural Center from the ground up, helping it come to fruition and achieving financial success. The Center directly benefits 40 producers, 25 school students yearly and indirectly impacts a community of 300. This blow from the hurricane Odile was a crushing one, it left two walls standing. The rebuilding of the Cultural Center will re-kindle a sense of hope and optimism.