Ergonomic benches for Mexican backstrap weavers

by Synergo Arts

To our generous donors,

Thank you so much for your kindness in support of Synergo Art’s efforts to implement the ergonomic weaving bench project in Mexico.

Two of Synergo Art’s highest priorities when it comes to development are full transparency and working collaboratively with local communities. With this in mind, we are sad to report that this project is being deactivated until we secure a firm commitment from a local collaborating organization in Mexico.  Although Mexican indigenous artisans have consistently expressed interest in the project, to date, necessary collaborations with local organizations have not come to fruition.

We have used the funds raised through August 2009 to help create bilingual educational resources including: a weavers’ training manual, a carpenters’ training manual, templates, engineering diagrams, and a 10-minute educational video (now on YouTube, please see links below).

Funds raised since September 2009 will be reallocated to the Synergo Arts weaving bench project in Guatemala. This project aims to enable the local people to carry on independent of outside support.  For an exciting update from Guatemala please click the link below.  If you would rather that your donation be applied toward another GlobalGiving project, please let us know by September 23rd. If you are interested in further discussing our decision or our grassroots approach to working with indigenous communities you may contact us at

Thank you for helping us help artisans protect their health, increase their income potential and preserve their culture.

Sincerely yours,

Synergo Arts


Networking update: The organization in Chiapas, Mexico that contacted Synergo Arts to propose a collaboration at the end of last year continues to express interest in the ergonomic bench project.  Alas, though, they've had internal changes in personnel and program priorities which are delaying the potential collaboration.  While leaving the door open with that organization, Synergo Arts is now, once again, working to identify other opportunities for local partnerships through which to give the local indigenous people access to this project.

We are continuing to work toward this goals because our ongoing contacts with individuals and small groups of indigenous Mexican weavers continues to verify that the people themselves want to have access to the ergonomic bench!!  The missing ingredients are (1) funding, and (2) a local collaborating organization. We welcome your ideas for securing these missing ingredients.  Please share your thought by email (, or email me at that same address to set up a date for a phone conversation. 

Video now on YouTube: Have you seen our 1-minute demo of backstrap weaving with the ergonomic bench?  To view it on YouTube, please click the link below!

Exciting opportunity: Thank you so much for your support.  In case you'd like to donate again (and we hope you will!) I wanted to let you know that on June 15th, will be matching all donations at 30% up to $1,000 per donor per project while funds last.  (Please note: donations made on or any GlobalGiving corporate sites including Nike, Global Action Atlas, etc. are NOT eligible for matching.)  There will be $75,000 available in matching funds. If you would like to participate in this opportunity, we encourage you to get donations in early, because matching funds will likely run out before the end of the day.


Weaver rocking the bench in Cajola, Guatemala
Weaver rocking the bench in Cajola, Guatemala

I am excited to share with you the news that a potential collaborator in Chiapas contacted Synergo Arts late last year.  We are in the very early stages of sorting out the possibilities for how we may be able to work together to enable the local people to implement the bench project in Mexico.  One of the early steps is likely to be meeting on-site with that organization, weavers, and carpenters from the community.  I'll look forward to keeping you informed as this possibility evolves.

Thank you for your patience during the long trajectory of getting this project moving in Mexico. To read about the kind of success we are working toward in Mexico, please visit this link to the January update from the bench project in Guatemala: .

Happy new year!

Synergo Arts wants to get the bench project moving in Mexico! The question is, how can we attract wider support? Please tell us what you think; at We’d love to hear your ideas.

Your donations have helped us get ready. All the preparations are in place: the start-up kit for local woodworkers to learn to make the bench, and a train-the-trainer program for weavers to train other women to use the bench. Now we need to be able to meet on-site with the local people. Travel funds is currently our biggest resource need.

As you know, in Guatemala we’re well on our way. For the latest update:

Please tell your friends about this project and, if you can, would you please donate again?

We have exciting news! You can increase the impact of your donation to Synergo Arts by donating starting on October 12, 2010 at midnight EDT! Synergo Arts is participating in GlobalGiving's Give More, Get More campaign, in which every donation made to our project, will be matched at the following scale:

$10 - $499 -> 30% match

$500 - $999 -> 40% match

$1,000 - $2,500 - > 50% match

This is GlobalGiving's last matching campaign of the year and the last chance for you to have your donations matched. The campaign will run until October 21st or until all matching funds ($100,000) are used. Please donate now before the matching funds run out!

Doña Maria, weaving with eyes close to her work
Doña Maria, weaving with eyes close to her work

We continue to raise funds to initiate this project in Mexico. Meanwhile, I’m sharing news from Guatemala, where we just spent three weeks facilitating this project.

With collaborator Juana Ramos, we visited weavers Doña Maria and her daughters Elena and Estela in Santa Catarina Palopó. Fifty-eight year-old Doña Maria had this to say about her several month’s experience with the bench: “I’ve been weaving since I was thirteen years old; always with a lot of pain, but it’s how I've supported my family. Weaving with this bench is totally different, because I feel comfortable, and each weaving advances more quickly. With the bench I'm so happy weaving --sometimes it even makes me want to sing!

Juana translated Maria’s words from their indigenous language to Spanish while we were in Santa Catarina. Later on, she offered her own reflection: “As I was listening to Doña Maria I realized that the bench has given her something very special: access to the recognition that she has the ability to make herself comfortable.”

"For example, Maria told me that using the bench made her aware of how much she had been bending her body while weaving the complicated brocade designs. As a result of this awareness, Maria started to experiment with where she ties the loom. Now, instead of bending her body she accommodates her failing eyesight by tying the loom higher. I am so inspired by this older woman’s openness to change, her gratitude for the changes the bench has made in her life, and her desire to share the bench with her daughter.”

Thank you for supporting the ergonomic bench project. Please help us spread the word, so that we can implement this project in Mexico soon!

Doña Maria with daughters Estela (L) and Elena (R)
Doña Maria with daughters Estela (L) and Elena (R)
Estela on the ergonomic bench, weaving
Estela on the ergonomic bench, weaving

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Organization Information

Synergo Arts

Location: Tucson, AZ - USA
Project Leader:
Karen Piegorsch
Tucson, AZ United States

Funded Project!

Thanks to 28 donors like you, a total of $1,353 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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