Hope for a Beleaguered Planet....

Our book Milpa: From Seed to Salsa - Ancient Ingredients for a Sustainable Future explores through a blend of essays, recipes and documentary photography how the ancient agricultural knowledge and the wealth of 1000 year-old seeds and planting practices still in use among the Mixtec peoples of southern Mexico can help us to meet the ecological and food crises of today.

The essays, written in conjunction with campesino farmers, serve as a warning about the complicated dangerous effects inherent in the rapidly expanding distribution of GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds in Mexico, the birthplace of corn. Our documentary cookbook discusses alternatives for campesino farmers across the world and gardeners and consumers who care about food safety. Using the example of the Milpa planting system in the Mixteca Alta region of Southern Mexico just north of Oazaxa City, the book supports recent studies by UN investigators that show that small plots of land, heritage seeds and sustainable practices can in fact feed the world while enriching the soils on which we all depend for life…….

Milpa contains the traditional recipes lovingly shared by the local indigenous Mixtec women, allowing readers to re-create the culinary magic that flows from this ancient agricultural system. Recipes are painstakingly tested and photographed in traditional indigenous kitchens as well as in a professional modern test kitchen. Please purchase the book, below.....

All Rights Reserved: © Phil-Dahl Bredine, © Kathy Dahl-Bredine © Judith Cooper Haden Photography, © Susana Trilling SOMH.

Monday, April 30, 2012



April  2012
Dear Friends and Family,

The early “cajete” (ca-háy-tay) corn, planted when the soil is still dry here in the Mixteca Alta, has sprouted in the field below the house along with the beans and squash that accompany it in the milpa. The technique of planting these and other companion plants together to make up the “milpa” forms an ingeniously productive and sustainable complex botanical community. Mutual aid, harmony, and equilibrium hold this community of plants together and make the whole more productive than when planted separately. And together they form a rich, shady environment in which dozens of varieties of wild edible and medicinal plants find the unique conditions for their own growth.

In spite of the prejudices of the occidental worldview which proposes that without competition there is no production, in the milpa we see that the strategy of trying to make one species compete to eliminate all potential competitors (what is called a monoculture in modern agriculture) is not more productive.
Today it is becoming evident that in human communities as well the fierce competitiveness of the occidental vision is, in the end, much more destructive than productive.

Last week 300 campesino men and women from across Oaxaca met in the beautiful ethno-botanical gardens of Oaxaca City to strategize about promoting and defending the incredibly rich biodiversity of native corn varieties in this, the center or origin of corn. More than 36 of the original 56-60 land races of native corn are still planted here in the mountains of Oaxaca, along with hundreds of varieties of each race, each adapted to the challenges of the growing conditions of its specific region. With this incredible biodiversity and these rich genetic resistances we hold the future of corn on the planet in our hands.

Yet, in addition to developing plans to promote the planting and improvement of native seeds and to strengthen the custom of planting in milpa in Oaxacan communities, these 300 farmers needed also a defense plan. Under the “influence” of large international corporations such as Monsanto, the Mexican government has authorized the very risky business of planting genetically modified corn in this world center of origin. The vision of competitiveness that reigns in the dominant cultures today threatens to destroy access to the world’s sources of corn genetic diversity through contamination and patenting of native varieties for profit. Three hundred campesinos this day decided they will fight!

But it is dangerous to fight. Three weeks ago Bernardo Vasquez, who worked with us on strategies for nonviolent social change, was killed for his opposition to a Canadian gold mining operation that is polluting the waters of his community. Two weeks before that Betina, with whom we have also worked to develop effective strategies to protect indigenous communal lands, was arrested on trumped up charges.  Her opposition to massive private wind farms that are taking over productive campesino lands on false pretenses, with the cooperation of the federal government, threatened “progress”.  After all, the project is hailed by foreign environmental groups and receives UN carbon credit payments.

Privately controlled hydroelectric projects in Oaxaca are inundating thousands of acres of indigenous lands and of native biodiversity, against international laws that protect indigenous territories. Indigenous communities are fighting back, while the projects primarily designed to export electricity for private profit, ironically, receive carbon sequestration credits.

In a recent interview well known scientist Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute suggested that the energy needs of the Global North can easily be met by new technological efficiencies and cheap, clean renewables in a process of conversion from fossil fuel use led by business for profit. Neither here nor elsewhere in the Global South do we have the luxury of such faith in the private corporation and the innocuous character of competitive greed and business for profit.

It no doubt took many years of careful observation and experimentation for the great, great grandparents of the Mixtec people to understand and construct the harmonious and productive community of the milpa. It also seems they carefully studied how to create harmonious and productive human communities where men and women complemented one another in producing the material, social and spiritual necessities of everyone. Some of their wisdom has survived today in our villages’ communitarian organization, which help us produce for the common good: the tequio, gueza, cargos, and community assemblies.

Like these indigenous ancestors, the human family of today will have to learn how to form the complex communities of complementarity, harmony and balanced production that we will need to overcome the crises we face today. Neither business for profit nor governments beholden to big money will do it.

©Phil and Kathy Dahl-Bredine, Judith Cooper Haden Photography

Monday, April 9, 2012

"CAJETE," The Milpa's Ancient Ecological Native Wonder

 In the villages of the Mixteca Alta there is a special kind of native corn that should give pause to the sometimes overweening pride of our modern scientific era and to its scorn for the ignorance of previous “less scientific” ages. It is commonly called “cajete” from the form in which it is planted in small indentations or “cajetes” in the dry fields. It is a very ancient corn in a land whose indigenous scientists invented corn from a parent plant called “teocintle” around 10,000 years ago. That feat alone, which accomplished an unequaled botanical leap from a wild plant with no cob or husk to “modern” corn with no apparent intermediary species, should humble our scientific hubris.

 But the corn called cajete in addition does things that the most technically sophisticated hybrid or GM corn cannot repeat. Planted in the long dry season in the Mixteca Alta by digging with a traditional tool called a coa until residual moisture from the previous year’s rainy season is uncovered it germinates and grows up to 4 months without rain. Some of the cajete varieties have long above ground roots that have a kind of mucus on them that, university investigators here believe has the capacity to fix atmospheric nitrogen into soils and sustain yearly crops of cajete without diminishing soil fertility. Only leguminous plants are supposed to possess such capabilities.

 The cajete system is a sophisticated ecological and socio-economic invention as well. The checkerboard field of small, box-like indentations in which the corn is planted serves to collect scarce rainfall and helps prevent soil erosion. Since planting cajete is more labor intensive than traditional planting systems it is supported by and in turn supports a community socio-economic system based on mutual aid called gueza. I help my neighbors plant and they help me. And so on an early February morning one can see a line of 6 to 8 people with tall coas moving across a field in a synchronized planting dance.

In each indentation planters drop 3 to 4 seeds of corn, a native bean seed and the seed for native squash. By June the cajete Milpa is complete with its complementary planted varieties and the spontaneous edible plants called quelites that will grow between the rows. A full food system for both Mixtec families and native soils.

© Phil Dahl-Bredine
© Photographs Judith Cooper Haden

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Francisca's Traditional Mixtec Kitchen in Hidalgo Jaltepec

Traditional kitchens in the Mixteca are seductive. They have no relationship with what we are used to in the United States.  Inside, they are smoky, dark and wonderful. Cleanly dampened and swept dirt floors. No windows but light manages to creep in between the bamboo-like stick walls, and in the small space between the tin or thatched ceiling and the walls.  If outside, they are usually covered and open to the air.  The smells of freshly made masa from corn grown just outside the door being toasted into a tortilla on a huge clay comal is an unforgettable aroma.  And once you taste a real tortilla...well, it's hard to see the relationship between that, and what we are served here at home.

Francisca Garcia Ferrer
Francisca, her daughter Sylvia and her husband Apolonio have become great friends during our project. They have shared much of their time and knowledge with us, and we are most grateful. Francisca knows all her traditional recipes by touch and smell, and stopping her in mid-recipe to measure how much onion, now many grams of masa dough -- how big was that handfull of oregano? -- interrupted her stride. The daughters and daughters-in-law are all present to help cook for festivals or large family gatherings -- they prepared 150 tamales for the Dia de la Candelaria/Candlemas Celebration -- and I was very aware of watching the unwritten passing of the recipes down through the generations. Francisca would gently chide if the appropriate method or quantity wasn't quite right. All with good cheer, laughter and an excellent repast at the end.

The ceramic pitchers are hung on the walls for safe keeping, ready to serve atole (a hot, thick sweetened corn or wheat drink) or the famous regional hot chocolate.
The huge clay comal is the heart of the kitchen, and rightly so, as corn has been their sustenance for thousands of years....it's earthy, round seasoned presence is like a beloved  member of the family. The corn grinder in this kitchen is a manual one; some more 'modern' kitchens have a new electric or propane operated free standing machine that is very noisy, but very efficient for feeding large numbers of people.  Some of the women in these small towns make 5-6 dozen tortillas (corn, wheat, and a mixture of each)  to sell at their local markets to earn an extra $25-35 dollars a week, and the new device is much appreciate

Manual corn grinder
Most houses we visited had the traditional kitchens with wood-burning stoves for  tortillas, tamales, and larger quantity preparations. Some can afford a newer more modern kitchen, usually built in stifling  hot little concrete block additions with a propane stove for small family breakfasts, reheating tortillas and tamales, and easily ready to offer guests a quick cup of coffee. Some have refrigerators, like Francisca and Apolonio. Even though at times the smoke kitchens are difficult to spend time in, that's our preference. There is ventilation on most kitchens, but it is usually insufficient for the amount of smoke produced, and the older women are start to develop eye disease from constant and lengthy daily exposure.

Many times dogs are only fed tortillas, and they learn to wait patiently outside the kitchen door for their portion. Dogs are not pets the way they are for us, nor cats; they have practical jobs assigned to them -- night watchman,
rodent police, garbage collector -- and are actually bought and sold, cats fetch 30-40 pesos -- $2.50-4$!  They are not attributed with feelings or needs; it takes a while to get used to the treatment of these domestic creatures. (I remember receiving a letter from  home while while in the Peace Corps in El Salvador; my Dad knew our beloved beagle was really sick when he refused a large portion of roast beef....I read this after coming back from the wake of a baby who died in essence from dehydration and starvation..... we don't know how lucky we have it.)

This was the first picture I took at the very beginning of this project, over a year ago. We all felt it had special significance.....and still do!

©Photographs Judith Cooper Haden

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Climate Change, Erosion and the Bolivian Rights of Mother Earth

         June, 2010

It is June and indigenous campesinos from our village and other surrounding communities are still waiting for the rains to come so they can plant what will serve as their food for the year. A few more weeks without rain, and it will be too late for crops to mature before the fall frosts. Evidently, those who would deny the reality of climate change haven’t been watching the skies and depending on ever more unreliable rains for their daily bread, as have our neighbors. We are just back from meetings with indigenous leaders, and religious leaders in Bolivia, and campesinos there are also watching frightening changes as the glaciers on which they depend for irrigation and water for living, grow ever smaller on the jagged peaks of the Andes.

How and why is this happening? And who is responsible?

When you look at the eroded lands that the indigenous organization with which we work is struggling to re-make, and also at the treeless, deforested slopes of the Andes, you would have to conclude that indigenous peoples played a part in the destruction. That’s why in front of CEDICAM´s small new museum of Mixtec Campesino agriculture and biodiversity called “The Casa de la Milpa”, there is a sign next to the remains of a large stone and molten earth oven. The sign reads:   “Caution, campesino men and women. Before you enter this museum, think deeply. This oven was used to burn rocks to make lime for churches and colonial buildings. It burned trees day and night for three days at a time to produce 500 kilos of lime. With technology like this our ancestors, under the influence of foreign interests, burned the forests of our communities leaving us a sterile and eroded land. Let us build a sustainable way of life based on the wisdom of our communities and create a healthy abundance in harmony with the Mother Earth for the future of the Mixteca Alta.”   It took ten of us, men and women, to unearth and transport the oven to the museum site as a stark but essential reminder of the errors of the past.

photographer unknkown
The Conference of the Peoples of the World on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, took place last month in Bolivia with strong indigenous participation. They concluded that the industrialized countries of the global North bear the majority of the responsibility for the changing climate. They point out that we all share one great global ring of atmosphere which has a set capacity to safely recycle and absorb gases such as CO2. The North has so over-exploited this capacity of the atmosphere that it has drastically encroached on the rights of others to a clean and safe atmosphere, causing changes that are disturbing rain patterns and melting glaciers in the global South. This so threatens the lives of the poor of the South that the conference is demanding the North recognize and pay an environmental debt for its damage to the global atmosphere on which we all depend.

Drawing from the millennia-old values of the indigenous peoples here in the Mixteca of Mexico and across the Americas, the conference concluded:

“To confront climate change we need to recognize our Mother Earth as the source of life and forge a new system based on the principles of:

1.  Harmony and equilibrium among and with everything
2.  Complementarity, solidarity and equality
3.  Common well-being and satisfaction of fundamental necessities of all in harmony with the Mother Earth
4.  Respect for the rights of Mother Earth and for  human rights                                            
5.  Recognition of the value of the human being for what he/she is and not for what she/he possesses
6.  Elimination of all forms of colonialism, imperialism, and interventionism.
7.  Peace among the peoples of the world and with the Mother Earth.”

Charles Mann, in his book “1491”, points out the dramatic influence that the original indigenous peoples of North America had on U.S. and European history through providing living examples of men and women who believed in and demanded personal liberty. We learned about personal liberty and constructed constitutions to embody these new concepts. But we perhaps forgot about the other aspects of indigenous life: communal responsibility, complementarity, mutual aid, and respect for the Mother Earth. Our experience here in the indigenous village of Yucuyoco suggest to us that perhaps now is the time for us to correct this oversight.

Photographs  ©Judith Cooper Haden unless otherwise noted.

The Tradition of 'Gueza,' or Traditional Mutual Sharing; The Feria de la Milpa

        April, 2010

This morning some of the neighbors came down with their coas (see the picture) to help plant the early corn called cajete. It is planted in the dry season and can grow months without rain. Last year our cajete grew 14 feet tall!

The neighbors came as part of a traditional mutual sharing called gueza. “Planting cajete always used to be pure gueza. We would plant at one family’s house and then all go to another’s until everyone had planted”, Tio Juan explained. The morning started cool and pleasant, but as the clouds cleared the sun became hot. As I planted the sweat ran down my face, and I wondered to myself how I could explain why laboring this way with ancient seeds and planting techniques was not a romantic game, an escape from the complex issues that the world faces.

But as I straightened up and saw the others planting ahead of me in the furrows above, it struck me that this complex world faces two fundamental and critical challenges. One is to remold the lifestyle of the peoples of the global North to something that matches the ability of the planet to sustain us. The second is to work with the majority of humanity, which lives in the rural global South, to create economically healthy farming communities, where the world’s food needs can be met and where there is no longer the need to emigrate to unsustainable urban centers.

We were working on both of those challenges in the field this morning. Community cooperation must replace exaggerated egoism and individualism in the North while seeking ecologically sound ways of meeting basic needs. And farming communities in the South must find ways to use their ancestral knowledge and the great agricultural biodiversity that they have created and which they preserve for the human family, to build economically sound villages and feed surrounding populations.

It is because of this second challenge that over 350 indigenous campesino men, women and children gathered in our nearby district center last week to celebrate the first annual Indigenous Campesino Fair and the inauguration of the Casa de la Milpa Sostenible, House of the Sustainable Milpa, a small museum featuring indigenous knowledge and biodiversity as a basis for a sustainable future. 

Our Niño a Niño group, called Ñuú Xekuechi (“Community of Children” in the indigenous Mixtec language) from the village of La Providencia participated, with  20 children and teenagers attending the event, having obtained special permits to be absent from school.  The Campesino (family farmer) Fair was set up in the central square of the town of Nochixtlán, with tables and booths around the entire area, each displaying the myriad varieties and colors of native corns – in reds, blues, blacks and purples, various shades of yellow, and white ---- corn varieties deriving from ancestors going back to centuries before Christ: corns which carry in their genes the toughness of drought resistance, adaptability to high and low altitudes, those which survive extremes of temperature or rain fall… all of which have been carefully improved by indigenous farmers to adapt as needed to local conditions.  There were also beans in many colors and sizes, various types of squash seeds, local herbs, as well as local types of medicinal plants and seeds.

The House of the Milpa museum tells the story of the form of planting developed uniquely in Mesoamerica that one expert has called “perhaps one of the most successful inventions of humankind.” Planting corn, beans, squash, amaranth, tomatillo, together in the same plot and allowing the wild edible plants to grow among them yields high production of one of the healthiest diets on the planet and a soil treatment and weed and insect control which have made it sustainable for millennia. In some areas here the current version of the milpa has been improved with careful seed selection to the point that it has tripled production. The math is interesting: 60-70% of the world’s food is still produced by small farmers. Industrial agriculture, which accounts for the remaining production, can only expect a few percentage points of improvement in the future. Doubling or tripling the production of the 60-70% of small farmers has much greater potential for feeding the world than Archer Daniels Midland and its corporate cohorts.

All Photographs © Judith Cooper Haden

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

CORN WALKING IN THE MIXTECA -- Let's Reconsider 'Doing Things Big!"

January, 2010
Dear friends and family,

Last night as we came home from Oaxaca we rounded a curve and saw in the semi-darkness a round hulk of corn stalks a good 10 feet wide moving down the opposite lane toward us. “Corn walking” we call this common phenomenon these days when all of our campesino neighbors are harvesting their crops. For the huge bundle of upright corn stalks usually hides all but the small hooves of the sturdy burro that is silently propelling the bundle toward home from under the stalks. It reminded us of what we have over and over again been forced by our neighbors to recognize in our time in the village of Yucuyoco: life here challenges all of our Northern preconceptions and preferred systems of providing the necessities of life. It especially challenges our myths about the efficiency of “doing things big”.

© Phil Dahl-Bredine
The burro carries as much corn as a well packed pick up truck. But you will all laugh at us if we suggest it is a more efficient way to transport farm produce. Yet U.S. farmers will not laugh so loud when they hear that investment in the burro was $50 and that our farmer friends here are not in debt to the banks, they are not threatened with losing their land to foreclosure, and there are no farmer suicides that so often follow these foreclosures in the U.S. And it may be cause for thought that recent studies have shown that, although farmers here have lower yields per acre when they mono crop corn, the total food produced on small parcels that combine the polycultures of the traditional milpa system and small livestock is often higher than on the “modern” agribusiness farms.

Ah, but the burro and other less mechanized methods of production are so slow! Yet, in this time in which we are bumping up against the ecological limits of the planet and the social limits of the increasing gap between rich and poor, it is time to begin to dispel the myths about the importance of speed and bigness.

Both speed and bigness cost! Both produce contamination, concentration of wealth, unemployment, unsustainable resource use, and ill health. All of these are costs we cannot afford at this our time to be here on planet Earth. The ever increasing number of enterprises that have come to be “too big to fail” want us to believe that speed and bigness are essential to competitiveness and cheaper consumer goods. But this is because they wish to continue to externalize the above mentioned costs in all of our production systems, from food production to manufacturing, onto government, service organizations, and the “modern” family.

Oh, they will accuse us of being Luddites, romantics, crackpots! But the basic systems on which we depend in the North no longer work. We must question them at the deepest level. Speed and large size are two of the first entities that we need to strip from the myths that surround them.

Of course what the people of Yucuyoco teach us doesn’t necessarily mean all of us should return to burros or other extremely simple technologies (although in the face of scarce petroleum caused by the U.S. blockade, Cuba has returned to animal traction in agriculture with significant success). But it does mean we should choose technologies consciously and intelligently and refuse to accept the myths promoted by our business and industrial leaders,  politicians, or even our scientists who are often caught in the private profit or the dominate nature mode.                                                                                            

For instance, the myth that large scale, speedy, mechanized monocultural agricultural is necessary to feed the world.

What we have learned about this here in Yucuyoco is:
1.  Small scale production works for providing food for families and neighbors. It also provides
     employment for family and neighbors.
  1. Food produced this way is energy cheap. Here, and 50 years ago in the U.S., one calorie of energy input yielded 7 calories of food on the table, where our modern food system needs 10 calories of energy to get one calorie on the table. (Uncertain Peril, Claire Hope Cumming)
  2. Local small scale production is environmentally cheap. Industrial agriculture creates almost 14% of the excess greenhouse gases that are affecting our climate, including nitrous oxides and CO2. In contrast, small sustainable farming that takes time to create soils rich in organic matter can sequester more excess CO2 than a forest. (“A Message for Climate Change Negotiators”, Annie Shattuck)
  3. Large commercial feed lots produce vast quantities of the greenhouse gas, methane, while incorporating animal manure into soils on small scale plots actually helps soils to sequester more CO2.
  4. In spite of the extreme efforts of agribusiness conglomerates to take control of the food systems of the world, small farmers still feed over 70% of the world’s people. (Who Will Feed Us?, ETC Group)
The people of Yucuyoco also challenge us to reconsider our myths about what is a good life, what is really poverty, and what place we have on this planet that they revere as the Mother Earth. What an opportunity we all have to share insights, resources, and visions across borders and across cultures to create together a sustainable planet!  

Peace and Blessings to you all,
Kathy and Phil

© Photographs Judith Cooper Haden unless otherwise noted

Eating Yucca Blossoms in San Pedro Quilitongo - Excellent!!!

Susana Trilling with the chefs of Quilitongo

FROM Susana Trilling's Food Diary.......Tacos de Izote  (Yucca Blossom Tacos)!

One of the best days I ever spent in the Mixteca was the day we went to visit San Pedro Quilitongo. We went to visit Manuela, the woman whom I call “dedo verde” (green thumb)  for her incredible ability to grow the most fertile and abundant milpa. We harvested many plants and vegetables to cook with that day. Walking through the village to the kitchen I saw a blooming yucca with a gorgeous huge white blossom. On a whim I asked if we could cook that also and before I knew it, a ladder appeared and people started coming out of their houses to offer help and advice.” It takes a village”…half an hour later it was being lowered on a rope. Everyone got in the act of removing the flowers and cleaning them and later they were fried simply with onion, garlic and eggs.  What a flavor!  It tasted so much like artichoke hearts that I am calling for them in my recipe, as you may not have a yucca plant flowering outside your door.  

Buen Provecho!! 

"The indigenous vision: the purpose of human life is ultimately to create harmony within the human community and with the natural world....."

(This is the first of the monthy newsletters from Phil and Kathy Dahl-Bredine as they transitioned from Maryknoll Lay Missioners to independent activists within an isolated village in the Mixteca Alta of Mexico).

                                                             November, 2009

Greetings to you all from Oaxaca!  The difference you see in this newsletter represents a change and a challenge for us this fall.  The Maryknoll Lay Missioner Association, because of financial difficulties, is consolidating its work and has decided to move out of the Mexico region. 

Faced with the option of moving to a different country to start new work with Maryknoll,  we, along with the four other lay missioners in Mexico, have decided to stay and continue to work on the projects that are going so well here and producing exciting results.  We plan to continue the same work as before, perhaps as Maryknoll Affiliates, though we will no longer receive support from the Maryknoll Lay Missioners Association.
Why stay in Mexico and why San Isidro Yucuyoco?  How could such a small and isolated indigenous village have any relevance to what is happening in the world today? What puts San Isidro and the Mixteca Alta in the center of what is most important about what is going on in the world today is that here an ancient indigenous people has decided to change universes. Young campesinos who grew up in an eroded, treeless landscape with degraded alkaline soils that spawned hunger and migration, decided in 1983, that this, their impoverished universe, did not have to remain so.

Since that time, spearheaded by the indigenous organization that these young campesinos created, the Center for Integral Campesino Development of the Mixteca (CEDÏCAM), villagers have reforested thousands of hectors of barren arroyos and dug hundreds of kilometers of contour ditches on the mountainous slopes to retain soils and recharge the aquifers which feed area springs, by capturing rain water before it washes down the steep slopes. The green shade of San Isidro’s pathways is due to their work, as are the new forests that fill the valleys of nearby villages such as San Antonio Tilantongo. Now they have turned to confronting the key issues that face our world today: the food crisis, the ecological limits of the planet, the corporate dominance of the world’s food system, and the threat to an indigenous agricultural biodiversity, which is the foundation for most of the foods the world eats today. And through the work of Niño a Niño, the village young people are joining in.

At the same time, these indigenous peoples are regaining the confidence to say to a world whose Western philosophies and political and economic systems are having devastating effects on the ability of the planet to sustain life and on the social fabric of the human family, “We have a better vision!” Underneath all of its weaknesses and human pettiness, life in San Isidro, symbolic of indigenous communities around the globe,  is based on the indigenous vision that the purpose of human life is ultimately to create harmony within the human community and with the natural world that is, in fact, our Mother the Earth. The indigenous balance of the “I” and the “We”, which is variously called “estar bien” or “being well”, or “el buen vivir” or “good living” here, is proposing itself as an alternative to the predatory resource wars and devastating destruction of the life of the planet to which the ideologies of Western culture have brought us.

Phil Dahl-Bredine
Kathy Dahl-Bredine
As always our main purpose is to communicate with you from our view in this corner of the world.  But if you do wish to contribute to this work, you can send a tax-deductible donation to:  
Instituto Paz en las Americas, 2645 Mountain View Rd., Silver City, NM 88061.

Photographs © Judith Cooper Haden