Guest blog by Pati Ruiz Corzo
Since 24 years ago, constantly and vigorously, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda and the alliance of local civil organizations have been weaving solutions to manage a conservation area full of extreme poverty communities that own the natural capital where the jaguar and extraordinary biodiversity find refuge in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve (Mexico) and where the traditional agricultural and livestock practices and governmental programs have caused the serious deterioration of natural resources by providing incentives to start forest fires and extensive grazing that is so out of place. Ignorance at all levels, generalized inertia, indifference in the face of significant environmental problems, public policies and global mechanisms that are out of context, a society accustomed to letting others take action, the corruption and the weakening of our social fabric, and finally, vital natural resources are diminishing and extreme poverty is growing in local communities.
We have sought to cultivate a citizenry that recognizes the maternity of the Earth and build the practices and skills that allow for innovative management, restoration and conservation of ecosystems; a critical mass of citizens that work to conserve their environment thanks to the active participation of 18,000 kids every month for 24 years in permanent activism for the planet and through every means gaining the involvement of society in general – not leaving one door untouched.
What tools have brought success? Perseverance, enthusiasm, ownership, joy, faith in the unlimited possibilities of life, love for Nature and kinship with biological diversity, being ever ready to innovate, seeking answers under every rock, “tropicalizing” the tools and the rules, taking risks, gaining experience, having friends at every level and public relations from the bottom to the top, and the undeniable forces of nature which we call family and taking this awareness to every level.
When I connect to abundance and leave behind the daily shocks of a civil society organization´s (CSO) economy that is so overcome by the deficiencies in the official agencies with such mediocre leadership, the Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda organizes to directly work with 42,000 citizens and the tremendous social organizing that must be maintained in action as well as the connection between the two worlds where we operate. We attract public and private funds oriented to sanitation and conservation, water capture, micro-watershed restoration or thousands of small activities all designed to permeate. A continuous presence of community-based environmental education is the motor of this new mountain culture in the Reserve. I commercialize a whole basket of products and services provided by these communities in order to increase the economic opportunities being generated through restoration and conservation. When connected to abundance, I replicate; extend my work area; share my strategies, my feelings for the motherland and my faith in social entrepreneurship.
Translated by: Laura Pérez-Arce