Democracy--Las Calcutas Style

Yesterday I went to the last meeting of the Calcutas that I will be in town for. Most of the women set up at two tables on Aleja's porch to finish working on their cloth paintings. Doña Rosa Ordoñez and Doña Marianita sat at the table inside and worked on necklaces.


After about an hour of painting and visiting, Anita asked if I had my computer to show the photos I've taken, and I set up inside for them to come and view the photos. We looked at the group portraits, individual portraits, painting class day, and all of the photos I have from Linda of the Santa Fe Market. They were interested to see the Market, including the clothing from all around the world, and the artwork, especially Maasai beadwork, and the other pieces that were beadwork. The woman who went to the market in 2006 (don't remember her name), is the daughter of Maria Carmela ("Carmen") Medina Minga).


After we watched the slideshows I asked if I could have a few minutes to talk with them about the idea of carrying their personal beadwork to try to sell in the States. I explained that I want to help the group, and their individual families, but want to do this in a way that is fair and equitable. After I explained my conditions (see earlier notes), Aleja elaborated a bit on each point to clarify for the women. Then I went outside to let them talk it over in privacy. After about 10 minutes, they came out and resumed their spots for painting. Anita explained that they had decided each woman will make two necklaces between now and Sunday, and so each would send two personal pieces made especially for the purpose of sending with me.

The process of democracy and equality seems deeply rooted in these women, and they made this decision using discussion, and I assume some form of consensus building. I really admire the way that every decision seems to be done in this manner--open, and with a real concern for fairness. I gave each woman a piece of stiff paper to attach to each piece with their name, and what they think is a fair price for the necklace. (I had bought the paper in Cuenca to make Spanish flashcards, but largely it has remained unused in my backpack.) This should make record keeping easier for me.


I explained that I am not going to go to markets or make extreme efforts to sell these pieces, but would rather sell them to interested students, friends and community members. I do think I will try to set up a few "necklace wear parties" to give a brief slideshow/talk about the women, and try to sell things in this manner--part of the process of telling these women's stories. I think I could make an interesting 15-20 minute talk to prime the interest of people in Duluth. Might also serve as the base of a talk to potential funders or donors for more expansive financing for the women's house in Tuncarta and/or the desired center for CEMIS.

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This page contains a single entry by David Syring published on August 13, 2009 12:42 PM.

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