One of the key tenants of Circulo is community empowerment. We seek to collaborate with the local community by helping them help themselves. Our project sits on the edge of a community called Carrizal. The name of the town comes from carrizo, which is a hollow tree that grows much like bamboo. Folklore says carrizo grew abundantly in the lands of Carrizal.
We’ve been working with one of our neighbors, Belkys, on making this get-together happen. Her mother (also in charge of the women’s jam co-op) got the word out and invited everyone in Carrizal. The intention of the meeting was to get to know one another a little better, a step towards fruitful collaboration.
We met up in the school on Sunday afternoon. Coincidentally, our land surrounds the school on three sides. Everyone had been invited for 2pm, but we knew it was actually going to start closer to 3pm. Danae, Diego, Pablo and I got a ride from a friend out to Carrizal and watched the villagers trickle in. Thirty-five people filled the classroom, mostly men. This is unusual, community reunions tend to be predominantly female.
There was an air of uneasiness in the air. The people were curious about what’s happening on the property so near their homes. They had seen some new faces coming through in the last few months. As small towns are, there were a few mysterious stories flying around about what’s going on and “that guy that’s not quite a gringo, but a gringo.”
We cleared the air by explaining a bit about who we are. I introduced the concept of regeneration, encouraging participants to imagine a space that creates a net positive impact on the environment and the local community.
Everyone came outside into the schoolyard and formed a giant circle. We leaned back, rotated around from the hips and finally jumped up and down. It was something like a group circular yoga session led by the talented Danae Romero. It was hysterical. I had never seen so many Nicaraguans laugh so hard before. It was definitely a new activity for them, but people embraced it with open arms. Most importantly, we all got a little closer to being human together.
Next, we split up into three groups to have more intimate conversations. Here are a few notes on what we learned:
What do you like about Carrizal?
- United community
- Working on a team
- Farming and agriculture
- A place for kids to learn and read
What do you worry about in Carrizal?
- Water shortage: wells are drying up, rivers aren’t flowing
- Flow of work- some people have jobs, some don’t
- Trash everywhere because there’s no trash collection service
What’s your favorite memory about Carrizal?
- Watching the river run and flow with water
- Clean environment and community
- Working in nature
- Lively relations with all neighbors
Danae, Diego and Pablo each led a conversation. It was a treat to hear people open up and share. The Nicaraguan people have been through a lot in recent history: civil wars, erupting volcanoes that destroy entire cities, earthquakes and a healthy dose of corruption. Understandably so, many people have developed a tough exterior. Don’t let that fool you though, they’re all soft and kind-hearted people inside. Their belly-aching laughter during circular yoga was a testament to this.
The community repeatedly expressed their support for Circulo and how they’re here to help in any way that we need. People left smiling, and we’d like to think they went home a little more hopeful. We’re grateful to be in a place with such capacity for love. The question we’re sitting with now is, how can we learn and grow together?