Project Description

I like lichen because it’s a great example of symbiosis, an association between a fungus with an alga.

My Place

I am Mayan from Sinanché, a community along Mexico’s Gulf coast, north of Yucatan. I grew up with my grandmothers, rooted in their way of life and their way of perceiving the world. Food and its relationship to the land has a central role in our life as a community. For us, to sit and eat together is itself an act of resistance, which I learned from my grandmothers.

As part of my own path, I decided to leave my community to study. There came a time when I realized that was not the right road for me to walk down, so instead I decided to try to regenerate and heal the roots that connect me to the soil and the land where I grew up.

Now we belong to a generation of young people from indigenous communities who decided to leave the academic path behind and return to growing on the land, to our ways of life and our ways of understanding the world. For the past five years we have been in the University of the Land (UniTierra) in Oaxaca, studying different ways of learning so that we can make our own path in our community of Sinanché.

My passion with food

We are learning and collaborating with the University of the Land in Oaxaca. My partner Ángel and I have walked with, listened to and learned from different communities in Oaxaca. Of particular interest has been their models of self-organizing through assemblies, public appointments, tequio (contribution of labour to community projects) and the milpa (the fields). We have engaged with these teachings with our elders (grandmothers and grandfathers) by our side, who have shared their knowledge and lived experiences.

These elders include Nicole y Gustavo en San Pablo Etla and Yolanda and Toño in San Agustin Etla. Currently we are walking the steps of our dream and hope of starting our own UniTierra in Sinanché, Yucatán on land that my family has passed onto us.

My perspective on food sovereignty

The word sovereigntydoesn’t exist in our Mayan language, so we rather focus on Janaal, of eating, the broader act of recovering our traditional ancestral knowledge. As indigenous peoples, we have held this wisdom for thousands of years about how to grow a milpa, about its ceremonies, about having a careful and loving relationship with the land. Our wisdom is not exclusively about food, but also about how to weave ourselves into a community, of inhabiting the land in its living form as the woods, the winds, the ocean, the fire around which we come together to eat, as a celebration of life. Without the act of eating, which encompasses all of life, assemblies, communal organization, tequio and authorities cannot exist.

Recovering our ways of eating and growing food is of importance because it is also the way in which we are recovering who we are, who our grandparents were and who our ancestors were.

My participation in the Legacies project

For us, in our current context, who reject all kinds of government, it is urgent to knit ourselves into this web of life where we can recover and regenerate our community traditional ways. This project represents an opportunity to build a collective that reaches beyond borders and to find joint spaces to share teachings, experiences and ways of organization. It will allow us to knit ourselves together and then find joint paths on which we can walk together.

Links to videos and photo essays

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Photo essays:

ICON on the world map: