Friday, March 18, 2011

Not just peace-building, but life-building

Returning this February to the Peace Community after over a year since my last visit, I was reminded that one of the most amazing things about the Community is that it has not only served as a model of civilian resistance in the midst of an armed conflict for 14 years, but that in such a context it manages to designs and implement alternative development models, or what it calls proyectos de vida—life projects. 

A sign lists the 12 types of bananas grown here
The newest proyecto de vida that I discovered upon my return was a centro agricola, or agriculture center, founded in the time I was away. The Community designed the center to serve as a hands-on agricultural research and learning center for the development of conservation food self-sustainability. The center includes a plant nursery, medicinal plant garden, worm bin for composting, and several acres dedicated to experimenting with the various varieties of crops grown in the region—like a banana field with 12 varieties of the fruit. Springs are being protected in order to conserve water sources, some of which feed into fish breeding ponds.

“These are proyectos de vida, explains Javier, the Community member who manages the center. “Many peasants believe that what comes from outside is better than what we have. But no. That is why we have been working so hard in the agriculture center here in the community, learning to care for [what we have], how to have a seed bank, how to care for our own resources, including farm animals. Sometimes people come with so many things from outside that at the end of the day turn out harming us.”