Yesterday, December 11, 2017 was International Mountain Day. Thanks to conscious peoples, social entrepreneurs and several NGOs, more and more people are coming to know why #mountainsmatter. In fact, International Mountain Day is fast becoming a means of creating awareness for the effects of climate change and the need to holistically address all that we do in a context of consciousness that leads to greater sustainability.
Realizing the need to be more connected to peoples all over the world, The Maker World, honors International Mountain Day and commemorates mountain peoples, their generosity toward us and skilled makers and craftspeople.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, "Mountain communities produce an abundance of high-value and high-quality foods and products such as coffee, cocoa, honey, herbs, spices and handicrafts that improve livelihoods and boost local economies." In addition, we owe the mountains our fresh water, our fabulous tourism and outdoor destinations, renewable energy, numerous plant species, our sustenance, and much more.
Through the hardships of mountain living, many makers have risen to fulfill needs. Now most of their trades are considered handicrafts, but truly they were functional goods we even use today. Take for example, Ana Felicia, a cooking ceramics' maker, whose parents gave rise to a once thriving Alfarería business (ceramic pottery business), in one of the Andes Mountains' small town regions of Santander, Colombia.
Though ceramic cooking pottery was well established in the west side of the country, with entities that to date have thriving and sustainable cooking ceramics' workshops (exporting to the far reaches of the globe), it was very difficult, back in the day, to distribute these goods to peoples within the mountainous country of Colombia.
As Ana Felicia explained, her people did not have the consistent means to these cooking supplies due to a lack of mountain road infrastructure. So her parents took to the task and the almost 85 year-old Ana Felicia is today the last of her siblings keeping the trade alive in Guanentá, Santander. Her parents employed almost 300 Alfareros / Pottery Makers, making large and small cooking pots, skillets, plates, water jugs and much more; all from nature's clay.
Ana Felicia refused to allow her trade to disappear as she continued finding outlets to sell her products and tell her story. Nowadays she finds herself, mostly hosting university students and even reporters who visit her humble home to inquire about her trade and family history. She has now passed the trade on to her daughter who mostly sells her products as handicrafts in small mom and pop shops as well as artisanal shops throughout the region.
When I met Ana Felicia in 2016, her beautiful #Maker demeanor shone through like a breath of fresh air. The hardworking soul of a Santandereana. After a gracious hug and smiles all around, she was ready to show us her stock of pots, pans, skillets, and plates in her tiny work-room. She worked on top of a wooden surface, sitting on a squatting stool and solely by hand (i.e. without a pottery wheel). Just manipulation of clay, water, patience, love, and skills.
Bringing awareness of small makers and even large maker communities globally is The Maker World's mission. We aim, not only to inspire conscious living, but to also understand our connectedness, the real value of our products, the people that make them, the knowledge of their trades and our binding human history. Our things did originate from somewhere special and mountain peoples share in this as they had to make their own pottery, purses, clothing, and much more for sustainability. Honoring people means learning about where our things come from, supporting the preservation of the trades, the makers themselves, and maintaining truly sustainable livelihoods for future generations to come. So next time you buy something from a maker, don't haggle down, haggle up. Their work is valuable and you'll cherish it much more.
Let's stand together with mountain peoples and makers around the world to bring about awareness, hope, and the betterment of our human race. Support conscious trade, skilled makers, and please buy better not more; let's preserve maker trades by giving work not charity.