I came to Casa de los Amigos almost exactly four years ago today. And what a few years it’s been! I’d like to share with you some of our most recent and exciting work, something that relates to my own personal journey to the Casa.
In 2010, I quit my job in Washington, DC to volunteer at Casa de los Amigos. I had been working on international poverty issues in DC, and was so excited to participate in the Casa’s Economic Justice Program. The Casa’s commitment to fight poverty and promote fair economic relationships locally, face-to-face, and on a small scale was refreshing, practical, and inspiring, especially after coming from Washington.
Now, four years later, the Casa’s Economic Justice work is not only more important than ever, but it is at its strongest.
Some of our ongoing work includes:
- Maintaining a bustling point of sale in our reception that helps create sustainable jobs in the communities of two cooperatives, Pankizaske and Flor de Mazahua
- Organizing a monthly movie night, Cinemoneda, dedicated to educating our friends and guests on key economic justice issues through film and conversation
- Helping to organize the country’s largest annual solidarity economics fair in Guanajuato, with over 300 local producers
- This week, the Casa welcomes a group of 25 people participating in an intensive solidarity economics course.
And today we need your help to keep it up!
I also want to share with you one of our most exciting projects yet. This summer we created the newest “alternative currency” in Mexico, La Paloma.
As Casa volunteer Mara Weaver explains, “We wanted to provide an alternative to money and our current violent economic system. We wanted to create a currency that is in solidarity with us, that comes from the community, and promotes friendship and well-being; where the main idea is not to accumulate, but to leave with only what you need.”
And that’s what we did. To put it into practice, we organized two festivals this summer, invited all of our friends, and introduced them to La Paloma. The festivals were dedicated to supporting local economies rooted in cooperation, community, and equal trading relationships. Click here to watch the video!
Both of our “Festivalitos Multi-Trueque Don y Gratuidad” brought over 50 local producers, neighbors, volunteers, and guests together in the Casa’s conference room to sell or trade their goods or services – homemade jams, seeds, baked desserts, black beans, massages, knit items, books, artwork – without using any traditional currency, only using Palomas. Participants got 20 Palomas to start (the equivalent of $100 pesos) and were free to use them to buy products during the event. Then, at the end, they had to give back the same amount they received, yet got to go home with all of the goods they traded.
With La Paloma, we helped our community members understand and participate in a hopeful and practical protest against our current system, a system that has forced millions of people to migrate both internally within Mexico and to the United States. In Mexico, the minimum wage is $5 a day; almost half of all Mexicans live in poverty, yet there are few alternatives and few ways to place the economy in the hands of the people.
Casa de los Amigos is one of the few groups working on these important issues. We have joined a small but growing movement in Mexico of communities coming together to trade goods, services, and skills without using traditional money, while continuing with our other Economic Justice work. And we want to keep the momentum going.
Let’s make our festivals and the promotion of community money a regular, sustainable part of our program. Can you help us today? Click here to make an online donation.
Four years after I arrived here, I still come to work each day inspired. At the Casa, each day we work hard to offer a concrete and hopeful example of the type of world we want for ourselves and for the future. Together let’s cultivate this spirit of solidarity and find new ways of living, working, and building community through just economic practices.
If you want to learn more about our Economic Justice work, please write me back. Thank you for all of your support!