Our next attempt to prepare a new cadre of artisan teachers took place in Amazonas village on the Marañon River with 29 participants from 7 villages – only half of whom were experienced artisans. Doilith stayed in her usual role to show five women how to make chambira butterflies for the first time while three artisans from San Francisco took on facilitator duties for small groups tasked with making three birds.
It was great that we had three men from the Ampiyacu in the group making the purple gallinule. They were all eager to improve their skills and with guidance from Pablo and input from me to include more green in the wings and tail, they made the best ornaments of this species that have ever been produced. I was disappointed that none of the three women artisans from the Ampiyacu we had invited to attend this training were able to come.
Wenceslao is a talented artisan who had been a facilitator trainee before so it was great to see him gaining confidence in this role leading his group making the American kestrel. Edson led his group making the orange breasted falcon. It was good to see him again since our relationship with this key artisan leader and regular facilitator had been rocky over the past year.
On the second day, we posted our favorite “5 Steps to Accompany an Artisan” in a training (Explain, Show, Observe, Comment, Affirm) along with a more comprehensive “Responsibilities of Artisan Facilitators” I had written up that morning. The first item was “Show respect for artisans from all communities and cultures.” It was prompted by hearing that one of our participants had made derogatory comments about some native artisans at a previous gathering. We strongly encourage our artisan facilitators to go through Alternatives to Violence Project training to be more conscious about the impact of their words and actions, but we can’t require it.
"While concepts like punctuality, mutual respect, no put downs of self or others, and listening when someone else is speaking may seem like obvious guidelines to form a positive community, a commitment to actually practice and hold each other accountable to observe these agreements is profound in a culture where showing up late, malicious gossip, and interrupting a speaker are painfully common."
"Artisan facilitators should of course share what they know, but beginning and experienced artisans all benefit by remaining humble, enthusiastic about learning, and committed to encourage and affirm their fellow artisans. So many artisans said that the thing they most wanted to bring back to their communities was this spirit of working in a mutually supportive environment."
"Both men and women wore garb made with bleached llanchama tree bark painted with graphic figures from Bora clans. Several wore headdresses made with the feathers from macaws and parrots. They discussed the importance of nature and craft-making in their culture and then launched into a lively dance where the men chanted and pounded sticks into the ground to the rhythm of moving around in a circle. Visitors joined the undulating lines to share the vibrant energy."