Strengthening Roots Between Us: 1st Anniversary of Roots & Routes IC in Action!

We, at Roots & Routes IC, are thrilled to tell you about the launch of our mini-documentary, Strengthening Roots Between Us, in which co-founding Board of Directors reflect on how we want to work and what we want to do in the world! We want to introduce you to our Board of Directors and invite you to hear what they have to say about how R&RIC is different and how we are going to make a difference in the world!

This very week one year ago, in 2019, our board members packed their things and headed to San Clemente (Imbabura Province), Ecuador, to tend the seeds of who we will become as an organization. From August 21–25, 2019, we collectively dedicated all our energy to Strengthening the Roots Between Us. We put our heads together to envision and strategize who we wanted to become as a community-based international organization.

We walked the community together, ate together, stayed warm together, and learned about the differing Indigenous cosmovisions of those present together. We dreamt together and tossed ideas back and forth until we got through to where we needed to go.

As Board President Rennee Pualani Louis Ph.D. said, “The birth of Roots & Routes is a very well planned and a very well thought out process where nobody boasts their egos but where everyone is sharing their ideas. […] It shows how different people from different parts of the world can come together as a family to produce something that has effects of different generations, different geographies and even different interests, yet all of it supported in one place.”

With deep roots in our respective places and interconnecting us, our Roots & Routes family and programs branch out and blossom more every day.

We are so excited to share this founding moment with you, check it out here.

Since then, it’s been a wild and eventful first year for Roots & Routes IC in action!

As with any beginning, we’ve had our struggles and growing pains. But time and time again, we return to our roots of togetherness, exchanging love and experience across oceans, and our shared passion to protect Pachamama and her people. Everything stems from this — corazóstenibilidad, sustainability from the heart.

We’ve been able to walk together and further materialize our collective vision. Most recently, we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the landmark Rights of Nature case initiated by the Afro-Ecuadorian community of La Chiquita and the Awá Indigenous community of Guadualito for the Ancestral Rights to Clean Water and Rights of Nature.

Demanding that oil palm companies stop polluting their shared river, this lawsuit was the first of its kind in the world and you can read more about it here. An example of cross-community strength and love for Nature, the lawsuit brought visibility to the marginalization of Indigenous and rural communities. However, has not yet brought justice. With the help of R&RIC, the central leaders in the case came together for their first public webinar appearance to discuss how the case unfolded and next steps in pursuing justice. You can revisit a recording of their discussion here on R&RIC’s Youtube or visit our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

R&RIC continues to play a central role in supporting Black and Indigenous land and water protectors. Until our partner communities in Ecuador can live and thrive in peace among healthy rivers, R&RIC will be with them on the frontlines.

So much of this work is supported by our newly formed Youth Visionaries Collective, a space where youth can come together to learn new skills, take on important environmental and community projects, and direct their own learning. Each 10-week season of youth visionaries brings a new breath of life to R&RIC, new ideas, and incredible energy. Because of this newfound aspect to the organization, R&RIC updated its mission to be Indigenous-led and youth-inspired.

Youth-led and facilitated by R&R Executive Director, Juli Hazlewood, the Visionary Collective connects youth around the world and with R&RIC’s on-the-ground community partners to learn in a new way. They have the opportunity to participate in corazóstenibilidad, allowing R&RIC’s work to be even more empowered and inclusive. Check out this season’s round of Youth Visionaries on our website.

From the very inception of R&RIC, the board realized the visibility of Indigenous wisdom in resilience and sustainability is an obstacle. Our partner communities have successfully organized and advocated for their cultures and territories of life since time immemorial. Their practices and wisdom hold true and are strong. Yet, most of the world never sees this.

This is why R&RIC and community leaders bound together to create a documentary about the struggles faced by the Afro-Ecuadorian community of La Chiquita and the Awá Indigenous community of Guadualito in San Lorenzo, Ecuador.

Families and youth within the communities determine the shots and lens through which the rest of the world will see their struggle against the oil palm companies. We have collected footage, written transcripts, and edited hours and hours of video. You can see our trailer here. Our next steps include securing funding for the completion of the documentary and release it to the public in the near future.

In the face of isolation and further complications of their lives due to COVID-19, they are truly in an emergency situation. As they need to document when there are pollution violations and how their lives change from day-to-day in the face of COVID-19, we raised emergency funds. We are continuing to fundraise for another set of cameras so they can continue their documentation between the two communities via our Emergency Water and Documentary Equipment GoFundMe.

Due to COVID-19, our partners in Guatemala are also facing an increasingly dire situation. Grassroots community organizations DESGUA and Promotores de la Liberacion Migrante (PLM) have been working hand in hand with Mayan communities to ensure they have basic necessities, which are becoming more difficult to secure due to the COVID-19 shut down, as well as access to vital information that is not always available to Mayan language speakers.

Please consider donating to their Indigenous Resilience Network GoFundMe to support food security and multilingual informational media for Mayan communities in Guatemala.

It’s been a busy year for R&RIC and we’re not planning on slowing down anytime soon! The communal and familial ties within this organization run deep. We work night and day to support our mission to change the way the world thinks about “sustainability” and “knowledge.” We prefer to work together, from the heart, from each of our lived experiences, and especially from those who have lived in ancestral relations to their traditional territories and protected them for all of us.

In return, we offer our service to the dreams of their children to live a life of dignity in relation to their lands, wherever they are. We come together to protect Pachamama and open spaces for first peoples to teach the world about why their lives matter. If they are living well, we can all learn to live well. Within the Roots & Routes IC community, we celebrate you, one another, and our collective strength together.

Don’t forget to check out our mini-documentary, Strengthening the Roots Between Us, to see for yourself how R&RIC came to be. We are Roots & Routes IC. Thank you for being with us along the way as we branch out and blossom!

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Roots & Routes IC

Welcome! We facilitate sharing knowledge between diverse cultures en route to responsibly stewarding a flourishing living world.