PEACE THROUGH MUSIC
MUSIC CAN BE AN AMAZING BRIDGE BETWEEN PEOPLE,
TRANSCENDING ALL MANNERS OF PREJUDICES. WHEN MUSIC
POURS FREELY FROM THE HEART, PEOPLE ARE UNITED IN ITS FLOW.
IT IS A VEHICLE WITH GREAT POTENTIAL, AND IT SHOULD
BE USED IN A POSITIVE AND RESPONSIBLE MANNER.

THESE PIECES ARE CARVED OF TAGUA, WHICH IS A RENEWABLE RESOURCE.  EACH PIECE IS HANDCRAFTED BY INDIGENOUS ARTISANS LIVING IN A MOUNTAINOUS RAIN FOREST IN ECUADOR.  WORKING WITH TAGUA HAS ALLOWED THEM TO GO FROM DEFORESTATION TO REFORESTATION OF THEIR LAND.

 

HERE IS THE STORY OF TAGUA AND THE VILLAGERS…

TAGUA, WHICH IS ALSO KNOWN AS PALM IVORY, VEGETABLE IVORY, OR COROZO, IS A NUT PRODUCED BY A SPECIES OF PALM (PHYTELEPHAS AEQUATORIALIS) THAT GROWS IN THE TROPICAL RAINFORESTS.  THE FEMALE PALMS BEAR CLUSTERS OF LARGE BROWN BURR-LIKE FRUITS THE SIZE OF GRAPEFRUIT OR MELONS, AND EACH FRUIT CONTAINS FOUR OR MORE LARGE SEEDS.  AFTER FALLING TO THE GROUND, THE NUTS THAT DON’T GET EATEN BY FOREST ANIMALS ARE GATHERED BY THE VILLAGERS.  WHEN DRIED, THE SEEDS BECOME HARD AND VERY SIMILAR IN TEXTURE, COLOR AND WORKABILITY TO ELEPHANT IVORY. 

THIS TAGUA COMES FROM SMALL RURAL VILLAGES NESTLED IN A CRITICALLY ENDANGERED, BIOLOGICALLY DIVERSE FOG FOREST IN THE WESTERN MOUNTAINS OF ECUADOR, WHERE THE ARTISANS HAND CRAFT EACH PIECE.  THE INCOME CREATED BY UTILIZING THIS SUSTAINABLE RESOURCE HAS GIVEN THE VILLAGERS THE ABILITY TO MAKE SOME IMPORTANT IMPROVEMENTS FOR ALL, INCLUDING THESE …

THEY’VE BEEN ABLE TO STOP THEIR SLASH AND BURN AGRICULTURE AND LOGGING, AND TO CREATE AN ECOLOGICAL RESERVE TO PROTECT THEIR FOREST FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.  AND, THEY’VE CONTINUED TO EXPAND THE RESERVE AND THEIR REFORESTATION EFFORTS, EVEN TRAINING AND EQUIPPING FOREST RANGERS TO PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE RESERVE.  AN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAM, MANDATED BY THE VILLAGE COUNCIL, WAS CREATED.

UNTIL VERY RECENTLY, IT TOOK A DAY’S WALK TO REACH THE VILLAGES, AND NOW THEY HAVE A ROAD.

LEARNING CENTERS (FREE LIBRARIES, BASICALLY) HAVE BEEN OPENED.

BEFORE, EACH OF THE COMMUNITY’S THREE MAJOR SETTLEMENTS HAD AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, BUT EACH SCHOOL HAD ONLY ONE GOVERNMENT-PROVIDED TEACHER.  THE TEACHER WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL SIX GRADES, AND AT ONE OF THE SETTLEMENTS, THE LONE TEACHER WAS EXPECTED TO TEACH AN INCREDIBLE 160 CHILDREN.  THE GOVERNMENT DIDN’T SUPPLY ANY TEXTBOOKS OR SCHOOL SUPPLIES LIKE PENCILS AND PAPER.  MOST PARENTS COULDN’T AFFORD TO BUY SUPPLIES, SO THEIR CHILDREN EITHER DID WITHOUT OR JUST DIDN’T GO TO CLASS AT ALL.  NOW, THE SCHOOLS HAVE ASSISTANT TEACHERS AND SCHOOL MATERIALS.  THE AVERAGE STUDENT-TO-TEACHER RATIO IS DOWN FROM 100-TO-1 TO LESS THAN 30-TO-1.  EACH GRADE AT THE MAIN SETTLEMENT NOW HAS ITS OWN INSTRUCTOR.  THEY EVEN HAVE ONE TEACHER DEDICATED SOLELY TO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION.  THE INSTRUCTORS ARE DRAWN FROM THE HANDFUL OF VILLAGERS WHO HAVE UNIVERSITY TRAINING AND THEY DREAM OF BECOMING PROFESSIONAL TEACHERS.  THEY WORK UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF GOVERNMENT APPOINTED SCHOOL DIRECTORS, AND ARE PURSUING THEIR TEACHING DEGREES BY ATTENDING SCHOOL AT NIGHT AND ON WEEKENDS.

THE FOREST IS ALSO THE SOURCE OF THE WATERSHED THAT THOUSANDS OF LOCAL PEOPLE DEPEND UPON FOR THEIR VERY SURVIVAL.  NOW, INSTEAD OF HAVING TO CARRY THEIR WATER UP THE HILL, THE VILLAGERS HAVE RUNNING WATER PROVIDED BY SUBMERSIBLE PUMPS.

AN ELEPHANT SOMEWHERE IS SMILING AND NODDING APPROVAL.

 

      Slab Pendant                                         White Pendant                                   Brown Pendant

Black Disc Pendant

 

 

White Earrings

THERE ARE ALSO MATCHING BROWN EARRINGS, MATCHING BLACK DISC EARRINGS, BRACELETS AND KEYCHAINS AVAILABLE.  UNFORTUNATELY, I’M HAVING TROUBLE TRYING TO GET THE REST OF THE IMAGES UP, BUT HOPEFULLY, THAT WILL BE RESOLVED SOON.