Help Improve Workshop Access for Central Americans
By Tim O'Hara
Workshops, one of many forms of education, are expensive to organize, risky to run, and an immense amount of work to pull off and host well. They can also be transformational and inspirational for the participants and provide them with an amazing educational experience. We have been offering life-changing courses and classes in a vast array of areas related to sustainability for over 15 years. During this time our core team has reflected on how to assure that our offerings are accessible to as many people as possible, especially low-income and future leaders in our region, without running our business into the red. It’s been a fine line to walk and one that we’ve commonly fallen on the wrong side of.
In 2015 we began a discussion about how to provide Central Americans with options to apply for economic assistance to attend permaculture, natural building and other sustainability related courses in our region. It is not uncommon for regional workshops to cost working Central Americans months of pay or more. Moreover, workshop students commonly lose income and make other sacrifices while away from their obligations at home. It’s a difficult situation that leaves these opportunities out of reach to the majority of people that are interested in them. From our observations, there are a growing number of people in our area that have a strong desire to participate in courses which will expand their horizons, expose them to valuable networking opportunities, and provide them with hard skills that they can take back to their communities. With all of this in mind, the idea of a scholarship fund began to emerge and make increasing sense.
Mastate Charitable Foundation (MCF), a small non-profit under the umbrella of the Marion Institute, achieved some important fundraising successes in 2015-16 that allowed them to create a Central American Scholarship Fund Program that provided seven partial scholarships to our Permaculture Design and Wilderness First Responder Certification courses and 2017 Apprenticeship in Sustainable Living.
Based on these favorable developments and the associated positive experiences participants had, we have been encouraged to look for ways to expand this program so as to meet the growing demand for these types of opportunities in the future.
Rancho Mastatal has already received over 20 scholarship applications for classes taking place in 2017. We believe that there are few better investments than supporting meaningful and empowering education for leaders rooted in their communities. In too many cases, populations worldwide have suffered the degradation of their communal structures from years of neglect and shrinking budgets, brain drain, worsening economic situations, and environmental atrocities that make living in certain areas of the world less viable. To rebuild will require courageous leadership, hard work and resources.
If you or someone you know would like to sponsor one or more scholarships during the upcoming calendar year please learn more about MCFs charitable work here. Tax deductible donations for the Central American Scholarship Fund can be made here. General donations can also be made on the MCF website here. The opportunities provided by your assistance can change the trajectory of not only a scholarship recipient but of their entire community. Help us to support a more sustainable future for Central America.
NEWS FROM AROUND THE PERMACULTURE COMMUNITY
We love food preservation at the Ranch, usually by means of fermentation. One of our challenges is finding good supplies, e.g. food grade, appropriate scale, etc., here in Costa Rica. But for you all in the States, you might check out Pantry Paratus for a great selection of supplies.
As our team at the Ranch looks toward the future, we've found much inspiration in the recent writings on commoning by David Bollier. We highly recommend the article Commoning as a Transformative Social Paradigm. You may also want to check out the workshop Reinventing the Commons: Social Ecosystems for Local Stewardship & Planetary Survival.
The Ranch Crew