Monday, March 03, 2008

Mary Louise Stone, Building Community: Strategies from the Andes

(This presentation was a part of CIIS Multiversity February 2008.)

Nurturing Andean communities have been vibrant throughout the millennia. The Andean rainbow flag, based on ancient rock art, demonstrates Unity in Diversity, whether expressed in Bolivia’s thirty-two ethnicities, the rainbow colors, or even San Francisco’s multiethnic neighborhoods. Theory becomes practice through Andeans’ constant reciprocity which maintains a dynamic balance among communities. Respect for the Andean Cosmic Mother knits society together with a caring that includes all community members. After twelve years living in Andean communities, I draw examples from traditional agricultural communities as well as urban organizations. Implementing the strategies of reciprocity, Bolivians recently elected South America’s first Indian president after five hundred years of exclusion of indigenous peoples from national life.

Mary Louise Stone taught cross cultural studies in Taos, New Mexico. She continued Latin American studies in Peru and Bolivia on the high plateau of Lake Titiqaqa, the most traditional area of the Andes. Working with native Andean communities, she helped develop workshops and intensive home-stays in which Andeans teach visitors about their own worldview, ecology, and community life. She is a student in the Women’s Spirituality Master’s program and is writing a portion of what she learned about Andean spirituality in her thesis "The Andean Cosmic Mother and Her Culture of Reciprocity".

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