San Miguel De Allende gets the latter part of its name from Ignacio José de Allende y Unzaga, a general in the Mexican Army and a hero of Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain. This rebellious and radical character still exists in the town to this day. A diverse community of immigrants from the United States as well as other parts of Mexico and Europe alongside locals and indigenous communities that have roots here as deep as the earth itself. San Miguel has for a long time been a site of art and politics, a vibrant community dedicated to a the beautiful life.
I have been here for 2 months (alongside my classmate and friend Alyssa Navarrette) now working for two distinct, but intertwined, organizations: The Center for Global Justice, and Tianguis Orgánico y Natural de San Miguel de Allende (TOSMA). The Center for Global Justice was founded by American couple Betsy Bowman and Bob Stone alongside their friend Cliff DuRand. All radical leftist philosophers and teachers they have developed the Center to create a space for scholarship and activism envisioning a new post-capitalist world. As the organization’s vision statement says:
“What is required is no less than bold, transformative thinking in service to the emancipatory projects of our social movements. What is needed is not ivory tower intellectuals, but thinkers rooted in the concrete struggles around us. We strive for a dialectical unity of theory and practice based on the understanding that theory without practice is empty, while practice without theory is blind. We must understand that social action tests theory while at the same time theory informed
by struggle gives direction to our practice. The Research and Learning Center seeks to be a locus of such praxis. We call together activists of all disciplines to form a nurturing community of thinkers in support of progressive social change. Located in San Miguel de Allende, the Center will incorporate resident members, affiliated members located elsewhere, and visiting members. Here in the tranquility of central Mexico we find a refuge for scholars and activists alike to reflect, discuss, write, and learn together in a supportive community.The specific projects undertaken will depend on the interests and talents of the members attracted to this Center and will evolve over time. Persons are drawn to such a center by elective affinity through shared values, visions and missions. The work of the center will be plural and fluid, depending on the interests of those who
Our main work for the Center has been collecting, cataloging and archiving the various educational resources onto the new website. This work has allowed us to explore the history of the organization as well as learn about activism and community development in the area. Visiting the website one can find hundreds or articles and seminars on various topics ranging
from Cuban Communism to Water issues here in San Miguel. However my favorite part of working with the center has been the weekly discussion groups comprised of various board members as well as interested community members from around San Miguel. The discussions mainly center contemporary socialist politics and are always a lively interchange of ideas.
TOSMA is a local market that happens every Saturday from 9:00am to 4:00pm which features all local producers of organic and natural produce, prepared foods, artesanal processed foods as well as art. The governing body of TOSMA is called Impulso Verde and is organized as a cooperative formed by a few of the producers Yolanda, Cesar, Jesus and Luis. The goal is to develop a fair and sustainable way for local producers to develop an economy that supports and benefits themselves. The Market has been operating for 8 years now. While working with TOSMA we have attended and assisted with various workshops on organic
farming, cooperativism, and marketing. Our main project was an anthropological assessment of the tianguis (read: marketplace) focusing first on the consumers and then on the producers. The aim of this assessment was to better understand what is and is not working for the marketplace and what economic, societal and cultural barriers exist that affect the dynamics here.
Towards the end of our time here we began working of an emerging project to create an Universidad de la Tierra (UniTierra) here in Guanajuato (the state San Miguel is in). While this project is in its very nascent stages hopefully future students can pick up where we left off and help bring this very exciting program into existence.
Luisa joined Antioch’s Cooperative Education faculty in 2015. She serves as an Associate Professor of Cooperative Education focusing on performance, women’s and gender studies, international education, and community engagement through the arts. Luisa has designed new co-op coursework engaging art as social practice, community action research, and place-based learning. Her primary focus areas within co-op include the arts and therapeutic practices as well as opportunities in Latin America. In Argentina, Luisa has developed co-op partnerships with organizations engaged in community action and social change, including: Mujeres de Artes Tomar, a feminist performance activist troupe; Fundación Hampatu, engaged in arts, sustainability and skills-based classes; and Club de Reparadores, a "repair club" that recycles and repairs items for reuse.