Fernando Recancoj’s Most Significant Change: Empowerment & Adaptation


Fernando Recancoj stopping for a snapshot mid conversation with me next to the “viveros,” or tree nurseries, in Totonicapán

This week, in EcoLogic’s regional office in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (known locally as Xela, a homage to its indigenous name Xelaju), EcoLogic Communications Officer, Riley Hunter, sat down with Fernando Recancoj, long-time EcoLogic Field Technician for our Totonicapán project to get a better idea of what makes EcoLogic unique, why Fernando has stayed so committed to EcoLogic for 9 years, and why he is confident that EcoLogic the best place for him to create change and help rural and indigenous communities conserve their natural resources in Totonicapán.
read on to hear more from Fernando.

Illegal Logging in Totonicapán: A persistent problem requires a unique approach


The long, windy highway from the town of Totonicapán to the edge of the communal forest– EcoLogic’s tree nurseries are located

This article is the first installment of a multiple-part story series intended to take a deep-dive into a specific issue — unsustainable timber extraction, or logging — at one of our long-standing project sites: the Communal Forest of Los Altos de San Miguel in Totonicapán, Guatemala. As the story unfolds, you will learn about the complexities of the logging issue, the players involved and their needs/motivations, the impact of logging on forest resources and biodiversity, as well as the unique history and current realities of Totonicapán, Guatemala.

read on for more about Totonicapán.

Guatemalan Environmental Journalist, Lucy Calderón, Wins First Place for Article on Climate Change in Totonicapán

This past November, Guatemalan environmental journalist Lucy Calderón took a trip to our project sites in Totonicapán, Guatemala to write a story on how local environmental groups are confronting issues of climate change. Lucy and Guatemala Country Officer, Mario de León, met at a climate change event (Congreso Nacional de Cambio Climático) in Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala and Mario invited Lucy to visit and experience our community-based conservation work. This December, after Lucy published an article about her experience with EcoLogic to various news outlets focused on conservation, she was awarded the first place prize by LatinClima and the Earth Journalism Network, CATIE (Tropical Agronomic Research and Teaching Center)  and the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica for the best Latin American story on adaptation to climate change.

Below, in Spanish and English, is Lucy’s article, and the videos and photography that accompany her story. We are very proud that she chose to write about our work, and we congratulate her for being awarded first place!

*Note: The original article was written in Spanish. EcoLogic intern Dulce Gutierrez has provided English translation for this article, and each Spanish paragraph has an English translation that immediately follows

Educación y organización comunitaria son claves para convivir con el cambio climático 

See the rest of Lucy’s article.

Bravo! A Great Success for EcoLogic’s Not-So-Typical Benefit


The excellent table facilitators and EcoLogic Executive Director Barbara Vallarino

Dear friends of EcoLogic,

Thank you so much for attending EcoLogic’s third annual Turning the Tables benefit. For those of you who made it, we’re so grateful you could join us to celebrate EcoLogic’s impact and come closer together as a community of allies dedicated to a more sustainable, just world. For those of you who couldn’t make it this year, we hope this event summary inspires you to join us in the future! It was a big success not only for us, but for rural and indigenous people in Central America and Mexico—as well as for our caring community here in Boston.

EcoLogic’s third annual Turning the Tables, which took place on October 20th, was a unique and creative evening full of dialogue between concerned citizens who care about the issues that affect people and planet. EcoLogic hosted both core supporters and new guests at the historic Commander’s Mansion in Watertown. The space was thoughtfully decorated with paintings made by artisans in Guatemala, videos relayed from field staff in Honduras, and auction items donated from Mexico, Belize, and beyond!

See more photos of the event.

From Socioeconomic Studies to Educational Talks: A USAC intern’s Experience in Totonicapán

At EcoLogic, we love to brag about our amazing interns. With bright minds and unbridled enthusiasm, they bring a wealth of much welcomed, fresh energy to our work. However, we don’t often highlight the brilliant interns that offer the same great ideas and helping hands to our regional staff and our partners in the field.

In Totonicapán, Guatemala, there’s an intern who brings exactly all the qualities and benefits we’ve just described, and has worked with EcoLogic and our local partner, The Natural Resource Council of The Mayors of the 48 Cantones, since early 2016. Her name is Rosario Concepción Morales Tzic.

Rosario was originally linked with 48 Cantones through her program at the University Center of Totonicapán, part of the University of San Carlos in Guatemala. Rosario’s original project was to undertake a socioeconomic baseline study of a community in the area with the help and guidance of 48 Cantones. As Rosario mentions in the video, her involvement and role expanded once she connected with EcoLogic Field Technician Fernando Recancoj and became aware of our work. Shortly after, EcoLogic staff and USAC students began to explore their mutual interests and eventually formalized a partnership with the university, so that students in the area could learn about and participate in projects related to community-based conservation.

Below is a short video of Rosario explaining a bit about her work and why she has enjoyed partnering with EcoLogic. It is in Spanish, but no worries if you don’t speak it—we’ve subtitled it for you. We hope that you enjoy a bit of insight into her fieldwork and maybe get a chance to practice your Spanish listening skills, too!

See more on Rosario’s study.

Staff Spotlight: Severiana Dominguez Gonzalez


Last week at EcoLogic we were reflecting on our work in Mexico and our particularly impressive staff in the region, when we realized we were long overdue for a Staff Spotlight on a uniquely passionate and powerful Field Technician. Severiana has been with EcoLogic since 2012 and has amassed many inspiring stories while working with rural and indigenous communities in Oaxaca, and especially enjoys seeing the benefits that EcoLogic’s work provides for women. So, we sat down with Seve (pronounced: say-vay) as she is called for short, to shine the Staff Spotlight on her this month and make sure our supporters and readers know about her dedication and amazing impact.

Here’s what she had to say (in English and Spanish):

See what Severiana has to say.

PhotoVoice: An All-Staff Activity to Share Knowledge and Engage our Experts in the Field

You’ve likely heard this before, but at EcoLogic we implement a number of participatory workshops and activities. We do this so that communities recognize themselves as co-owners of project plans and initiatives, and our partner communities themselves can drive the conservation process in a way that aligns with their needs and interests. We believe that communities must be involved throughout the entire project cycle, from initial planning all the way to monitoring and evaluation. Our commitment to participatory processes ensures that our projects respond to locally defined needs and priorities, and are adapted to the unique environmental and social challenges of each community. This approach advances our mission to empower rural and indigenous people—and increases the likelihood that our initiatives are sustainable over the long-term.

Participatory approaches to development include a number of valuable tools that facilitate the inclusion and engagement necessary to give an equal voice to all involved. One particularly useful method used for this is called PhotoVoice—which is a process that allows people to identify, represent, and enhance their projects, plans, and goals through a specific photographic technique.

Just as we believe all community members must have an equal voice and a seat at the table, we think the same principles must be applied to all of our staff. So, this past September, EcoLogic engaged all US-based and regional staff in an organization-wide activity meant to gather information and insight on how EcoLogic is understood, identified, and represented in the many diverse communities in which we work across Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. The activity was meant to enable people to reflect about EcoLogic’s strengths and voice their opinions, while also promoting dialogue and knowledge-sharing. Participants were asked to each select a photo that they believe exemplifies EcoLogic’s role and process of working, and were later prompted to reflect upon the pictures through both written narratives and group discussions—a methodology called PhotoVoice.

Our recent PhotoVoice workshop had over 20 participants that engaged remotely from the regions in which we work. Together, participants shared over 20 photos and accompanying narratives that shared important information about EcoLogic. We plan to incorporate this information into a wide variety of project planning, fundraising, and communications materials. But most importantly, the activity gave everyone an opportunity to voice their expertise from the field in their own words, with their own representation. The meaningful dialogue and reflection about EcoLogic’s work that the activity generated will be integrated into our organizational vision, allow us to grow, and shape our future plans and project designs around rich, quality, information gathered from the knowledgeable minds of our expert staff.

Oh, and as a bonus, everyone got to share amazing photos that others had yet to see! Here are some of our favorite photos and reflections:


Name and role: Marco Acevedo, Program Officer for Mexico

Project and location of the photo: Chinantla, San Lucas Ojitlán

Approximate date: 2013

Title: Perseverance and Transcendence

From your point of view, why is this photo significant and how does it represent EcoLogic’s role?

This photo represents two aspects of EcoLogic. The first is the perseverance that EcoLogic has to continue our work even when the road isn’t easy or when we encounter many obstacles. But, we have been able to build processes that allow us to advance and grow. The second aspect has to do with with how we propel conservation and bring it to the people and the lessons that we learn along the path of doing things together.

See more PhotoVoice reflections.