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):
EDF: Tell us how you became involved for the first time with EcoLogic and what is your role now?
Cuénteme cómo usted (el narrador) participó por primera vez con EcoLogic y cuál es
su papel en estos momentos?
Seve: Four years ago I began working as a Field Technician for the Regional Environmental Collaborative for the Chinantla Region of Oaxaca, Mexico (FARCO); and since then I began my relationship with EcoLogic. I continue in that role and am actively involved not only with the communal landowners (ejidatarios) but also in important debates and discussions about conservation with federal agencies.
Hace 4 años inicié como técnico del Fondo Ambiental Regional de la Chinantla y desde entonces me relacioné con el trabajo de EcoLogic, actualmente soy la técnico de campo de EcoLogic y participó activamente no solo con los ejidatarios sino también en espacios de opinión sobre la conservación y con las dependencias federales.
EDF: From your point of view, describe the most significant change that has been achieved since your involvement with EcoLogic?
Desde su punto de vista, describa el cambio más significativo que se ha logrado desde
su participación con EcoLogic (si no el cambio más significativo—una historia/narración favorita):
Seve: To carry out participatory, diagnostic and baseline studies with the communal lands, that require inclusive processes, as the main issue has been a lack of participation from women landowners.
With much perseverance and hard work, these processes of capacity building, environmental training, and productive development have changed the way in which the communal landowners (ejidatarios) saw and perceived our work. Due to the ability and the tenacity we demonstrated, they realized the worth of our work and partnership. It was especially difficult since they at first refused to be trained by a woman. Soon after, they began to understand that women play an important role daily.
Al realizar los diagnósticos participativos con los ejidos, se requiere de procesos incluyentes en donde el principal rechazo fue por falta de participación de las mujeres ejidatarias.
Con la perseverancia y mucho trabajo, estos procesos de capacitación en temas ambientales y desarrollo productivo cambiaron la forma en que los ejidatarios veían nuestro trabajo por la capacidad demostrada y la tenacidad, sobre todo porque rechazaban ser capacitados por una mujer. Entonces entendieron que las mujeres juegan un rol importante diariamente.
EDF: Why is this significant to you?
¿Por qué es esto significativo para usted?
Seve: In order to improve the quality of life for people and the forest, we must implement green technologies and techniques that at first didn’t seem interesting or valuable to communities due to bad experiences with other government agencies and organizations. We were able to resolve this situation by facilitating learning exchanges between communities.
These communities now demand green technologies and techniques, environmental education and skill building, and support from field technicians in projects that contribute to improving quality of life, conservation, and management of natural resources.
Para mejorar la calidad de vida de las personas y las selvas se requería de implementar ecotecnias que al principio no parecían interesantes debido a que habían tenido malas experiencias con otras dependencias gubernamentales, situación que se resolvió con intercambios de experiencias de ejidos a ejidos.
Actualmente demandan las ecotecnias y capacitaciones entorno a educación ambiental y procesos de acompañamientos técnicos en proyectos que contribuyan a mejorar la calidad de vida y conservación y manejo de los recursos naturales.
The importance of Severiana’s work is bigger than the fact these workshops, discussions, and trainings help to conserve the environment of the Oaxaca region. Severiana’s work is powerful because it changes the way people think, the way people act, the way people see themselves as important actors and agents– people who can achieve conservation and sustainability in rural areas. Severiana’s efforts have effected visible empowerment by expanding the role of women in communities—whose experience, opinions, needs, knowledge, and actions are essential to the restoration and protection of the environment. Promoting women’s ownership of solutions that positively affect the environment and family livelihoods significantly expands the role of women in Oaxaca, and inserts their voice into the conversations that influence the decisions that affect their lives. Building such collective voice, and organizing groups of women together around such strategies is how we believe we can help create lasting social and environmental impacts that will allow for the protection and restoration of the vast, biodiverse landscapes of not only Mexico, but our other project regions as well.