Guilty again for not posting for so long! I’ve been doing a ton of work lately on revamping CES’s social media presence, including our two blogs, Real Impact and Field Stories, facebook, twitter, and instagram…so needless to say I have had next to no time for any personal writing.

Biggest success of this month: taking apart, putting back together, and selling Solola's FIRST "Estrella de la Cocina" improved cookstove

Biggest success of this month: taking apart, putting back together, and selling Solola’s FIRST “Estrella de la Cocina” improved cookstove

In general, things have been good, albeit hectic. On February 15, we launched a new “1000 Communities” Strategy, in which CES internationally has declared that we will reach 1000 communities around the world, by February 15, 2015, with a minimum sales goal. We’ve divvied up communities by country and by region, leaving Solola with 75 – which is, quite honestly, a LOT. Juana and I have spent the past month or so formulating our plan to tackle this bold strategy, and have started off by conducting community diagnostics in a number of new communities where we’d like to work, to determine which products will be the best product to focus on in each community, and what will be the best way to provide access to that product. So – that’s the quick and dirty work update. Plenty of other things going on too, from social media to my blogging/organization research for the peacebuilding organization Insight on Conflict, to prepping for summer student programs and managing Good Stuff Good Works, our artisan export program…so as always, I feel like I’m constantly being pulled in a million directions but the flexibility and independence is a lot of fun.

Juana and I purchasing scarves from Asociacion Maya, to send to former students through Good Stuff Good Works

Juana and I purchasing scarves from Asociacion Maya, to send to former students through Good Stuff Good Works

A quick (somewhat unrelated) story: this morning, I had a call with a current Berkeley student, asking if she could interview me for a Blum Center newsletter about Global Poverty alumni and where they are today, and it was a lot of fun tracing through my whole “Global Poverty trajectory,” especially in seeing how much things have come full circle since I was that super idealistic freshman hearing President Clinton speak on campus about civic engagement and student involvement in international development. She asked me to recount a particular moment or event from my Practice Experience here in Guatemala three years ago, and I told her about an amazingly memorable trip towards the end of my Nest Fellowship, when I traveled up to the town of Rabinal for a few days, with two of OB’s Community Facilitators, Lety and Mildre (see my old blog posts from back in the day, here and here!), and how wonderful it was to spend time with two incredible, young Guatemalan women who, despite their different backgrounds, were really not all that different from myself. I’ll never forgot our first night in Rabinal, when Lety and Mildre changed out of their indigenous dress and into jeans and tank tops…and we wandered the town, snacking on local foods and sharing stories (in my broken Spanish) about our families, our hopes, and our teams.

As a jovencita in Rabinal, three years ago - with Mildre, and my co-fellow Darcy

As a jovencita in Rabinal, three years ago – with Mildre, and my co-fellow Darcy

And then I was able to recount how last week, I ran into Lety and Mildre on Pana’s main street, found out they were looking for work, and was able to set up a meeting with them to talk about them potentially working with SolCom, as asesoras or promotores. Yesterday morning, they came to our office to meet with Juana and I, and we talked for almost three hours – their ideas and energy are incredible, as I always remembered, and I am so excited to bring them into the SolCom family – but beyond that, it just felt so so good to be able to sit there for so long and talk about our shared visions on how to support local communities, as peers and as friends. I remember during most of my Fellowship at OB three years ago feeling overwhelmed and just so inexperienced, and trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible from the local staff, and though I still try to soak up as much from my local team and local community members as possible, it feels good to know that I can sit and have an educated, productive conversation about our water filters and stoves and the struggles that we have in making them accessible to those who need them most – and with two Mayan women who I now consider great friends and truly inspirational Mayan women, as opposed to just (former) co-workers. 

So, that’s my (much delayed) update. More soon!

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