Our Approach and Philosophy
The Sexto Sol Center for Community Action is a U.S. based non-profit organization (501(c)3) dedicated to implementing grassroots solutions to the severe economic and ecological challenges faced by impoverished indigenous campesino communities in the Sierra Madre of Chiapas. The field team develops and implements the projects from our permanent field office in Motozintla, Chiapas, Mexico. Through the Center’s programs, since 1997 we have been helping people to create new opportunities to reach a better quality of life for their families while using the land in a more ecologically sustainable way.
In general we promote the ethic of "community action" whereby community members work together to solve common problems or the reach common goals. We organize cooperatives as the best way for farmers to pool limited resources to create the infrastructure to allow them to market their goods in volume for the best possible returns. The cooperative model provides a pathway out of poverty and isolation. It has great potential as a way to create economic opportunities, the mutual support of a healthy community, and eventually true democracy.
Our long-range vision is to create a more vigorous and diverse economy in the Sierra Madre. As has been done brilliantly in Columbia by small-scale coffee producers and the celebrated Mondragon cooperatives in Spain, a fund from the sale of a cooperative’s product can be used as start-up capital to create new enterprises. In this way families will be empowered to create opportunities in their own homeland rather than having to send their men on the dangerous journey to find work as undocumented workers in the U.S. as is the case in the majority of families now.
To set the process in motion toward that goal, we use an approach that follows specific steps – identify the obstacles to better production, work with the people to identify solutions, organize cooperatives, and market the products where prices are best. Each of our current projects aims to address one of these steps for the communities involved.
All of the work has the additional environmental goals of restoring the damaged eco-system, finding solutions to activities which pollute, helping people to use production practices which are ecologically harmonious, and fostering an attitude of stewardship. In the developing world, poverty and environmental degradation each exacerbate the other. We believe that one can not be addressed without work to address the other. For this reason, through our environmental work we also aim to create economic opportunity with a light footprint on the natural world. Read more on our approach to the environmental challenges of the region.
Helping to repair the relationship between people and the Earth, a pragmatic approach
The struggle to rise above hunger and poverty is the most important motivater in impoverished communities. Apart from the obvious duty to help our brothers and sisters to achieve a secure and dignified life, it is necessary for the success of any environmental work in the developing world that it include sustainable strategies to help the local people to progress economically.
Philosophically, we do not see people as separate from the natural world, rather we seek ways to help the entire system, people included, to reach a balance within the carrying capacity of the land. In a damaged region like the Sierra Madre, this is a daunting task. But just as the voyage of a 1000 miles begins with the first step, reforestation takes place tree by tree, and establishing an ethic of right stewardship, person by person.
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Our work is made possible by the financial support of people like you
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