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Peter Brown's Independence Day message to Schools for Chiapas supporters. Please share.

September 15, 2022 ~ Desde Gringolandia

Dear Schools for Chiapas supporter,

Thank you so much for your generous support of the autonomous Mayan communities of Chiapas, Mexico during this horrible, and never-ending, pandemic. Happy Mexican Independence Day!

When COVID-19 appeared on the scene and the Zapatistas took carefully-planned, science-based measures to protect their communities, Schools for Chiapas had approximately 500 donors and about 25 volunteers. At that critical moment, we upped-our-game decisively in order to face the emerging crisis.

Today, Schools for Chiapas has more than 1500 donors (a 300% increase) and over 200 volunteers! In addition, because of your tremendous outpouring of support, we achieved remarkable financial successes during the pandemic. During each of the last two years we have donated $100,000 to Zapatista schools and hospitals. Our sales of products made by Zapatistas have also gone through the roof and provided significant resources directly to Mayan farming families through the sale of Zapatist made products like Mayan weavings and the delicious, Zapatista grown, organic coffee professionally roasted and shipped by Higher Grounds Coffees! Remember you can get great Zapatista produced coffee and other unique products at our online store.

Over the last few months our core team including board of directors, advisors, staff, and volunteers have planned and organized big changes at Schools for Chiapas. Now I can finally step back a little and enjoy my retirement; confident that our new expanded transition team will continue to provide unique solidary with the Mayan communities of Chiapas. I want to give special thanks to long term board of director members Ernie McCray and Adriana Barraza who have agreed to remain with me on the board of directors. During the pandemic we have greatly strengthened our volunteers, advisors, staff, and funding networks; most importantly a skilled and experienced transition team has taken over the administration of Schools for Chiapas. I’m a little sad to have retired from my role as Executive Director, but I feel good about the changes we’ve made and I will remain as a voice on the new, expanded Board of Directors.

I’m particularly excited to tell you that three amazing activists with deep roots in Chiapas solidarity work have joined the expanded Schools for Chiapas leadership and administrative teams. Over the 619-232-2841 Basketball star, poet, singer, and educator Ernie McCray continues to serve on the Schools for Chiapas board of directors. CHIAPASletter2022-23v2.indd 1 9/8/2022 6:16:19 PM 619-232-2841 coming months please stay tuned to meet, greet, and support these experienced, creative, and skilled activists ~ welcome and thanks to Coni, Paco, and Katie who along with Adriana have assumed administrative control. Thanks also to Ernie McCray who has agreed to continue to serve on the board as an Emeritus director.

In preparing for these significant organizational changes, the entire team has carefully deepened relationships internally as well as with several organizations. Including Fray BA, DESMI, Solidarity Farms, and Imagine Arte. These deepened ties bode well for the long-term stability of Schools for Chiapas and for our continued ability to play a significant solidarity role in Zapatista solidarity. We urge you to support our expansion and leadership changes: specifically, we hope that you, and your family will remain committed to Schools for Chiapas. We need you now more than ever!

After my retirement from the job of Executive Director, I have remained on the Board of Directors and will pay an active role in Chiapas Solidarity work as an “Emeritus” member board. In this stage of my life as I continue to recover from the stroke three years ago, I have also joyfully taken on several exciting new challenges. Specifically, I’m dedicating whatever time I have left on this planet to live and love and learn as an environmentalist activist, a tree hugger ~ which is to say a water protector. I am working from long distance at the Redwood Forests’ Ecology Center which preserving Redwoods and water. Now that I’m older and (hopefully) wiser, it is clear to me that Mother Earth needs our help right now!

Please keep in touch with my new work by subscribing to ClimateIsCentral using the form below!

When Susan and I visited Standing Rock a few years ago in the bitter cold northern winter, we heard tribal youth and elders singing, teaching, and saying that “Water is Life” ~ or in their language ~ “Mní Wičóni”. Indigenous people believe that in order to survive, humans must keep the oil under the soil - and clean the carbon from the sky! They suggest that we could plant millions of big trees in order to scrub the carbon from the sky. I’m excited to be working to save and protect Redwood forests which sequester more carbon than any other forest on this planet. I hope that you will decide to keep in touch by subscribing to this blog using the form below.

In the new blog and web page, we will introduce you to the Redwood Forests Ecology Center (El Centro de la Madre Tierra), feature incredible artists, introduce profound activists, and share experiences (“Memories and Tall Tales”) from the last 50 years of activism. “Climate is Central” will function as an online voice to promote social activism a variety of dynamic social movements. Most importantly, we also will introduce you to some of the incredible human beings we’ve loved and learned from in recent decades. To that end we will share art and stories, find cutting-edge journalism, organize chats, Facebook postings, and email conversations. Perhaps together we that can create practical plans for birthing / inventing a new and better world where our kids, grandkids, and Mother Nature can thrive and survive.

My re-invention as a full-time, tree hugging Water Protector feels like a return to my roots as the Eagle Scout who learned from black women union organizers organizing textile mills and working for peace in Vietnam and against nuclear power plants in South Carolina in the 1960’s. All my energy is again focused on working for peace, social justice, and the environment. I’m especially excited about deepening my involvement with Redwood forests, Regenerative Agriculture, and Carbon Sink farming ~ in particular I’m also grateful to be working with friends on the food forest at Solidarity Farms and the new Borderlands BioChar Center also located on Solidarity Farms. Perhaps you can visit this “destination” farm near Escondido, CA in person ~ or perhaps you’ll enjoy the photos and stories we will share with our subscribers at the “Climate is Central” blog. But wherever you live (and whatever causes you’re involved with), we hope you’ll become a subscriber and supporter of the new climate coalition.

For the last 18 years, my partner Susan has served as the super-hard-working volunteer bookkeeper at Schools for Chiapas; after all these years, she too is ready to retire. During the last 20 years many of you know she has been and central to growing Schools for Chiapas. During the last three years she has continued to sacrifice herself allowing me survive and recover from the massive stroke I suffered just before the pandemic. She has helped recruit and train the transition team and participated in creating a powerful new, streamlined accounting system at Schools for Chiapas. Susan is also deeply involved exploring how we can resist the climate crisis by leaving a legacy of healthy Redwood forests for future generations. In addition, the brilliant and succinct words she wrote to the IRS summarizing the work of Schools for Chiapas is now available to the public on the nonprofit organization website called GuideStar.

Like me, Susan is also taking on new challenges while continuing a few long term projects. She is committed to continuing as a trusted advisor to Schools for Chiapas and is very involved in San Diego’s amateur folk / rock music scene. In addition, with her new hip she’s participating in a synchronized swimming team and has found us a wonderful rescue doggie from Ensenada. His name is Guillermo (Memo for short). We are looking forward to increased time with Memo while supporting resistances in environmental “hot spots” like the Redwoods of Northern California and southern Chile.

The Zapatistas often say that our rebel hearts are “below, and on the left”. This is true literally, and the saying itself is a powerful allegory explaining that ordinary people have the capacity and strength to protect water and to speak out against the madness.

“Ya Basta” means “Enough really is, ENOUGH”! Because so many Schools for Chiapas supporters have such enormously generous hearts, we have been able to provide the Zapatistas with significant solidarity since 1994. During the pandemic we substantially increased our financial donations to the Zapatistas. Thank you for making those important donations possible when they were needed so badly in Chiapas.

As a “base of support” of Schools for Chiapas you remain critical to our ability to provide solidarity and resources to Mayan people who are in struggle to save our planet and human civilization. And as a conscious human being, I hope that you will also subscribe to ClimateIsCentral using the form below.

For decades your generosity in donating time and resources have made a big difference; now, as our situation become more difficult, I hope you will continue to do what you can for dignity, democracy, and justice. As we’ve said often, it is people-of-conscience from many walks of life, from many geographies, and with many languages who make effective solidarity possible. Let’s organize ourselves in new and massive ways to respect the planet and all living things. “Viva la Madre Tierra”!

Please keep in touch and please continue to be our friends, our advisors, and our community as we face the dangerous realities of climate change. We need each other now more than ever! Schools for Chiapas is currently rededicating itself to responsible environment practices and to continuing support of education for Mayan kids, and respect for indigenous peoples everywhere.

Thank you for all you do! “Viva la Madre Tierra” y “Hasta la Victoria, ZAPATISTA”!

- Peter Brown aka Pedro Cafe | |

PS - Please support Peter Brown as he works for peace, preserves Redwood forests, and protects water! Join Peter at “Ya Basta! Climate is Central” by subscribing below

PS - Finally, if you are currently a monthly donor or an occasional volunteer with Schools for Chiapas, please remain involved if that’s still possible for you. And remember! ~ someone you love would love a Zapatista gift! It’s the most important gift you’ll ever make! Your gift purchases and donations at Schools for Chiapas remain vital.

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