AlterNatives is more than a business. It is a community of changemakers creating the world we wish to experience. We are all riding on a wave of expansion triggered by the Big Bang. Each and every one of us has a sacred trust to channel the energies of the cosmos into pleasing and beneficial forms.
We believe the market can be a source of life and happiness. For centuries, markets have united people in exchange networks that sustain life. We are creating an economy that meets the needs of people and is ecololgically, culturally and spiritually sustaining.
We are Indignenous and non-Indigenous people working together in a multi-cultural partnership to create new models of exhanges based on the values of our grandmothers. We are united behind the vision of Guadalupe Ramirez, a humble change agent probably lifting boxes or cleaning the back room as you read this. Leading by example, she has labored to bring justice to her people and bring beauty to the world.
"In my culture, weaving is a sacred act. Many of our patterns come from a dream state. We dream our designs and then weave them into this time and space we experience together on Earth. When I wear one of my huipiles, a traditional blouse of my people, I am donning the cosmos. The symbols, shapes and colors are representative of forces that we wish to bring to life.
It is the same in our fields. You may notice that we decorate our fields with flowers. I was onced asked by a visiting agronomer about the purpose of the flowers. He was surprised when I responded that we did this to create a pleasant place to work and live. Now, it is true that there are sympathetic relationships between the flowers and the plants. They do serve a purpose for pollination, attract the right kind of wasp to protect our plants. Today, many people only think in terms of productivity. I believe that we discover these beneficial relationships because beauty and harmony are the building blocks of life.
We believe that the aesthetic, the study of beauty, is more than an issue of something being nice. I’ve noticed that in the North, people think of art as a kind of decoration or recreational pursuit. It is hard for me to communicate the difference in our vision of the importance of art. We know that life is formed from attraction. Death is entropy. Things falling apart. Therefore, attraction is a force in the cosmos to create and sustain life.
We feel that it is important for politicians, businesspeople, architects, all professionals to understand and act with aesthetics. Their creations should be pleasant and sustain life. Laws should read like poetry and cities should be in harmony with the creator.
If our kids are indoctrinated in schools that look like prisons, taught that self-interest is the only rational goal and productivity is the primary God that we serve, what type of world will they create?
While many have become paralyzed by what has been lost to globalization and the challenges to access opportunity, I’ve chosen to view this time in history that I’ve been destined to live as a great opportunity. In the past 500 years, what we Indigenous people did was of little consequence because we did not have the power to impact other cultures. Today, now that we all belong to one global culture, it is possible for us to effect change as partners, sisters, members of the same global family.
AlterNatives is our sincere effort to adapt to and shape the globalized economy and culture. I wish to share the wisdom of my culture and work with others to construct a more harmonious and beautiful world for the next seven generations".
Guadalupe Ramirez - Founding trustee of AlterNatives and the Association of Highland Women
AlterNatives is a non-profit business trust established by the Highland Support Project in 1993 for the purpose of developing markets for weavings of Highland Maya women widowed by political violence in Guatemala.
AlterNatives is a sister organization of the Association of Highland Women. AMA organizes women into mutual support circles and provides accompaniment to assist members solve problems and access opportunity.