Say hello to Alejandra and Esteban.
They are friends we have made in the three months living here in Barichara. Yesterday we were invited to dine with them — together with three generations of family members and other friends — feeling welcomed and vibrant as human beings.
My family came to Colombia on a quest to discover how to live regeneratively. We want to raise our daughter Elise in an indigenous pattern of deep nature immersion, multi-language and multi-culture perspectives, and supported fully by the nurturance of healthy parents who role-model a life worth living.
We also want to raise Elise immersed in large-scale landscape restoration projects. Here in Barichara there is a plateau of deforested land where fifteen tributaries used to drain into the Barichara River. More than three decades ago, the soon to be extinct biome known as a tropical dry forest was cut away for the growth and sale of tobacco. This destroyed the regional hydrology and pushed the rivers underground.
This is also a place where three indigenous communities used to live in relative harmony with each other and the land around them. When the Spanish arrived five hundred years ago, all three communities were destroyed. They died. All that is left is their memory stored as archaeological fossils. Yet somehow, if a person walks slowly through the landscape, it is possible to still feel their presence among us.
They whisper in their sacred ceremonial sites that the water might once again run over the surface; lush forests may once again cover the Earth; the chatter and songs of birds and insects might once again fill the air.
Our family has been hosting a couple — the man from Australia and the woman from Lithuania — for the last week in our home. They came here because they are “collapse aware” and want to learn how to live regeneratively. Our evenings have been filled with conversations that go late into the night exploring how to create regenerative economic models at human scales while setting in place the social/emotional foundations for cooperation that might rise to the landscape scale.
It is all beginning to feel real and possible.
I share this story as a reminder that collapse does not mean the end of all things. It merely means we are forced into ecological succession and must hospice the old while midwifing the new.
In doing so, we remember our basic humanity and rediscover joys long ago forgotten.
Onward, fellow humans.