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Cabarete Sostenible Receives Climate Knowledge Grant from Columbia University

At Cabarete Sostenible, we are thrilled to announce a significant milestone in our journey towards fostering sustainable practices and community resilience. Thanks to the generous support of Columbia University, we have been selected as a recipient for the Community-Driven Co-Production of Climate Knowledge Small Grant, facilitated by the esteemed Columbia University Center for Science and Society and Columbia Climate School.

This grant is a testament to the power of collaboration, as it aims to fund projects that bring together indigenous communities and Columbia University affiliates to tackle climate change issues. Our proposal, titled "Konuko La Loma: A Hub for Caribbean Ancestral Resilience to Climate Change," stood out among many, reflecting our dedication to sustainable agriculture and community empowerment.

Konuko La Loma: A Beacon of Resilience

The heart of our project lies in our Finca Comunitaria inside the Monumento Natural Lagunas Cabarete y Goleta, nestled within the Dominican Republic. Here, in collaboration with local residents, Cabarete Sostenible, Centro de Saberes Ancestrales del Caribe (Taino Studies), and Columbia GSAPP, we envision the creation of a sustainable agricultural hub rooted in Indigenous wisdom.

Our initiative seeks to revive traditional agricultural practices that have sustained Caribbean communities for centuries. By leveraging co-produced and adapted knowledge, we aim to cultivate the land in a manner that respects both nature and culture. Moreover, we recognize the importance of empowering communities impacted by the pressures of modern tourism and climate change.

Preserving Heritage, Cultivating Resilience

At the core of Konuko La Loma lies a commitment to preserving local heritage and fostering resilience. Through a combination of land cultivation and oral history preservation, we aim to document the rich experiences of La Loma's residents. Workshops, cultivation days, and community gatherings will serve as platforms for sharing knowledge and stories, ensuring that valuable insights are both preserved and disseminated.

Furthermore, the lessons learned from our project will not be confined to the Monumento Natural. We aspire to create a replicable model that can be adapted by other Caribbean communities grappling with similar challenges. By reclaiming ancient practices for land stewardship, these communities can enhance their adaptive capacity in the face of climate change.

Leading the charge on Konuko La Loma are esteemed individuals who share our vision for sustainability and community resilience. Moraima Capellan Pichardo, our co-director, alongside Alfonso Peralta, founder of Centro de Saberes Ancestrales del Caribe (Taino Studies), and Elizabeth Milagros Alvarez, a doctoral student at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, bring a wealth of expertise and passion to the project.

As we embark on this exciting journey, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to Columbia University for their belief in our vision. 

In conclusion, the receipt of the Community-Driven Co-Production of Climate Knowledge Small Grant marks a significant milestone for Cabarete Sostenible and our partners. Through collaboration and shared commitment, we are poised to create a beacon of resilience in Monumento Natural Lagunas Cabarete y Goleta. Together, we can harness the power of ancestral wisdom to confront the challenges of climate change and build a more sustainable world for generations to come.

About the team:

Elizabeth Milagros Alvarez, doctoral student at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation:

Elizabeth is a Caribbeanist urbanist researcher, whose interests are grounded in her experience as a Black immigrant and city dweller in Santo Domingo and the Bronx. She is interested in how the home acts as a locus of mediation for large-scale transformations, particularly that of globalized capital and its spatialized local contexts. Her research focuses on how the coloniality of tourism sites complicates the concept of housing, transforming it into a hub for assetization and transnational activities. This political economic construction of the home aims to challenge the relationship between the housing, residents, the market and the state, in tourism-developed economies where planning contexts are undergirded by both processes of dispossession as well as the framework of popular rentier capitalism. Elizabeth’s work has also examined the emergence of Caribbean tourism as a development policy in the historical context of U.S. imperialism. She holds a master’s degree in public and urban policy from The New School. Prior to doctoral research, Elizabeth’s career spanned the fields of  journalism, public relations and market research, most recently managing a $2M portfolio for Brandwatch. 

Moraima Capellán Pichardo, co-founder and executive director of Cabarete Sostenible:

Moraima Capellán Pichardo is a Dominican-born, Brooklyn-raised, professional writer, visual creator, organizer, and yoga teacher. After completing her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Cinema and Screen Studies from the State University of New York at Oswego, Moraima worked in marketing and web management with communications companies such as the Bushwick Film Festival and American Telecommunications Inc.  She has written for Oprah Daily, The Huffington Post, La Galeria Magazine, and Healthista, among others. Her published work often focuses on the cultural analysis of the immigrant experience and social justice on and off screen. After living in New York, Moraima returned home and is based in Cabarete, Dominican Republic.

Prof. Alfonso Peralta, founder of Centro de Saberes Ancestrales del Caribe also known as Taino Studies:

Alfonso Peralta is an indigenous leader, professor and writer of the Arawak Karibe Nation. He founded the Centro de Saberes Ancestrales del Caribe in 2019, a center dedicated to the education, wisdom teachings and indigenous Caribbean languages, sharing offerings in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Borikén (Puerto Rico), Trinidad and Tobago, USA, Peru, Brasil, and Colombia. He has written two books on Caribbean ancestral culture and recorded Arawak medicine music. Beyond his degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Sciences and Political Science with a master's degree in Science, Technology and Public Policy, he has received native educational training in the mountains and campos with Abuelas and Taitas of the Arawak (Taino), Lakota, Cree, Yepá Mahsã (Tukano), Quechua, Ewe, Yoruba and Potiguará nations. He taught at Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) in Santo Domingo and Michigan State University in East Lansing, covering social sciences, didactics, geography, and history of Afro-Caribbean culture.

Alfonso dedicates his life to preserving nature, life and indigenous wisdom,  sharing the education, language and cosmovision of the native peoples of the Caribbean, committed to sharing the ancestral knowledge of Abuelas and Taitas for the benefit of all beings and the Earth. 

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