Sachamama Center for BioCultural Regeneration (SCBR) is a non-profit organization in the Peruvian High Amazon with a field station in the town of Lamas, Department of San Martin, Peru and a directorate in Cambridge, Massachusetts, dedicated to the biocultural regeneration of the region in collaboration with the indigenous Kichwa-Lamistas, the descendants of pre-Columbian inhabitants, as well as with the local Education Board of the province of Lamas (Sp. acronym UGEL). SCBR was founded in 2009 by the anthropologist Frédérique Apffel-Marglin. SCBR shares a worldview in which the human, the non-human, as well as the community of spirits, are all kin to each other, treating nature as a Thou rather than an it. By ‘biocultural regeneration’ we mean to honor this integration of all life as well as the cyclicity of its rhythms. It is also meant to obviate the backward/advanced implications of more linear formulations.

SCBR is bringing together an expanding collective of scholars, activists, and students that cross the North-South divide. The Center’s mission is to integrate politics and spirituality, activism and scholarship, biocultural regeneration and fair economic practices, with the goal of nurturing intercultural dialogue. SCBR's mission is to strengthen the ancestral legacies and other practices of the Kichwa-Lamistas in dialogue with them as well as to regenerate the pre-Colombian Amazonian Black Earth of millenial fertility, collaborating with the local Education Board of Lamas to teach  this heritage of the pre-Colombian ancestors to the new generation in order to slow deforestation, improve the local agriculture and help solve the climate crisis.

SCBR is an educational, research, and experimental center that regenerates the Amazonian pre-Colombian black earth with biochar to achieve food security for the small farmers as well as for improving the climate crisis. SCBR also hopes to model a practice of a post-colonial, critical anthropology in horizontal, mutual, and inter-cultural collaboration with the Kichwa-Lamistas and the local Education Board. The Center operates out of the beautiful grounds of Hospedaje La Sangapilla (www.hospedajelasangapilla.com), a complex of buildings and lush gardens designed collectively by the Sachamama team. The architectural vision of Casa La Sangapilla draws on eco-friendly, local indigenous design and technology. Casa La Sangapilla is located on the outskirts of Lamas on two acres of forested land, with panoramic views of the Cordillera Escalera mountain range, and an ecological swimming pool.

SCBR is registered in the US as a tax exempt 501 (C) (3) organization, as well as in Peru.  SCBR's address in the US is: 36 A Dana St. Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

SCBR PERMANENTS PROJECTS

Chacra-Huerto Project

In several indigenous communities in the region of Lamas, Sachamama Center is engaged in regenerating a pre-Colombian soil discovered in the last 20 years or so by archaeologists. These soils are still fertile today. The reddish clay of the Amazonian soils is notorious for its poverty in nutrients. Slash-and-burn agriculture (also called ‘swidden agriculture’) has become an important cause of the loss of tropical forest. Although it permits the forest to regenerate, it is very inefficient and environmentally unsound under the present land holding patterns. The burning sends most of the nutrients up in smoke as well as sending a great amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. Swidden agriculture is the third cause of CO2 emissions in the Amazon basin. Additionally in the region of Lamas, the population density has become much too high for this type of agriculture to be sustainable and it is leading to the highest rate of deforestation in all of Peru.

Teams of US and Brazilian archaeologists in the 1960s began excavating sites in the Amazon region where one finds what Brazilians call terra preta de indio  (Indian black earth). These soils are still fertile today. Carbon dating of the oldest layers of terra preta are dated at 8,500 years ago. The key to the astounding sustainability of these anthropogenic soils is a mixture of biochar (see below for this term), micro-organisms, organic matter, and a great quantity of broken ceramics. Nutrients stick to biochar for ever since biochar does not decompose in the soil.  The micro-organisms give life to the soil and the broken ceramics allow a postive exchange of ions that increases fertility.

 

At Sachamama we have successfully regenerted this black earth of the Indians which we call by its Quechua name: Yana Allpa, using biochar produced with a variety of agricultural biomass such as dried coconut shells. Bio-char is the result of carbonizing the biomass with little or no oxygen at high temperatures, a method called pyrolysis.  We mix this biochar with locally freely available organic manure. To those are added micro-organisms gathered on the floor of the rain forest that have been fermented as well as ceramic shards. The local Kichwa-Lamista have a tradition of making offerings to the spirits of the earth with such ceramic shards found in all the archaeological sites.

The regeneration of this pre-Colombian Amazonian technology will offer a simple, appropriate and economically accessible alternative to slash and burn agriculture and to the very high rate of deforestation in this region as well as a high rate of greenhouse gases production.

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Education and Sustainability

 

SCBR is collaborating with the Local Education Board in Lamas to implement a pilot program of teaching Ecological Literacy through the creation of chacra-huertos in schools. We have created chacra-huertos in three native community schools as well as in five High Schools in towns in the province of Lamas. Abby Corbett, who has spent two years at SCBR working on the chacra-huerto project and who is currently in a Masters program on Sustainability and Education at Prescott College, AZ, co-directs this project with F. Apffel-Marglin.

 

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Qinti Qartunira

This project is being directed by Barbara Rodrigues Marcos and Royner Sangama Sangama. They write as well as produce booklets in Quechua following the model of Sarita Cartonera in Lima.  Those desk-top booklets are the first publications in the local variant of Quechua, spoken by the Kichwa-Lamistas. They are distributed to bi-lingual teachers, to native communities and to whomever shows interest. The Quechua is being edited by Genaro Quintero Bendezú, MA (Quechua and Linguistics) of the Ministry of Education in Lima.

On August 18, 2011 the first Qinti Qartunira booklet was presented by Felipe Cachique Amasifuen at the Congress of the World's Indigenous Peoples and Education in Cusco, Peru. On September 2nd, 2011 this first publication was presented at Sachamama Center and distributed to bi-lingual teachers. In 2013 one written in Quechua by Barbara Rodrigues Marcos was published by the Lima publisher Pasacalle.

This project is part of the international project “Cultural Agents” directed by Professor Doris Summer of the Romance Languages Department at Harvard University; She translates “Cartonera” as : “Pre-Text”. The word 'cartonera' derives from the book covers that are made with recycled carton. www.culturalagents.org/int/partners/kinti.html

Qinti Qartunira has its own web-site:

www.wix.com/qintiqartunira/qinti

Note: Qinti in Quechua is the hummingbird, which in the Qichwa worldview is the messenger of the spirits and when it is spotted outside of the house, is the harbinger of good news for the family.

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PROGRAMS

The program has two parts: the first 6 weeks consists of three weekly morning seminars with readings and discussions focusing on the local ecological situation, the regeneration of the rain forest, food sovereignty and climate mitigation, indigenous traditions/spirituality as well as more theoretical issues of a post Cartesian/Newtonian paradigm. Outside of seminar participants will learn how to regenerate the pre-Columbian anthropogenic Amazonian soil known as Terra Preta do Indio, the most sustainable and fertile soil in the world, containing biochar. Biochar is a type of charcoal made with reduced oxygen that never decomposes in the soil, is porous and thus retains nutrients indefinitely and sequesters greenhouse gases by keeping them in the soil permanently.  SCBR collaborates with several indigenous communities in this effort as well as with the local school board and several provincial High Schools.

Additionally, the participants learn to practice another type of agriculture called the Regenerative 4 per 1000 Agriculture, which along with Terra Preta, gives small farmers an alternative to slash and burn agriculture. The 4 per 1000 regenerative agriculture is an initiative of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda launched at the Paris COP 21 Climate Meeting in December 2015. Slash and burn agriculture is practiced widely in the whole Amazon basin by small farmers and contributes both to deforestation as well as to climate warming. Both forms of regenerative agriculture are powerful tools to achieve a solution to the climate crisis as well as the food crisis and deforestation.

During this time period participants also stay for a few days and nights in an indigenous community and learn first-hand about their cosmovision, spirituality and craft trades. 

The last two weeks are optional, involving a retreat in the rain forest with a focus on Amazonian medicinal plants, forest ecology, heart-opening and developing one’s capacity for biognosis. SCBR’s indigenous staff members will share their vast knowledge about the hundreds of Amazonian medicinal plants, as well as their use, their preparations and the rituals accompanying these.

Through these practices and more, participants  experientially learn to relate to the earth as a Being – a Thou – with many different aspects rather than as an insentient, mechanical, natural resource there exclusively for satisfying some human need.

Those participants wishing to add readings and writing to this internship can work individually with Professor Apffel-Marglin to identify relevant readings and help with writing if that is desired.

Fee

Fees for the six weeks program: $ 2,500.00 per person ;

Fees for the additional two weeks: from August 12 to August 26, is an additional $835.00 per person.

These fees include room and board; local course related transport to visited communities; tuition to SCBR and instructors. For the additional two weeks it includes a stay in our rain forest retreat and instruction by its indigenous staff. Participants are responsible for expenses incurred during their free days, although SCBR will provide a picnic lunch as well as breakfast and dinner on the weekly free days. This cost does NOT cover international air travel to and from Peru or to the city of Tarapoto where the nearest airport is located.

To reach Tarapoto in the department of San Martin, you take a flight to Lima (Peru’s capital), then a flight to Tarapoto (one hour flight; there are three airlines making daily flights Lima-Tarapoto-Lima) or a bus ride from Lima to Tarapoto (about 28 hours).   SCBR will pick up students at the Tarapoto airport for the half hour ride to Lamas.

Application Procedure

One letter of recommendation from a professor or mentor who knows the participant well. Send to fmarglin@smith.edu.  Send a brief statement about yourself, your interest in this internship, background to Prof. F. Apffel-Marglin at: fmarglin@smith.edu ; If possible state which of these activities are most appealing to you and whether you are interested in guided readings and writing. Evaluate your level of Spanish if any. • Deadline: March 31, 2017. • Non-refundable deposit of $ 300 due on April 15, 2017. (payment information will be forwarded after applicants have been selected) • Full payment due on April 24, 2017.

  

Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, PhD is Professor Emerita, Dpt. of Anthropology at Smith College and Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of the Environment, Wesleyan University (2013-14). She founded SCBR in the Peruvian High Amazon in 2009 which she directs.

For more information go to:
http://www.smith.edu/anthro/faculty_apffel-marglin.php

E-mail: fmarglin@smith.edu

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CONTACT

SCBR is situated in the Peruvian High Amazon town of Lamas in the department of San Martín, a half hour by car from the airport of the city of Tarapoto. Tarapoto to the North East of Lima is served by three airlines: Lan, Star Peru, and Peruvian Airlines. There are several flights daily from and to Lima. The flight is about one hour and is direct. If you contact us before hand we can arrange to come and pick you up.

Our snail mail address in the field station in Peru is: Asociacion Centro Sachamama, Jr. Manco Capac No. 689; Barrio Suchiche; Lamas; Dpto. de San Martín; Perú.

In the US it is: Sachamama Center for BioCultural Regeneration (SCBR) 36 A Dana St. Cambridge, MA 01238, USA.

Tel. in Lamas, Peru: (51 42) 54 30 04; Randy Chung: 957 810 470

Tel. in the US: (617) 547 8070 or (617) 800 3840.

E-mail:  centro.sachamama@hotmail.com

President: Frédérique Apffel-Marglin E-mail:  fmarglin@smith.edu

Administrator: Randy Chung Gonzales E-mail:  quillatata@hotmail.com