How Cosmic Convergence Festival is Going Beyond.
“Thank you for donating this house. I’ve never seen or owned anything like this. For me, it’s like a celebration because I will live there many years.” — Concepciòn Quiacain, previous beneficiary of the CSO Project
For the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure to be part of Cosmic Convergence Festival’s Cosmic Social Outreach (CSO) Project. This name refers to the initiatives that the festival promotes around Lake Atitlán, Guatemala in order to leave a positive trace in the lands and communities hosting the event.
Through this powerful journey, I grew as an individual while witnessing how much my personal experience could impact somebody’s life in a deep and positive way.
The first year I came to Lake Atitlán it was because of Cosmic Convergence Festival. I had heard about this “transformational festival” where Mayan traditions meet contemporary technology, where international travelers and festival-goers from all over the world gather to celebrate the New Year. In 2013, I came to Guatemala and experienced this meeting of people and culture, technology and traditions, in the spectacular setting of Lake Atitlán, surrounded by volcanoes and indigenous communities.
I’ve enjoyed many festivals around the globe in the past years, and I’m repeatedly astonished by the collective rise in consciousness, the incredible gathering of energies, and the inspirational and transformational potential they harness.
o I asked myself, what if we could bring some of the amazing ideas, people, art, projects outside of the temporary gathering we love to attend?
What if we could channel some of that energy to create something beautiful, conscious, and respectful toward environment and culture… beyond the festival grounds?
Cosmic Social Outreach is doing exactly this.
“I had never participated in a social outreach project where I was in such close proximity to the locals who would be benefiting from it. The realization that I would be helping families with such a basic need as shelter is what inspired me to donate.”
Then there was the organization of Cosmic Social Outreach. Conversations about how “throwing money” at a community can actually do more damage than good let me know that everyone involved in the project was going to benefit from it.” — Alex, major CSO donor, thanks to whom a third house was constructed in 2017
1)It is an opportunity to co-create a festival while learning bioconstruction and supporting local community.
Before Cosmic Convergence begins, volunteers help to build different areas of the festival through the “Bioconstruction Journey.” This 15-day natural building workshop gathers people from all over the world. Together, we learn from indigenous and international teachers how to build and decorate with natural materials. Money raised—and bamboo used—is then donated to the local community in the form of natural architecture.
2) It is a way to transform temporary festival structures into permanent community buildings.
n past years, bamboo structures and yurts have been transformed from festival infrastructure into useful buildings for the local community. In its 2018 edition, the Journey Portal area will be designed and built to become an extension of the public school in San Pablo la Laguna—after the festival, of course.
The school is currently overloaded with students and covered in concrete. The Journey Portal structure will move to the last floor of the existing concrete building. It will become eco rooms made of bamboo and earth, where
students can experience art, music and consciousness, just as festival-goers do during Cosmic Convergence.
3) It is a mutually enriching experience, which participants and indigenous community share through art, architecture, and nature.
In CSO’s vision, generating a positive impact as a festival means creating opportunities that allow individuals to experience and share richness and consciousness. Art and architecture therefore act as channels through
which travelers, indigenous community and nature can experience mutually rewarding exchange.
Students learn how to build in a sustainable way while having fun. And they experience the festival while supporting a social cause. Thanks to the support of participants in the Bioconstruction Journey, local children will enjoy playing an instrument or exploring in an art class in their new natural school. Last but not least, Nature benefits from the conscious choice to build the festival and school bamboo—as well as from the students who will continue to use bioconstruction in the future.
We don’t do charity; we create spaces for equal exchange.
4) It adopts a respectful approach toward the indigenous community.
CSO and its members have been living and working with the local community around Lake Atitlán for several years, and they have learned a lot about and from it. As a result, the choice of beneficiaries from the project after Cosmic Convergence is the result of extensive field research and conversation with local indigenous partners.
Working within the community also means being aware of community dynamics. When it comes to gender issues, for example, before donating three houses last year to as many disadvantaged families, we checked that the land was registered under the matriarch’s name to prevent power abuses commonly experienced by women in San Pablo.
5) It’s a beautiful, small, independent project with a great impact.
Despite the great deal of work required to realize such projects, CSO is made possible by a small group of creative and passionate people. It relies completely on donations from people who believe in alternatives, possibilities and solidarity.
Transforming the Journey Portal area into a bamboo school in San Pablo requires quite a lot of energy and resources. To realize our mission, we’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundme.
The goal is to reach 15,000 euros to be spent entirely on local workers’ salaries, natural material, and legal procedures.
If many of us show our support for this mission, even the smallest contribution will serve to gift those children a natural school structure from Cosmic Convergence.
“I really appreciated the Bioconstruction Journey because it advanced my understanding and skillset for natural building and it had an immediate positive impact on the underserved community of San Pablo at Lake Atitlan. We had fun and did good for the world — a very sweet combination!” — Will Cardia, Bioconstruction Journey 2017 participant
Agostino Giannetti is a nomadic fundraiser who connects resources with visionary socioenvironmental projects and NGO’s between Latin America and Europe. He’s in love with Lake Atitlan, and in the past years he’s been volunteering and working a lot with the local community. He’s also the Social Outreach coordinator at Cosmic Convergence Festival. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
originally pubblished in Numundo