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Member Spotlight: Erik Friend

Pachamama Alliance • 23 August 2018

Erik is an Awakening the Dreamer Facilitator, Drawdown Initiative Convener, and Community Coordinator with Comunidad MéxicoYou can learn more about Erik on his profile page.

ErikWhere do you currently live?

I live in Cuernavaca, Mexico, a city with a long tradition of solidarity with social movements and struggles.

What are some ways you like to spend your time?

I divide my time between three interrelated activities: 1) a workshop of people with disabilities who offer wheelchair repair to others with disabilities challenging unexamined assumptions about the abilities of those with disabilities, 2) a community foundation that supports and works with many different community initiatives in the state of Morelos (education, gender rights, community development, micro-economic development, etc.), and 3) my greatest inspiration, with the Pachamama Alliance both in Mexico as well as supporting the Pachamama Communities in Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Ecuador, etc.

How did you first connect with Pachamama Alliance?

I participated in my first Symposium in Austin, Texas in 2007 and trained as a Facilitator soon after in New York. In 2009 we began doing Symposiums and have trained over 200 facilitators in Mexico since then, and many more in other countries of Latin America. Most of these facilitator trainings have been held at my home with the support of my wife, Griselda and my two boys Rodrigo and Roberto, who became a facilitator when he was 12!

What is a memory or experience with Pachamama Alliance that stands out for you?

My most inspiring experience with Pachamama Alliance was in 2015 when Maisa Arias and I travelled to Guatemala to do a series of Symposiums within the context of the public outcry that led to the resignation of the president Otto Perez. We arrived on the day he resigned! During the facilitator training in Quetzaltenango, we watched as a young indigenous woman and militant social activist, Marleny, shifted from a defensive position of resistance against the “system” to seeing herself as an ambassador or a prophet carrying a message, not just to save her own culture, but to transform the modern world; the people she had seen as enemies. She wasn’t naïve about this, she still needed to denounce the injustices and aggressions carried out against her people––Guatemala and Honduras have the highest rate of indigenous women environmental activists being murdered––but now she also knew she had a message to announce to recover the heart buried within those of us in the trance unconsciously condemning our planet and people with names and faces to death.

What is something you are proud to be doing in service of an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet?

My resonance with the Pachamama Alliance emerges from my personal call to be a bridge between cultures: a messenger and an interpreter between worldviews. I work with many popular communities in Mexico; at the same time I covet my friendships in the Mexican middle-class. This puts me in a privileged position of helping these diverse groups understand each other. I believe active communities are the only way to move forward and transform our present way of inhabiting the planet. But communities will only provide the necessary challenge and learning if they are diverse enough to embrace the breadth of that diversity. I learn little in life if I only gather with others similar to myself. I hope to see more and more examples of people coming together across class, race and ethnic lines to challenge the very foundations of injustice, and spiritual and emotional/spiritual disconnection.

What is something that you would like to see change in the world in the next 10 years?

I want to keep listening to everyone and everything around me; listen and watch for that that wants to emerge in the world.