Thursday, June 28, 2012

Spinning gold, or at least a few lempiras, from garbage

Workshop leader Sandra Sosa and avid students

Jody Paterson
A Closer Look
Making art with garbage isn't a new thing, but I hadn't really grasped the potential of it for poor countries until I watched a roomful of young Hondurans last week transform aluminum cans into pretty little sepia-coloured etchings.
One of the things that really stands out here in Copan, and I suspect in Honduras overall, is the absence of local crafts. The goods available for tourists are the garden-variety woven bracelets and leather-thong necklaces found in tourist markets around the world, and few are made here.
At the workshop in La Cumbre last week, the 40 or so people who had crowded into the one-room school for the two-day event were carefully pressing designs into empty beer cans to make picture frames and folding little pieces of old chip bags into lovely earrings. I could really see that with a little marketing advice, these guys could get something going on. 
There's a rather anemic tourist market in one of the streets downtown that desperately needs some local artisan work. I went looking for souvenirs to take back to Canada earlier this month and La Pintada's ubiquitous cornhusk dolls turned out to be the only option (I bought eight, which made two Maya-Chorti families quite ecstatic that day).
The workshop - put on by the organization I work for, Comision Accion de Social Menonita - was intended both as a way of teaching people how to create saleable products out of garbage, and getting them to rethink the way they throw their garbage everywhere.
Read more here.

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