Showing posts from June, 2018

Off the Beaten Path: Concepción de Ataco

If you are out in the western part of El Salvador, in the department of Auachapán, one of the best places to stop for a bite to eat, a bit of shopping and even an overnight stay is Concepción de Ataco, or as most people call it, simply Ataco.  Ataco is a pretty popular tourist destination, especially among Salvadorans! Prior to the conquest by Spain, Ataco was inhabited by the Pipil people.  The town name originates from the Nahuat language and means "elevated place of springs."  We tend to visit Ataco in conjunction with a visit to nearby hot springs such as Los Termales de Santa Teresa.  Ataco is one of my favorite spots to take friends and delegations. The "founding date" of the colonial town of Concepción of Ataco is considered to be January 15, 1543.  The full name of the city (upgraded from "town" in 1999) comes from the name of Concepción de Ataco's parish church, the Immaculate Conception of Mary.  The fiestas patronales  honor the bi

Protesting 201: Energy

We were crouching in the street, in the rain.  Wait... wait... wait... the student leader told us, then...RUN!!  As everyone ran, I thought, "Ooh, I need to share this idea with Pastor Steve."*  Strategies for keeping the energy alive during a long protest march or during a series of social action events over a period of time is a challenge.  Environmental groups, human rights groups, and churches in El Salvador have been fighting for a law to protect El Salvador's water resources from the clutches of polluters and money grabbers for 12 long years.  There have been small victories along the way, but every time the political parties which favor the interests of wealth and business increase the number of seats they have in the legislature, new threats arise.  It is incredibly disheartening. This is why it is critical for community organizers to invite, welcome, educate and encourage young leaders with new energy and new ideas into their social justice movements and orga

Protesting 101

My phone rang. "Grimmy," chirped my 4-year-old grandson, "we went protesting today." Our daughter had organized her two children, ages 2 and 4, and led a protest of 3 on a busy street corner in her city.  It was quickly organized, so not surprising no one else showed up.  The kids made posters.  The kids told me they decorated their posters with "lots of people." "I'm protesting with my mom so other kids can stay with theirs!!!" "End Family Separation!" "Wanna know my favorite part, Grimmy?  The beeping and the waving, and there were people giving us thumbs up." "What were you protesting?"  I asked. "Mr. Sessions and President Trump don't know how to share.  And that is not nice," the little guy stated with authority. Our daughter tweeted out a series of suggestions about how to talk with preschoolers about what is happening with the separation of families at the US southern border. 

Water and Protests and Life

"Water:  it's the name of the game." Eleven years ago, as we walked along the Jordan River, as we looked across irrigated fields from the Golan Heights, as we made our way to the Dead Sea, our guide repeatedly stated:  "Water, it's the name of the game." Creation cannot survive without water.  The earth is the Blue Planet.  We understand the reality of Conservation of Matter:  we have the water we have.  El Salvador is a petri dish for water issues.  Almost ALL of the surface water is contaminated.  Blame lack of environmental protection laws.  Blame foreign businesses.  Blame big agriculture.  Although the country has a long rainy season, the rains do not have the chance to soak into the aquifers in order to replenish deeper, cleaner water sources.  Blame big agriculture.  Blame urbanization and pavement.  Within this context, the current legislature is working to set up a law that would allow water to be privatized.  If you want to study the det