Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute is developing projects to support indigenous communities around the globe.
Mission Statement: We are a diverse group of people dedicated in preserving and sharing our cultures and restoring a healthy way of life through a collective effort of farmers, educators, healers, youth, elders, and spiritual leaders.
Co-founders Emigdio Ballon & Lorraine Gray, with Boardmembers Lauren Janine Mapp, and Oscar Olivera, at a gathering in Bolivia
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Emigdio Ballon, President, Quechua Bolivia Oscar Olivera, Vice President, Quechua/Aymara, Cochabamba, Bolivia Lauren Oneratakowa Mapp, Treasurer, Mohawk, Kahnawake Malin Ramirez, Secretary, Aztec Mexico Flordemayo, International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, Mayan Daniel Tewarion:ni Mapp, Youth Board Member, Mohawk, Kahnawake Lorraine Kaneratokwas Gray, Executive Director, Mohawk, Kahnawake
President– Emigdio Ballon Emigdio Ballon: of Quechua decent was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He earned his Bachelors degree in agriculture at Major Bolivian University of Saint Simon in Cochabamba, Bolivia and his Masters degree in plant genetics in Colombia. He studied for his Doctorate at Colorado State University. As a plant geneticist he has specialized in research on quinoa and amaranth grains and has published many articles about them in both South and North America. Emigdio has served as an organic certification inspector in the United States and has made many presentations at major conferences on agriculture. He has studied principles of bio-dynamic farming at the Josephine Porter Institute of Applied Bio-Dynamics and continues to study and make presentations at various seminars. In his little free time, Emigdio pursues research into germination techniques for a wide variety of crops, including traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs and herbs indigenous to Northern New Mexico. His other interests include seed saving and sharing, bio-dynamic and organic farming and sustainable agricultural practices. He is also involved with Native American organizations which stress the importance of seed saving and promote the revival and continuation of traditional crops, both nutritional and medicinal. He employs traditional Quechua techniques and rituals which he learned at his grandfather’s side as a boy in Bolivia.
Indigenous Affiliation: Quechua
Vice President – Oscar Olivera In 1999, the Bolivian government responded to structural adjustment policies of the World Bank by privatizing the water system of its third largest city, Cochabamba. The government granted a 40-year concession to run the debt-ridden system to a consortium led by Italian-owned International Water Limited and U.S.-based Bechtel Enterprise Holdings. The consortium also included minority investment from Bolivia. The newly privatized water company immediately raised prices. With the minimum wage at less than $65 a month, many of the poor had water bills of $20 or more. Water collection also required the purchase of permits, which threatened the access to water for the poorest citizens. Oscar Olivera, executive secretary of the Cochabamba Federation of Factory Workers and spokesperson for the Coalition in Defense of Water and Life, known as La Coordinadora, led demands for the water system to stay under local public control. Thousands of citizens protested for weeks. The Bolivian army killed one, injured hundreds and arrested several Coalition leaders. Olivera, who had been forced into hiding, emerged to negotiate with the government. In April 2000, La Coordinadora won its demands when the government turned over control of the city’s water system, including its $35 million debt, to the organization and cancelled the privatization contract. La Coordinadora achieved the first major victory against the global trend of privatizing water resources. Olivera continues to head La Coordinadora’s work to develop a water system that relies neither on corrupt government management nor on transnational corporations. Oscar is now the Treasurer for Funcaion Abril, an organization dedicated to preserving water rights for the people of Cochabamba. With support of the local government and the people they have build El Escuela Andina de Flores Rancho, a school for water. They are also supporting and building traditional schools for indigenous students in the area of Cochabamba. Indigenous Affiliation: Quechua/Aymara
Treasurer – Lauren Oneratakowa Mapp Lauren has been working in the area of healthy food, and traditional Agriculture for 15 years. She worked one summer at Plimoth Plantation in Massachussets demonstrating indigenous food traditions to visitors of the museum. She has also done traditional food demonstrations at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, in Ledyard, CT. Lauren accompanied Four Bridges staff to Terra Madre 2010 in Torino, Italy, and spoke to a delegation of elder farmers about youth involvement in agriculture. She is currently studying Culinary Arts at Mesa College, and be entering San Diego State University in the Fall.
Indigenous Affiliation: Mohawk, Kahnawake
Secretary – Malin Ramirez: Malín is the author of several novels. She is an accomplished educator, dancer, and actress who has cowritten and performed in several stage plays. She has several years of experience and training in permaculture, and grantwriting, working closely with the Traditional Native American Farmers’ Association.
She is dedicating her life to researching and educating the world on the importance of sustainable living, and the perils of GMO’s. Ms. Ramirez currently lives in the Bay Area.
Youth Board Member – Daniel Tewarion:ni Mapp Daniel is a young Mohawk man from Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. He was brought up with the basic principles of traditional growing methods, including the Three anager of Four Bridges’ educational farm in Santa Cruz, New Mexico, where he specializes in cultivating our Sacred Gardens Project.
Indigenous Affiliation: Mohawks of Kahnawake
Executive Director: Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray has a diverse background, beginning with a Masters in Project Management. She has been working in the area of traditional agricultural revival for the last 20 years. She was honored to be a member of the Native Delegation to Terra Madre 2006, 2010, 2014, 2016, and 2018 in Turin, Italy. Working with Winona LaDuke and others, she helped to develop the Slow Food Turtle Island Association. Gray co-founded Kanenhi:io Ionkwaienthonhakie (We Are Planting Good Seeds), which built a substantial community greenhouse, established a community farmers’ market on the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation, and supports community gardens, and individual family farms. Gray is now living in New Mexico, and manages programs on the farm and in various parts of the world. She is an activist in women’s rights and environmental issues and spent time at Standing Rock fighting the advances of the pipeline construction.
Indigenous Affiliation: Mohawks, Kahnawake
Goals & Objectives Our co-founder, Emigdio Ballon, is an accomplished plant geneticist, from Cochabamba, Bolivia. He has dedicated his life to teaching communities throughout the world through practical, hands on applications, arming individual families, and communities with the knowledge to grow and sustain the work, long after he has moved on to the next project. Through funding from appropriate foundations, Four Bridges purchases the required materials, plants, or livestock and equipment, provides training materials, and professional training to the individual families, and communities in need.
Bio-dynamic & Organic Practices We consult with the experts on subjects such as biodynamics and organic gardening. We have been trained in the practice of bio-dynamic preparations, compost teas, and other mixtures, and implement these practices in our daily lives on our certified organic educational farm “Sken:nen Ken’hak (Peace Forever)”, in Santa Cruz, New Mexico. Here we conduct research and experimentation on various organic and biodynamic solutions to crop pests and weeds.
Spirituality & Agriculture We practice a diverse range of spiritual methods in our agricultural work, from Quechua prayers, to Iroquois Seed Songs, or whatever traditional practices are custom to the region we are working with. One of our first workshops at Sken:nen Ken’hak was to build a permanent labyrinth with Master Labyrinth builders Robert Burton, and Jeanne-Rachel Salamon of Holon Energetics (formerly Maui Hypnosis), Maui, Hawaii. This labyrinth is the focal point of the farm and is used for prayer, meditation, centering, as well as a place to formally open events offered at the farm. We blessed our labyrinth at the October full moon, with a traditional Iroquois Moon Ceremony.
International Outreach We do outreach work in several countries around the world include Quechua and Aymara communities in the High Andes of Bolivia and Peru. Besides traditional agricultural revival work, we are supporting health campaigns supporting people in these remote areas, concentating especially on women and children that includes traditional medicine, pre-natal and post-natal care, as well as infant care, and natural contraceptive practices. With appropriate funding, we hope to expand this work, and provide more support to these indigenous groups in dire need of healthcare assistance, while still respecting the cultural traditions, and unique history.