Hoy, ya soy feliz. This evening was indescribable bliss, even though the live rock music was so heavy and it’s hard to understand why everyone is hysterically laughing. We went to Italian coffee for hot chocolate, I think Pepe and I are the only two party poopers who neither drink nor smoke. We call ourselves “pan duro” — the stale bread — out of all the extroverts in our circle of friends.

Today also begins the first day of Monteczuma’s Revenge.
Despite the frequent bloody diarrheal stool, however, I am able to continue with work and remain cheerful. It must have been inherited from my grandma that I have a rather high tolerance of pain. The sick thing is, I am now more amazed than disgusted at how many microbes might be invisible in the water here. Ah, a molecular biology degree.

In Taller Leñateros, I am beginning a prodigious effort to build satisfying relationships with clientele of distinguished hotels, and provide exclusive escorted tours in either Spanish, English, Chinese or French into the backroom of the workshop. In addition to explaining the serigraphy, block prints, engravings and book-binding, I intend to show them how an industrial offset machine works, how to do letterpress, and bas-reliefs. We went to persuade the management of several sterling establishments in the area today.

In this effort I’ve enlisted seven people onto my team, to produce custom silkscreen prints out of agave fiber drenched in deep red; and we are designing an intuitive map for the city of San Cristobal de las Casas. Arlene is in charge of the text in Spanish. Julio is going to set the graphics onto acetate sheets and silk screen each of them. Maki is in charge of the artistic direction. With Maki’s demonstrated talent I am certain she can design really hip tees for us as well, I am thinking of that Harajuku Lovers and Tokidoki collection. Pedro and I are responsible for combining all the elements and making it reality.

Actually this all just tumbled out of a figment of my hyper imagination while enjoying a hot chai during a spontaneous 30-minute escape from work. As many good ideas as there are on this planet, I’ve discovered that nothing is as potent for team cohesiveness as committed and prompt action. There is conviction and momentum and intuition when you toss and idea out and act on it that very day. While it is still fresh, it is not complicated by too many questioning thoughts. It makes people put their confidence in you. This is how you make abstract things happen, at least in a fun–not obligated–way.

This is going to look like a scrapbook of idea points, but here some color combinations, motifs, and Arabic bazaar-inspired mood that I derive designs from:

As for the Mayan artisans here (and this may be true of most social cooperatives I’ve worked with) they are willing to chip in with suggestions, but even when mired deep with financial debt they are hesitant to take proper initiative to tackle problems. In effect, we stick our head into the sand and assume a sort of denial or self-delusion instead of confronting the issues openly. Partly it is because for Mayan culture (as well as many traditional community cultures) getting along well together is more important than executing solutions that make you stand out… and nothing is more loathing than being too individualist here. And they have inherited a paradise without knowing it, so sometimes there is a bit of complacency connected to poverty.

Or how can I describe it better?

More often…we have devoted rituals, prayers and ceremonies burning candles and the medicine healer chanting to spiritual powers to increase commercialization, than we have persons who analyze and act promptly on getting out there. At the moment we have a thick carpet of pine needles and candles (that we spent money on) for such prayer, but nobody has gone out of their way to engage the potential clientele.

I don’t think it is necessary to eliminate the former, especially if the spiritual element truly matters to them. (And I’m not denying that Mayans confront severe discrimination/racism that I don’t face when they do try to talk business with hotel owners) but sometimes the artisans consider the nuts and bolts of selling things as something divine from the heavens rather than a personal responsibility to serve the individuals who walk in. An attitude that sales cannot be helped.

From a sustainable business perspective, this is not a plague unique to the Maya either. It happens with rural Chinese, with Zambians, with anywhere with a mystical religious element. In fact, because a lot of artistic people tend to negatively associate making money with greed, snobbery, or even superficiality… they tend to focus more on their body of work. It is an assumption–that all rich people are self-absorbed and materialistic–that doesn’t do any favors. So it leaves me with the question: is this understanding of commercialization a born (genetic) or learned (acquired) trait, had I simply grown up with this sense all my life?

I started to think of all my friends of Jewish, Polish, and Chinese ancestry who tend to take money-making with more pragmatism. I wonder how Anita Roddick made it happen with The Body Shop.

Spanish Words of the Day:serigrafia” silk screen” | “tipografia” typography | “forma offset” offset printing | “libro de mecatines” hand-sewn book binding | “retasos” margins | “escolta, acompañante” escort