This week’s projects in the make-shift creative office. First is a fold out of all the major buildings in San Cristobal. We are using agave fiber sheets to print publicity and creating artistic maps. Core team: Me, Arlene, Maki, Ana.

Within Taller Leñateros, I think it’s beautiful and difficult at the same time to see how everyone collaborates.

This process of tempering great aspirations with the everyday personal constraints of my Mayan colleagues. We have a Herculean task for a small indigenous cooperative: roughly $5 million pesos of artisan creations to move, there aren’t nearly so many clients that know about the workshop, and we need to adjust the way we work to achieve that. We need to tweak the sheer amount of time and delicacy we spend on producing pieces of art, and engage our clients once in a while.

However, the suggestion that we alter ingrained habits and behaviors is an exasperating process, mainly because nobody wants to risk doing so unless it is absolutely guaranteed to be lucrative. Many consider “change” to be a waste of time, energy and resources, the incohesive aspect of discontent far worse than limping along financially …so they tend to see the downfalls of change instead of committing to the opportunities it might promise. I, however, envision many good things yet to come.

These are the very challenges that distinguished restaurants face also: creating a wonderful multi-sensory experience must be paramount, even if the kitchen is on the brink of chaos. In a way we must step away from the narrow focus of revenue and instead begin to think of the infinite possibilities in which we might serve the client and make her or his memory of this place remarkable and valuable. This takes but only imagination and new combinations.

Sustainability, preserving Mayan culture and book and fine arts. Can we achieve this profitably for the indigenous who work here for $100 to $150 pesos ($10 to $15 USD) per day, which is far below minimum wage? In a place where candor takes second place to group harmony. This is not only a Chiapas problem of clinging on to tradition, but one that occurs in most organizations in the world including American start-ups and corporations. What can I do to move $5 million pesos on a global scale. Persuasion in another language is already tough, now comes the execution and delivery, which is even tougher. This requires great amounts of active listening, sensitivity, organization, acute coordination and the dedicated effort of every single member. In the kitchen there are pots clanging and cauldrons brewing, now we’ve got invitations. The ambiance is set, the tables are ready, I think it’s time to court the clientele.

Dinner is served.

A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she is in hot water.” — Eleanor Roosevelt.


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