A Time of Change

Meeting With Weavers, Huancarani, 2007

PAZA can be divided into 2 distinct phases reckoning back to its birth as a Peace Corps development project in 2007. The project objectives were the same that the weavers of Huancarani had stated as their needs at their first meeting with Dorinda that year.

  1. Preserve the weaving tradition
  2. Rescue natural dye techniques
  3. Access to a foreign market

Rural Workshop#5, Doña Maxima Teaching Color Coordination for warp, 2009

Phase #1 ran from 2007 through 2009 and was a time of collaboration and partnerships forming then falling apart. The Peace Corps left Bolivia in 2008. Dorinda carried on the work on her own partnering with Doña Máxima and they created a series of 5 natural dye workshops in 5 rural communities, barely keeping a step ahead of their students. The local government provided the transportation. A Bolivian non-profit organization began working in Independencia in 2008 and supported the 2 three day intensive dye workshops that grounded those interested in knowledge of local dye plants and the mordanting process.

Phase #2 began in 2010 when all local partnerships ceased due to petty local politics in Independencia. There were a few sleepless nights for Doña Maxima, the weavers of Huancarani, and Dorinda on how to move forward. The Club de Chicas (now Club de Artesanas) rose like a phoenix out of the ashes. Dorinda´s attendance at a Weave a Real Peace (WARP) Conference that year opened the door to a network of support that has flourished into friendships through the years.

1st Craft Fair, Cochabamba, 2009

Phase #1 sorted out the local players. Phase #2 has run for 8 years and has been a focus on training through activities and experiences. Volunteers have offered workshops on all sorts of fiber arts activities. A dye pot failure is just a challenge to be turned into a success. More Huancarani weavers dye small batches on their own for the unique colors they desire in their weavings. Doña Máxima and her daughter Zoraida participated in numerous craft fairs, taking home buyers´ comments to share with the weavers. There was a phase of product design through those years so there would be something new on the vendor table. The weavers formed their first Spinzilla team in 2014, and came to understand the responsibilities of team participation with each passing year. Doña Maxima attended the Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in 2010, in 2013 she did a weaving exhibition, and in 2017 she stood on stage along with Huancarani weaver Doña Justina and made a presentation. When it was over it left PAZA in a state of “now what?”

Volunteer Selina Teaching a Knitting Class, Huancarani, 2013

Change is scary and for PAZA it always comes as the evitable conclusion following sleepless nights. As Maria said in “The Sound of Music”, “where a door closes a window opens”. Forget about a window because the upcoming changes for PAZA will blow open many a door of possibility. Phase #3 will begin in late April. All the years of training in fiber arts skills need to be turned to entrepreneurial efforts. Doña Máxima and the Club women will step up into leadership roles and Dorinda will make a graceful exit and relocate to the U.S., specifically Bozeman, Montana. After a 11 year hiatus it is time for her to go back to work for a wage, and a foreign market for the weavings can be better

Breny Talking With the Weavers, Huancarani, 2010

pursued from the U.S. Long time PAZA collaborator, Breny Ugarte, is a native of Independencia but a Quechua speaking professional with experience working with development projects for women. She is ready, willing, and able to help Doña Maxima and the core Club members leap into the entrepreneurial phase. The traditional weavings don´t sell in Independencia, so having a line of fiber arts products that will sell locally can help more women earn an income. PAZA is leaving the Independencia based activities in good hands.

The Camaraderie of Spinzilla Spinning Week, 2014

There is no word in the English language that can express the deep sense of gratitude to you for your years of support and friendship. It is the goal of development projects to turn the project over to the beneficiaries. PAZA worked without a timeline and the training phase was allowed to run its natural course. Thank you. Dorinda Dutcher, March 29, 2018

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2 comments

  1. Best wishes for the changes at PAZA and for success to all the new weavers! i discovered your organization through Laverne Waddington and enjoy learning about your activities and challenges.

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