Who We Are
Living Roots’ mission is to help endangered cultures protect their unique cultural identity by increasing economic opportunity and kindling a generation of youth as stewards. Living Roots targets communities who face cultural extinction, whose livelihoods directly depend on sustainable use of their ecosystems, and where there is shared community vision to rejuvenate culture.
Unique, self-reliant cultures around the world like the Baja, Mexico Ranchero culture, are vanishing in the face of poor economic prospects and encroaching modernization. UNESCO warns that as migration and urbanization increase, “preserving cultural diversity assumes a new prominence and urgency” (UNESCO 2008).
What We Do
Living Roots protects cultural diversity through helping communities recognize and capture the value their cultural assets such as historically significant artisan and food products and unique heritage skills. This is accomplished through the formation of a regional marketing association which brands products and tourism as being culturally authentic and helps producers directly connect to markets.
The Baja Ranchero: A Disappearing Culture
Living Roots’ pilot project is in the sierra (mountains) of Baja California Sur, where approximately 7,000 isolated rancheros continue to use centuries-old traditional Spanish Colonial and indigenous techniques in everyday life. However, due to the rising costs of Baja’s coastal development and the lack of economic opportunity, direct access to markets, and occupational prospects, as many as 9 in 10 rancheros are leaving the sierra. Without revitalizing sustainable livelihoods, ranchero culture, the “living roots” of the American West, is likely to vanish in one-to-two generations, along with the critical wisdom of living in balance with Baja’s arid environment. Living Roots’ primary research shows ranching families’ desire to continue their lifestyle, but to do so their income must double.
The Living Roots’ US team is made up of three co-founders from Colorado State University’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program and an extensive advisory board providing needed expertise in our program areas. Our Mexican team is comprised of a local management board and a marketing association governing committee, as well as regional representatives from the three geographical areas of San Javier and its surrounding ranches. One of our main objectives is to develop local leadership capacity and incubate the marketing association to be entirely community governed.
Connect With Us
Living Roots (USA)
236 Bross Street
Longmont, Colorado 80501
Tel: (303) 485-8844
Raíces Vivas (Mexico)
Tel: (613) 109-8583
For more information about our services, programs, events and activities, please visit our website at www.livingrootsbaja.org.