Last April, Village Earth was invited by the Chicago-based Field Museum’s Environment, Culture and Conservation Division (ECCo) to facilitate a number of workshops with indigenous Shipibo and Kakataibo communities in the Peruvian Amazon. Specifically, Village Earth was asked to help organize women artisans in these communities to form artisan committees as part of the communities’ “Quality of Life Plans”. These quality of life plans are part of ECCo’s conservation efforts to protect the Cordillera Azul National Park in the central Peruvian Amazon and its surrounding buffer zone. As a part of the conservation strategy of the buffer zone, ECCo and its local partners have developed quality of life plans with each community to maintain cultural autonomy and sustainable livelihoods in the face of intensifying pressure from extractive industries. Within these plans, each community has determined their priorities for community well-being. Like so many of the other indigenous communities Village Earth has worked with in the Peruvian Amazon, issues like artisan cooperative development and clean water were noted as community priorities. It is hoped that alternative economic development projects like these will bring sustainable sources of much needed income to communities and provide an alternative to the traditional extractive industries which threaten the conservation of the park and its buffer zone. Because of Village Earth’s experience in this region of the Amazon, they were hired as consultants to facilitate the artisans women’s workshops within the communities. The workshops were very successful in that the women analyzed their situation and came up with plans together to organize themselves. ECCo’s local partner, Peruvian NGO CIMA (Center for the Conservation, Research, and Management of Natural Areas) and the indigenous federations that represent these communities, are providing guidance and insuring that the artisan committees are continuing to receive training in business development and connection to markets. As Village Earth has seen over the past few years, artisan cooperative development has been a successful way for women to bring more income into their families, while at the same time continuing to value their cultural traditions as expressed in their arts and crafts. So far the project has been successful due to the dedication of the CIMA extensionists and tecnicos from the indigenous federations that continue to support the committees. For more information about our training and consulting services, please visit our website. For information about our own projects in the Peruvian Amazon, please visit our project website and blog.