Sylvan Appeal

Sustainable Practices Rejuvenate Mexican Tradition

The Red Transidisciplinaria de Desarollo Suste (RetDes) project facilitates the ideal of honoring the indigenous culture and artistry of pottery through upgrades that promote both physical and fiscal health for its artisan community. It is the brain child of Sandra Malagon, the project’s CEO who bears studious credentials. She graduated with a degree in Environmental Sciences and is a candidate for a PhD in Social Studies in Science and technology. In 2010, she was celebrated with the National Youth award. She has implemented a hands-on approach to elevating the rural pottery tradition in Michocacan for the last decade.

Her approach, and that of RetDes, realizes the promise of improving the quality of life for Purepecha women. It is a celebration of elevating ethics and bringing handmade pottery to an international market. The pieces themselves promise to warm any home, lighting the gaze with their earthen luster and the illuminated tradition of provincial custom.

Sandra explains the fundamentals of such an endeavor.“We respect the ten fair trade principles: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers, Transparency and Accountability, Fair Trading Practices, Payment of a Fair Price, Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour, Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association, Ensuring Good Working Conditions, Providing Capacity Building, Promoting Fair Trade and Respect for the Environment 

With this sustainable pottery Project, we aim to reach six SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals): No Poverty, Gender Equality, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities, and Responsible Consumption and Production.

This exhibition is the first one where our artisan will participate, they passed a lot of barriers for arriving here since the language (Spanish is not their first language) until all the learning about using the new lead-free pigments and efficient ovens,” Sandra explains.

Indeed, a successful Kickstarter project helped fund the endeavor. It is a fruition that further articulates the remarkable backbone and integrity of both artisans and the NGO that elevates the intermingling of tradition and modern sustainability principles.

 “We work with ten Purepecha women. All products are handmade,” Sandra says of the process behind the exquisite pieces. “The principal raw material is clay which is extracted directly from the community of Santa Fe de la Laguna. Our pottery is made in efficient firewood ovens. This allows us to keep ancient pottery techniques. Also, sustainable usage of wood, avoiding health problems unchained because of the smoke exposure. This is a prototype designed by our NGO specifically for rural communities. The design allows the local mason to replicate it with the material they can get in the community. Reduces until 70 percent the usage of wood from the community forest.”

“Buyers can see in our exhibition handmade pottery products. The designs are from indigenous women potters from Santa Fe de la Laguna, Michoacan in Mexico,” Sandra told us.

Discover these rich, warm pieces and the women behind them at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource February 4-7 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

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