A Taste of Racism in Old Habana – 2007

by Francisco G. Gómez

August of 2007: my excitement was on overload as my friend D ( Dean Warren Schomburg ) and I caught a flight to Cancun and then another ride to Habana. It had been fifty plus years since I had visited the island when it was still a capitalist country ruled by Batista. My expectations were high and my memories acute, not because I could reflect on anything I had seen or experienced there in the early 1950s when I was a mere child, but because the truth is I couldn’t remember jack shit about that period of my life. As the Russian made airliner cut through the cumulus clouds, my thoughts revolved around the countless stories I had heard about Cuba from my family, most of all from my grandfather. He continued telling them all the way into the nineteen eighties until he passed away. Those stories will be left for another time as they are rather lengthy!

In Cuba, mid Summer is as hot as it can be. One early evening as D and I decided to get some cool air that was blowing over the Malecon, we walked down la Avenida del Puerto ,which runs parallel to Habana bay, in search of some food and entertainment, as well – not a difficult task when you’re a tourist in Old Habana! As we continued to walk we were approached by a mulato police officer who met D head on and said, “Papeles de identidad, por favor”. D turned and faced me asking, “What does that mean?” By that time I was biting my tongue not to bust out laughing as I could see that D was really getting agitated. He slowly turned back to the officer and said, “ Mother fucker, ask him for his (Francisco) papers; he’s the fucking cuban”! I burst out laughing as I pulled out my passport and showed it to the officer. D slowly followed suit. The officer took a quick look at our documents and we were on our way.

D calmed down and I continued to laugh as we conversed about what had just happened, but let me tell you a bit about D before I finish this tale. He is a black man of Afro-Puertorican and African American descent. He’s as sharp and bright as they come in conversation and a true renaissance man, as well as a fine flute and horn player. Above all else, I believe him to be one of the most honest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet and share my love of music with. Oh, and he has a potty mouth like me at times, another thing we share in common!

While the encounter with the popo that day was quelled with jocularity, it really wasn’t funny at all. The fact is that I am as white looking as Wonder Bread and yet not a word was directed at me by the officer. The truth of the matter is that D was confronted because he looked like a cuban negro. He was judged by the color of his skin, not the content of his character – very MLK-ish!

It so happens that two weeks ago I happened upon an event posted on our Raíces group page in Facebook. It truly served to reinforce the issues about Racism and that firsthand incident I experienced fifteen years before in Habana. I was taken aback by the title, “Patria y Vida, Race, Class and Artist’s Protest in Cuba!” The part that struck a nerve was the mention of Race and how the revolution of 1959 appears to have failed in its efforts to abolish discrimination on the island – Not an easy task, even after sixty two years of selling Pan, Tierra y Socialista promises.

I often reflect on that incident in Old Habana, and I know and understand what my people in Cuba are going through; it is only magnified for my marginalized sisters and brothers of color. It is evident in the racial makeup of those participants who performed their pain in the “Libertad y Amen” video. And, I also understand their helplessness in changing the agonizing affects of the 60 plus years of the US blockade that’s being imposed upon the island to this day. Perhaps that’s why it’s not mentioned in the production – It’s easier to blame La Revolución and rightly so!

On the one hand, Castro’s experiment turned out to be a total failure because of its totalitarian philosophy, and on the other hand, a success story that really is a contradiction in terms. The island’s strongman dictatorship was not, isn’t and will never be the way for the proud people of Cuba. It’s very gutsy for them to have spoken truth to power in Cuba by producing a video that innumerates the many failures and longings that cubans have, but no truths to the catalyst that set in place that power, the US of A.

So yes, it is painful to continue to see the anguish and need of my people play out in this way. But, when la casuela no tiene jama then sesenta años really does trancar el domino! And yes, the domino game is hung, especially for colored people, because racism is still very much alive in Cuba. Screen the videos, perhaps you’ll understand what I mean!

Videos Referenced in this Article

How Cuba is Leading the World in the Fight Against Coronavirus

by Alan Macleod
MPN.news, March 16, 2020

Editors note: This is a repost of an article from Mint Press News which was published under Creative Commons. The original post and info about the Creative Commons license and how to share this article can be found here. Find live updates on the number of Coronavirus cases worldwide here.

While the United States government is complicating efforts to treat coronavirus across the world and is using the pandemic to increase pressure on countries already struggling under U.S. sanctions, including Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, the small island of Cuba, itself a target of Washington’s ire, is leading the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

And while the Trump administration slashes the Center for Disease Control’s budget amid an imminent pandemic, China appears to have gotten to grips with the coronavirus outbreak. Beijing reported only 16 new cases of the virus on March 16, 2020, and there are now more total cases outside mainland China than inside it.

Integral to reducing the number of deaths is a Cuban antiviral drug, Interferon Alpha 2b. The drug, according to Cuban biotech specialist Dr. Luis Herrera Martinez, “prevents aggravation and complications in patients, reaching that stage that ultimately can result in death.” It has been produced in China since 2003 in a partnership with the state-owned Cuban pharmaceutical industry. Interferons are “signaling” proteins, explains Dr. Helen Yaffe of Glasgow University, an expert on Cuba. These proteins are produced and released by the body in response to infections and alert nearby cells to heighten their antiviral defenses. It is not a cure or a vaccine to COVID-19, but rather an antiviral that boosts the human immune system.

Cuba has used it to fight outbreaks of Dengue Fever, a common occurrence on the mosquito-plagued island. The Castro government was forced to develop a strong pharmaceutical industry because of the constant U.S. embargo. Cuba estimates the decades-long sanctions, continually declared illegal by the United Nations, have cost it over $750 billion.

On March 16, 2020, the Cuban government offered haven to the stranded cruise ship, MS Braemar. The ship has five confirmed COVID-19 cases on board and had been turned away by both Barbados and the Bahamas. 

Despite confirming its own first cases, the island is continuing to export medical professionals to the rest of the world. On March 15, 2020, Jamaican Health Minister Christopher Tufton announced that 21 nurses from its neighbor would arrive imminently, the first of more than 100, he hoped. But they have also sent doctors to more advanced nations, such as Italy.


Sarpoma Sefa-Boakye, a Ghanaian-American doctor who studied for free in Havana and now practices in California told MintPress: “You don’t hear of Cuba’s health contributions in the United States,” claiming that there are more Cuban doctors in Africa than African doctors and that the Caribbean island trains more Africans in medicine than all of Africa does. She first heard of the possibility of scholarships for Americans while studying in Ghana. She notes that Cuba is well placed to combat the coronavirus because of its culture of quarantining for viruses and its experience fighting Dengue.

Despite inadequate testing, the United States has over 4,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There has not been one centralized plan from the government; instead, different authorities have enacted different laws, with varying degrees of severity. New York City, for example, will go into lockdown tomorrow, closing all schools, universities and non-essential stores. On the other hand, other cities remain almost completely normalized.

Dr. Sefa-Boakye advised that stringent measures were urgently needed to fight the virus’ spread; “Quarantining has to be the only way that we can get a hold of transmission,” she said. “The science will tell you, you talk to any biologist or anyone who has taken a basic science class: viruses replicate. That is how they move. They need a host and a source. I learned that in Cuba.” She also warned that the United States is “facing an increase in transmission because of our lack of infrastructure.”

Worldwide, the number of confirmed cases reached over 175,000 on March 16, 2020, with 6,717 deaths. COVID-19 has now reached a large majority of countries. Medical professionals urge everybody to reduce their contact with other people to the minimum necessary, regularly wash their hands with soap and water, avoid touching their face, and cover their mouths with their elbow when they cough or sneeze. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) advised countries should check all potential cases. “You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia. “This amazing spirit of human solidarity must become even more infectious than the coronavirus itself. Although we may have to be physically apart from each other for a while, we can come together in ways we never have before…We’re all in this together. And we can only succeed together,” he added. It is that ethos that has driven Cuba’s revolutionary healthcare system for 60 years.

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

MPN.news is an award winning investigative newsroom.  Sign up for their newsletter here.

Dawn of the Mascaras – A Solo Exhibit by Nathan Bunce

On Saturday February 15, 2020 the Raíces crew headed into Brooklyn to attend the opening reception of “Dawn of the Mascaras”, a solo exhibit featuring artist Nathan Bunce. It was our first visit to El Museo de Los Sures, an amazing community art gallery in the Los Sures section of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, run by Southside United HDFC-Los Sures. We had stumbled upon the flyer and information for the event just a few hours before it began while looking for cultural events to attend on a Facebook event list, and with the promise of handmade vejigante and Orisha masks coupled with a bomba drum and dance demonstration and spoken word poetry, it wasn’t hard to decide to make the trek into Brooklyn.

“Dawn of the Mascaras” Opening Reception

Since it was our first visit to El Museo de Los Sures, we headed out of Central NJ with plenty of time to spare, arriving right at the start of the opening reception. We were greeted from half a block away by the pulse of the barriles de bomba and followed the sounds down the street and down the stairs into the gallery space, where the walls were covered with dozens of paper-machê masks and artwork, the majority of which were vejigante masks crafted both in Loíza and Ponce styles. The masks were colorful, vibrant, and unique. Other works on display included the artist’s interpretation of Orisha masks and his latest creations of Taíno inspired wall hangings.

The opening reception was more than just an exhibit opening. It was also a Black History Month Celebration featuring community artists from musicians to spoken word poets, making the event a full on program of cultural expression. The evening featured a bomba drum and dance presentation orchestrated by Nathan, a brief artist talk, a few solo songs, and spoken word poetry performances by his wife Evelyn Jiménez as well as three poets from the Títere Poets Collective, Mario Pagán Morales, Isa Guzmán and Albert Taínoimage Areizaga (check out their podcast, Pan Con Títeres here). It was an incredible community event, and an amazing premiere solo exhibit by a talented artist. The exhibit is open until March 28, 2020 (open hours listed in flyer above), and we urge you to go check it out if you can before it comes down! I know I am not the only one on the Raíces crew who enjoyed the exhibit, check out this review posted on Facebook by our Director, Francisco G. Gómez:

Saturday’s event was a testament to the solidarity and resilience of a unified community of wonderful people. They’re fighting a corrupt system that would dispossess them of their rights to affordable housing and a section of Brooklyn, NY where their history is long and their contributions many! Nathan Realm Bunce‘s art is amazing in that it has brought one of Afro Puerto Rico’s traditions of Vejigante mask making to the diaspora. Make sure to visit EL MUSEO DE LOS SURES before March 29th to see some incredible art and please make a contribution to Los Sures! 🇵🇷de pura sepa…

Francisco G. Gómez, Director, Raíces Cultural Center

Highlights from “Dawn of the Mascaras” Opening Reception

The Artist: Nathan Realm Bunce

This was Nathan’s premiere solo exhibit and he was a gracious and welcoming host. Within minutes of walking in the door, he came to introduce himself and made himself available to answer questions about the exhibit and his art.

Nathan was first captivated by the art form of Vejigante mask making when he traveled to the island of Puerto Rico with his wife, Evelyn Jimenez, and discovered the work of master artisans Raúl Ayala in Loíza and Miguel Pérez in Ponce. While Nathan is not Puerto Rican, he does have Caribbean background and African heritage, and instantly felt drawn to the art form upon seeing his first vejigante masks, continuing to make trips to the island to spend time with artisans and mask makers. In dialoging about his work, he expressed his interest in the shared history of different islands in the Caribbean, as well as the African diaspora. His efforts in creating and sharing this art form based in cultural traditions is so valuable and important to the work of preserving and sharing culture.

As a young child I took interest in many forms of arts. One of those forms is visual arts. Like many artists I created my own portfolio in hopes to build recognition of my work. My interest hit its peak in high school when I took graphic design, advertisement design and modern art. This allowed me to further sharpen my skills and join the “Studio in the school” arts program.

With “Studio in the school” I started a career in teaching visual arts to preschool and school aged children at Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service. I went on and continued teaching at Beacon after school programs,  YMCA, and currently the “New York Junior Tennis and Learning” created by Arthur Ashe.

My personal work is inspired by culture, activism and everyday life. Sculpting and mask making has been a new add to my medium of art and creativity. For four years I have developed the skill of creating vejigante masks. The vejigante masks have made their debut at the annual Sociedad Cultural Mayaquezana beauty pageant. They have also been a fixture of the Bomba y Plena group “Orgullo Taíno”.

My purpose in my art is to inspire my students as I have been inspired by others. I want to create a voice seldom heard on a pillar for change, education and quality of life issues. 

Nathan Bunce Biography from NY Universal Artists Uprising Creative Networking Forum

El Museo de Los Sures: A Community Art Gallery

El Museo de Los Sures is a treasure for the neighborhood of Los Sures and a model for how a community art space can function. This gallery features local and community artists who live in Los Sures. The space is provided for exhibits and community artistic events at no cost to the artists. The artists in turn offer community events and sit in the gallery for open hours so that the community can continue to view the work.

The gallery itself is just a small part of what the amazing organization Southside United HDFC-Los Sures offers to the community. Located in the southern part of Williamsburg, a section of Brooklyn experiencing high rates of gentrification, Los Sures fights to maintain affordable housing for the long-time residents of the neighborhood, as well as provide resources like tenant organizing, community outreach, a senior residential center, a senior recreation center, a hydroponic farm, a local food pantry, and of course, El Museo de Los Sures.

We look forward to learning more about Los Sures, as well as the art of Nathan Realm Bunce and will be heading back to Brooklyn several times over the next few weeks to create short documentary pieces on El Museo de Los Sures and Nathan, whose art will remain on display in the museum until March 28 so be sure to check it out before it comes down, and try to make it to the related events listed on the flyer above. Hope to see you in Los Sures!

More Resources

Balkan Meets Bomba

by Francisco G. Gómez

If you love the AfroBoricua music of Puerto Rico or the music of the Balkans, you would have made it a point not to have missed a phenomenal fusion of barrilles, sousaphone, cuá, violin, maraca, trumpet, dance and accordion on February 8th at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. The Bombazo Dance Company and the Bronx Arts Ensemble joined together in a beautiful collaborative production that was not only musically interesting, but artistically and creatively delightful!

Who are these people, you might ask; well, “The BAE brings music and related arts to Bronx schools and neighborhoods. They contribute to the cultures of Bronx communities through live performances and innovative arts education that stimulate creativity, imagination, and aspirations. The BDC is a 501(c)- 3 non-profit drum and dance company, whose mission is to preserve, educate and showcase traditional Afro Puerto Rican Bomba and Afro Caribbean and traditional folkloric elements.They further combine those main ingredients, fusing them with classical, contemporary and social styles of dance. Thus, creating a new movement vocabulary while still preserving the authenticity of their culture”.

To see some of the wonderful choreography by Milteri Tucker Concepción, founder and director of BDC, and hear some of the musical arrangements by Mary Ann McSweeney, one of the artists at BAE, view the clip below. The amazing dancer is Noele Phillips, and the musical piece is an Opa Cupa (read: «opa tzupa»); it’s a shout of exhortation to the dance used by gypsies of South-Eastern Europe.

The Bombazo Dance Company and the Bronx Arts Ensemble’s “Balkan Bomba” took it outside the box with this outstanding production. It’s a testament to the fact that music, song and dance are truly universal, and they share a commonality that transcends cultural and artistic barriers….

See Program below:

Raíces Cultural Center Awarded Incubation Grant from NJCH

Raíces Cultural Center recently received the great news that we have been awarded an incubation grant from the NJ Council for the Humanities to develop a research initiative that examines the role and impact of gender in folkloric expressions and cultural traditions from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the diaspora. This project will help us kick off our new Women in Culture Initiative.

The planning project begins February 1, 2020 and will conclude by the end of the year. With the support of this grant from NJCH, Raíces will convene a panel of 6 women scholars and cultural practitioners who will inform the creation of an action plan for research projects and public humanities programs along with a timeline for their implementation. Panelists include Elizabeth Sayre, Yvette Martinez, Jana Burton, Melanie Maldonado Diaz, Nancy Friedman, and Sarah Pedrita Towne, facilitated by our own board chair Angela Lugo.

The panelists bring a diversity of knowledge and experience to the table and are practitioners of a range of cultural traditions, including, but not limited to Afro-Cuban batá drumming, bomba, rumba, Cuban social dance, capoeira, West African drum and dance, and herbalism. Raíces looks forward to the opportunity to work with this amazing group of cultural practitioners, researchers and scholars and to develop programming that can be shared with the community to explore the topic of gender in the folkloric arts and expressions from Latin America, the Caribbean and the diaspora.

Raíces Cultural Center would like to thank the panelists for their eagerness to collaborate, as well as NJCH for the support. We would also like to congratulate all other awardees of this round of NJCH Incubation Grants.

Read the full announcement of awards from NJ Council for the Humanities here.

This project was made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Raíces Awarded Middlesex County Office of Arts & History Program Grants for 2020

Raíces Cultural Center started off 2020 on a positive note as we received notifications of both Arts and History Program Grants from the Middlesex County Office of Arts and History (MCOAH).

The Arts Program that was awarded funding is our 2020 Bombazos del Batey program series. In these community events, a variety of folkloric genres from Puerto Rico will be presented, with a focus on the genre of bomba. While a core group of collaborating musicians, dancers and singers will kick off each event with presentations and instruction, once the music gets going, participants will be invited to join in every aspect of the bombazo events.

History funding will support the creation of the “Ancestral Herbal Narratives” Oral History Project. The Raíces Digital Archive team will collect, document & share stories, narratives, & histories about herbalists & healers from a diversity of cultural backgrounds & traditions on our archive and make it available to the public through this Public History resource and tool.

Want to receive more updates as events info for Bombazos del Batey program series and media in the Ancestral Herbal Narratives digital collections become available? Sign up for our email list for monthly updates.

Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders Through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund.

Program funded by Middlesex County, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Day of the Dead Celebration

by Francisco G. Gómez

The Day of the Dead goes by many names, Día de los muertos, Day of the Ancestors, Day of the Egún, All souls Day and many other names, I imagine. For us who are from the Caribbean, or closely situated in that region by location, cultural traditions or simply by interest, we celebrate it as a day of ancestral remembrance.

On November 2nd we gathered at my home to share our cultural traditions, from Guyana, Puerto Rico and Cuba. We sang songs dedicated to the ancestors, prayed for them, told stories about them and then had a feast.

It was a small group of people from our herbal and ancestor circles. For us there are no special days to honor the ancestors because they are remembered everyday as our diverse traditions have taught us. El día de los muertos, in particular, is a time to come together and share our African, Indigenous and Judeo/Christian beliefs. It’s a potpourri of spiritual rituals, ceremonies and esoteric beliefs. Scriptures from the book of Ifá, collection of selected Kardecian prayers, the Torah, Bible or Popol Vu may be read or even discussed on this day. This year we began our celebration with music and song. We pulled out the Cuban tres and hand bass, passed out some sheets of lyrics from los nanis and sang them in Spanish. Then each of us took turns at the communal altar to pay homage to our dearly departed, each in our own special way. We then broke bread with a spread that consisted of marinated green bananas, Guyana gumbo, Codfish salad, Codfish rice/red beans, flan, wine and latkes. We also shared our food with the ancestors, in addition to placing things that they enjoyed while they were alive, such as cigarettes, cigars, their pictures, candles, rum, black coffee, and flowers on the communal altar; it was lots of fun and very entertaining!

Raíces gives many thanks to Mama Chinon, Bethsaida, Akosua, Angela and Nicole for their participation in this year’s celebration. We hope next year’s gathering will have more participants as we continue to learn from each other in peace, love and harmony for the ancestors! Aché

A Bountiful Summer at the Raíces MicroFarm

This year the Raíces EcoCulture MicroFarm project launched a pilot CSA program. It’s been an intense season, with fingers always crossed that the beneficial insects will outnumber the pests, that enough fruit will ripen for the weekly member harvest, that the greens and cilantro would hold off from bolting for just one more week.

It’s also been a very educational and rewarding season, with a beautiful bounty of diverse produce that we have been able to share with 6 families who have supported the development of the MicroFarm project this year. Every day has brought changes to the MicroFarm plot as we watched our plot of land transform from bare earth to a lush jungle of greens and vines- from new flower blossoms to new fruits, beautiful insects and pollinators and a bounty of overflowing harvest baskets.

We still have a few weeks of summer left, but in the garden it’s beginning to feel like fall, with salad mix, arugula, and all kinds of tender cooking greens coming back into season. Check out our photo collage to see some of the highlights of the 2019 summer.

Save the PR Bee: Raíces Awarded Bee Cause Foundation Grant Award on Behalf of TaínaSoy Apiario

by Nicole Wines

The youngest beekeeper at TaínaSoy Apiario giving a thumbs up to Save the PR Bee!

Raíces Cultural Center has teamed up with TaínaSoy Apiario Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Conservancy to provide fiscal sponsorship for the awarding of a Bee Cause Foundation grant. The Bee Cause Project empowers students, teachers, and community members to experience the wonder, ingenuity, beauty, and power of the honey bee and we are grateful to have their support in kickstarting the Save the PR Bee Program at TaínaSoy Apiario in Aguada, Puerto Rico.

TaínaSoy Apiario, an apiary with over 20 beehives, is located in Aguada, Puerto Rico. TaínaSoy is one of the organizations to which Raíces provided relief and recovery support after the destruction and devastation caused by Hurricane María on the island of Puerto Rico. As Raíces set out to support organizations, groups and individuals working to rebuild in a sustainable, renewable and resilient way, we were introduced to the Chaparro family, who run TaínaSoy Apiario and their new Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Conservancy (TSAISEC). After our initial direct relief phase, we built a support partnership with TaínaSoy as they work towards creating their own 501(c)3 organization. Keeping with the goals of our own Eco-Culture program branch, which has an Apiculture Initiative, this grant project was a perfect fit for the mission and goals of Raíces and provides support to a new and budding organization working hard to save, support and educate about the Puerto Rican bee.

1st completed Earthship PR dome, which will be the home of the Save the PR Bee program.

TaínaSoy Apiario is home to the first Earthship on the island of Puerto Rico, which is currently under construction. When complete, the 5 sustainably built structures will serve as an ecological and community education center. The first building of this school is already complete and will be dedicated entirely to apiculture and pollinator education. This will be the site of the Save the PR Bee project, where TaínaSoy will be offering an on-site youth and family educational program about beekeeping and the importance of the bees. The grant awarded by the Bee Cause Foundation will be used to purchase gear and equipment for use by participants of the program, including safety suits, hats, veils, gloves, hive tools, brushes and other supplies.

TaínaSoy school visit and educational program pre-Hurricane María.

Participants will attend this full family program, on-site at TaínaSoy Apiario twice a month. Educational lessons and hands-on activities will be led by TSAISEC co-founder and director, and the Save the PR Bee program bee advocate Noemi Chaparro, and supplemented by guest instructors, other local bee keepers and related field trips. In addition to basic beekeeping and honeybee life cycle education, participants will have hands on interactions with the hive and will also create projects to educate the surrounding community about the importance of bees and other pollinators. This will be an ongoing program that will expand to serve as a model for bee and pollinator programs to be offered in local schools starting in the 2019-2020 school year.

Outdoor hives are located throughout the apiary’s 3 acres and participating children will take part in hands-on interaction with the hives, including placement of new hives as additional swarms are rescued by the apiary’s bee mentor, resident beekeeper, and co-founder of TSAISEC, Carlos Chaparro, throughout the course of the program. Interactive activities and lessons will include topics such as:

Educational display on the honeybees to share on school visits and with Save the PR Bee program participants.

  • Life cycle of the honeybees
  • Bee safety
  • The importance of pollinators in the natural ecosystem and agricultural systems
  • Bee box construction (Langstroth)
  • Care of bee boxes and hives and hive checkups
  • Planting for pollinators
  • Creation of educational materials like posters and pamphlets by participants on importance of bees to share in the community
  • The specific importance of the Puerto Rican honeybee to the recovery of the island of Puerto Rico
  • Pollinator protection

TaínaSoy and Raíces Co-founders together at TaínaSoy Apiario in Aguada, Puerto Rico

Congratulations are in order for TaínaSoy Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Conservancy for being awarded the first grant that they ever applied for! We are happy to have worked with them on this grant and hope that this process will help fan the flames for a successful program and future for TSAISEC and for the Puerto Rican Honeybee!

Puerto Rico Sustainable Disaster Support Initiative Phase 1 – GOAL REACHED!!!

by Nicole Wines

Raíces at Tainasoy Apiario in Aguada, Puerto Rico. June 2018.

Thanks to the generous contributions of friends, family, community members, and supporters from near and far, Raíces Cultural Center has met it’s goal in Phase 1 of our Disaster Relief Support Initiative. In 9 months we were able to raise over $10,000 to help support grassroots recovery efforts on the island of Puerto Rico.

Any additional funds donated to this fundraiser will be applied to Phase 2 of our Disaster Relief Support Initiative in Puerto Rico for which details will be announced soon!

Here is a little more information on what your generous donations have helped to support.

Some more details about what we have accomplished so far thanks to the contributions of our supporters and partner organizations:

    • Distributed relief supplies including medicines, herbal remedies, solar lights, tools, water filters, organic teas and other requested items.
    • Ory, who will be building and maintaining the butterfly house at Tainasoy Apiario, holding his first live monarch on a visit to Casa Pueblo. June 2018.

      Began documenting the work being done by grassroots, on-the-ground organizations, like Tainasoy Apiario, Casa Pueblo, Plenitud PR, Chakra Verde, and PR Resiliency Fund/Departamento de la Comida.

    • Pledged support for two projects on the Tainasoy Apiario farm, a goat cage and a butterfly house which will be designed as part of the first Earthship project built in Puerto Rico. These projects will also serve as a basis for educational programs about sustainable living and ecology.

In addition, through our combined efforts with the Juntos Together Disaster Relief Coalition in Central NJ, led by José Montes, Director of the Puerto Rican Action Board, we have facilitated an additional $11,000+ in funds as grants to the following organizations and projects:

    • The greenhouse under construction, but already functional and productive when we visited Plenitud PR in January 2018.

      Plenitud PR (Las Marías): Repair of greenhouse/high tunnel, tents

    • Casa Pueblo (Adjuntas): First full solar home conversion in their #50conSol renewable energy initiative

Check out more from our journeys, projects and partners on these resources:

FOLLOW OUR DETAILED UPDATES (save the link below and check back often for updates on the projects we are supporting and groups we are working in cooperation with on this initiative)

Blog article updates on our Sustainable Disaster Relief Initiative for PR

Seed donations for Don Luis Soto, a master seed saver and expert agronomist and organic farmer on the island of Puerto Rico. January 2018.

Thank you to all who have contributed for every bit of help you have given, from your donations to sharing our fundraisers and fundraising events to your words of encouragement and your time, every bit helps. Remember, we are continuing to raise funds for this initiative, and all contributions made past the initial goal of $10,000 on this page will be applied to Phase 2 of this project, in which we will be collaborating directly with the Taina Mia Relief Corporation started by Tainasoy Apiario founders Noemi and Carlos Chaparro to support their mission and sustainable relief projects, as well as launching our Land Preservation Fund for PR. We will keep you updated on the progress of these two main components of Phase 2 of our Puerto Rico Sustainable Disaster Relief Support Initaitive.

*If you would like to make a recurring donation, or you do not already have a Paypal account to process your donation through this form, please make your contribution directly on our Network for Good or Paypal donation pages, designate your donation to “PR Relief Fund” and we will manually add the amount you donate to our goal.