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Bringing Elders, Preschoolers Together to “Protect, Restore and Maintain Our Ancestral Knowledge”
Innovation Fellow Tara Chadwick launched The Papalotl Project to share knowledge about food, health, art and culture
What is the Papalotl (Butterfly) Project and what inspired you to start it?
Papalotl (Butterfly) Project brings elders and children together to share knowledge about food and health through art, storytelling, music and dance.
After seven years of facilitating interactive cultural art experiences in and around Broward County, Florida, I realized there were two age groups I’d been missing: children under five and adults over 55. This project is a way for me to engage these two groups in fun learning opportunities while continuing my lifelong effort to maintain and grow my own connection to the land. I named the project after a butterfly as a symbol of adaptation, transformation, and living fully through all our many unique life phases.
I’m an Indigenous woman, a member of the African Diaspora, a grandchild of both the Mesoamerican People of Belize and the original people of the land now known as Western Europe. My vision is for all humans to build a regenerative lifestyle, restoring harmony with the cycles of nature.
What problem are you trying to solve?
We are seeing a lot of people suffering from a lack of the basic building blocks of life: food, shelter, healthcare and medicine. These are symptoms of individual and systemic disconnect and isolation. I want people to understand that we, as humans, are interconnected and accountable across generations, ecosystems and species.
If we can revitalize our collective practices of growing, harvesting, preserving and preparing healthy food, we will increase overall wellness within our communities locally, nationally and internationally, and restore our relationship with the land.
How does The Papalotl (Butterfly) Project work?
We meet with elders and preschoolers for fun, knowledge-sharing visits, interactive art installations, music, and dance highlighting stories of agriculture. The Papalotl Project is preparing a generation of healthy eaters skilled in abilities of observation, long and short range planning, knowledge acquisition, harvesting, resource distribution, interculturalism and adaptation.
Why choose a cogenerational approach?
For the butterfly (and us) to continue to thrive, we must protect, restore, and maintain our tradition of exchanging ideas and perspectives, forming new knowledge to share from one family and community to another and connecting diverse geographies and age groups.
What’s your big audacious vision? If you succeed, what change will we see?
Young people and elders are already beginning to come together to successfully meet the challenges of our current realities. As we start using the knowledge and skills of cogeneration to live our lives with respect for each other and the planet, we will also begin to restore and then maintain the balance between conservation and consumption.
We will know we have been successful when we see families and neighborhoods growing, cooking, eating, dancing, learning, sharing, and planning together across cultures, languages, generations and abilities in Broward County, throughout Florida and around the world.
How can people get involved with your work?
Learn more @ #papalotlproject or TaraAlomaChadwick.blogspot.com
Coffee or tea?
I am an avid tea lover. I love to learn about how to harvest and prepare different types of teas for different uses, but my everyday go-to is black tea. If I could erase all the impacts of the past 500 years of colonialism, the one thing I would want to develop further, besides our cultural diversity, would be my relationship with fairtrade black tea farmers in South Asia!
Learn more about Tara Chadwick here.