“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
I thought of this Margaret Mead chestnut last week when we learned from our friends at Multicolores, the rug-hooking cooperative in Guatemala, that they have been selected as one of six finalists for the International Folk Art Market’s Community Impact Award. This is a prestigious award that honors artists who are positively impacting social change in their home communities through their creative vision, community support, and artistic excellence. We’re thrilled for our Guatemalan friends, and if ever an organization was deserving of this award, Multicolores is.
The story of Multicolores is at the center of our book Rug Money: How a Group of Maya Women Changed Their Lives through Art and Innovation. The Maya women featured in Rug Money continue to change their lives and also the lives of their families and their communities. To date, 39 artists are receiving income from rug hooking, positively impacting 166 family members; in many cases the women contribute more than half of the household’s yearly income. Beyond the economic impact are gains in health, education, and self-improvement. All of the artists have received eye tests, vitamins–for themselves and their families, training to prevent repetitive strain injuries, and a new health insurance program is on the horizon. Authors (and Multicolores founders) Mary Anne Wise and Cheryl Conway-Daly have helped craft a three-year-long leadership program for a dozen of the Maya artists that is having a ripple effect in the rug-hooking groups and in their rural communities.
But I keep coming back to a scene in Rug Money when Mary Anne asked the women how they were spending the money earned from the sales of their rugs: “Yolanda told of a recent potable water project in her village. A special faucet was required to tap into the pipe to access the water.
‘The faucet was too expensive, and none of my neighbors could afford it. But I saved my rug money, and I bought six faucets for six families including my own family.’ As she explained her rationale for these purchases, she grew emotional and held us in her gaze.”
Yolanda’s generosity and her strong sense of community are echoed in all the stories of the amazing Maya women of Multicolores and illustrate why they’re so deserving of this award. Congratulations on this recognition. We’ll be cheering you on at the Folk Art Market in Santa Fe this summer!
Feel the impact and learn more about the extraordinary lives of the women of Multicolores.