February 14, 2013

Non-profit Sustainable Preservation Initiative Launching Crowdfunding Campaign for Two Projects in Peru


by Rebekah Junkermeier, Sustainable Preservation Initiative

In two previous guest blog posts in May of 2012, I introduced the unique way the Sustainable Preservation Initiative (SPI), a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, approaches the problem of cultural heritage site degradation. Often, this degradation is caused by residents of communities near the site that live far below the poverty line. In an attempt to provide themselves and their family with the essentials, they loot the site or use it for other purposes (grazing animals, growing crops, etc.). SPI fights looting and site devastation by empowering local residents through entrepreneurship. By investing in local businesses whose financial success is tied to preservation of the site, SPI preserves cultural heritage and alleviates poverty in these communities. Eight months later, I’m here not only to report the astounding results of our first two projects at San Jose de Moro, Peru, and Pampas Gramalote, Peru, but also to announce the launch of SPI’s crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo.com to raise money for our two newest projects at Bandurria, Peru, and Chotuna, Peru.

San Jose de Moro
San Jose de Moro is home to one of the most important ancient cemeteries in all of Peru and a ritual center of the ancient Moche civilization, which flourished from 100-800 AD. Excavations have not only uncovered evidence of the Moche’s finely painted ceramics, but also their ritual of human sacrifice. Despite its rich cultural heritage, San Jose de Moro is also home to an impoverished community. Our project there has transformed the lives of local residents, creating over 40 jobs and generating over $16,000 in an impoverished community where the daily wage is only $9.50. Local archaeologists have reported that looting and destructive practices at the site have come to a halt as local residents now view the site as an economic asset.  After just one year of operations, the project is completely economically sustainable, no additional funding needed. 

Our second project at Pampas Gramalote, Peru, is well on its way to the same type of success. It has created 10 permanent jobs through a touristic and artisanal program, with trainees receiving practical lessons on how to carve gourds, their traditional uses in Peru and other countries, and their role at the archaeological site of Pampas Gramalote. It is providing the basis for further nondestructive and sustainable economic development. 2012 year-to-date sales have exceeded $3,000, with over $1,000 of online sales through NOVICA, an online global platform that connects local artisans to customers around the world. With such economic opportunities for local residents, we’re transforming lives in the surrounding community AND preserving its archaeological site.

This week, SPI is launching its first crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo.com to raise the $49,000 needed for our two newest projects in Bandurria and Chotuna, Peru. Both sites are home to poor communities and rich cultural heritage. 

Bandurria Pyramids
Bandurria contains pyramids in Peru older than those of ancient Egypt. Excavations have revealed evidence of the origins of civilzation in the Andes. Chotuna is a 235-acre monumental temple and pyramid complex where several ancient royal tombs have been discovered. Just this past August, archaeologists discovered a remarkable burial over 1,000 years old containing such precious items as pearl and shell beads and gold earspools amongst four corpses -- the face of one covered with a copper sheet. Unlike any other tomb of a revered person in the region, this one was likely built by an ancient water cult and meant to be flooded periodically, perhaps as a means of ensuring the region’s agricultural fertility (see National Geographic article here).

Neither place, however, can afford such basics as running water and electricity or has a sewer system. There are few jobs, little income and no opportunity to escape this cycle of poverty. At Bandurria, our project will construct a communal artisan center where locals can produce their traditional reed weaving handicrafts and train future artisans, creating more local jobs in the community. The project includes a store for the sale of the handicrafts, a snack bar, and clean toilets for tourists. Our project at Chotuna empowers the local textile, gourd carving and other artisans by constructing a facility for artisan training and production as well as a small picnic and sales area for their work near the archaeological site.

By collaborating with local archaeologists, archaeological projects, and the local community, our project aims for nothing short of alleviating poverty and saving these archaeological sites, and we want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to come on board.

Help us save sites and transform lives! Click here to makea tax-deductible contribution at indiegogo.com today and spread the word by liking our campaign on Facebook, retweeting us on Twitter, or pinning our project video on Pinterest!

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