TRP 2020 Europe

Form Submissions

Below you’ll find copies of all participant submissions. Click on the participant’s name to view their full submission.


Your NameErika Zárate
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1. What do you see as your primary work at this stage of your life?

My primary work at this stage in life, in addition to being a partner and a mother, is as a community and organisational resilience practitioner and educator, informed by and based in Quechua Indigenous practise, however moving towards integrating regenerative practise more deeply as well in this work.

2. What role do you see as yours to play?

Since I was 12, the role I have inhabited in my ecosystem is to disrupt patterns of structural violence and in the last 20 years, I complement this role by also accompanying organisations and communities co-create new patterns based in social justice and ecological balance. I've played these roles by bridging seemingly "opposites". First, tackling a police force convicted of systemic police brutality & facilitating spaces for dialogue and training led by migrant youth and other youth of "colour", which led to my work in armed conflict zones, where I did similar bridge-work between members of Indigenous, Afro-descendent and mestizo communities and soldiers who had killed members of their communities, so as to strike agreements for peace and "convivencia", and more recently facilitating processes in which inheritors of corrupt local governments are engaging citizens in shared governance (among other related activities). This bridging approach to my role could be because I am half indigenous Quechua and half white Canadian and have had to bridge cultural (and colour) difference my whole life, but it is also thanks to guidance from both my parents, who inhabit similar roles in our ecosystem.

3. What goals or aims do you have in regard to the above?

The overall purpose of my role is to nourish community well-being and resilience, understanding community as my whole ecosystem and not just the human species part.

4. Where do you feel your next arenas for personal growth are?

There are many! But most importantly, I am exploring how to better respect my personal limits and learn not say yes to every request or project that comes my way, despite the change potential I see in them. The main motivation is so that I can have the time and energy to cultivate a richer relationship with my partner (who I work with) and 8-year-old daughter, and also have time for myself and my friendships. Related to limits (or not respecting them), when I am overworked I fall into "control mode", needing to be on top of everything, which doesn't help inner or outer change processes develop... something else I want to improve in!

5. And for professional growth?

There are also many!
I most want to learn how to better "bridge" the knowledge and experience from my Indigenous and activist approaches to community well-being and development, making it relevant and understandable in a European (and Canadian) mainstream context. For most of my life, until quite recently, my Indigenous practise was something I did at home and would not ever share outside of the family, in order to not risk it being corrupted through misinterpretation by non-Indigenous organisations or communities. However, I see that in recent years these knowledges and experiences could be helpful to the communities with which I work and I have to learn how to convey such experience I have in a way that doesn't sensationalise or exoticise my Indigenous heritage, but does encourage local reflection and co-creation.
Related to this, I also want to continue developing my skills in participating in and facilitating co-creative regenerative design spaces.
I also want to improve my role as mentor in my cooperative (we are four mentors for five younger/newer associates), which I feel needs much improvement and patience, as I know that it takes some time (years) for our younger associates to get up to speed with certain foundational skills and practises, but when I see them failing, I play the "hero" and come in and help them too much, instead of working with them regeneratively. This pattern extends to how I work with my colleagues at the cooperative. For example, when I see that no one is taking on financial overview or legal issues, I may do a call out to see who can take it on, but usually I just do it myself, which is not at all sustainable and much less regenerative.

6. What have you invested in to get you where you are?

I am not sure if anything I have done w¡could be called investment, because I consider it a natural trajectory from the structural violence I experienced and observed in when I was young, which led me to act with deep conviction for change. Nonetheless, the path I have taken has required both professional development (two undergraduate degrees, one masters degree and multiple professional courses, most of which were done while I worked full-time) as well as Indigenous spiritual practice and other spiritual practice. My sisters and I are fortunate to have been raised by a father who practised the Quechua thanksgiving ceremony (similar to the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving) in the mornings, and my mother was spiritual in her own Irish-Sicilian way. Both laid the foundations for my morning routine of Thanksgiving and yoga, as well as annual retreats to work on myself (the last just started the last three years).

7. What fields of learning and which thinkers have been important in your life?

Fields of learning: Indigenous governance, transformative education, human rights advocacy, community resilience, leverage points analysis and catalisation, regenerative development.
Thinkers: Rigoberta Menchu (K'iche' nobel prize winner and huge inspiration to my early work), Tarcila Rivera (Quechua Indigenous activist and mentor), Denise Brooks (former Afro-Canadian activist, mentor and teacher), my parents, Quaker, Gandhian and Anti-Conscription founders of Peace Brigades International, and authors such as Donnella Meadows, The Barefoot Collective (South Africa), Pamela Mang and Bill Reid.

8. Can you frame your philosophy or cosmology of life? What role(s) do humans play in it?

Mainly Quechua Indigenous spiritual beliefs, flavoured with some adopted Asian spiritual beliefs, which power my drive for social and ecological justice. In this cosmovision, as a member of the human species, I am nature.

Entry DateNovember 1, 2020

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