CHIMISKOLI: Investing in People
In Nahuatl, the Mesoamerican language of the Aztecs, which dates back to the fifth century, Chimiskoli means to dish, to tell tales, to spread news, to gossip.
“When you asked me for a background on the coffee of Chiapas, why Chiapas, and why coffee, well it’s a complicated answer. It comes from a long time ago, a time when it was really dangerous to get to the crops. The natives are really jealous of their land and their people. You had to know someone to get to the crops. Even the people who grew the crops had difficulty, as the indigenous people were fiercely protective, not even allowing a photograph to be taken of themselves or the area.
Mexico is a country where we have everything, but we don't know what to do with it or people take advantage of others. So that's why I wanted to work with these susceptible people. I don't want to take advantage of them, and I want to show them and the world that we have really good coffee! I wanted to create something for them and from them. Every time someone purchases a bag, they are investing in the crops, and also investing in the people.”
The significance of culture is the collective celebration of traditions that affirm societal learning through shared experiences encompassing language, beliefs, artistic expression, and food. The sounds, objects, and aromas that fuel cultural memory have the power to be carried from generation to generation, across borders, and through time.
Advancements in technology and industry have irrevocably changed how we interpret information, how we consume, and how we share our human experiences. The big rush to obfuscate old world methods has resulted in a chasm that has impacted a new generation seeking to infuse every aspect of their lives to reflect awareness, social responsibility, and tradition. Within new business models that support local and micro-economies, sustainability, and renewal comes a renewed appreciation for craft—the hand picked, the hand crafted—feeding our need to express our individuality through conscious consumption.
Recognizing economic disparity around the world, socially conscious businesses that create new opportunities to strengthen networks, provide economic empowerment, gender equality, and social protections for the vulnerable, have paved the way for a more compassionate and responsible business model.
It is with this spirit that CHIMISKOLI was born. Recognizing the culture and history of the families who have cultivated and protected their crops for generations, Chimiskoli founder and owner Lorena Márquez made a conscious decision to devote her expertise and energy toward developing an infrastructure that would help “susceptible Mexicans.” Her father worked in the coffee business, and as a young person, Lorena spent an enormous part of her childhood visiting the different plantations and the families and children who worked the fields in Chiapas. When she finished her university studies, Lorena wanted to apply her education in a way that would benefit her culture and her community.
Our partnership seeks to share the stories behind Chimiskoli through text and imagery, offering a multidimensional facet of the human experience.
Antonio hails from many generations of coffee growers. A native of San Juan Cancuc, Chiapas, his family has dedicated their lives to the craft of coffee cultivation, harvesting, and trade. Chiapas ranks second among the Mexican states in the production of cacao and is responsible for 60% of Mexico’s total coffee output. Antonio is proud to tell us that his entire family, from grandfather to the youngest child, helps in the fields.
Juan Carlos was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and has been in the coffee business since he took his first steps. Learning how to cultivate coffee is a true art, one that he learned from his grandfather and father, one that he plans to pass down to a future generation of cultivators. In 1986 he began his career in the business, and in 2014 he established his own enterprise selling green coffee beans and roasted coffee to a larger market place. Immersing himself within the smaller communities of Tenejapa, Oxchuc, Pantelho, Chenalho, and San Juan Cancuc (the birthplace of Chimiskoli), Juan Carlos has dedicated his efforts to the cause of future economic growth for the families and children of the region.
Gelasia - Embroidery is one of the most recognizable hallmarks of Mexican culture and is traditionally passed down from mother to daughter. The indigenous people of Hidalgo (the Highlands) have perfected their approach to the art form, one that draws inspiration from a rich ancestry celebrating nature and emotion. Gelasia has taught her son and four daughters to create fantastic embroidered designs that illustrate the spirit of their surroundings, drawing inspiration from the vegetation, animals, and daily rituals of the region. The finished embroidered works are called Tenangos and are recognized throughout the world. Synonymous with Mexican identity, these embroidered works are typically created within small agricultural based communities and are brought to market functioning as an additional revenue stream, thus helping to support isolated communities who live in poverty. Through her endeavors, Gelasia maintains that the art form of embroidery works as an agent of change, allowing her to let go of the everyday setbacks she faces.
CHIMISKOLI: Investing in People is part of Katzenstein’s larger body of work, The Human Experience, a collection of his visual explorations that span over the past 30 years. His work presents the positive aspects of peoples and cultures, and takes the viewer on countless journeys near and far.