Sustainable NE Seattle

Connecting for a sustainable community

2013 Guatemala Immersion: Studying sustainable community and permaculture in an indigenous rural village.

How often have you heard  ‘God helps those who help themselves!’  But what if the way we ‘help ourselves’ actually makes things harder for others?

The globalization of economies and cultures creates both danger and opportunity at home and abroad.  For some of us, the issues feel academic.  To those on the edge of economic survival they are anything but.

Our learning tour will give participants the chance to live with and learn from those who experience globalization from the bottom up.

The conventional western models of development were part of what sparked and fueled thirty years of Guatemalan civil war.  Out of desperation, the indigenous people of Guatemala’s hill country came together to survive and resist the forces dividing their people.

After the war, the challenge turned to building a just and sustainable future in Unión Victoria, a village designed from scratch on an old coffee plantation up in the hills.

Ninety families, with support from the government, the church, and non-governmental partners have built homes, schools, and health clinics.  Together they maintain and operate their coffee cooperative, hydro-power system, bridge, roads, botanical nursery and community center.  Families earn income from both private and collective economic pursuits.

But it’s not utopia.  Climate change, deforestation, poor access to increasingly volatile markets, and limited capital keep the people of Unión Victoria living on the edge.  They know short-term solutions can create longer term problems so they continue seeking new knowledge and methods.

Our small delegation will give you the chance to build friendships with warm, open, courageous, and determined people.

You will join them in their study and practice of building sustainable community.

You will return home with a deeper understanding of how your lifestyle and our public policies affect those living on the edge.

And if you are willing, you will have enlarged the circle of your concern, commitment  and creativity with new partners and a common pursuit.


Participants must be 16 or older.

Cost: $700 plus about $700 in airfare.

Register your interest with:

Ken Miller Rieman 
Pastor, Olympic View Community Church
kenrieman [at] gmail [dot] com

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Comment by Bill Aston on February 14, 2013 at 7:51am
Ken: Congrats on your ministry around themes of social justice in your Congregation. It's nice to know what other Christians are doing in the SuSNE neighborhood. I look forward to what you bring back from your "Immersion" experience in Guatemala and how it might apply to us in looking out from the vantage of our respective roof tops.
Comment by Debra Morrison on February 13, 2013 at 7:38pm

HI Ken, I got your message about wanting to connect with our Local Economy, Local Currency group. I would be happy to try to get a few folks together, as I was planning to do that anyway soon. I will make an invitation to the group for some time in the next few weeks. 

Coincidentally, my husband, Joe Szwaja, is involved in a similar project in Guatemala for a community called Nuevo Amanecer near Quetzaltenango who are struggling with many of these same issues. I expect he would love to talk with you. He is taking a group of high school students, also in April, as he does every year. It would be great to connect the two of you. My e-mail is morrisondeb (at) earthlink (dot) net.

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