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CEN eNewsletter - November 2012                                                                                    Contact Us

In this issue...

Letter from the Director
The Juá Communities Outline Their Vision for Development 
From the EmpowerBlog: Driving their Own Fate
See the Amazon rain forest up close: Accompany CEN on our February Trip
How our Trip Will Help the Communities
Volunteer Spotlight: Matt Rosier- New Board Member
Ways You Can Help
Donate to CEN Follow CEN on facebookFoward this NL to a friend

Letter from the Director

BobFor the past 18 months, CEN focused on the Juá Community-Based Eco-tourism (CBT) Project and made many accomplishments. In the past few editions, I shared with our readers the reasons why the Juá CBT Project is very important with the residents of the region. I also pointed out how the tourism industry doesn’t necessarily benefit local communities. 

As a result of the CEN team’s work, the 16 communities in the region have mobilized themselves, and with the tireless coaching of our local partners for the project, Eunice Sena and Paulo Lima, the achieved communities defined their vision for their region’s future and created a regional action plan for how to achieve it. This plan, which includes creating tourism and community infrastructure, growing agriculture production, encouraging entrepreneurs, nurturing local culture, and identifying education and environmental conservation needs. Read more about the plan in this edition>>

Over the past several months we also gained more insight on a number of things related to our strategy. Since we are a very small non-profit organization, it becomes challenging to raise $280,000 that is needed for the next two years of the integrated project. This will be also one of our first grants so the largest amount we can realistically expect to receive from a foundation would be only approximately $50,000. By focusing so much on pursuing this large transformational project, we failed to generate incremental concrete impact. While our strategy promises to create comprehensive transformation, we now feel that an incremental, solid impact is better than making no impact at all.

In order to address this, we’ve decided to adapt our strategy somewhat:

  • The Juá CBT Project will be split into smaller modules that can be implemented as funding is available. The first module we are pursuing will be to strengthen the capacity of the Regional Foundation so it can better lead to the development process. This will be followed by other modules once we secure funding from the first module.

  • We are going to host a trip to the region in February 2013 to provide the communities with “market feedback” which is important to the long term success of their plans for creating sustainable and comprehensive regional economic development based on. Please read the article in this newsletter about the trip.

  • CEN also plans to finish and publish our evaluation of the Banco da Mulher (Women’s Bank). The Banco da Mulher had some fundamental flaws, but with some changes, it could serve as a model for many other producer groups, cooperatives, and community associations in the region. By finishing the report on the Banco da Mulher and sharing it with other associations in the region, they could use it to start similar funds.

  • We will evaluate the feasibility of using a micro-hydrokinetic generator as a source of reliable and economical electricity. We will begin the evaluation during a February visit by measuring water flow rates in the Tapajos River near Suruacá. These generators are currently being used in  a growing number of rivers and canals around the world and could potentially becoming a very economically-priced source for electricity that has a negligible environmental impact. Most of the generators could also be produced in the region in order to generate local employment. This could have immense positive impact on communities like Suruacá by providing power for storing life-saving vaccines, providing power for tools to make a living, and improving the general quality of life.

  • We will also continue working with Couro Ecologico, the worker’s owned association. Not only do they craft purses from locally and sustainably harvested, natural rubber, they make great holiday presents!  If you would like to view and/or make a purchase, please visit our online shop.

I would like to thank everyone for their participation in our Annual Fund Drive in October. It could not have been made possible without your support. It has been a very busy year for CEN and we made a lot of progress, but as you can see, we have very ambitious goals for 2013.
I would also like to remind our readers that the holidays (and cyber-Monday!) are approaching so don’t forget to use our Amazon.com link for all your Amazon.com purchases when searching for holiday gifts.

Bob Bortner

CEN Founder and Director

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The Eixo Forte (Juá) Communities Outline Their Vision for Development through their Regional Action Plan

by Kelley James

Map of Eixo ForteResidents from the 16 regions of the Eixo Forte, also known as the Juá, developed a regional action plan to take charge of the future of their communities. The action plan contains a variety of goals and detailed objectives, from creating tourism and community infrastructure to growing agriculture production. Find out the more detailed plan the Juá region and what their hopes are in terms of the future these residents hope to have!  Learn more>>

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RSS Feed iconFrom the EmpowerBlog: Living in a Fishbowl among Tourists

by Matt Rosier

"From the Empowerblog" is a regular feature of our newsletter where we highlight one of the postings to our organization's blog. Please subscribe to the RSS feed so you can receive new postings as soon as they are posted. Please note that we had to change the feed service we used so please re-subscribe to the new feed to continue receiving regular posts, even if you previously subscribed. Subscribe to CEN's Empowerblog


The residents of Caboclo riverside communities of Maguary, Jamaraquá and even the Eixo Forte, where tourism is just starting, are accustomed to tourism. Although the residents of those areas have had few personal interactions with visitors, they are already familiar with long gazes from unfamiliar eyes, glossy surfaces of cameras, and cell phones pointed in their direction. They watched as groups of travelers marched across cherished soil, fumbling with fold-out maps and searching for the essence of an exotic land.

For the children of these towns, like João, the attention carries a whiff of excitement as tourists stop to watch a pick-up soccer game, perhaps even cheering and chanting like ardent fans at a World Cup match. Although these temporary fans may be warmed by the smiles beaming from the faces of João and his friends, they’re likely to miss the skeptical glances from João’s parents. Like many long-term residents, they grow weary of being treated as exhibits on a trail of “off-the-beaten-track” destinations lauded by eco-tourism companies interested in nothing more than parading a crew of passive spectators through the remote “wilds” of a rare and pristine place.

For locals, the feeling of being fish in a fishbowl contributes to existing sense of isolation and alienation. Though they warmly accommodate visitors and welcome engagements, locals are rarely spoken to while tourists shuffle past, checking off boxes on their week’s itinerary, and thinking of nothing more than the next shapeless event. Learn more>>

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Join Us to Discover the Local Culture and Help Build Sustainable Communities

collage of photos for our trip to the Amazon

Accompany CEN Director, Bob Bortner, for a once in a lifetime trip to the Eixo Forte in the Amazon February 13-21, 2013 and provide valuable feedback to community organizers about community-based tourism. On this amazing trip you will have the opportunity to connect with the local Amazon communities; get to know the local way of life; and help build a sustainable future—all while venturing into pristine and remote areas of the Amazon. You will:

      • Help build sustainable communities, providing communities with invaluable feedback about their programs

      • Visit the Couro Ecológico workshop, a worker-owned workshop producing handbags made from locally-produced rubber

      • Hiking and zip-lining in the rain forest

      • Canoe, kayak, or take a boat ride on the Tapajós River

      • Visit pristine beaches, including Alter do Chão, one of Brazil's top river beaches

      • Discover the local way of life in your home stay in one of Eixo Forte's 16 communities, including learning local songs and how to brega (local dance)

      • Relax and mingle at an authentic piracaia (party on the beach) in Eixo Forte

The trip is limited to 10 people so we'll be able to customize the activities to your interests and objectives for the trip. The price is $1999/person for adults and $800/child 8-18 years old. The deadline for making your reservations is January 11, 2013.

Please note that Carnival is Tuesday, February 12th, so you could participate in Carnival in Rio or Salvador and then join us in Santarém on Wednesday, February 13th. Please contact us for details and suggestions.

Learn More about our Trip!

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Unveiling the Amazon: How Our Trip to Visit Will Help the Eixo Forte/Juá Communities

by Bob Bortner

Visitors to the AmazonNext February CEN is hosting a trip to the Eixo Forte in order to experience the sites, activities, and services the communities have to offer. It will also be an opportunity to assist the communities of region to implement their regional development plan, as well as learn more about its inhabitants. Read more about what else this trip has to offer and how it will make a positive impact upon the region. Learn more>>

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Volunteer Spotlight IconVolunteer Spotlight: Matt Rosier: Avid storm chaser offering both analytic and creative thought to CEN

by Kristine Fontanilla

Matt RosierMatt Rosier is an avid storm chaser who seeks adventure and takes on various forms of severe weather, which shows his fearlessness towards danger. His sense of courage and perseverance is greatly represented in the work he does towards the organization. Since Matt started volunteering in June 2012, he has written several articles for CEN’s newsletter and wrote much of the copy for the annual fundraising campaign. He also plays a central role in formulating and articulating our marketing message, and in October 2012, he joined CEN’s Board of Directors.  We are very proud to have Matt on the team!
Learn more>>

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How you can help imageWays You Can Help

Support CEN with all your Amazon.com Holiday Purchases (remember Cyber-Monday is next week!)

CEN's Amazon.com link

The holidays are on the horizon, and we would like to share with you an exciting opportunity to support CEN's efforts to empower rural communities just by doing your regular shopping on Amazon.com.

While you're shopping to find gifts for your friends and family or trying to find holiday decorations for your home through Amazon.com, a portion of the proceeds from your purchase will be donated from Amazon.com to CEN at no additional cost to you! 

Taking advantage of this opportunity to help is simple. All you have to do is access Amazon.com through the following link: CEN's Amazon.com link. Happy Holidays from CEN!

Please bookmark this link to use for all your Amazon.com purchases year around. Forward to all your friends for them to use too!

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Join Us on our February 13-21, 2013 trip to the Amazon and Make a Difference

Welcome to the Eixo Forte

Join us for a once in a lifetime trip to the Amazon, where you will have the opportunity to connect with the local Amazon communities; get to know the local way of life; and help build a sustainable future—all while venturing into pristine and remote areas of the Amazon. Learn more>>

Please be sure to forward information about the trip to anyone you know that you feel might be interested!

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Kristine Fontanilla

Contributing Writers

Bob Bortner
Kristine Fontanilla
Kelley James
Matt Rosier

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