The Amazon and the Center

The mission of the Center for Amazon Community Ecology is to promote the understanding, conservation and sustainable development of human and other biological communities in the Amazon region. Our three strategies are research, community support and education, and we study the ecology and develop the sustainable harvest and marketing of non-timber forest products such as fruits, fibers, resins, and oils. We also work with indigenous and other forest peoples to sustain local resources and support their communities. See More.  

Amazon Handicrafts at Spring and Summer Festivals
The Center will sell a wide range of handicrafts at green expos and music festivals in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Massachusetts,and other sites on the east coast this spring, summer and fall. These crafts include baskets, bags, belts, guitar straps, tree ornaments, hot pads, dog collars and leashes, hat bands, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings, maracas and decorations made by native artisans from Peru and Brazil. These all make great gifts that support forest conservation, health and education needs in Amazon native and campesino communities. Click on photos below to see some CACE's partner artisans, crafts and ways we give back to their communities. Please come out to these fairs to shop or help us sell to others. Check back here for updates.
CACE would love your help selling Amazon handicrafts at a festival. To volunteer,
CONTACT US
or see listings at VolunteerMatch.org.

Can you offer Amazon Handicrafts at your group meeting or gathering at your home?
CLICK HERE


Sunday, June 28
Berkeley Heights Street Fair
434 Springfield Ave.
Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922

Danixa with chambira woven basket - Baskets

Toucan calabash tree ornament

Saturday, July 4 -
Sunday, July 5
New Bedford Folk Festival
Whaling National Historical Park
33 William St.
New Bedford, MA





Thursday, July 9 -
Sunday, July 12
Remington Ryde Bluegrass Festival
169 Homan Lane
Grange Fair Grounds
Centre Hall, PA


Dave Wakeling and Amazon guitar strap - Guitar Straps

Tahuayo kids with notebooks - Giving back



Friday, Aug. 14 -
Sunday, Aug. 16
Philadelphia Folk Festival
Old Pool Farm
Schwenksville, PA




Friday, Sept. 4 -
Sunday, Sept. 6
(Labor Day weekend)
Rhythm and Roots Festival
Music and Dance festival at
Ninigret Park
Charleston, RI


Chonta earrings - Earrings

Raquel weaving guitar strap - Bora artisans

Workshops and videos building artisan capacity in the Ampiyacu

Bora artisan with sun wheel hot pad.  Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology. Artisans making guitar straps at CACE sponsored workshop at Puca Urquillo. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Bora artisan with carved calabash tree pod ornaments.  Photo by Tulio Davila/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Artisans planning chambira reforestation at CACE sponsored workshop.  Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

CACE is helping native artisans from the Ampiyacu River region to make more and better handicrafts in a sustainable way. Last year we co-led a series of workshops with the Field Museum of Chicago to help Bora and Huitoto artisans improve their communication, cooperation, quality control and reforestation planning. This year we have invited artisans from 7 villages to workshops to learn how to make popular models of belts, guitar straps and ornaments from experienced artisans. We are also filming these artisans explaining how they make these crafts step-by-step to produce a DVD to share with artisans from all 15 communities in the region.


Rosewood Project Progressing

Robin van Loon, Campbell Plowden and Bora rosewood team. Photo by Andrew Schwartz/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Yully Rojas and Bora men measuring rosewood positions with GPS. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Bora man measuring rosewood seedling.  Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Juan harvesting rosewood leaves at Tamshiyacu.  Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Yully Rojas shredding rosewood leaves in Iquitos.  Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

CACE and its ally NGO Camino Verde planted 900 rosewood (Aniba roseaodora) seedlings in the Bora native village of Brillo Nuevo in February 2013 to create a sustainable source of rosewood oil. Since then we have been monitoring their growth and survival every three months and learning a lot about which conditions are most favorable. CV director Robin van Loon visited last summer and predicted we would be able to do our first harvest of leaves and branches in early 2016. In the meantime we are working with a few families from the town of Tamshiyacu to gain practice making quality essential oil from with our new shredder and stainless steel distiller.

Chambira palm survey and cooperative reforestation

Bora artisans on way to chambira planting. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Bora artisan planting chambira palm seedling. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Bora artisan with chambira stems. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Pruning saw cutting chambira stem. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Brown and black tarantula (Cyriocosmus) in Bora fallow forest. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Our Ampiyacu project manager Yully Rojas has continued leading inventories of secondary forests (“purma”) in Brillo Nuevo where artisans collect most of the chambira palm they use to make woven handicrafts. This summer we encouraged a group of women to help one of their fellow artisans plant dozens of chambira seedlings in her “purma” so she would have a greater supply of the raw material to make her crafts. This activity was accompanied by the first digital photo workshop for women in the village. We got nice shots of women with their babies in the forest and a beautiful tarantula. See full story and photos.


New Amazon hair barrettes and hat bands with Ampiyacu artisans

Bora artisan Kori Vasquez with hat band Chuck Barbour with Amazon hat band. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Diagonal pattern hair barrette. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Flower and striped hair barrette. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Bora artisan Monica Chichaco with hat band. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Bora logo hair barrette.  Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Bora artisan Segundina Silva with Amazon hat band. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Some great ideas for handicrafts come directly from creative customers. Last spring Chuck Barbour bought three chambira palm fiber woven bracelets from CACE at a craft fair and wrapped them around his spiffy straw hat. This summer, four Bora artisan partners from Brillo Nuevo adapted some popular belt designs and invented some new ones to make the first Amazon hat bands. See photos of hat bands and artisans with their work. Other artisans created the first models of hair barrettes – some are lightly curved and others clasp a pony tail. See photos of hair barrettes and artisans with these crafts.


Bora artisans create dye plant garden as hedge against flooding

Bora artisan planting guisador root. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Bora woman harvesting cassava root. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Achiote seeds.  Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Bora artisan dying chambira with sisa leaves. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology
In the past two years, the Amazon River has risen higher than usual in the winter rainy season and impacted thousands of people living by its banks and tributaries. Some people were even forced to abandon their houses on stilts, and rates of malaria dramatically increased. In Brillo Nuevo, the severe inundations killed many backyard plants that artisans use to dye chambira fiber. This summer CACE helped one group create a communal dye plant garden in an upland plot donated by one family. After harvesting manioc roots, the women planted roots, shoots, and seeds of dye plants including guisador (a ginger whose root dyes fiber yellow), achiote (whose oil paste around the seeds turns fiber orange or red), and sisa (a vine whose leaves dye chambira maroon or dark brown if mixed with mud). This communal garden will ensure that future floods will not deprive artisans access to plants they need to make and sell woven handicrafts. See full story and photos.


“Artisans of the Ampiyacu” video debuts on YouTube

5 Bora artisans with chambira hot pads. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Ocaina artisan hanging chambira fibers on line to dry. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Frog on frog calabash ornament. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Bora woman twisting chambira. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Artisans of the Ampiyacu – Native handicrafts in the Peruvian Amazon” is a rich visual and music video by CACE that shows how native artisans collect and transform chambira palm fiber, roots, fruits and leaves into diverse woven and carved handicrafts. Photo and video montages display how artisan lives and crafts are integrated with the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and insects of their forest world. Bora women describe how making crafts helps them support their families and community. Watch “Artisans of the Ampiyacu.” See all CACE videos on YouTube.


Certificates and clothing for Bora artisans

Amrit Moore with Bora artisan. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Luke with Bora boy Bora woman with Friends School sweatshirt.  Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Brillo Nuevo artisan award ceremony with CACE. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Near the end of our time in Brillo Nuevo, CACE gave certificates to each of our partner artisans with a level corresponding to the total value and number of their crafts we had sold in the past year. Top sellers also received a package of gifts of household items. The women had fun at this ceremony that they said gave them an extra incentive to make quality crafts. We also served refreshments and our Ampiyacu project manager Yully Rojas gave each woman a share of donated clothing brought to Peru with the help of funds raised by Baltimore Yearly Meeting Young Friends (Quaker high school group). Also on hand for the celebration were this summer's Amazon Field Volunteers, Amrit Moore and Luke Plowden - both of whom also happen to be active in the Quaker community. See full story and photos. .


Volunteers making a difference

PSMA group

Students from Penn State University are helping the Center with their skills and time with photography, video, graphic design, marketing, writing and research. See Profiles of Current and Past Interns and Key Volunteers

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CACE photo logo for GlobalGiving CACE helps native artisans in Peru to increase their income and supporting their communities to improve health, education and forest conservation. See full Project Description on GlobalGiving and Progress Report #3.

CACE on Facebook
We post updates and photos on our Facebook pages. Please "Like" our CACE non-profit organization page or join our CACE group page.

Amazon Crafts on eBay
You can now purchase selected crafts made by our partner artisans at CACE eBay. This page also contains items listed by other eBay sellers who have agreed to donate at least 10% of the purchase price to CACE through the eBay Giving Works program.

CACE on Pinterest
CACE is now posting some of our favorite photos on Pinterest. Please share ones you like as well. Visit Center for Amazon Community Ecology's profile on Pinterest.

CACE Field Sites in Peru

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Reports from the Field
Angel and beetle Angel Raygada, field manager for the copal project in Peru, reports on the study and encounters with rain, wildlife, and assorted bugs. See Angel in the Amazon (English) or Angel en el Amazonas (Spanish).
Campbell and monkey Campbell Plowden, Center President, presents reflections on Amazon travel, people, critters and jungle lore in Campbell's Amazon Journal. Check out Campbell's other updates on Facebook.
Amrit with boa. Photo by Campbell Plowden/Center for Amazon Community Ecology Amrit Moore spent the summer of 2013 as an Amazon Field Volunteer in Peru. She is using her talents as an artist to illustrate the plants used for making handicrafts. Read her blog: Artist in the Amazon - My adventures in the Peruvian Amazon
Natalya Stanko Natalya Stanko, shares experiences and lessons about her six weeks in Peru as an Amazon Field Volunteer writer with the Center in her essay What makes a journalist and 37 more stories in Natalya's Amazon Log.
Videos about Copal Project and Amazon Handicrafts

Learn more about the copal project in the videos:Amazon Ecology (Part 1): Use and insect ecology of copal resin in the Peruvian Amazon and Amazon Ecology (Part 2): Sustainable harvest and marketing of copal resin in the Peruvian Amazon.Plowden and Bora leader with alembiqueronsapa bees at resin

Our newest video Artisans of the Ampiyacutells the story in intimate images and music of the native artisans that CACE works with in the Ampiyacu River basin of the Peruvian Amazon to develop and market innovative handicrafts. Please share the video link with others.

Peruvian Amazon Handicrafts: People, Plants and Community Support features craft makers from two of the Center's partner communities: the town of Jenaro Herrera on the Ucayali River and the Bora native community of Brillo Nuevo in the Ampiyacu River region. It shows ways that people use diverse plants to make their handicrafts and how the Center is supporting local schools by returning part of the proceeds of these crafts sold in the U.S. The piece was shot and produced by cinemaphotographer Greg Harriott when he was an Amazon Field Volunteer with the Center in 2008. Also see Greg's Introduction to Jenaro Herrera and Handicrafts of the Peruvian Amazon by video intern Matt Hunter.

Dora with achiote podsSchool supply donation in Jenaro Herrera
CACE seminar on the web
Campbell Plowden with Bora woodsman from Brillo Nuevo
CACE founder Campbell Plowden gave a talk titled "Blending science, traditional knowledge, and creative design" sponsored by the Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge at Penn State's Paterno Library on Feb. 23. Watch and listen to Dr. Plowden's seminar and audience questions recorded by University Libraries.

Also see the CACE cover story of the summer 2011 ICIK E-News for an article by Plowden with the same title.