The history of Maya Traditions involves a collaboration between social workers and weavers with an interest to display the skills of Guatemalan artisans. The collaboration began in 1994, and the organization was formalized as a legal non-profit in 2007. Maya Traditions was founded to help skilled artisans improve their quality of life while preserving their culture through facilitating access to a Fair Trade global marketplace. Jane Mintz began to assist them with their designs, improving the quality of their work so as to make it more marketable in the United States.
Created by MayaTraditions on Mar 13, 2012
Last updated: 04/20/12 at 12:16 PM
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Marcelle Renkin fulfilled the position of Executive Director in September 2011 and is working to help restructure FTM to address sustainability issues. Working with a small staff and dedicated volunteers we have been able to reposition the organization’s status as representatives of Fair Trade Producer groups and improve marketing and communication strategies.
From 1996 to 2011, the Education Program has been able to offer 2,234 scholarships and has seen over 100 students graduate to become professionals. The recipients in the program are the children of our weavers. The Education program continues to encourage youth to give back to their communities through the student community service project that has been an integral part of the program since its inception.
The Foundation was forced to be creative in discovering a way to continue on with Jane`s vision without the support of its driving force and largest donor. Structurally there were many changes that are enabling the Foundation to address issues of sustainability. After the hiring of Robin Smith as Foundation Executive Director in September 2010, the Foundation conducted an in-depth analysis of its service delivery, funding, Fair Trade program, production process and capabilities, and staffing structures to ensure that the organization can continue to provide the highest quality service to our women at reasonable cost. A Strategic Plan was developed as a means to ensure that the legacy of Jane will continue to have a profound impact on the lives of the women to whom she dedicated so much of her own life.
FTM received a first round of funding from the First Peoples Worldwide Fund of the Tides Foundation for the garden project.
In November 2009, the Foundation suffered a great loss with the passing of Founder, visionary, and main supporter Jane Mintz.
In 2007, FundaciónTradiciones Mayas (Maya Traditions Foundation) was legalized as a nonprofit in Guatemala, which was an important step in addressing the organization´s long term sustainability. Becoming a Foundation has allowed the organization to continue responding to the needs of stakeholders whilst diversifying its funding sources.
Began a collaborative relationship with the COMO Foundation through funds received for skills development an capacity building of artisans.
FTM began a collaborative relationship with MEF (Maya Educational Foundation) who has works tirelessly to support our efforts to educate women, children and youth. MEF continues to provide fiscal sponsorship and tax deductible donations to FTM can be made to them to help support our projects
In 2005, in response to the devastating effects of Hurricane Stan on the community of Panajachel, and Guatemala at large, Maya Traditions implemented a 3-year disaster relief project funded from generous donors and friends of Maya Traditions. The organization was able to ensure access to safe drinking water through distribution of water filters as well as help some families rebuild after losing everything they owned in flash floods.
In 2004, Jane and her close friend and Founder of Mayan Hands (Manos Mayas), Brenda Rosenbaum, formed Oxlajuj B'atz' (Thirteen Threads) to work with their artisan groups in informal educational initiatives.
In 2003, Maya Traditions celebrated the inauguration of the “Sala”, a space Jane donated the use of to Maya Traditions for education workshops. This space continues to be used today for education workshops for youth and women.
With the support of Martha Lynd, Maya Traditions successfully collaborated with local NGO Vivamos Mejor and the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala to help women from the Sololá group build a community house for their Cooperative.
The Maya Women Artisan Education program was formally developed d to help the artisans learn business techniques and gain managerial and accounting skills. The program has provided a rich series of workshops in design, weaving techniques, color pallets, basketry, crochet, conflict resolution, Fair Trade practices, quality control, and environmental education. The goal of the program is to move the artisans in the direction of self-sustainability.
The Health Program expanded from coordinating health care projects and access to mobile clinics focusing on women’s health to the establishment of the organic herb garden in 2001. Since 2001, Maya Traditions has conducted many workshops in the communities focusing on a preventative approach to health. To this day, the Health Program continues to focus on the promotion and preservation of Maya medicine and spirituality as it pertains to general health and wellbeing by focusing on the role of Ajq´onomeles, or traditional healers, in their communities.
Maya Traditions officially became a Guatemalan based entity (Tradiciones Mayas) and operations were moved to the current office in Panajachel.
The Guatemalan civil violence ended in 1996 after 36 years of armed conflict and a scorched earth campaigns. Many indigenous communities were drastically impoverished during this time and lost loved ones and property rights.
In 1996, Jane and Martha joined forces to work with four cooperative groups of approximately 80 Maya backstrap weavers in highland villages. In response to a need to generate more income for the cooperatives, Jane´s small retail business in the United States became a wholesale import business, Maya Traditions, and was registered with the Fair Trade Federation. That same year, Martha conducted a needs assessment in the communities which led to the initiation of the health and education projects that gradually evolved into today´s dynamic social programs.
In 1994, Jane met Martha Lynd, an anthropology major and weaver who was searching for a US market for weaving groups.
Jane Mintz traveled throughout Guatemala and met indigenous weavers around Lake Atitlan. She retired from active social work and became a tapestry weaver and teacher.