Guests: Moraima & Papo, co-founders of Cabarete Sostenible
Moraima Capellán Pichardo is a Dominican-born, Brooklyn-raised, professional writer, visual creator, organizer, and yoga teacher. After completing her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Cinema and Screen Studies from the State University of New York at Oswego, Moraima worked in marketing and web management with communications companies such as the Bushwick Film Festival and American Telecommunications Inc. She has written for Oprah Daily, The Huffington Post, La Galeria Magazine, and Healthista, among others. Her published work often focuses on the cultural analysis of the immigrant experience and social justice on and off screen. After living in New York, Moraima returned home and is based in Cabarete, Dominican Republic.
Tomas “Papo” Soñé is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, mixed martial arts instructor, former professional MMA fighter and gardening enthusiast. He is the co-founder of Academia de la Costa, a martial arts academy and community center based in Cabarete, Las Terrenas, Santo Domingo and Ottawa, Canada. Through Academia de la Costa, Papo has organized free Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, art and skateboard classes for local children, as well as cultural and folkloric events (Carnaval de Cabarete, art murals and music festivals) and yearly medical fairs providing dental and pediatric services to underserved communities. Originally from Santo Domingo, Papo has lived in Cabarete for almost 20 years. Cabarete Sostenible started with a brief conversation at the parking lot of Janet’s supermarket between Papo and Jonathan “Tomato” Kayes.
About Cabarete Sostenible
Based in and serving Cabarete, Dominican Republic, Cabarete Sostenible is a non-profit providing food relief to the neediest families and developing food sovereignty through civic regenerative agro-forestry and the creation of social enterprises. Furthermore, it is a platform for community-led sustainability and redistributes access to economic opportunities by bringing the power of the food systems back to local hands. Cabarete Sostenible started as an emergency response to the food crisis brought to light during the COVID-19 national and global emergency of early 2020.
In Cabarete, reliance on tourism has left the community especially vulnerable to the fluctuations of the global tourism sector. Over 70% of those who completed our local questionnaire reported a complete loss of income at the start of the COVID19 national quarantine. Even before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the average family of Cabarete was considered food insecure; they do not have more than 3 days’ worth of food at home. Facing the threat of potential food starvation in their community of Cabarete, an initial coalition of local organizations, community leaders and volunteers quickly got together in March 2020 with simple yet ambitious goals:
- In the short term, to provide emergency food relief and avoid a humanitarian crisis.
- In a second stage: create the conditions for food sovereignty for the residents of the Cabarete municipality as soon as possible.
- Long term, create complete sustainability in Cabarete, from food sovereignty to economics to education, to entrepreneurship and wellness programs for the local population.
In response to these challenges, Cabarete Sostenible has responded with an ambitious hands-on entrepreneurial approach to community development.
Learn more at their website: Cabarete Sostenible
Topics we discussed:
- Overview of Cabarete as a place – who live there, population, economy, etc.
- Economy of DR overall
- Tourism and it’s effects on the area and country
- How/Why Cabarete Sostenible got started
- What Cabarete Sostenible does now – programs and mission
- Challenges they’ve faced in the process
- How they fit into and engage the community
- Food Insecurity, Food Sovereignty, Sustainable Agroforestry
- Issues with mono-culture agriculture
- Shifting cultures around growing your own food
- Rebuilding the soil and ecosystem and the vision for the farm
- Information about the food packages they provide for local families in need
- Wellness industry in Cabarete and making it accessible to locals
- How Cabarete Sostenible is contributing to entrepreneurial opportunities and social businesses in town
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