Health, Earth, Activism
Cepa is a project that is deeply steeped in activist movements. The founder and director of this project, Melissa Rosario, spent 10 + years as an anthropologist, studying and working with activists on the ground in Puerto Rico who agitate against neoliberal economic policy, and who defend the commons. She felt inspired by what movements could accomplish but felt that in order to truly transform society it was necessary to create space for healing and transformation within our movements. A radical change to society like that of decolonization, requires a re-thinking and re-scripting of our world order.
Melissa moved in September 2016, just after the passage of PROMESA, a bill that has authorized the formation of a fiscal control board on the island. Since that time, vulture capitalists have buying up land and out-migration of Puerto Ricans was on the rise, only made worse by the passage of Hurricane Maria. CEPA began as an acronym reflecting the key principles animating her life before leaving a formal post in academia: the best way to teach is to model (embodied pedagogy), education had to be tied to real-world actions to transform (praxis) and that we need spaces to grow together like seeds. Realizing the lack of applicability of those words to the actual context, we have dropped the acronym from CEPA to Cepa. The Spanish word refers to the part of a plant that connects. Like our plant allies, we must anchor, and reconnect to our roots to transform our society.
In the short-term, we will be moving into a casa-taller in San Juan, where we can continue to offer herbal remedies, trainings and healing circles to activists, artists and educators in our network. In the mid-term, our plan is to collectively buy land to continue the work of sustainable right-living by combining this practice-based education with efforts to reclaim land and prevent the total gentrification of our island. In the long-term, this land will be developed and collectively designed as a community land trust (Fideicomisos Comunitarios de Terrenos) allowing one group of Boricuas from the island and diaspora pool resources, preserve our land and rebuild a healthy, reciprocal relationship with the earth.