Back in the Twin Cities, thinking about La Colmena is a very different process. Being an active participant of the day-to-day life at the house has become more difficult, as one would expect, but getting updates through our internet sites and hearing various perspectives on how things are going from talking to different people has been a new enlightening and inspiring exercise. I am still figuring out how to convey all what goes through my mind when I think of La Colmena, and I feel like I have talked about it so much that I’ve lost track of who I’ve told what. So instead of trying to make of this post a recap or final reflection, I will just write some of the things that being part of La Colmena has taught me.
Bailar=Dancing but also Bailar=Perform and challenge and explore gender roles.
What to do when the music and steps for a traditional dance form like danzón or bachata seem to be always paired up with very strict and limiting gender roles? We don’t really know yet. But we have tried dancing with whoever we feel like, adopting whichever roles we like, learning both “sides” of the dance, etc., and it has been quite fun!
Ahorita=Right now but actually Ahorita=In a bit
And indeed patience is essential when trying to work as a collective. It was hard not to be impatient when we were just getting started, particularly about wanting to have things–like chairs and books–that would make the space more welcoming and accommodating. However, waiting has paid off, and very quickly when I put it in perspective: Our library, which started with a couple books we brought from our houses, has now more than 5,000 books, thanks to a big donation by a Mexican professor, and the Colmena house is fully furnished, thanks to many other generous donations by friends and neighbors.
And that’s just a fact, but I don’t even know how to begin to write about all the conversations we have had at La Colmena about basura and the huge problem it is for the city and basura and how composting it is awesome but omg we are getting invaded by flies and basura and we need it to make our chalkboard paint and to trade it for veggies and to turn it into musical instruments and basura and how we produce too much of it and how it adopts so many forms some physical some metaphorical some blocking our sewage some cluttering our minds, our media, our politics. But Java specially reminded me than before claiming that basura=art=things to sell=profit=whatever else, it is important to keep in mind that basura=trash, so that we can ask questions like why basura? basura where? basura for whom? next to whom? affecting whom?
And as we think about these questions, we can make amazing notebooks, like this one, made also by Java.
I guess this was already one of our starting premises, but it seems like words are more meaningful when they have been following us for a while, and we are still learning how to bring even closer these two sides of the equation.
Thanks a lot to everyone who has been part of this project; to the people who have been taking pictures, essential to spread the voice about what we do (In this post the photos were taken by Pilar Rodríguez, Yaqing Wen ’13, León Molet, Java, and Alizarin Menninga ’14 in that order); to those who came down to Mexico to work with us; to those in Mexico making of La Colmena their new home; to those supporting us from here and from all over the world (according to our blog and facebook stats at least!); to our awesome landlord for being so supportive (featured in the last picture, getting a mold of his face made for a mask!); to our neighbors for welcoming us to Portales Oriente; to the workshop facilitators for sharing their time and talent; and well to anyone and everyone who has been or will be part of this (we still have some 8 more months to go at least!).