THE ROOTS & ROUTES OF OUR STORY
Roots and Routes is dedicated to facilitating networks, exchanges, collaborations, and campaigns for people to speak for themselves and learn to listen to one another. We are collectively creating Roots and Routes together by unearthing empathy, understanding the wisdom within each and every one of us, and cultivating respect in relation to one another and the living world around us. Collaborative roots brought us to where we are and are at the core of our future routes as well.
Due to the absence of Indigenous peoples, knowledges, practices in conversations about conservation and sustainable development while a student at University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1997, Juli Hazlewood Williams first went to Ecuador to learn about human/living- world relations from communities who had lived continuously in their ancestral territories since time immemorial. She had the life-changing experience and the privilege to live with the Chachi Indigenous community of La Ceiba in the Chocó Pacific Coast Rainforest for two months while working on a communal ethnobotanical garden.
The Chachi children were Juli’s guides and teachers. By walking with the children, she learned about the depth and intricacy of their relationships with the rainforest and the rivers that they cultivated day in and day out and that their lives depend upon. As they taught her balance by moving from one root to another through the rainforest and by standing in canoes to navigate the rivers, she was moved to write a poem about “roots and routes”, our namesake.
Then one day when walking together the freshly carved out road to their community, the Chachis talked about how they were surrounded by eminent threats of rainforest and cultural destruction, and they had been left to fend for themselves. She came to realize that this was true not only for them, but all the communities throughout the Chocó. That day she committed to accompany them in their struggles to defend their territories and their very lives and to give back to the communities in reciprocity for what they had taught her.
New road into Chachi Territory re:1997
Chachis waiting by the side of the road under sign reading “Only one way, only one path: the development of the country”
From there on out Juli began on the path searching out different ways to stand in alliance with Indigenous and ancestral communities. Her goal became to impassion others to become accomplices standing up for one another and the living world around us.
Juli met many teachers, guides, and friends along the numerous routes traveled. As they all shared a similar vision of establishing exchange programs based in “thinking with the heart”, they now form part of what has become a fundamentally collective effort in research, education, and action. We at Roots and Routes Intercultural Collaborations respect, nod in acknowledgement, and offer thanks to all of these collaborative relations.
In fact, this is why Juli considers herself to be a Co-Founder of Roots and Routes: the “Co-” in Co-founder is from the “Co” in collaboration. Collaboration is what we do and who we are.
Through Roots and Routes programs, we insist upon opening spaces for Indigenous and ancestral peoples to lead the way in cultivating life-sustaining human societies. Subsequently, by collectively revising official versions of history and relearning culturally diverse ways to take care of Earth’s communities today, we transform ourselves and show the world this:
We, in all our diversity, are inherently worth more than the economic value of the resources and minerals below our feet.
Roots and Routes Intercultural Collaborations:
Standing together, becoming more.
Juli A. Hazlewood Williams, Ph.D. in Geography
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Roots & Routes Intercultural Collaborations