From the ashes of a failed business rises the flames of collective hope.
When we moved to Catalonia, I needed time to deconstruct my American life and rebuild my identity. I knew that I didn’t want to work in film, on editorials or in televisión, and that whatever I chose to do in my future it had to have a positive impact on our planet, be it socially or environmentally. My partner supported me in all these new challenges.
He continued to support me when I started Blackelk.org. My love of horses and nature has been a constant since I was a child. When I moved to Maresme, there were so many horses being slaughtered and suffering from abuse and neglect that I wanted to do something about it. At first, I thought I could create a centre for people at risk of social exclusión to work with me and the horses but our property did not support such a project so I pivoted and decide to start creating land trusts of degraded forest and farmland.
Where I live is at risk of forest fire because of its excessive biomass and dead wood inventory. For nearly 6 years I have rescued horses and used them to clean and control the biomass of a small land trust in Sant Iscle de Vallalta. With the help of volunteers, we have removed an estimated 4 tons of plastics and help find homes for horses that could not stay with the herd. I hosted educational nature walks and used local businesses to provide delicious artisan products for the participants. This NGO brought renewable energy companies to our community as we advocated for lowering our emissions and adapting to climate change.
This year, 2019, I had the not so brilliant idea to open an ethical restaurant in order to help fund the NGO, that has an operating cost of 2,000 a month. I envisioned a restaurant that would employ people at risk of social exclusion, focusing predominantly on the women in our community that are at risk because the burden of family responsibility is not shared equally, their country of origin and/or their age. 31 % of people under 25 are unemployed. I had the naive idea that we would garner enough support that we would be able to provide solutions to problems that our community faces while giving 10% of profits to Blackelk.org.
In short, it didn’t work but I don’t want to digress into its failures but talk about its achievements. I had for a short time a restaurant in a small rural community that supported diversity and equality. We used amazing organic produce grown on our own lands or from local organic farmers. We supported local artisans in our community by using their products. We made everything and we avoided using products that were in plastic containers. Our organic waste was composted on our land trusts. Resulting in zero non-recyclable waste and a recyclable waste of less than a kilo a week. We provided a space where we could appreciate and enjoy the talent of local artists. It was marvellous.
Although, the restaurant closed I still believe using rescue horses to prevent forest fires is an effective tool. There are still hundreds of tons of plastic and illegal dumps contaminating our forest and farmland, filtrating into our water. This plastic needs to be removed and recycled. The necessity for us to adapt to climate change and offset our carbon emissions in order to conserve Maresme's unique biodiversity is imperative. It might seem daunting that we are facing an unprecedented number of problems but small actions become monumental when we collectively do them.
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