Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Would you like to teach spinning in this idyllic town in Chile?

One of my favorite events during the year is the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival because it allows me to cross paths with interesting people. This year I had the chance to meet Silvia Fernandez-Stein. While Silvia does not spin, her son, Guido, does. And Guido, whom I met through Ravelry, introduced us.

Guido had read about Charkhas for Africa and he emailed: "Could you talk to my mom? She wants to do something similar in Chile."

So Silvia and I sat down at Guido's MSWF party and she told me of what she had in mind for her town in Chile.

Silvia is offering a free two-week stay in her three-bedroom house in Cobquecura named La Loberia to spinners who can organize themselves to teach spinning to the women of the village. You see, Silvia would like to empower the women of her town to learn skills that turn can into a self-sustaining cottage industry. The spinners' only expense would be the air and land transfers to and from Cobquecura (about 200 miles from the capital, Santiago) and the daily subsistence, which would be about $20/day.

La Loberia, built in the early 1980s, was restored in 2005 by Silvia and her husband, Robert, a city planner who was a Peace Corp volunteer in Chile. It now functions as a bed & breakfast, museum and cafe. See the "before and after" photos of La Loberia here.

Another goal of Silvia's is to bring attention to the threat of pollution to Cobquecura now that a pulp mill recently started operation in the area. She and other environmentalists are concerned about the tons of contaminants that will be pumped into the Rio Itata and endanger an entire stretch of the coastline.

Cobquecura is apparently a cool town for, and of, women. Below, some of the dynamic women of Cobquecura. Silvia is in the center.

If you are interested in going to Cobquecura for a spinning retreat -- and conducting a workshop for the local women, let Silvia know by email.