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*LEAF International LEAF is teaming up with Music Video Asheville to help spread the word about powerful work being done through LEAF International Costa Rica. At Music Video Asheville's Rolling out the Red Carpet event on April 16, the LEAF team will announce our videographer pick for a unique project happening in Costa Rica!!

LICRMVA2014 trophyMusic Video Asheville, now coming into its 7th year, is an annual event that showcases the collaborations between filmmakers and local musicians. Area bands submit their music videos and the best 90 minutes of videos are selected for a viewing and awards ceremony at Diana Wortham Theater in Downtown Asheville on April 16, 2014. The red carpet event is a celebration of the creative, unique and diverse music community we have here in the heart of Western North Carolina. Tickets are on sale now at www.musicvideoasheville.com.
Get your tickets today to be sure to join the LEAF Team for a fun evening!
Founded in August 2013   •  Located in Talamanca and La Casona

 Over 30 Youth served ages 8 to 22

Project Talamanca- the Bribri First Nation
 Community Center in Kachabri     2 groups of 3 youth 

LICostaBriDrums  LICostaBriEnsemble  LICostaBriJairoVillage

“Human diversity brings new answers to old problems, and there is no doubt that ancient traditions carry wisdom and answers to our lives today.”- Luis Porras, founder of Proyecto Jirondai, LI Costa Rica Partner

"These communities embody a simplicity and kindness that is so rich and often lost in modernity." -Jennifer Pickering, LEAF Executive Director

Project Overview

LICostaBriRecordersLEAF International has partnered with Proyecto Jirondai to
support the preservation of ancient Bribri traditions, language, music and art in the mountainous region of Talamanca in southern Costa Rica. The Bribri are a very motivated, organized, and resourceful people.
The culture and language of the First Nations in Costa Rica has been marginalized: 2+ generations haven't been learning their native traditions and ways of being. Currently, 90% of all linguistics diversity in the Americas have disappeared or are in the process of disappearing. UNESCO predicts that all native languages will disappear in this century.
LEAF International Costa Rica will support and empower the Bribri First Nation to preserve their culture. The Bribri connect to their gods, their elders, and each other through singing. By singing, they express a variety of stories and actions.
Youth in the Bribri First Nation will learn ancient Bribri traditions of drum making and singing. The community also has a very progressive radio station and recording studio that has been in existence for many years. With use of the radio, the Bribri share their music and recordings of ancient songs with the rest of the country. This ability is empowering to them.
Through the project students gain:
 • Musical skills in learning song from their elders
 • Mentoring from teachers in the communtiy
 • Drum-making skills
 • Performance opportunites in the community
 • Increased self esteem and pride in knowing their traditions
 • Awareness of cultural traditions
Meet the Teaching Artist
LICostaBriJairoSmileJairo (pronounced hi-doh) is president of the Bribri village. He learned to make drums from his grandfather, and is married to Dgna, the daughter of a shaman. The shaman is a very important member in Bribri society representing both law and medicine. Jairo and his wife have one son, Manual, who is 13 yrs. He is the only instrument maker in the area, and will make traditional drums for the program. It is believed by the Bribri that the spirit of the Woodpecker was the original maker of the drum. Jairo depicts this sacred maker of the drum, the woodpecker, on his drums.
  "A drumming program, combined with traditional songs (song being the way culture, learning and living is communicated among the Bribri people) will complement the music program that is currently new songs sung in contemporary styles in the Bribri language.” -Coryn Harris, LEAF Development Director
“I am Bribri. We should tell our history. We should have pride. We are Bribri. I should not be embarrassed by my own language." -Teen student of the Bribri

Project La Casona- the Ngäbe First Nation

 Ngäbe Cultural Center     30 youth ages 8-22
LICostaNgaGirl  LICostaNgaLaCasonaSign  LICostaNgaBoyMarimba

“I love the way the little children talk. Their main language is
Ngäbe, and they learn Spanish. They talk musically."
-Luis Porras

Project Overview
In La Casona,The people of the Ngäbe First Nation live on a comarca, roughly translated to “reservation,” where indigenous groups have exclusive land rights and some autonomy.The Ngäbe people have lost much of their culture due to colonization and globalization.
LICostaNgaAlexisBandThey have lost so much of their culture; no one knows how to make their traditional instruments any more and many indigenous languages have disappeared. Here, LEAF International Costa Rica is supporting the Centro de Cultura Ngäbe, founded by community member and musician, Alexis Rodriguez.

The partnership with Alexis will provide much needed support to a man who was already working to preserve and link kids to local culture. Alexis is translating three languages: the ancient language of Bukle, the more traditional language of Ngäbe (or Ngäbere), and Spanish. Alexis is also teaching ancient stories, and painting exceptional illustrations to go with the stories for the kids.

Through the project students gain:
 • Traditional music classes
 • Lessons in ancient stories and culture of elders in the community
 • Indigenous language skills
 • Performance opportunites in the community as well as the chance to tour
 • Awareness and preservation of cultural traditions 
 • Regaining control over life that has been lost for decades
Meet the Teaching Artist
 Alexis Rodriguez learned music and Ngäbe traditions from his mother who lived near the frontier. While he speaks Spanish, he thinks in Ngäbe. He is a band member of Proyecto Jirondai, with Luis.The band uses world music fusion to combine ancient traditions and the voices of the elders with contemporary music. The band also uses visuals to explain the songs for those who don't speak their languages.

 It is obvious that Alexis is a respected leader in the community. His compound is extensive and self sufficient.

"Alexis is a perfect example of a teaching artist even though this term is unfamiliar to him. He has dedicated his life teaching Ngäbe youth music-culture-language" -Luis Porras



LI Costa Rica Visual Video Story

We encourage you to embark on this journey yourself! For easy viewing and grasp of this beautiful story, please watch:

The Culture of the First Nations in Costa Rica
The Bribri: Talamanca is very difficult to get to; it is an isolated area. There is no way to get there except to attempt to forge the powerful river or catch a dug out canoe across. Then traverse, in a Banana Truck, the nicely kept gravel road for 20 minutes to the main town. The few vehicles in Amubri, even the buses and banana trucks, were brought over carefully using many dugout canoes. In Talamanca there are 1,000 families, and in Amubri there are 100 families. Their self respect and pride is reflected in the cleanliness of their land and homes. The homes are simple, yet very nice. Agriculture is the main activity of the Bribri and because of their intense isolation; they have developed an extensive bartering system. The Bribri are matriarchal. They consider themselves “seeds”, and the Keepers of Seed – one of these being the Cacao Seed. Cacao is the sacred plant. They eat and drink chocolate. Corn is also sacred. The Bribri have so many sacred places, including one mountain where they consider creation started.
The Ngäbe: La Casona suffers from a loss of culture.The Ngäbe experience much adversity including poverty and malnutrition due to crop shortage, low levels of secondary education, alcoholism, loss of culture, loss of sacred lands and burial groundsThere are no work sources in La Casona. For work people must go to San Vito or harvesting operations. In their belief system, the sloth is sacred, and the Sloth was holding the structure of the universe. Here, Ngäbe is the current language and is spelled many different ways-  but Bukle is the ancient language.
Project Highlights
August 2013
LEAF Staff travel to Costa Rica to launch programs in Talamanca and La Casona. The trip is a big success! All involved are inspired to preserve indigenous culture and traditions of the two First Nations.
January 2013
Greg Lucas dreams of this project. Greg and LEAF vision a viable way to launch a LEAF International program in Costa Rica.

Featured Partners
Proyecto Jirondai: Luis is the founder of Proyecto Jirondai and is an advocate for the preservation of indigenous culture. Proyecto Jirondai works to preserve Central American indigenous chants through research, education, and dissemination. The group “uses art and technology to preserve the intangible human heritage through the knowledge and respect of human diversity.”  The organization records indigenous song and oral traditions in the field, and helps to produce CDs and provides concerts to let these voices be heard by local and global audiences- promoting knowledge and respect of ancient cultures.
PJ is also a band including singers from different cultures- the group performs concerts with visual support. Concerts use contemporary arrangements to present 5 different languages so that ancient songs can reach diverse audiences. Through their work, PJ is preserving languages that are at the risk of extinction.

The Dan Lucas Memorial Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina: The vision from Greg Lucas of this project and the generous grant funding from the Dan Lucas Memorial Fund made it possible for LEAF International to launch LI Costa Rica and expand LEAF’s depth of programming in Latin America. The generous grant provided $10,000 to begin the collaboration with Proyecto Jirondai budgeted to purchase instruments, provide administrative support for LEAF International, travel expenses, teaching artists and documentation.The grant is scheduled to provide support for the program for 3 years.


In Memory of Ben Gradison Fund: $2000 funds from the Ben Gradison Memorial Fund were designated for audio equipment to support a One-Mic studio project. Proyecto Jirondai has created a One-Mic type program called Houses of Memory, “Casa de la Memoria”. LEAF supports these efforts with funding from the Ben Gradison Foundation gifts. These efforts reflect the work for which Ben held so much passion.

Music  Costumes
Guitars • Drums • Audio Equipment
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