As a member of CI’s communications team, I’m often asked, “What do you guys do, exactly?” Working at an organization with over 900 staff and field offices in 27 countries, this can be a difficult question to answer in a few sentences. Forest protection, species discovery, latrine-building, fisheries management, improvement of large-scale business practices … all of these and more are elements of what CI does, though they by no means tell the whole story.
This desire to better explain CI’s successes and challenges has been the impetus behind Team Earth, our new storytelling project. By focusing on different geographies in which we work, we aim to tell short stories about our many kinds of partners — stories that provide a taste of who these people are, how CI works with them to get global results … and how the work we do together is relevant to you.
For our first feature story, “Chiapas: Coffee, Climate and Conservation in Mexico,” I traveled with a team of photographers and filmmakers to Chiapas, a rainforest-covered state in southern Mexico that produces most of the country’s coffee. Chiapas is currently home to about 121,000 coffee farmers, 90 percent of whom grow their crop on less than 5 hectares (12 acres) of land. However, shifting weather patterns attributed to climate change are taking a toll on coffee production — a trend that researchers predict will only worsen in the coming decades.
Hosted by the wonderful CI-Mexico staff, we talked to shade-grown coffee farmers in the mountaintop villages of the Sierra Madre. We visited a coffee warehouse in the bustling capital city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, and discussed the international carbon market with partner organizations. We watched spider monkeys ascend steep canyon walls and listened as farmers described their personal experiences with climate change at a CI-organized Coffee Forum meeting. The result of these and other experiences in Chiapas is this collection of written stories, photos, video and other material that highlights just a few of the millions of people around the world doing amazing things to tackle the environmental challenges we face.
We hope our Team Earth stories will give you a better sense of what we do, how it relates to you — and what you can do to join Team Earth. Explore Team Chiapas — and be sure to give us your feedback here on the blog or on CI’s Facebook page.
Molly Bergen is the managing editor on CI’s communications team.