The Quixote Center has now embarked on its fortieth year. That is forty years longer than many predicted, and certainly much longer than those who oppose our mission hoped. To mark this occasion we have created an annual report that commemorates forty years in the struggle by briefly recounting the history of the Quixote Center and its many projects and offshoots.
Our 2014 is tied to all the years and the people that came before, right back to 1975, Bill Callahan and Dolly Pomerleau, working with a gifted three-hole-punch and stapler out of a walk-up apartment in Mount Rainier, MD. Some thought the name would be cause for laughter, that nobody openly admitting a quixotic nature could ever be taken seriously by the powers that be. That proved incorrect, and within months those very powers were working to undermine the impossible dream nurtured in the apartment/office.
I continue to be deeply inspired by the Center’s long history and landmark programs, the willingness to tackle issues that seem impossible long shots, and the strength of resolve to stay the course rather than drift from one hot button issue to the next. These efforts are our roots. They make for a fertile past and a strength to face the unknown future, both of which are needed to continue this pressing work.
In forty years much has changed, but the struggle for justice continues through our program work. We strive to work for systemic, not superficial, change. This principle sets our work on a longer timeline. It requires greater commitment from all, but especially from our incredible individual support network. That’s you! You too are guilty of conspiring for justice.
Last year was, like the thirty eight before it, dedicated to our impossible dreams. We work to build a world more justly loving by seeking systemic change through each of our programs. In 2014:
Catholics Speak Out sponsored another dissident tour. This time Father Tony Flannery of Ireland spoke to crowds across the country in defense of individual conscience and in favor of change within the church structure. His message was a call to include more voices of the faithful. Sales of our Inclusive Language Series continued to rise as communities across the country embrace fair language in worship.
Haiti Reborn provided more than 75,000 young trees to peasant families in and around Gros-Morne. The Green School Network completed a new Quixote-funded tree nursery in Gran Plenn. The Peasant Movement of Gros Morne continued to reach deep into the countryside to provide training and organizing to some 12,000 members of these oft-forgotten rural communities as they grapple with the hard-hitting effects of deforestation and climate change. The Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center held trainings on topics ranging from permaculture to goat rearing, all in pursuit of a sustainable ecology.
The Quest for Peace has embarked on the culmination of our fifteen years working for fair housing for Nicaragua’s impoverished majority. In August, we were pleased to announce a landmark agreement between the Institute of John XXIII and Banpro, a Nicaraguan bank with a strong social conscience. Through the agreement, the Homes of Hope program will become entirely self-sufficient. We have committed to raising $2 Million to serve as the bedrock of the program for the foreseeable future.
Last year we also strengthened our bonds with the Federation of Campesinos (Fedicamp). The federation has grown stronger thanks to exceptional internal leadership. Their constituent farmers benefitted from increased hands-on training with Fedicamp technicians, and their food yields continue to increase year over year. In response to the threat of drought, we have committed to building simple and durable irrigation systems for family farms. We are calling this endeavor the Oasis Project, and twelve systems are in place, with more planned before the start of the planting season in May.
We have been blessed to see far more victories than defeats during the past thirty nine years. With your support, the year to come will bring the same. We have chosen daunting windmills at which to tilt in 2015, but we sally forth with hope, and even a few laughs, to meet them. I invite you to join us on these leaps of faith, and look forward to the journey.