Over the holiday weekend, I had the honor of meeting a man that has catalyzed an economic miracle for a part of Chihuahua, Mexico. Spencer MacCallum discovered the work of Juan Quezada, and over 30 years took the little town of Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico creating “the fairy tale of Mata Ortiz”.
Spencer spoke of how Mata Ortiz went from a poverty stricken dust bowl to now a hopeful place of over 500 potters among the town’s 2500 citizens. Moreover, the town has galvanized together an industry that anyone of the town’s members are invited to be a part of. Juan Quezada’s artistic influence has been an open door to the whole town- giving others the skills to pull themselves out of poverty. And the pottery that they are creating is not the run of the mill stuff that you might have seen in some random flee market- many of Juan’s art pieces go for over $4,000 USD when sold in Mata Ortiz- or much, much more when sold in the US market.
What I found so profoundly interesting is this community created social capital with each other- building their own “business ecosystem”, and with this pulled each other out of poverty. And even more so- great acknowledgment goes to Spencer MacCallum in recognizing what this community had to offer to the world- and how he catalyzed this community out of poverty.