We had the great pleasure of visiting Oaxaca, Mexico recently, an amazing city with striking parallels to SFIP’s home town of Santa Fe: a strong cultural, artistic, and culinary flavor; significant indigenous populations; and efforts to grow both a creative economy and a social impact ecosystem. The potential for collaboration was immediately evident, and the opportunity to do so presented itself serendipitously.

Oaxaca graffitiIn addition to outstanding cultural institutions, a well-preserved colonial-era downtown, fabulous restaurants, artisanal craft villages of world renown, and Zapotec ruins (including their capital city of Monte Alban), the overall spirit of the place is warm, friendly, cheerful, and welcoming.

Happily, we had heard about Hub Oaxaca, one of many “impact hubs” worldwide which share interests with SFIP’s impact investing collaboration, IN Santa Fe. A visit to their facility and conversations with key personnel proved fruitful, as we uncovered similarities, shared challenges, and potential solutions; and that resulted in an ongoing dialog with Daniel Oxenhandler, the new curator of the affiliated CATAPULTA  Social Innovation Festival about how we might work together under the framework of “sister social innovation cities” to collaborate on projects and programs, with the working project title “Viejo/Nuevo.”

A veteran of relevant field work in regions ranging from Argentina to Bangalor, Daniel brings a fresh perspective and vital enthusiasm to his curatorial theme, Oaxaca Weaverwhich he sees as extending beyond the festival itself: “Catapulta is a platform for social innovation, to create new ways of doing good in the world that are more effective, collaborative, just and long lasting.”

As a first step, SFIP has coordinated the participation of several of its institutional allies and collaborators, with the goal of including them in the 2015 CATAPULTA, running June 17-20, and with whom several projects are already in development.

Taken together, these activities will lay the foundation for longer-term collaborations and program development between SFIP and CATAPULTA, and between Santa Fe and Oaxaca. The vision includes strong linkages between the two cities and their innovation efforts, including knowledge sharing, field Painted Horseexperiences and exchanges, residencies, and possibly bringing a version of the social innovation festival to Santa Fe. (Coincidentally, a similar idea appears on the blog of SFIP alliance partner the Business Innovation Factory, in a post entitled “Smaller Cities Unite.”) Visit the project page for ongoing updates.

The name “Viejo/Nuevo” captures both the idea of connecting old and New Mexico, and also the way that both cities embody ancient and modern elements in their contemporary cultures. That and the local (unsurpassed) Mezcal make us say: ¡Viva Mexico!