Martha Isabel (Pati) Ruíz Corzo

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1995


This profile was prepared when Martha Isabel (Pati) Ruíz Corzo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo, better known as Pati, is building a mass movement. She engages people by presenting them with profitable opportunities carefully structured to ensure that key social ends are met. Her vigorously spreading commercial tree planting program is a good example. She's also steadily trying to find ways of increasing its profitability–by developing complementary ecotourism and birdwatching programs, for example.
She engages people by firing up their children.
She engages people by using every available communications medium–from hand-made anti-littering posters to the radio.
She engages people by skillfully organizing volunteering efforts.
Moreover, she's hard at work developing a financial base that is independent, potentially adequate and able to grow with the movement.
Pati began from the premise that the natural environment on which they heavily depend is even more important for the peasant farmers and laborers of the Sierra Gorda than it is for the professional classes more typically associated with conservation organizations. She founded the Sierra Gorda Ecological Group as a grassroots social movement focused squarely on the region's poor majority–what they need to know and their practical needs and concerns. Environmental Fellows across the world are struggling to find systemic ways to induce people to factor the environment into their daily decision making. Centralized policies can't work, because there is no one right answer.
The mix of human and environmental needs inevitable vary from place to place and time to time. Pati's contribution to their search is both a number of specific approaches and a more-than-the sum-of-the-parts movement and change of consciousness.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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