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Melanie Valencia Video Presentation

Mycorrhiza - Telling Stories of Circular Economy Care From Ecuador

Mycorrhiza - telling stories of circular economy care from Ecuador


Mycorrhiza - Telling the Stories of Circular Economy Care From Ecuador 


Just as the mycorrhiza constitute the networks of roots and fungi in symbiotic relationships sending signals within forests, the relationships among people is what makes cities and societies communicate, collaborate and therefore, function sustainably.  This project aims to tell the stories of circular care and how relationships are at the core of closing material loops. Though the majority of the literature points to the use of technology and industrial ecology for circularity, the stories of those in unpaid and undervalued jobs are the true essence of circularity. Deciding to repair is a political act of a deontological nature towards society and planet. In Latinamerica, repair jobs are dying away. Cobblers, sewers, electromechanics, recyclers have fallen victims to anything ‘fast’, fast and cheap fashion, electronics, consumer goods. We want to capture the stories and wisdom of those holding on to care as a core value for society.

The methods for this work took a qualitative approach, to map locations and acts of repair and care. We began mapping and asking others to map the people in these trades in their neighborhoods. We began collecting some of the stories through a geographical sample in Ambato, Ecuador building a database while asking how people began this work and what motivates them. Their interviews are currently being edited for the website.

Furthermore, due to COVID19, many platforms to barter have come up on multiple social media platforms and people are sharing those stories. Using webscraping from one of them, Trukana, we have captured the messages of sociomaterial exchanges that are at the core of circularity. The current analysis of exchanges is at 6000 interactions. The combination of these exercises can also show the territorial combination that circularity implies, avoiding more extractivism and landfilling that underlie the linear economic model and strengthening community relationships. Acknowledging how these stories connect to history, justice, sovereignty and spatial equity is one the missing links to strengthen the potential bond between circular economy and zero waste movements that lead to a fairer transition for all and a regenerative future. The stories will be threaded through a combination of maps, photography and soundscapes from the interviews.


Imagined and Directed by Melanie Valencia

Collaborators: Juan Diego Navas and Catalina Lemos – Quito Desperdicios Cero

Mentors: Pablo Cabrera-Barona, Oana Branzei

This work could not have been possible without the ASU Leonardo Imagination Fellowship and the connection of the 3 sisters within.

Thank you to all those who opened their doors for the interviews

Thank you to my partner Pepe and my family who do a lot of caring for me and on my behalf

Thanks to those who practice circular care. Let’s amplify your work.

Website: https://melanievalencia.co/