We Are All Responsible for Our Democracy

By Mitzi Hernandez Cruz, HIPGive contributor

In a democracy the population carries a lot of responsibility. Civil society is in charge of solving issues the government ignores or that falls outside its hands. One clear example is when natural disasters strike, and collective action becomes paramount for survival.

On this theme, Marco Antonio Hernández Murrieta, President of the Fundación Murrieta in Mexico, shared his opinion—which is worth hearing, since his work has yielded excellent results in the art world. An interesting example is that he was able to support Spencer Tunick in his creation of his famous massive photos of nudes in Mexico.

Marco Antonio Hernández Murrieta
Marco Antonio Hernández Murrieta

They also pioneered a concept that has since been seen more and more: to unite indigenous artisans with design professionals to create products that impart fresh design on traditional objects. They named the initiative “ARTESANÍA, Arte y Diseño” (“Crafts, Art, and Design”).

ARTESANÍA, Arte y Diseño

The politician José L. Novales Arellano, who sparked the initial idea, wrote in the collection’s catalog:

“[This] will bring together artists to create designs for our artisans, with the magic and tradition of the contemporary Mexican flavor, giving shape to new proposals in the esthetic evolution of these artefacts of daily life that are also art.”

Artesanias

They rounded up a lot of support for this project to succeed. This makes me remember something fundamental that Marco Antonio Hernández mentioned in 2015, when we last spoke—it’s related to including a salary for those who are working in these organizations.

He noted that many nonprofits fail because people are so focused on the cause that they want to give money directly to the cause; but that they sometimes forget that these organizations’ work is valuable and that it’s worthwhile to pay people salaries so that in the long time they can devote themselves full time to making change.

After I asked his advice for nonprofits that are starting out, he said:

“To professionalize and seek to influence public policies, which are what generate big change… Don’t be seen as an organization that has nothing to do, that does not have significant political weight… Another thing: focus on one theme, don’t try to cover it all, but focus on something very specific… it will be hard to get started because sometimes people don’t understand very specific things, but as they start gaining consciousness, they’ll start seeing you as an expert in the field.”

We are all part of civil society, and we can create organizations that resolve the issues that government institutions sometimes ignore. If you don’t have time, you can look to support those that do—for example, through a donation to HIPGive.org. And remember, as the author Carlos Monsiváis has written, “Not without us.”