United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

La Casa de la Tierra (The house of the Earth), new interpretation center in the Mixteca Alta UGG


    The community of Santo Domingo Tonaltepec is one of the nine communities of the Geopark and one of the poorest. Most of its population is indigenous. In accordance with its habits and customs, in March 2019, the community approved the construction of an interpretation center to promote pottery, an activity in practice for at least 3,000 years. This activity was disappearing and this new interpretation center has given it a new impetus. The sale of products is also promoted for the benefit of artisans and their families. The project also receives support from indivuduals, the National University and an NGO ("Friends of the Geopark"). Although the limitations, this community has supported the Geopark since the very beginning of the project,


    The Casa de la Tierra Interpretation Center is an initiative of the Indigenous Community of the Geopark focused on the preservation of its cultural heritage and the promotion of its traditional knowledge. These initiatives are managed by the community itself and it is also the main beneficiary. Through the preservation of cultural heritage, the activities in the Casa de la Tierra will promote educational issues, geotourism and the commercialization of products made by indigenous hands that will impact the income of artisans, mainly women and their families, enhancing the sense of pride of belonging to the participating communities. SDGs 1, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12 are involved.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    SDG involved in this initiative include: 1 No poverty (promotion of income through geotourism and the sale of crafts); 4 Quality Education (ecucative activities as part of geotouristic offer); 5 Gender Equlity (most artisans are women); 8 Decent work and economic growth (artisans will continue working in traditional activities); 10 Reduced Inequalities (through the increase of economic income and social recognition); 11 Sustainable cities and communities (income and the incorporation of sustainable practices to produce crafts); 12 Responsible Consumption and production (sustainble practice for pottery production are incorporated in the traditional process to produce crafts).

    Implementation methodologies

    The construction of La Casa de la Tierra is an initiative of the community approved by the general assembly in accordance with its habits and customs. The entity responsible for its construction is the Commissariat of Communal Property, made up of community members elected by the General Assembly. A fundamental part is Tequio, a form of community-based work in which the individuals are expected to participate, whether voluntarily or involuntarily; it is considered an expression of solidarity among members of a community to ensure the livelihood, social security and group harmony, to obtain a service in exchange for providing labor, and to ensure the smooth running of interpersonal relationships. Thanks to this of community-based work La Casa de la Tierra is a project nearing completion. The construction workforce includes both men and women from the community. Funding for La Casa de la Tierra comes from various sources: from the European community, individual donations, contributions from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and from the Asociación Civil Amigos del Geoparque.


    The project is 90% complete. The work of men, women and children has been exemplary. In a concrete way, the Casa de la Tierra represents an opportunity to contribute to improving the living conditions of the community's artisans, fostering solidarity participation and expanding the possibilities of income for the poorest community in the Geopark. It is a lesson in solidarity through joint work that must be transmitted to visitors and contributes to the sense of pride of belonging. It also contributes to the preservation of traditions that are at risk of being lost.

    Factors and Constraints

    The project is a proposal that comes exclusively from the community. It is a clear example of a bottom-up initiative. This community has been exceptionally involved in the operation of the Geopark since the beginning. Despite the clear economic limitations and the clear social marginalization in which the population of this municipality lives, their work has been committed and generous. Some problems that can be mentioned were derived from the periodic change of local authorities and members that make up the Commissariat of Communal Property, which, however, were not a major obstacle to carry out the project given the commitment acquired at the beginning of the project. The cost / benefit balance from the immaterial point of view is clear, economically, it will be necessary to wait for the reopening of the geopark.

    Sustainability and replicability

    In addition to preserving traditional knowledge about pottery, it is expected to increase the sale of handicrafts both at the interpretation center and at other points of sale in the Geopark. The example of Casa de la Tierra can be promoted in other communities to promote other types of traditional knowledge and other crafts that are typical of the region, and that have also been manufactured for centuries. In fact, there are other similar initiatives related to handicrafts such as palm weaving, which is also in danger of disappearing. When sanitary conditions allow it, it is intended to organize visits to members of other communities to Casa de la Tierra to learn about the experience and, as far as possible, replicate it.

    COVID-19 Impact

    The COVID 19 pandemic has strongly impacted the activity of the Geopark. The relative isolation of this community and a responsible management of it, however, has allowed that no cases of contagion or death have been reported in the community. This allowed community work, always with adequate protection measures. In the words of community members, the activities of the Geopark have been postponed, but not canceled. The construction of La Casa de la Tierra is an example of the activities carried out in the geopark awaiting a a safe return for everyone to daily activities.

    Contact Name
    José Luis
    MIxteca Alta UGG
    1 2 4 5 8 12
    Geographical coverage

    Local, within the Geopark

    06 March 2020 (start date)
    31 March 2021 (date of completion)
    Contact Information

    José Luis, Scienif Cordinator MIxteca Alta UGG