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N.A.B.O. Nevada Weekend Follow Up

The Fall 2006 NABO weekend in Reno & Gardnerville marked one of our most ambitious endeavors to date, and overall the feedback came back positive.  Now the challenge will be to follow up and deliver on some of the initiatives formulated.  In the weeks to come there will be more in "Astero," but here follows a brief overview of what happened.

The weekend before the big NABO gathering in Nevada, another meeting was held in conjunction with the ongoing efforts to continue improving communication between our Basque-American communities and the Basque Autonomous of Euskadi.  Representing NABO was President Mary Gaztambide & Facilitator John Ysursa who meet with the Basque Government's office of relations with the Basque Diaspora:  Josu Legarreta, Benan Oregi & Andoni Martin. 

The round of meetings was held in conjunction with the tribute to Jesus Galindez, a representative of the Basque Government in exile that fifty years ago was mysteriously abducted and never found again.  A forum was held at Columbia University, where Mr. Galindez taught and then another event at the New York Basque club marked the formal presentation of a book about the life of Galindez.

There is much that the BG & NABO can do together, so the primary goal of these face-to-face meetings was to find common ground.  What emerged was an initial short-list of objectives.  One is the necessity of compiling information about our Basque clubs & communities.  This is necessary for at least three reasons: we need this information to assist with the publication of a book on the history of NABO that is forthcoming; second the Basque Government is oftentimes blind when they are endeavoring to allocate financial assistance to entities of which they have only sketchy knowledge; and third if NABO is going to better serve its members--we too need to know who and what we are.  Accordingly, an effort will be made to acquire this general information (e.g., club address, list of regular events, cultural activities hosted, etc.)

A second goal is to create one central webpage that will merge the existing separate sites of basques.us, euskara.us and nabo.us  This will help to bring everything under one roof, and give us one identity.  Look for this to debut by the first of the new year.  Note that this will not impact your current Astero subscription; email notices that are sent to you come with the necessary link.

The third short-term objective for NABO was to commence work on formulating a 4-year plan of action that seeks to identify our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  A group of folks volunteered at the Gardnerville NABO meeting to get this going.  The aim is to help NABO (and by extension local Basque organizations) formulate a plan that will hopefully allow us collectively (NABO) and individually (member organizations) to execute some worthwhile ventures.  Look for more information about this coming soon.

A generation ago NABO began with the hope that someday a federation would embrace Basque organizations throughout North America--the name United States Basque Organizations was purposely not chosen.  The weekend in Nevada was a significant step in that direction.  Representatives from the clubs in Canada (Jean Claude Elissalde from Montreal, and Elena Sommer & Jon Laurenz from Vancouver), Mexico (Eduardo Ormaechea & his wife Miren Jauregi from thye club in Mexico City) met with NABO representatives to look into the possibility of doing some things together in the future.

Not surprisingly, the response was positive to explore this possibility.  It wasn't a surprise because we are all interested in doing the same thing--keeping our Basque identity alive.  Delegates enjoyed a full weekend of activities including a welcoming dinner, then an initial round of talks that served as a brainstorming session. They also joined us for our tri-annual meeting so they could get a better sense of who and what NABO is by hearing what was happening and who the people are.

By design, there were no fixed initiatives decided (the first step was to just get acquainted) and now delegates will return to their communities to continue the discussions. There are some tentative plans to get together again this coming year to strengthen our relationships and get to know more people from these communities.  The hope is that one day we can join together in some mutually beneficial endeavors.  A follow-up is hopefully in the works.

NABO was pleased to have counted representatives from 15 different organizations that took part in our inaugural "get-acquainted" and brainstorming workshop.  This is encouraging because our future viability as a Basque-American community is mostly dependent upon our ability to effectively transmit a sense of Basque identity to younger generations.

The topics of discussion included the definition of youth, a presentation on the recently available book "Jokua eta Jolasa" that collects ways of educating children in things Basque via games and contests, as well as an open forum for raising issues of mutual concern to youth facilitators.  Whereas dance remains a central element in connecting with Basque youth, the workshop explored other viable alternatives.

After some open discussions, each facilitator endeavored to identify an item or two that they were going to try and use upon their return home.  Furthermore, NABO is now poised to inaugurate Gaztealdi that will be held the summer of 2007 for Basque young adults ages 16-20.  This is a crucial age where many make their choice to identify with being Basque.  Details will be forthcoming.  There is also a plan to arrange a follow-up workshop for facilitators.  The hope is to stay connected to share ideas about how to best keep young people involved.

ESKERRAK:  Thanks to all the facilitators who spent their money and gave of their time to participate.  Thanks also to Kate Camino/Gloria Totoricaguena for helping arrange the facility. This was facilitated by the donation of the "Jokoa eta Jolasa" books by the Basque Autonomous Government of Euskadi.

NABO's College Lecture Series

NABO is now in the business of education, to the extent that education holds the key to keeping people better informed and thus hopefully more closely identified with their Basque identity.  If we cannot find effective ways of transmitting Basque culture to younger generations, then the future looks bleak for keeping our Basque-American community vibrant.  Accordingly, NABO inaugurated its first college lecture series that featured Juan Antonio Urbeltz, a leading voice in the world of Basque folk dance.

Mr. Urbeltz spoke at three US universities:  the University of Nevada, Reno; California State University, Bakersfield and Boise State University.  The talks began with an overview of his work across four decades, and then he spoke about his current revolutionary theory as to the origins of some Basque folk dances.  His theory goes to one of the two categories of Basque dance: the ritual/religious dances (the second category is recreational/social dances).  The prevailing paradigm revolved around the theme of these dances deriving from fertility rituals of magic.  They were based in ritual of magic, Urbeltz agrees, but the magic was not to bring the good (in this case fertility) but to ward off the bad (specifically the infestation of insects).  

Juan Antonio was joined on this trip by his wife Marian and their son Mikel who joined him following his talks playing some tunes, as well as conducting three "Dantza Gambara" or audience participation workshops in Gardnerville, Chino and Boise. 

ESKERRAK:  Thanks to the Urbeltz family for coming to join us, as well as the hosts in each community (Steven Gamboa in Bakersfield, John Bieter in Boise and Kate Camino & Gloria Totoricaguena in Reno) for arranging the presentations, and a special thank you to Lisa & Enrike Corcostegui for their work.  This was facilitated by a financial grant from the Basque Autonomous Government of Euskadi.

NABO meeting of delegates in Gardnerville, NV

We have had many a meeting in NABO, but this one was unique in several ways.  For starters, delegates had previously agreed to alter the usual format to allow for some new items.  This included the first time we a timer was used, and this helped to remind people about how long they were speaking.  The feature, however, was a keynote presentation to delegates by Dr. Gloria Totoricaguena, Director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno that had everyone talking afterwards--and that was the point.

NABO went through its initial phase of brainstorming when it was founded decades ago.  At that time, delegates gathered in the Reno area to formulate what NABO was going to be about; this time just down the road delegates revisited these same themes:  what is NABO striving to be?  What does it seek to accomplish?  Dr. Totoricaguena provided delegates some constructive criticism, working through a SWOT analysis:  identifying NABO strengths and weaknesses, new opportunities as well as threats on the horizon.  She challenged delegates to re-think what we were doing individually (in our clubs) as well as collectively on the NABO level. 

Her ideas then sparked a post-lunch open forum where for a couple of hours delegates shared various ideas from which several initiatives emerged.  It was spontaneous, but it was clear that there are plenty of people who are committed to trying to do things well when it comes to keeping Basque culture alive.  Some of the points she raised will be used as the basis of formulating a viable 4-year plan for NABO (noted above), a draft of which will be made available to delegates at the San Francisco meeting in February for their input.

ESKERRAK:  Thanks to our hosts, the Mendiko Euskaldun Cluba of Gardnerville, NV for arranging a fine day.  Furthermore, thanks to those who have volunteered to do extra work for NABO.

 

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