Our Work

What We Do

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Through collaborations with local and international partners, we coordinate projects that investigate and document the history, identity, and human rights of the Afro-descendant and other communities of southern Caribbean Costa Rica (Caribe Sur). 

Our goal is to assist the community of Caribe Sur in growing a living public archive and making information about their history and rights more easily accessible both within and outside the community.



CURRENT Projects

Photo Contributed by Christina Zingrich

Photo Contributed by Christina Zingrich

South Caribe Roots Archive

The South Caribe Roots Archive documents the people, places and events in southern Caribbean, Costa Rica, through family photographs and stories. The project aims to work with the community to develop a digital information platform that is reflective of local knowledge, experience, and social justice objectives. Our primary objectives are to create and mobilize knowledge about this history and identity of residents of the southern Caribbean zone of Costa Rica; to build bridges and dialogue between academic and non-academic stakeholders, and to create a community-based digital archive that preserves community-identified cultural heritage.


100 Years of History Commemorative Digital Album

The project "Reviving old memories of Puerto Viejo” was developed by Glenda Halgarson Brown with the support of the Ministry of Culture of Costa Rica and brought to digital form by the Rich Coast Project. This commemorative album intends to create an inventory of data, photographs, and relevant testimonies of the families that populated Puerto Viejo and its surrounding area and who played a central role in its foundation. The idea is to perpetuate and preserve the historical legacy of these families.  


Photo by Joao Cabrita Silva

Photo by Joao Cabrita Silva

Conserving Caribbean Wellness Culture

The Conserving Caribbean Wellness Project is a multi-stakeholder effort spearheaded by the Hidden Garden and the Rich Coast Project to address a lack of documentation of the historic practices of the Afro-Caribbean communities living in the coastal lowlands of Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast. We aim to work in solidarity with local leaders and related groups to document the local use of natural resources for health and wellness and prepare community-legible resources to educate stakeholders on relevant health-related rights.


Past Projects


Young Women's Circle of Puerto Viejo

The "Circulo de Mujeres Jóvenes," or Young Women's Circle, is a collaboration with OM at Cashew Hill that strives to create trust, responsibility and a sense of community amongst the girls of Caribe Sur through sharing in monthly local art and culture events and projects. The activities are offered free of charge to participants thanks to donations made to a weekly CommUNITY Karma yoga class and the goodwill of collaborators in the community.

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The Rich Coast Project serves the coastal communities of southern Caribbean Costa Rica between Cahuita and Manzanillo. This region is inhabited by the descendants of Afro-Caribbean settlers, as well as indigenous Bribri and Cabecar tribes and multiethnic mix of new and long-term migrants from all over the world.


Our primary service population is the Afro-descendant community of coastal Talamanca, as they are the historic inhabitants of the coastal zone and an ethnic minority with significant development and access to justice challenges.

Afro-Caribbean residents of Caribe Sur have suffered the inequalities of globalization with particular force. Considered an "invisible" community by the United Nations, structural inequalities often determine their ability to pursue dignified livelihoods and enjoy their right to self-determination. In Caribe Sur, inequality is increasing, cultural traditions are at risk of extinction, and the precarious state of land ownership has rendered meaningful local development illusory. Unfortunately, the Costa Rican government's approach to regulation of coastal and forest areas has left many locals feeling as though "the monkeys and turtles have more rights" than the humans.
Afro-descendants throughout Latin America face challenges similar to those encountered in Caribe Sur, and ethnic and racial discrimination remain enormous barriers to the advancement of human rights in the region. Afro-Caribbeans are especially burdened by a history of geographic, political and social marginalization. Traditional international legal mechanisms for the protection of human rights not only function at a sluggish pace, they are also slow to adapt to emerging problems. Moreover, the intersection of land and minority rights exists at the frontier of international law, and local communities are not well poised to play a meaningful role in conversations that directly impact their interests.

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The Rich Coast Project also serves students and volunteers from the United States through the RCP Volunteers Program.

Our team coordinates interdisciplinary service learning opportunities in collaboration with U.S. Universities and professionals that facilitate cross-cultural knowledge sharing, the collection of local stories through participatory community-based projects, and the production of multimedia archival content for the South Caribe Roots Archive.

We have worked with students from Northeastern Law School, Santa Clara Law School, and the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, as well as assorted short-term professional volunteers from various fields. This year we will also partner with the IU Media School and a group of Women Executives to develop service-learning trips that further our mission and objectives.