“To forget is to die and be reborn,” wrote Eduardo Mitre, a Bolivian poet living in the United States. Forgetting is one of the greatest dangers in the Bolivian emigrant community as nearly a quarter of Bolivia’s ten million citizens live abroad and residents have almost entirely left the Valle Alto region southeast of Cochabamba to transplant themselves in Northern Virginia. In fact, it’s said that Valle Alteños in Virginia do not emigrate; rather they bring everything with them to Virginia so they are able to continue their lives almost exactly as they were in Bolivia. Most Valle Alteños perceive the whole planet as the Pachamama (Mother Earth) and thus all land as one. In Bolivia or Virginia, the land is the same Pachamama.
Only the Bridge Matters Now is a multimedia documentary web and book project that explores the metaphorical bridge linking the Bolivian communities of Northern Virginia to their region of origin. By sustaining tradition, memory, and an immense love for their hometowns and cultural identities, the communities keep families and communities united.
The project frames immigration through the perspective of the Americas as a region with more linkages than borders, and challenges viewers to consider immigration not through the expected paradigms of nation-state borders, but through the cultural, economic, and spiritual bridges sustained between places and communities.