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Fresh from the Field: Three days of inspiration and creativity for social and environmental change in Guatemala

Our annual series skill building clinics allow graduates of our Creative Leadership Certificate to refresh their knowledge, acquire new creative tools, and practice applying them in their communities. Our first skill building clinic of the year was successfully implemented in Totonicapán, Guatemala!

Totonicapán is in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. It is covered in thick pine forests, much of which has been communally managed by indigenous communities for centuries, and remains relatively isolated. This remote area, however, is not new to Creative Action Institute’s Isabel Carrió, who lived in this region to implement some of our previous projects. Isabel partnered with key local staff at Ecologic Development Fund and 48 Cantones to staff convene staff from both organizations, rural teachers and their students.

During the first half of the clinic, participants actively engaged in various tools to increase their critical thinking, constructive dialogue, problem analysis, solutions generation and discovered shared experiences and focus on bird protection, reforestation, water conservation, illegal logging and women’s participation.

Participants created Interview Plaques, a visual art project that helps to highlight the perspective and participation of local community members. After interviewing community members about their experience with and commitment to an issue, plaques were made featuring a portrait of the subject as well as a selected quote.

These plaques were installed in an exhibition in the Community Hall to be shared with the more than 60 students who traveled from distant rural schools to participate, learn and share in a lively morning discussion and interactive activities with the leaders and teachers participating in our clinic.

Many participants anticipate replicating this activity in their schools and communities. Margarita Tacam, Education Outreach for Ecologic, shared, "I am excited that I am going to replicate these activities in the future. I am interested in the process of this work because I can see that the community members really expressed and debated their ideas during the workshop. The Human Spectrogram activity was the tool that inspired me the most, especially when we worked with big groups like the students. They were engaged and having fun while learning”.

 

Thanks to all the participants for their great work and enthusiasm in the creation of a joint space of exchange and reflection among social leaders!