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Fresh from the Field: Launching a new cohort of Creative Environmental Leaders in Lima, Perú.

Perú is not just biodiverse, but it is megadiverse, which means it is one of the handful of countries that is home to the majority of Earth’s species, including thousands of species that are unique to Perú. This makes it an important place to focus on building the capacity of leaders who work on critical and interconnected issues of forest protection, marine conservation, mining, indigenous rights and cultural conservation, wildlife preservation, gender equity and youth empowerment.

Creative Action Institute, in collaboration with New England Biolabs Foundation, launched its fifth cohort of Creative Environmental Leaders, this time in Lima Perú! 31 staff and community leaders from 16 organizations* gathered for the first module of our Creative Leadership for Social Change Certificate Program.

Throughout the intensive three-day training, Creative Action Institute’s facilitators, Isabel Carrió and Luis Quino guided community leaders to:

- creatively discover their strengths, purpose and passion for their work;

- strengthen their creative thinking which is essential for leadership, problem solving and collaboration; and

- identify ways of using arts-based strategies to amplify their mission and engage communities.

Some of the specific activities included creating Purpose Masks. The purpose mask is away for participants to express appreciation and share their life’s purposes in their personal and work lives. It also gives participants the ability to see another perspective in in a group where many of the participants did not know each other.

 During the workshop, participants were put into teams and worked together to create and present their Art Codes, a creative and symbolic representation of an issue which is followed by a dialogue process to perceive and relate to the problem, analyze the causes and generate possibilities for action. Participants developed:

-       a radio drama on the loss of cultural identity,

-       a theater skit on the indiscriminate felling of trees,

-       a puppets show on the migration of young people from rural communities to the city,

-       illustrations on gender inequality and

-       a popular song about adolescent pregnancies.

 Following the Art Codes activity, José La Torre Montoya, Manager from ACP Huquilla, said: “I found it very instructive and innovative. It is a very elastic and participatory methodology that can be learned and replicated. I think that these activities will facilitate and make the interaction between community members more fluid.”

Participants also strengthened and explore their leadership styles in the activity Group Innovation Challenge, in which they imagined revolutionary products including a real-time teleporter, an informative umbrella, a basket of sustainability, a montarask hood, and a multiway binocular. Interestingly, all the products created incorporated advanced technology but also contained components to give them cultural relevance.

Emira Montes from Asociación Minga Perú told us: “This workshop was very important and enriching because it will serve my work team as well as the communities. I really learned how to make and facilitate a training workshop in a dynamic and creative way. We work on the topic of conservation with women, but in an empirical way. Now, with what I have learned in this workshop, I will be able to communicate messages clearly and in a more participatory way.”

We will be coaching these inspiring leaders to support them apply tools they learned, until they reconvene for the next module in the Certificate Program. We look forward to sharing how these leaders are applying creative tools in their communities.

*Participating Organizations: Center for Amazon Community Ecology, OnePlanet, Asociación Minga Perú, ACCA, The Andean Alliance For Sustainable Development’s, APRODES, Conservamos por Naturaleza, Sociedad Perúana de Derecho Ambiental, PUINAMUDT, Asociacion Ecosistemas Andinos – ECOAN, Area de Conservación Privada Huiquilla, SAPHICHAY, RED AMA, Planeta Océano, Crees Foundation, Aidesep- Asociación Interétnica de desarrollo de la Selva Peruana