By Isabel Carrió, Project Manager and Community Artist at Creative Action Institute (CAI). CAI is one of EcoLogic's Strategic Partners. We have collaborated to incorporate creative aspects into our community conservation work since 2004.
Two years into pandemic living, the way we work, perceive, and implement activities have changed. The implementation of workshops for the Creative Environmental Leadership Program (CELP) has been virtual, something that initially intimidated both facilitators and participants, but over time, it has become a successful way for networking, information exchange, and intensive group-based collaboration.
Our new workshop format consists of eight weekly sessions over Zoom. Working virtually has allowed organizations from several Latin-American countries to create stronger conservation networks, presenting an opportunity for attendees to develop meaningful connections with other members of their field from different cultures.
Working virtually has allowed organizations from several Latin-American countries to create stronger conservation networks, presenting an opportunity for attendees to develop meaningful connections with other members of their field from different cultures.
Recently, our long-standing partner, EcoLogic Development Fund, replicated one of the learnings from CELP. Marco Acevedo, program officer in Oaxaca, Mexico, shared that:
“The training helped me improve my activities with rural communities. In particular to promote communication creatively. The pandemic forced us to rethink how we obtain information and share knowledge. Using the techniques I learned has helped me build more trust in the people we work with and understand the needs of those around me. I have understood that you have to learn to listen and communicate clearly and assertively."
"A clear example was when implementing family gardens, where we had to listen to the women and their need to produce to eat and not just to produce seeds or generate capacities. They thought that we would demand that they meet the objective, and they did not want to tell us. In the end, in a talk using the techniques learned in the CAI, we were able to overcome the problem and redirect the objective.”
Mario Ardany de León, program officer in Guatemala, and Carlos Euraque, program officer in Honduras, participated in our new course called Food Sovereignty and Food Security. They always added exciting contributions that enriched the course, linking their work experience with the workshop's contents.
EcoLogic has also replicated its annual retreat with its team where they used CAI’s social identity mandala activity. With this activity, participants from different programs and countries had the opportunity to reflect on how their social identities have impacted their experience of inclusion and collaboration in their team. You can check out their mandalas here.
The pandemic has compelled everyone to innovate in light of a challenging situation, forcing us to rethink what future work entails. However, there is no time to lose! Our thanks to EcoLogic and all the partners participating in the CAI courses for collaborating to empower local leaders and their communities in both worlds: in-person and virtual.
Isabel is a visual artist with eleven years of experience with Creative Action Institute in Latin America, East, and West Africa regions as a community arts worker and creative facilitator. She manages and implements skill-building workshops that integrate community-based arts for social change on issues related to gender equity, sexual and reproductive health, environment, social justice, youth, and leadership.