Global Diversity Foundation

GDF has a dual mission. Through our regional programmes, we support indigenous peoples' and local communities' efforts to protect their biocultural diversity, and peacefully achieve just and autonomous decision-making regarding their territories, resources and futures. In collaboration with diverse institutions, we provide support for communities to elaborate their own research, development and advocacy programmes. Areas of specific focus depend on community interests, although they tend to be community access to lands and resources, community-led conservation, advocacy and campaigning for social and environmental justice, the continuity of ethnobiological and biocultural knowledge...
Apr 5, 2016

Participatory video: a gateway for communities to tell their story

Learning about camera handling and sound checks
Learning about camera handling and sound checks

In our previous update, we wrote about plans to publish a booklet on the oral histories of Ulu Papar. Plans and progress continues: translating interviews to enable the production of a multilingual publication (quite possibly into four languages: Dusun, Japanese, Malay and English), designing the booklet and complementary posters as well as discussing with local KadazanDusun language experts to engage in a collaboration to ensure language accuracy of these publications. 

Let us take a step back and look at the skill set needed to reach this point. In particular, that of one specific tool: participatory video. Participatory Video (PV) is described as “a set of techniques to involve a group or community in shaping and creating their own film as it enables a group or community to take action to solve their own problems and also to communicate their needs and ideas to decision-makers and/or other groups and communities” (see here). It is through the use of this very tool that indigenous researchers in Ulu Papar and Bundu Tuhan have unearthed, documented and showcased stories of their livelihoods and culture, through interviews with community elders.

Participatory video, locally more commonly known by the generic term 'community filmmaking', has become a popular method to engage communities in conservation efforts particularly among local research teams in Bundu Tuhan and Ulu Papar. Being trained in PV has enabled these two communities to collaborate in applied research initiatives, attaining insight into their interconnectedness with their traditional territories and then using their filmmaking skills to showcase their stories. Several short films were developed, including a three-part documentary-style series showcasing the Buayan-Kionop communities’ connection with their land and resources, the issues that threaten their access to these resources and potential solutions that balance the conservation agenda of protected areas with the sustainability of community livelihoods. The indigenous Dusun in Bundu Tuhan produced a film about their cultural and traditional heritage to ‘encourage everyone living in this generation to work together and begin taking the steps needed to conserve and protect the heritage of our ancestors, especially our culture and our traditions.’

In 2011 and 2012, community researchers from Ulu Papar were invited to pass on their knowledge in filmmaking through peer-to-peer sharing and learning sessions held as part of the SUARA community filmmaking programme, an important component of the Borneo Eco Film Festival. Through the sessions, they reached out to indigenous and local communities from around Sabah, encouraging them to discover the power of storytelling and filmmaking. We are truly inspired that participatory video is a concept that continues to grow in Sabah, catalysed by the annual Film Festival's spotlight on community filmmaking. 

Photo by Inanc Tekguc (BEFF, 2011)

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Apr 4, 2016

Reflecting on the first Latin American Regional Socio-Environmental Leadership Academy

Visit to the Angostura Community
Visit to the Angostura Community

Several months have passed since we convened the first Latin American Regional Socio-Environmental Leadership Academy (ALLSA) in Dominican Republic, from November 13 to 22, 2015. When I remember that gathering, I get goosebumps. With the passage of time, the dust that was stirred up has started to settle and now, in the awakening of another Canadian spring, I have the opportunity to reflect on the experience of ALLSA. My intention is that these words serve as thanks to everyone who made this experience possible, including our GlobalGiving supporters.

In 2014, four Global Environments Summer Academy alumni were moved by their experience. Conscious of the need to transform socio-environmental pedagogies and paradigms at a glocal level, we became engaged in organizing a regional academy in Latin America. Antonia, Yolanda, Daniel and I wanted to help young Latin American researchers and practitioners collectively explore transformative environmental learning and our relationships with biocultural landscapes. We aspired to create a dynamic co-learning space and process that would catalyze young leaders' capacity to act and inspire more people to work toward the great social and environmental transformation, from small communities to international fora. We imagined a bioculturally focused, post-disciplinary event that would not privilege any single epistemology.

35 participants and facilitators from 13 countries gathered in the beautiful natural landscape of Jarabacoa in a co-learning space empowering young socio-environmental leaders to act and inspire! Here is what some of them had to say:

“The dynamic at ALLSA was extraordinary, it had something that many academic spaces still struggle to create: a collective spirit. (…) We had spaces to re-connect with nature with closed eyes, to find ourselves through ecopsychology in the contemplation of nature and education, to be frustrated, to race against time trying to share readings and prepare presentations, to philosophize with hermeneutic practices to discuss a text and generate reflection and discussion, to learn different strategies and policies through play (…). If something was missing from this space, it was time. The days felt too short to bring this process to a close, to laugh, to listen to each other, and maybe to sleep.” Merelyn, Perú.

“The co-learning methodologies used surprised some and helped some of us to learn by leaving our comfort zones. At ALLSA, I have been able to leave my comfort zone as never before. I’ve come to understand that the abysses between science, leadership and philosophy are not as deep as I had previously thought (…) I feel committed and empowered.” Antonio, El Salvador.

“I take from the ALLSA experience a little piece of Latin America, happy to find that from the south to the very north there are people who believe that change is possible in the world, and that we are not only fighting to achieve a state of harmony between people and Nature, but rather understanding that we are part of her and that we must not think of her as separate.” Patricia, Paraguay.

I believe that one of the keys of the success of ALLSA was the diversity of countries of origin, gender, communities, indigenous and local perspectives as well as the diversity of personal and professional experiences that were represented in the group. Another driving force was our mentors, experts both at regional and global levels who facilitated co-learning in different spaces through experiential workshops, discussion circles, research cafes and field trips. It is clear to me that the experiences, reflections, unanswered questions, and aspirations were different for each of us. But I also know that no one was left indifferent.

Please take time to read my full report on the Global Environments Network website.

Ana Elia

Full captions:

Visit to the Angostura community, where they have constructed a series of mini hydropower plants to support themselves as well as a visitors centre with accommodation. (Credit: Felipe)

L-R: Andres, Daniella, Antonio, Bladimil (and at back Alfonso). Daniella shows how her discussion tool or game named  Peruvian Food Chain Jenga works. She invented this fun methodology to facilitate reflections and conversations around the connections that exist within a complex system. (Credit: Felipe)

Allsa members engaged in a personal visioning exercise guided by Daniel and based on Joanna Macy's Work that Reconnects. (Credit: Ana Elia)

ALLSA participant Daniela leads creative prelude
ALLSA participant Daniela leads creative prelude
Personal visioning exercise
Personal visioning exercise

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Mar 11, 2016

Traditional knowledge and nutritious food complement girls' formal education at Dar Taliba

As supporters of this project know, Global Diversity Foundation is a longstanding sponsor of the Ourika Valley’s Dar Taliba. The all-girls boarding house now enables over 120 students from remote villages in the High Atlas Mountains to continue their schooling every year. With your help, we support the institution’s commitment to making education accessible to young women from rural Morocco, all the while nurturing environmental stewardship and conserving traditional knowledge in one of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots.

Located at the foothills of the High Atlas, Dar Taliba serves an area populated by North Africa’s indigenous Amazigh communities whose livelihoods and cultural heritage are closely linked to the local flora and the traditional ecological knowledge they hold. Within these communities, women have represented an important vector for the transmission of ethnobotanical knowledge for centuries, as they shared the practical and ritual uses of plants from one generation to the next.

In recent years, however, much of this knowledge has come under threat, and needs to be both preserved and valued. As part of its mission to conserve biocultural diversity and enhance socioecological wellbeing of communities, GDF has established a comprehensive gardening programme at Dar Taliba which provides the girls residing at the boarding house with extracurricular activities aimed at actively valorizing traditional ecological knowledge and conserving local plant species. In previous years, GDF planted an aromatic plant garden, an ornamental garden and established a herbarium on-site.

This year, we are creating an ethnobotanical and permaculture garden. The first of its kind in Morocco, the Dar Taliba ethnobotanical garden will contain wild plants from the area and will serve as an educational tool for the girls residing at the boarding house as well as the community at large. Our goal is both to highlight the richness and importance of traditional Amazigh plant knowledge and increase Dar Taliba’s food sovereignty. Dr. Alain Cuerrier, an ethnobotanist from the Montreal Botanical Gardens and expert on the use of plants among Canada’s First Nations communities, is collaborating with GDF on the project, which will also produce a booklet documenting the names of plants in Amazigh and their uses.

The ethnobotanical garden at Dar Taliba is also accompanied by a permaculture initiative. GDF and local collaborators Radiant Design have introduced the permaculture design to the institution to increase the amount of produce grown on the grounds for the kitchen and strengthen the girls’ connection to the source of their food. It is our hope that ethnobotanical and gardening activities will become integral to the girls’ stay at Dar Taliba, bridging the widening gap between older and younger generations of women in the communities and preserving biocultural diversity even as girls access other forms of knowledge and opportunity through formal secondary schooling.

 

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