| Apr 4, 2016
Reflecting on the first Latin American Regional Socio-Environmental Leadership Academy
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.
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
Personal visioning exercise