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El Camino De Paz: Bilingual Peace Eco-Tour Guides Colombia

Build peace, spur prosperity and heal the trauma of war in people and the land through dual narrative peace tours in Cauca, Colombia

Photo of Monica Curca
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The El Camino De Paz: Bilingual Peace Eco-Tour Guides: Colombia project is a partnership between Get up And Go Colombia and Activate Labs. The goal is to build a movement of entrepreneurial peace eco-tour guides who after a 50 year war, work to restore relationships in Colombian society and with the land. Using the Frame Design Process, a design thinking methodology developed by Activate Labs which is rooted in human centered design and supports those directly impacted by violence and oppression as they create their own transformation. This will be done in four phases,
1. Transformative Leadership: (0-30 Months) The initial phase of the project will be integrated into all phases and will continue throughout the 30 months. 30 participants will engage in workshops, trainings and experiences in transformative leadership skills: empathetic listening, conflict transformation, trauma healing and assertive communication. 2. Peace Innovations Lab: (0-3 months) 20 participants will go through the discovery and ideation processes in an initial 10 day ideation workshop and 3 months of follow-up. Key outcomes include: Formative research, conflict analysis, media/narrative landscape analysis and a synthesis. 3. Design, Build and Train Teams, Develop Tracks: (3-24 months) The 20 participants will form teams and begin designing a two track project: with tour guides and media/communications specialists. Key aspects include: English Language, Tourism and social entrepreneurship courses, and storytelling with video/photography. 4. Prototype and Test in the Field: (24-30 months) formed teams will design their own tour and prototype tours with our partner the “Visit Cauca” tourism agency. Participants will finish the program with a 2 day evaluation and launch retreat to reflect on prototypes, gain best practices and begin to plan future collaboration and systems that support them.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our primary beneficiaries and participants will be 20 participants between 25 and 50 years old who have suffered directly from the armed conflict in Colombia. Coming from different parts in the Cauca region, ten of the participants are displaced victims of violence who moved to Popayan due to the constant armed attacks made by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) in their territories. The remaining 10 participants are ex combatants of armed groups who are in the process of reintegration led by the ARN (Colombian Agency for Reintegration).
Our secondary beneficiaries are both the surrounding communities as well as tourists who visit the region. Popayan, the capital of Cauca, did not see as much armed conflict as compared to other places in the region, and thus became a safe haven and ideal location for reintegration. Despite the positive effects of the tourism industry, there is still a high level of stigma surrounding former combatants and social cohesion work needed.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Our concept is unique because it leverages positive competitive advantages and challenges of leading peace eco-tourism in Popayan, Colombia. Building on thriving tourism, we will support new peace eco-tour guides as there is already infrastructure and an industry. Cauca is home to amazing biodiversity and natural reserves which lie only a short distance from Popayan, making tours accessible and manageable. The city was not greatly impacted by the violence which makes it both safe and also challenging as there is resistance to social cohesion and inclusion of communities our participants come from. Therefore, this project is unique in that it challenges structures and narratives that would like to exclude our beneficiaries, ex FARC combatants and displaced victims. However, we are confident that together they can build peace and restore relationships with each other, the greater community and the land, while they become entrepreneurs and gain employment.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Activate Labs and Get up And Go Colombia are international non-profits, based in the USA and Colombia, working on innovations in peacebuilding. Activate Labs uses human design processes to center the experience of beneficiaries directly impacted by violence and oppression. Get Up and Go Colombia uses Peace Eco-tourism to support the integration of ex-FARC combatant and displaced victims of war. http://www.activatelabs.org / http://www.getupandgocolombia.org

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

When the peace accord was signed, we saw ex-FARC combatants reintegrating and displaced victims settling in the cities as they sought refuge. It was clear that the same social exclusion was harming both groups on very different sides of the armed conflict. We knew that tourism is an avenue for growth, restoration, and connection. Our vision is to build a movement of peace eco-tourism guides from these impacted communities so they can lead our country’s peace.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Our selected topic areas include peace, prosperity, and planet because the 50 year war affected human relationships, social and economic disruptions and flora and fauna. During the war, Colombians suffered not only death but the fracture of a social and economic structure. The project will seek to work with those directly impacted on various sides of the conflict to create new stories and ways to become a cohesive society. The war not only destroyed current industries, but it also brought destructive and violent ones such as shadow economies like the drug trade and money made from kidnappings. Therefore, to support prosperity in Colombia it is to not only say no to those industries but to provide new economic avenues for citizens. The planet is our subject area as it is a vital component in peace eco-tours. Our project seeks to build a movement for peace eco-tours where those that were part of the violence can begin to not only restore healing to each other but also the land.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Activate Labs and Get Up and Go Colombia will work with various partners on the ground, including local and international experts:
The ARN (Colombian Reintegration Agency) is our local partner who is the liaison with the former combatant community and will aid us with recruitment and communicating with participants. The Center for Victims in Popayan has agreed to become our partner and support with outreach and communication with displaced victims of war.
The Siraj Center for Holy Land Tours and MEJDI Tours from Palestine will mentor our participants in the the dual narrative model component of our project. We will also partner with Jorge Guzman, Professor of Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship at MIT. He will be providing mentorship and do the social entrepreneurship presentations for Phase 3.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

With an already thriving tourism industry and current infrastructure, we will support the development of new peace eco-tour guides in Popayan. Cauca is home to an amazing range of biodiversity and natural reserves which lie only a short distance from Popayan, making tours accessible and manageable. The city was not greatly impacted by the violence which makes it both safe and also challenging as there is resistance to social cohesion and inclusion of communities our participants come from.

Geographic Focus

Popayan, Cauca, Colombia

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project will take place over 30 months in four phases:
1. Transformative Leadership: (0-30 Months)
2. Peace Innovations Lab: (0-3 months)
3. Design, Build and Train Teams, Develop Tracks: (3-24 months)
4. Prototype and Test in the Field: (24-30 months)

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

3 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Adriana Santamaría
Team

Hi Monica!

Kudos for this project! I praise the challenge of working together with both victims and ex-combatants. I am sure they will make a great team and through their interactions teach everyone on the ground reconciliation and peace building.

I wonder if you have thought of building this as a replicable methodology that could be scaled to different regions of the country. Maybe through partnerships with other local organizations.

As a Colombian, knowing our current political environment, I am curious to hear what your thoughts are on how to continue this project in a possible scenario where the current peace accords are affected.

Photo of Monica Brasov-Curca
Team

Nice. Yes. We have not built out the land preservation piece yet. I think it is more about making beautiful places a resource of peace rather than a stomping ground to make war. I would love to hear more about what they do in Chile for land preservation.

Photo of Helena Puig Larrauri
Team

I love this idea! I recently met Sebastian Gatica who runs the CoLab Innovación Social in Chile. He and his team have started an eco-tourism project (which I think is now a company) that also helps to preserve natural and cultural heritage. I think it might be interesting for you to talk to him, happy to make an introduction.