viernes, abril 25, 2014

Pollinating in Toribio and Tacueyó

In our path of Polinizaciones it's a priority for us to maintain relationships and stay in touch with the people and communities we've had the chance to get to know and share experiences and our work with. We recognize the dynamic where many people who travel a lot and arrive in communities where people open their doors to them with much love, never return. It's sad to us that people who have the privilege to travel don't take into consideration the communities who open their doors to them. Since we started this journey with Polinizaciones, we have been really clear on this, and although for lack of economic resources we haven't been able to return to all of the communities who have received us, that work is still pending for us, to maintain these relationships and return to continue knowing, sharing, and walking together. Fortunately on this tour we've had the opportunity to reconnect to some of these relationships, first in Cali and then in the Department of Cauca where we returned to communities that we got to know when we first started this process, and also got to know new communities and processes.

One process that we've known for a long time because of the strength of their own communication is the communities of the Nasa Nation in the north of Cauca. Although in the past we were able to get to know and work with Nasa communities in the municipality of Caldono and in Tierradentro  this was the first time we'd been able to meet and share with community members from the reserves of Toribio and Tacueyó. Although Toribio is more known as a violent place because of the war and has been demonized by the media, for example with the image of a soldier crying when the Indigenous Guard was liberating the Cerro de Berín, we know that it's also a territory inhabited by resourceful communities who are ready to use creativity to meet their needs.

Through friends from the Minga de Muralistas we were able to arrive in this place and learn more about their processes of struggle, resistance, and defense of this territory. The Minga de Muralistas formed with the idea of creating a different collective vision for the community of Toribio through art. A group of artists and community leaders dreamed of realizing this artistic work brigade, with the idea of converting Toribio into an outdoor art museum to recuperate Nasa cultural identity, and strengthen the representation of the community through the conservation of public spaces, by painting murals. Since then the members of the Minga de Muralistas have been painting murals all over the territory of northern Cauca and now they are talking about taking the Minga to Putumayo and to Huila.

During our time in Toribio The Center for Education, Training, and Research for the Comprehensive Development of the Community (CECIDIC) was our base of operations. CECIDIC is considered a “coming together point of different educational alternatives that offer indigenous communities, rural farmers, mestizos and afro descendents spaces for training and also accompaniment for children, youth, adults, and elders, to support the building of holistic and intercultural lives, supporting the strengthening of ethnic, cultural, and biological diversity in Colombia.” Being in CECIDIC was really an incredible thing – a college/university with indigenous Nasa students, other indigenous communities, and Afro-Colombians, with projects to strengthen their languages, a screen printing workshop, a welding workshop, and programs to study agro ecology and communications. In the cooperative store at CECIDIC they have their own line of clothing, Maensu, designed with stamps from the screen printing workshop, Yu'ce Nasa organic soap made there, and also the Kwesx Café Coffee.
The first activity we participated in was the swearing in of student councils members, which took place in the sports center of Tacueyo. The process of the student councils is how the youth is incorporated to the different community and regional organizations from a young age. During the whole event the Mesoamérica Resiste and Plan Colombia banners were hanging up in the space, where many people admired them and took photos in front of them. After the event we were able to present Mesoamérica Resiste and the work of Polinizaciones to a group of professors, and we left copies of the poster with teachers that teach in the Nasa Yuwe language, who are taking on the challenge of working with the poster in their own language.

In Toribio we were able to stop by the NASA Project Cooperative where they offered their own brand of natural juice, Fxinze, and berry yogurt from Lácteos San Luis, all community businesses, and also offered trout from the Juan Tama Fishery in Tacueyó. In the cooperative and pharmacy Droguería Central they also had a variety of plant-based medicines and remedies and other natural substances for all kinds of sicknesses. Above the pharmacy is Nasa Estéreo where we participated in an interview to talk about the Mesoamérica Resiste graphic, megaprojects, and the work of the Bees. In more than one occasion during the days in Toribio we felt, and said out loud, that we felt like we were in the solidarity economy scene in the Mesoamerica poster [part of the larger native bee scene of the illustration].

The second day was workshops to collectively analyze and explore the graphics, and presentations to groups of hundreds of students and professors, all day long in CECIDIC. Many students from all of the courses took time to look at the banners up close, and participate in understanding it, while other students from the communicationsprogram recorded video and audio and took photos during the activity. During the group workshop we gave the students in each group the option of presenting their scenes in Spanish or in Nasa Yuwe; the majority presented only in Spanish but one group of students braved it and presented in their own language.

Knowing the projects and activities in this area, it was really easy to ground certain concepts from Mesoamérica Resiste in the reality of people´s lives in northern Cauca. Militarization and war, but also the resistance to them, a solidarity economy in the face of threats of displacement and monocultures. In the high part of Tacueyó there is a zone of high moors (páramo) where they are trying to install a high mountain military battalion to protect a highway to facilitate the movement of trade from the Pacific coast to the port in Honda, Tolima, part of the Magdalena River Development Plan. In all of the spaces where we were able to share the graphics campaigns, the students, professors, and everyone appreciated the artistic aspect as much as the educational and informational aspects of the drawings.

As always when we're on tour, the time in each place is too short. We hardly had time to get to know Toribio, San Francisco and Tacueyó, and like every place where we've pollinated, we have to return. We know that with our new family in northern Cauca there's a lot to do together. We saw how this place has been so devastated by war, but at the same time how communities have succeeded in meeting their needs in their own ways, achieving an admirable level of self-sufficiency that other communities with more possibilities haven't been able to achieve. We left with the possibility of working with other bees and animals that dream, that know and live a resistance of colors, forms, art and culture, music, planting and trading, chicha and... we see that we are closer now to the reality of being able to bring the Minga de Muralistas to our territories, hopefully in the not too distant future, to be able to create a new graphics campaign about a new theme made by a new group of pollinators from here, and we want that to include our new family in northern Cauca. Time will tell how we achieve this metamorphosis.

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