Curating Content To Support Learning About Humanity's Transition

This content was posted on  29 Feb 24  by   Joe Brewer  on  Medium
Movement of Territorial Foundations in Colombia

Last week, Penny Heiple and I went to Putumayo for a special gathering of territorial foundations from different parts of Colombia. We were among local organizing teams from Barichara, Bogota, El Tambo, Florencia, Medellin, Montes de Maria, and Putumayo — each at different stages in their own process to establish a territorial foundation for their local communities.

The event was organized by the territorial foundation Putumayo Florece and the national support organization TerritoriA: Territories in Action. We came as representatives from the team in Barichara that has been working on regeneration at the territorial scale since 2020.

Movement Map for Territorial Foundations of Colombia

It is difficult to summarize all that happened in only a few days. I will share photos below with commentary that paints a picture of the flow from beginning to end. But first, I want to announce that we all agreed to create a Bioregional Regeneration Fund for the Northern Andes — and will take concrete steps to bring it into being as part of the learning journey Birthing Bioregional Learning Centers that is being offered in both English and Spanish here in the Design School.

We also devoted time to creating a manifesto for the movement of territorial foundations, explored how to achieve sustainability (in broad terms) for the local community leaders who are doing this work, and engaged deeply in healing practices with two indigenous tribes from the upper part of Putumayo. Suffice it to say, we came away transformed!

Where in the World is Putumayo?

This map shows where we were in a larger context of the Amazon Basin. Sibundoy is the city in Putumayo where we gathered for the span of three days. As you can see here, it is a sacred headwaters community for one of the most important hydrological systems on Earth.

Two Day Flow of Activities for the Gathering

We were in the ancestral lands of the CamsĂĄ and Inga People. Our official beginning of this national gathering of territorial foundations was to gather at the Casa de Saber (House of Knowing) with a very special medicine man of the CamsĂĄ. It felt deeply appropriate to participate in a harmonization activity of spiritual cleansing so that our work would be blessed by the sacred lands in which we had gathered.

We jumped right in afterwards and began a process of reconocimiento (remembering and re-knowing) who we are as distinct territories that are spread across the Northern Andes. This was where community leaders from each territory engaged in a mapping exercise of unfolding social processes and key activation leaders in our own communities.

We were invited to learn about the cosmovision and healing arts of the CamsĂĄ People as a way of grounding ourselves into the sacred land on which our work was being birthed. These are people who have survived 500 years of colonization and maintain islands of peace and stability in a larger region that remains riddled with violence up to the present day. It is also a key part of the South American continent for healing ceremonies with Ahayuasca.

Then we visited the ancestral food forest system of this region, known locally as a Chagra. For those who are familiar with the Mayan agroecology system known as a Milpa, this is a similarly rich practice that has been sustained for thousands of years throughout the South American continent.

It was so beautiful to see how deeply they nurture the cultivation of food, medicine, textiles, and building materials in one elegant agroforestry system.

After a delicious lunch with locally-grown ingredients, we journeyed to another important location — a cultural arts and design center of the Inga People. It was here that we explored pathways to sustainability for leadership, finance, and organizing capacities of all our territorial foundations as a coherent Northern Andean network.

It was during this activity that I was part of a group working to envision a bioregional regeneration fund for the network of territories. Each group presented their ideas for how to create “pathways to sustainability” that go far beyond money.

Just adding a footnote that I felt this trip would be a great learning experience for my daughter, Elise. She was the only child in the group and immediately took to making friends. Here is a photo of her with a lovely man named Adrian from Medellin, followed by a sampling of others.

On the second day, we stayed in the village of ColĂłn and worked intensively on the weaving process of human relationships that make up the movement of territorial foundations in Colombia. Our morning was at a local community center (near a wonderful hot spring) where we revised and improved an existing Declaration of Impacts and Manifesto for the movement that had been created in previous gatherings.

We are all very good friends and the feelings of affection among us were palpable. These are people who know and love each other — as well as work together in the difficult processes of community regeneration.

As an example of our ability to work together, when we were traveling on bus to a high mountain location for our final work session we came upon a fallen tree in the road. All of the men quickly jumped off the bus to pull the tree out of the way. The women jumped off and guided the process. It was beautifully emergent and collaborative.

Our final site location was an ecological learning space on private land called Agua Viva (Living Water). It was a beautiful place high above the valley below from which to cultivate perspectives on where we go from here.

We hiked out to a beautiful vista and sat on the grass for our closing conversation. It was here that agreements were made about creating a bioregional regeneration fund, how all of the members of this community can join the learning journey of the Design School, and what our major goals will be for the next year.

As we dove deep into the dreaming for what is to come, it became palpable that we are birthing a transformational process. These are people who did not think of themselves as working bioregionally before the gathering. They understood themselves as community weavers working in service to their territories.

I felt blessed to be among them holding the role of planetary weaver. Together we sensed that something Gaian is being born. Here is a shot of me in the midst of the group.

Can you feel what is emerging here? I sure can! Please share your thoughts and reflections in the comment thread below.

If you would like to join this effort, consider becoming a member of the Design School for Regenerating Earth where we support learning exchanges within and among bioregions around the world.


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