Clare's #ThursdayThoughts

Peru is a magical place. Its majestic foggy peaks coupled with the vibrant colors worn by the Quechua people create an atmosphere rich in beauty and steeped in culture. In December, I had the good fortune to travel to Pisac, a small village in southern Peru’s Sacred Valley, where we held the second of four trainings with a cohort of 17 environmental organizations working throughout Peru – from the Amazon to the Andes - to advance bio-cultural diversity. As grantees of our longtime partner New England BioLabs Foundation, they elected to participate in our four-module Creative Leadership Certificate course.

Despite the long journeys many of our partners had traveling from their homes in the Amazon and despite the demands every organization faces when closing out the year, there they all were on the first day of training: on time, open-minded and full of enthusiasm! The course focused on Creative Facilitation, a core element of leadership development that equips participants to work with groups to support generative dialogue, critical reflection, and collaborative solution building. The participants receive hands-on experience facilitating the dynamic and creative processes we teach them, and receive real time feedback that strengthens their capacity to successfully apply these approaches back in their communities. Once again, this group of animated and thoughtful professionals unleashed their creative spirits, and critically analyzed the challenges their communities face and the opportunities for change.

They used the activities to generate strategies and build alliances across their organizations so they can better create alternative livelihoods, build the leadership of youth and women around climate change, and preserve and incorporate cultural knowledge and tradition into their classrooms, workshops and campaigns.

They became more confident in their ability to design workshop agendas and implement creative approaches into their community education workshops and projects. And they deepened in their commitment to use a popular education approach, create stronger and more inclusive teams and create learning cultures of feedback, appreciation and mutual support.

I left the workshop inspired by their energy, intellect, and commitment, and set out to learn more about the context and content of their work so that we as partners might find meaningful ways for deeper collaboration.