Colombia is going through very difficult moments regarding rural populations. Ten days ago a national agrarian strike started, farmers from around the country stopped working and massive protests started! Some have been very violent, and many dead, injured, and imprisoned farmers resulted from this uprising. Another symptom of how forgotten the countryside has been for ages; added to the armed conflict that for more than 60 years has been devastating the country. This time, protests are centered on the inviability of rural economy within the commerce treaties signed with other countries. Farmers are not allowed anymore to save their seeds for further planting, they have to buy  from big companies. Supplies are twice the cost in Colombia than on neighboring countries, and imported food is far cheaper than the one produced here. Big intermediary mafias control the local market, so the farmer, at the end of the line, harvests more debts.

Paro agrario (1)

La Calera, a town not too far from Bogota, Colombian capital, joined the strikes. One day before the event all roads had blockages including fires, rocks, and manifestations. The day of the event the roads opened, and we could travel to La Calera! During this troubled times,  events like a TEDx in-a-box are extremely important. New ideas, inspiration, networks and actions are hugely in need for a new rural order to be stablished. Normally this spaces are only available to a few people, in the cities, so generating them at the periphery can greatly spark change and wellbeing. New possibilities and innovation have to be built at the countryside. Open spaces to plant ideas, in order to harvest transformation.


The road which heads up to the Vereda Jerusalen (vereda means rural district) is beautiful. As the dirt road winds up, we are surrounded by clouds, vegetation changed to an upper andean cloud forest. We encountered a few farmers going up the mountain in horses, heading towards rural spots where the Fiesta del Campesino (farmer’s festival) was being celebrated.


We reached the Rural School of Jerusalen, a small primary school which hosted TEDxLaCalera. The main classroom or the school was turned into the venue, the sign was made by Proyecto San Antonio,a local initiative for rural cultural development. The TEDx sign had been weaved by farmer children at Guatavita, when we did TEDxGuatavita last year. The TEDx in-a- box is amazing, everything has its place, a pandora box full of possibilities, with the power of spreading ideas!! We set up the screen, sign, equipment, and ready to go!!


The event started with an outdoor small theater presentation from a local group, Con-Ciencia Activa, working mainly with children with special learning needs. They portrayed two drunk farmers, a tragic comedy the audience could relate to.. the relation between the drunk father who reprimands his son for being drunk.


Then the classroom opened for the TEDx itself to begin. We screened the intro video, explained the connection between the TEDx experience, TED, and similar initiatives all over the world! And the first talk began.


Juan Pablo Calderon spoke about making instead of buying, collaborating instead of individual work. He introduced concepts like open hardware, wikipedia, and collective building. He spoke about the Open Source Ecology project, through which people can build their own machines for rural work. Instead of buying a very expensive tractor, and depending on a supplier for special spear parts, they could, collectively, build their own. Collaboration itself brings much more than the objects, it builds social fabric, and makes people happier!!


We then screened Decalogo de Una Granjera, a talk by Marta Alvarez at TEDxGalicia in Spain. Her funny inspiring story about a city girl who moves to the countryside is full of entrepreneurship lessons. A story about being constant, recovering from disasters, working hard, enjoying your work, and seeing success where everyone else sees failure makes her tale fascinating.


Camilo Gomez, who runs a farm very near to the school, spoke about the need to introduce added value to traditional production, as a way of overcoming the actual economic dynamics which are extinguishing small farmers. His talk generated spontaneous responses from the audience, they wanted to discuss their traditional way of doing things, with the new perspective Camilo was providing. He advocates for a sustainable agriculture which can generate a differential agrarian market,  and respond effectively to the actual system, cause to the national strike we are going through.


Cesar Florian, founder of El Nahual, a permaculture project at another region, shared his personal story and told us how he became a farmer after being a musician from the city, when his father died. He had an insight about a different life, one more purposeful and healthy, one the city couldn’t provide. He explained how farming can be seen as a system to be designed, and guided us through his process implementing a sustainable system at his farm.


Alejandro Feged‘s talk, The Man Against Himself , explained how tradition can sometimes generate unhealthy practices. At other instances, it can be the clue for reproducing cultural adaptive practices which can solve actual health problems. Hilarious pictures showed people doing all sorts of strange actions that risked their lives. A reflection followed urging us to think about how our daily actions contribute to our health.


It was an amazing afternoon with many lessons. The first TEDx in-a-box event in Colombia opens many possibilities for sharing constructive spaces at rural locations, one very much in need this days. Spreading ideas with the potential of opening new perspectives can enormously contribute to the establishment of a flourishing countryside, in contrast to the reality made visible by the upheavals of the last few days.  The ripples caused by this events are huge, still today, one year after we did the first event in Guatavita, we meet people who tell us how their lives and careers have been affected by the ideas and networks created during and after the TEDx. We plan to do two other TEDx events at rural locations in the next couple of months, one in Silvania, Cundinamarca, and another in Candelaria, Valle del Cauca.  We think the TEDx-in-a-box format can be a very powerful platform for local sourced development. The seed for change is being planted through ideas.

Y el cine rural se salió de la pantalla!! Estamos muy contentos de poder presentar, dentro del ciclo de Cinético –  Cine al Campo, una tremenda presentación, divertida, fascinante y educativa, que Camilo Rodriguez ofrece a la vereda de Chaleche!!

Luego de viajar por Asia en familia, conviviendo y practicando en distintos centros espirituales, regresa Camilo cargado de enseñanzas, que transmite en esta fabulosa obra que según sus palabras:

Es un espectaculo que presenta de manera cómica y emotiva la vida agitada de un personaje, como cualquier otro de la vida moderna, que debe realizar sus múltiples actividades cotidianas a toda velocidad porque “no hay tiempo”. En su locura, comete actos de inconsciencia que lo conducen al desespero, la inconformidad y casi, casi a la muerte. La vida no tiene sentido hasta que encuentra en un maestro zen, en los principios budistas y en la meditación una salida para cambiar, parar, respirar y disfrutar de su vida tal como se presenta.

Acompáñanos si quieres, este próximo jueves 2 de febrero, en la escuela veredal de Chaleche Guatavita!!!

It was an amazing experience to host a session of Sundance Institute Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue in Guatavita, Colombia. We had the amazing opportunity to screen the film Buck, followed by a discussion with the movie makers and the people of Sundance Institute!!

Cinético is an itinerant rural cinema project we are developing in Guatavita and other Colombian regions. It focuses on providing healthy entertainment and spaces for community transformation in regions for which these are not available. Cinético also generates discussions addressing sustainability, urban and rural relationships, and the connection between earth and nature, which, among other topics, are enormously enriched by a screening like this one!!

Sofia Santana chats with Felipe Spath, host at La Juanita Finca Verde during lunch

We first held a luncheon at La Juanita Finca Verde, a rural project that provides a platform for rural transformation, innovates in the region with eco-ethnic sustainable tourism, and realizes social projects like ConectArte (personal development for children) and Cinético. We exchanged views about the film and the activities that composed the program of the day. We then went to El Impulso, a neighboring farm in which the TAAC Foundation  develops an equine therapy project for children of the region with special needs. It was a great space to exchange views about and experiences around the equine world and its relationship with therapy.

Andres Villa, from TAAC foundation talks with Sofia Santana about equine therapy

We then went to Guatavita where the movie was screened at the municipal theater!! It was an amazing experience and the first time an event like this one was held in the town. It is extremely important to generate these kinds of exchanges in rural areas, and we are very grateful that Sundance Institute and Film Forward provided this space. Topics like domestic violence are rarely addressed publicly, yet exist widely in these areas; therefore, a space where they can surface greatly contributes toward their transformation. A different view of the world in which people relate to nature and can together build a better existence plants a seed for change.

Sofia Santana shares Buck’s film story with the audience

Providing cultural activities where people can enrich their lives contributes to the formation of vibrant rural communities. If this is accompanied by alternative education models that fulfill personal needs and economic opportunities for the rural youth, we can greatly reduce the trend of massive migration to the cities for a supposedly better life, which in the end actually leads to the opposite.

Audience exchanging thoughts after the screening

Initiatives like Film Forward greatly contribute to this transformation!! As Meredith Lavitt from the Sundance Institute explained at the screening, advancing cultural dialogue gives the opportunity to share our distinct difficulties, appreciate our cultural differences, and contribute with inspiration toward overcoming them!!

Cinético esta rodando cada vez con más fuerza, llegando más lejos, y cerca, transmitiendo mensajes bonitos, generando dinámicas de transformación y bienestar!! Seguimos haciendo proyecciones en Guatavita y Sesquilé, y poco a poco estamos iniciando procesos en otras regiones.

Ana Tovar, quién dirigirá Cinético en La Calera, expone el alcance del proyecto

Anduvimos la semana pasada invitados al programa de radio cultural de la emisora comunitaria de La Calera, lanzando el proyecto Cinético que se dearrollará, con el apoyo de la Casa Cultural de La Calera, en dos de las veredas más distantes de dicho municipio!!

Luego arrancamos para el Guaviare!! De la mano de una investigación y trabajo con malaria que se está haciendo con los grupos indígenas Nukak Maku, y Jiew, organizamos proyecciones de cine rural en los resguardos de estas comuniades.

Llegamos a la comunidad Nukak por la tarde, y solo se encontraban las mujeres y los niños, pues los hombres estaban de cacería. Un buen rato anduvimos organizando el lugar apropiado para hacer la proyección. Poco a poco regresaron los hombres, habían casado tres animales de monte, llegaban contentos pues la cena estaría buenísima. Un buen rato esperamos disparando cerbatanas a que se hiciera de noche, salieran las estrellas, y se encendiera el proyector!

Una sesión increible inició. No cesaban las carcajadas y las preguntas, querían saber si la megapolis que aparecía en la pantalla era bogotá, si los señores que perseguían a los otros eran guerrilleros, y les producía una risa incontrolable las escenas de africanos montando en bicicleta. La primera, esperamos, de muchas proyecciones con Nukak. Fue el primer contacto de Cinético con ellos, sesión de acercamiento y reconocimiento, base para posteriores proyecciones acompañadas de talleres dentro de los lineamientos del proyecto.

Al siguiente día llegamos al resguardo de la comunidad Jiew, otro grupo indígena que habita en las inmediaciones de San José del Guaviare. Cuando llegamos estaban los payé esperándonos, los chamanes de la comunidad, quines compartieron con Cinético historias de su pueblo, que serán compiladas para proyectarlas a ellos en el futuro, y para poder compartir con otras comunidades rurales donde se proyecta Cinético.

También fue una proyección hermosa. Inició con una discusión acerca del agua, de la necesidad de cuidarla como recurso invaluable. Se habló de la alimentación tradicional en contraste con los nuevos hábitos alimenticios de la comida rápida que se encuentran en el pueblo. De pronto arrancó un ventarrón tremendo, la pantalla se caía, tuvimos que sujetarla a unos postes que había al lado, y el más antiguo de los payé se dispusó, con manos, rezos y soplidos, a espantar las nubes.

Salieron las estrellas, el viento aquietó, y Cinético se proyectó entre los Jiew!!

Pueden ver más fotos de Cinético en el Guaviare acá!