TEDxGuatavita!! Hay Campo en el Campo!!



Versión en Español aquí








Hay Campo en el Campo, which in English means: there is space, opportunities, at rural areas, was the theme of TEDxGuatavita.  The first TEDx in Colombia addressing mainly rural ideas, was held at the little and picturesque town of Guatavita.

It took us 7 months to prepare TEDxGuatavita. Amazing time among the people of Guatavita, most of whom had never heard of TED before. It was a great challenge to express the nature of an event of this kind, and the immense opportunities deriving from it. Some of the local speakers are members of communities. We had to meet several times with those collectivities to explain what TEDx was all about, choose the speakers, and prepare the expositions. At the end, eleven speakers where chosen, eleven ideas which can inspire people from rural areas, and the city, to create sustainable models at the countryside.

Speakers being trained at La Juanita hours before the event

Speakers being trained at La Juanita hours before the event

An incredible group of volunteers made TEDxGuatavita possible. People who believe in the power of ideas. People who worked so hard, by heart, to build the magic performances and spaces which planted a seed for change in Guatavita and other Colombian rural areas. Massive migration to the cities is the ongoing tendency in Colombia; young people don’t see opportunities to develop economically, culturally or professionally in the countryside; so inspiring ideas, accompanied by a platform which can capture new thoughts, and implement them, is crucial for rural transformation!

Waiting for TEDxGuatavita to start

Waiting for TEDxGuatavita to start

Being able to express what was going to happen, and invite people from the countryside was one of the biggest challenges faced by the organizing team. This kind of events are normally spread through social digital networks. Here we had to use different, local, alternatives. We used the church radio station, went to rural schools and meet with teachers and students. We also spread the idea of TEDxGuatavita with Cinetico, a rural itinerary cinema project through which we invited farmers to attend the event.

Outdoor rural cinema

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/47777032 w=500&h=281]

The community was also involved building the scenography. ConectArte, a personal development program for rural children, held  workshops with the children of Chaleche, an area in Guatavita. It was an amazing experiece to sense the power of collaboration, and to experience its outcome materialized on the stage. We shared the process with the audience at TEDxGuatavita, displaying slideshows and a video of the workshops through which the stage was built. People could connect with the local community through the space they where experiencing.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/47376297 w=500&h=275]

The event started with Gustavo Cataño, the first businessman in Colombia who believed in the potential of organic lettuces. He introduced a hydroponic system which can generate local market dynamics in the region, without the need of extensive land or labor.

Gustavo Cataño explaining why, even without space, there is space at rural areas

The first session of speakers followed with Camilo Gomez, sharing his sustainable cattle breeding model; Luis Fernando Samper describing the orchestra behind the coffee you drink; Elvira Villalobos emotive story about the oldest woman cooperative in Colombia, and the way social fabric has been weaved; and Natalia Poveda’s  personal transformation tale from a high heel executive to a permaculture activist.

Natalia Poveda’s journey from the office to the sustainable caravan

Magda Parodi offered us a touching dance performance in the middle of the first session. All our senses where being affected through the day’s program, magic was being conjured to generate transformation at rural Colombia!!

The break in between the sessions was an amazing time for networking. Negro Robot and La Arenera organized interactive spaces in which people could register their thoughts during the event. Ideas inspire more ideas, and we wanted to register them in a visual and powerful way. An art installation was built with all those ideas. The information here gathered is the seed for Campo Abierto, a platform which aims at reducing the gap between ideas and actions at rural Colombia. Campo Abierto will connect people with ideas, with knowledge, and with resources to generate  actions in the Colombian countryside!

At TEDxGuatavita, Campo Abierto was born

The second session was fascinating! It started with Sandra Camacho‘s tale about the Sociedad Con Su Mistica, a women collective which among other amazing actions have turned a dessert into a fertile and productive organic food valley, using the waste from the town’s market. They also host wonderful creative workshops with the children of Villa de Leyva, planting and nurturing seeds for change at this Colombian region!

Sandra Camacho with Poca Lucha (a jean made character), the therapist for children and adults.

Pedro Medina continued with a great entretaining talk urging for a mindset change, for the need to ask different questions in order to generate effective and sustainable transformation. He took us through the story behind La Minga Casa Gestante, a rural center where magic happens, where regularly more than a thousand people, from the city and the countryside, meet to exchange goods, knowledge, and time.

Pedro Medina inspiring for a mindset change

After Pedro’s talk a guy with a poncho and a guitar asked us if he could sing a song for the audience. We had never seen him before, but we sensed it was going to be great. So Felipe the singer hoped into the stage, and marveled us all with his song. It was the perfect transition for the talks to come, a great remainder to be tunned with this land, and our ancestors.

Felipe the singer with Jennifer, the amazing host at TEDxGuatavita

Ernesto Mamanche, leader of the Mhuysqa Community of Sesquilé, continued with the story of the local amazing process of rediscovering our roots. It was great to have him at TEDxGuatavita, as many of the local spectators didn’t know about this great community. He incited us to ask ourselves questions about our roots, and to connect those answers with the path we have to follow.

Ernesto Mamanché talking roots

Carolina Duque, who works among the indigenous women of the Pirá Paraná river at the Colombian Amazon followed. Her talk asked us to think about our territory, about the communal actions that can be undertaken to build a better future if we relate, through different and more active ways, with our land and neighbors.

Carolina Duque sharing community processes and a different relationship with our territory

At this point of the night there was energy in the air. Many emotive and inspiring moments had filled the theater. It was time for a big laugh! A laugh with sense. And Camilo Rodriguez hilarious performance made us all feel the power of clown to generate transformation processes. He then took us through a trip throughout rural Colombia showing how, laughing, peace can be attained.

Transformation clown

It was time for the closing talk!! And it was mind blowing. Ana Marñia Gutierrez  introduced us to the sustainable universe of permaculture and sustainable building. She told the story of Organizmo, the sustainable habitat and bio construction center she manages,  and their involvement with community driven projects at rural Colombian areas.

Ana María Gutierrez emotive closing talk

At the end,it was all about community. All the talks had as theme rural manifestation of opportunities, and they shared the need to act and build collectively. The event itself was an amazing collective experience, an open collaborative performance; people working very hard together, enjoying it, with passion, for the pure belief of the immense power ideas have to change our world.

Part of TEDxGuatavita team. Pure joy!

A lot of work still has to be done. TEDxGuatavita was the powerful beginning of many projects and processes. Many people got connected and inspired to start new ventures. Others found ways to improve their ongoing work. Local projects where identified, and collaboration for them sprouted. Campo Abierto, a platform for taking ideas worth spreading, to ideas worth doing, started that day, and in the following months will be built and systematized. Our goal is to have local speakers, product of this platform, at the next TEDxGuatavita!! If you want to be part of it, please write to tedxguatavita@gmail.com

You can see more pictures of TEDxGuatavita preparation process here, and during the event here!

*Pictures by Camilo De La Cruz