The initiative is focused on the preservation of Traditional Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (TIEK), and to use it effectively in promoting directly sustainable land use of the riverine landscape – a place where the floodplain forests, fishes, and fertile soils have sustained local people for generations. This microgrant perfectly fits in to facilitate a training in digital media to amplify the use of TIEK in community-based ecotourism and to promote their sustainable entrepreneurship online. After the training, the people and youngsters are guided and learn by doing throughout the project.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Leticia, Amazone Department
Describe the specific community with whom you will be working.
The indigenous communities along the Amazon river in the south of the Colombian Amazon. 6 communities are involved with approximately 2000 inhabitants, and are principally inhabited by the Tikuna people. Some communities are located in the floodplains with houses on poles or rafts, others are located on high grounds. They principally live from local fishery, small croplands, the forest, and more recently also from alternative sources of income like community-based ecotourism. However, to cope with conventional tourist agencies it is very important to develop and promote themselves online and outline the added value of community-based ecotourism compared to conventional (eco)tourism. Only some people have some basic computer skills. Online communication skills are very limited.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
At this moment the indigenous communities in the project area are underrepresented in the (eco)tourism sector within their own territories. To compete with tourist agencies from e.g. the town Leticia and Bogotá, it is important for the communities to tell, show, and share online their vision, way of working, the complementary value of community-based ecotourism and traditional knowledge by unveiling catching stories, videos and photos of their environment and work. In this manner they can demonstrate their traditional and cultural connection with their territory, their interpretation of sustainability and sustainable management – something which has only been communicated so far by universities, governmental entities and Ngo’s – without a direct internal voice from the communities.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established that will contribute to the success of the project.
Due to previous positive work experiences in 2011-2012 with the same communities and local partner organization Painü (a community-based ecotourism association resulting from a project in 2011), there is yet a trustful base for the project with the involved communities, their leaders, and Painü. The project builds on yet existing successful partnerships with entities like National University and Tropenbos International (TBI) and SENA (Nationcal Learning Service). Their support varies from close collaboration, knowledge exchange and co financing. Recently TBI has offered to facilitate the training ´Analysis of the regional context´ for Painü. In order to identify, describe, and interpret TIEK, this practical training will definitely also contribute to the success of this project.
How many participants do you think will be involved in your project?
3 people of Painü and 6 youngsters. The impetus for this project comes from Painü and is formally supported by the community, its leaders and elderly. It confirms the motivation, support, and urgency for them for this project and training, indicating that finding motivated people will not be difficult, neither to sustain their participation. The youngsters are chosen internally by the communities by motivation and creative capacity. Additionally, fair wages are paid and previous work experiences with communities have revealed that developing tangible and practical end results, positively influence the people’s participation and the projects’ progress and continuity. Finally, the project works conform a Work Plan, which incorporate the community’s participation in designing the outputs.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
Prior to the training it is very important to first determine the goal and focus of the blog from the perspective training participants and the community leaders: what to tell, show, and share exactly online and what not concerning e.g. people’s privacy and traditional knowledge. The training is focused on teaching the participants: 1) to surf the internet and communicate by email, and 2) to create and manage a blog, and blog contents among which initially texts, photos, and illustrations. The project organizer is well experienced in creating and managing blogs, and digital photography. Due to studies and work experiences he and his partners are skilled in transmitting ideas and knowledge effectively, and in stimulating and supporting self-development of people from the communities.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
The Rising Voices workshops will be hold at SENA (the same educational centre where the practical course ´Analysis of the regional context´ facilitated by TBI will be hold – see previous texts). This centre is centrally located – just outside the city Leticia and right in between the participating indigenous communities, 1 to 5 km, making it easy accessible throughout the year. The centre has several computer rooms of approximately 15 computers each. SENA has its own satellite internet connection of 4 Mbps.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
Due to previous positive work experiences of Kornelis van Vliet with the involved communities, the community leaders, and the partner organization Painü, there is yet good and confidential relationship between him as the project organizer and the communities. Since 2011 he has been assisting in establishing sustainable fishery management in the project area and in the development of the eco-tourism organization Painü- processes in which he still assist actively. In 2012 he was directly involved in a research project partly focused on traditional ecological knowledge and supported by Stichting Mandioca. His drive to give the communities truly a voice and his commitment with the people, the location and the project themes make him the appropriate person to carry out this project.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
The expected challenges to face are: 1) obtaining a clear focus of the blog and its contents that is in line with the communities’ Planes de Vida (Life Plans), 2) avoiding disagreements and conflicts within and between the involved communities and other communities concerning the people privacy vs publicity, 3) to what extend details are shared of traditional ecological knowledge.
These challenges are faced by: a) the fact that the project builds on previous project results and yet existing trustful relationships and partnerships, b) the Work Plan includes community meetings during the preparation phase to discuss above mentioned issues and to design the outputs, and feedback meetings throughout the project to communicate and discuss the results so far and upcoming activities.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
MAIN RESULT: A training has been conducted in digital media to amplify the use of TIEK in community-based ecotourism and to promote the sustainable entrepreneurship online.
1. The primary participants are able: A) to work and communicate online, B) to create and manage a blog and publish contents, C) to use a digital camera and scanner.
2. The wider regional community: A) The project is supported by 6 local authorities and involved entities, B)The blog contains stories and thoughts from the involved communities concerning their culture, TIEK, and vision about their territory and sustainable management.
3. Global digital community: The blog is: A) findable, B) visited globally, C) and receives positive comments, D) leads directly to tourist visits.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2013?
A. PREPARATION (Jun-Jul)
Meet with the partner organization, involved communities, and institutions. Form a project team. Develop ideas for the blog, its focus and contents.
B. TRAINING (Aug)
Explore the technical and creative skills in writing and illustrating among others.
Training in surfing, blogging, emailing, and digital photography.
Meet with the communities.
C. FIELD WORK AND TRAINING (Sept – Oct)
Meet with the villagers to collect, write, and illustrate.
Start creating and managing the blog, and publishing contents.
Meet with the communities.
D. CONSOLIDATION (Nov)
Continuing managing the blog and publishing contents.
Meetings to consolidate the results.
E. FINALIZATION (Nov – Dec 15)
Improve and adapt the blog’s focus and contents in response to the consolidation.
However the training comes to an end in December 2013, the project continues in 2014 – the direct participants are guided by managing the blog and other related activities.
Detail a specific budget of up to $4,000 USD for operating costs.
A. Material costs: 870 USD
– 1 Laptop. Toshiba Satellite C845D-SP4327SL 14″ 500GB RAM 2: 500 USD
– 1 Photo camera. Nikon Coolpix S6200 16 MP 10x + SG 4 GB: 170 USD
– Drawing and writing materials: 100 USD
– Materials for group meetings: 100 USD
B. Communication costs: 430 USD
– 12 months Internet subscription usb modem (4gb) Movistar: 330 USD
– 12 months blog hosting, domain name: 100 USD
C. Transport: 150 USD
Transporte general: 150 USD
D. Labour costs: 2500 USD
Financial incentive – 4 months participants: 1400 USD
Financial incentive – 4 months coordinator: 1100 USD
Besides the microgrant funding, what other resources and support are you seeking for your project to ensure its success?
Rising Voices can provide:
a) Training material in spanish focused on using digital media by communities.
b) Support in developing online media tools and tricks to successful dissemination on regional, national, and international level.
c) Suggestions for other possible entities and funds to support and co-finance this project on long term.
Kornelis A. van Vliet