Reflections from Cauca, Colombia on grassroots transformation
08 Nov 2023
At a recent gathering in Cauca, Colombia held as one of the weaving conversations on the road to the #ShiftThePower Global Summit in Bogotá we explored the meaning of #ShiftThePower from our individual perspectives. We had the participation of 20 social leaders from nine municipalities in the department of Cauca. Our convening focused on promoting an intersectional conversation and purposely brought together a wide variety of perspectives (including women’s organizations, victims, peace signatories, individuals from the LBTQI+ community, youth, indigenous people, etc.).
In our conversations, we mainly explored the concept of power in human relations in our daily lives and in our territories. To frame our dialogue, we draw on three key #ShiftThePower principles: language; local resources; and, international cooperation. We immersed ourselves in conversations based on our own experiences, all of which illustrated the work of people in communities to strengthen collaborative, autonomous and grassroots-led processes.
What emerged was an inspiring story: of a diverse group of people in Cauca who face situations of violence and conflict. But despite this backdrop, they desire a different system and seek ways to transform what exists. They question this existing system and their relationship to it even though, as the group agreed, “It is notorious that the system often singles us out for thinking differently.” Understanding this as the starting point to our conversations, they reflected that, before wider transformation can occur, it is vital to take care of ourselves. Those present found that their shared purposes and values are valuable connections moving forward and they drew hope from the possibility of walking together.
This story emphasizes the importance of weaving community and grassroots leadership. Feeling seen and heard, those present realized that they are not alone – and many commented that discussing power dynamics at play represents remarkable progress. One phrase that really struck me was: “Resistance dynamics are part of our DNA in Latin America.”
These reflections underscore the importance of grassroots conversations to generate meaningful change. They challenge us to continue to weave conversations about power and transformation in our communities and to unite our voices in a chorus that promotes emancipation and autonomy. Ultimately, we all share in the journey towards a more equitable and inclusive world.
By: Viviana Marcela Cuchillo Morea, Colombia Relations Leader, Adapt Peacebuilding