Visions of the future

Over the course of 15 workshops with 3 groups of women coffee farmers, we have developed a project to cultivate free and productive expression with the associates of the Sustainable Harvest cooperative through their visions of the future.

3 guiding questions

The workshops were designed with 3 questions in mind, considering the insights which had been gathered through desk research, the project Mujeres Berracas, and a week of meetings with stakeholders in Bogotá.

        1. What can we do or not do with respect to changes and challenges that are happening in our community?
        2. What are the most important values to pass on to our future generations?
        3. What qualities will be most important to our great-great grandchildren to be successful in the future?

3 communities

There were women from 3 different rural communities within Huila, Garzón, Gigante, and Pital-Agrado. There were between 25-30 women who participated in our workshops.

Garzón

Gigante

Pital-Agrado

Progression of the workshops

Nuestras Cualidades / Our Qualities

The first exercise we did together was to get to know each other better and see how they’d like to be represented to the outside world. This activity also had a unifying effect for women that maybe hadn't known each other well or identified as a community.

Las Actividades de Nuestro Año / The Activities of our year

In this activity, groups of 4-5 people created maps of the most important activities of their year, accompanied by drawings and an indication of how they felt during those times of the year.

With the maps, we shared what is most important in the culture of Huila for women coffee farmers. Also in the resulting discussion, we identified some differences between the yearly events in North America and Huila, which was very useful in getting to know each other better.

Capsulas del Tiempo / Time Capsules

The time capsules began the conversation about the future of Huila and the issues and concerns that are currently affecting the community. Each participant reflected on what Huila will be like in 50 more years, the reality in which their great and great-great grandchildren will live. The participants drew a picture of how that future is portrayed and then presented it to the large group.

We discussed the most pressing issues of the community today, some of which were:

  • Transport
  • Education
  • Coffee growing
  • Health
  • Youth

The interesting thing about this activity was that everyone had a very different image of the future. Some participants imagined a very optimistic future, while others imagined a more negative future. This represents how changes can affect us positively and negatively, and that no change affects everyone equally.

Afterwards, the participants were encouraged to think about which aspects of the present they would like to see in the future, so that future generations understand what the reality of today is like.

The purpose of the capsules was to reflect on the changes that are currently occurring and to imagine the consequences in the future. Also, to think about what things we would like to happen for future generations stimulates the self-representation of the community to their future community.

Los Cambios / Changes

In the second workshop, we talked about the changes that the participants are observing in their communities. With the support of some photos they took between the workshops in their homes and brought to show, we discussed those changes and what the consequences are for the community, both positive and negative.

The most identified changes were:

  • The environment and climate change
  • Youth
  • Technology

Photovoice

Sharing participants’ photos in the workshops each week was a supplementary activity to the other creative and artistic activities, as well as a way to start conversation at the beginning of each workshop about the topic of the day. The most successful of these was “changes”. Here were some of the most provocative of discussion of the 3 groups.

Transportation and treatment of animals

Contamination of waterways and neighbor disputes

Youth culture

Modernizing technologies of cultivating coffee

To discuss what we can do with respect to these changes, we use an acronym "AREPa":

            • A - What do you see here?
            • R - How does it relate to our lives?
            • E - What is really happening?
            • Pa - What can we do or not do with respect to this?

We focused on the latter, which identifies our powers against negative changes.

Ruedas del Futuro / Futures Wheels

"Futures Wheels" were a tools used to forecast the consequences of the changes identified in the second workshop. The change chosen by the group of 3-4 people was placed in the center of the wheel. Afterwards, the group discussed what are two positive consequences and two negative consequences of that change. In addition, the participants identified the possible consequences of these consequences, or "the future of the future". Finally, some groups managed to provide strategies to fight against these negative consequences and promote positive consequences.

It is sometimes difficult to think that any change has a positive and a negative side. The wheels help in this process. Also, in raising awareness about the changes that happen to us, we can be better prepared for the future.

Contamination & strategies to not contaminate

The environment

Positive and negative results of signs of change are represented by the circles extending from the center. The positive and negative consequences of those results are shown by the third layer of circles.

Our powers

We talked about the powers that we have with respect to the changes that are occurring. To represent these powers, participants traced a person on large sheets of paper. Then, smaller groups of 4-5 people indicated the powers that each part of the body has. For example, the brain has the power of intelligence and the breasts the power of breastfeeding.

Apart from being very entertaining, this activity was to see the millions of powers that the female body has, our arsenal against destructive changes.

Las opitas del futuro

Finally, the participants painted "Las Opitas del futuro" (the future Opitas, or women from Huila), or the great-great granddaughters who will be prepared for what is to come. These paintings are beautiful demonstrations of young people who will live in the Huila of the future. We all have great hope that we are well prepared for that coming reality.

After the activities of the time capsules, the futures wheels, and the conversations about the changes that are happening in Huila, the activity of the representation of "Las Opitas del futuro" was to gather all of our ideas together. What are the most important values ​​to teach future generations? Which qualities will be more important for your great-great granddaughters to be successful in that future?

Srta Huila, Josefina

Miss Josefina wears a traditional skirt symbolizing rivers and green hills. On both sides of her are two potential futures: one of were the environment is taken care of, where there is rain and a productive countryside and the preservation of religious values. On the other, the landscape is desolate and the sun is too hot. Her hair is blue and pink, as is the fashion imagined in the future.

Lucia

Lucia wears a crop top and shorts because “it’s going to be very hot in the future”. She is religious, a humanitarian, beautiful, entrepreneurial, active and responsible.

Gerald

Gerald is a trans-woman. The ladies commented that it is becoming more common for men to “become” women and they imagine it will become more frequent in the future. Gerald is creative, intelligent, and modern.

Gabriel

Gabriel was created as one group felt that a man needed to represented as well, and a male friend was brought along to participate. He was educated in Brazil as a gynecologist as he wished to support women’s health and he is a director of a hospital in Garzon. He is the son of coffee farmers and is sociable, dynamic, sincere, intelligent, and a good leader.