Fundación Karisma (Karisma)

The Planet is the School

The Karisma Foundation in Colombia has been working together with the Social Justice Repair Kit on a project named El Planeta es la Escuela (The Planet is the School). The motto of this project is to “learn, innovate and narrate the territory”, and includes the participation of youth groups in the rural area of Fresno (Tolima) as well as in the city of Medellin (Antioquia).

Following the objectives of the “Social Justice Repair Kit”, this project is generating experiences that strengthen the relationship between youth groups and the territory to which they belong, through two strategies:

  1. Exploring opportunities to create or innovate in the territory.
  2. Gathering personal and collective stories to share experiences as young people, told from their own point of view.

For the Colombian writer William Ospina, it is urgent that educational processes have a purpose that is not reduced to individual success and profitability, but rather one that engenders a deep sense of dignity and community. This is possible when the education system makes space for thought, creativity, communication, socialization and happiness. If the “Planet is the school” our task is to learn, innovate and narrate the territory.

The project is being developed with two groups, the young women of the “Motivando a la Gyal Festival” of Platohedro (Medellín) and the students of the 9, 10 and 11th grades of the Colegio Real Campestre (Mireya and Las Marías, Fresno), with the addition of more schools in the region as the project develops.

A photo showing a large group of people posing in front of the colourful façade of a building which is covered in painted murals.

Members of Platohedro, students and teachers from Fresno, and visitors from the Inclusive Design Research Centre gathered at Platohedro in Medellín, Colombian for a series of workshops in May 2018.

Project in Medellín:

“Motivating the Gyal*” is a festival that brings together young women from the city of Medellín to work around topics such as collaborative technologies, feminism, local food growing, social cartography, and more. Its second iteration took place in September 2018 with the support of the SJRK project.

* Slang for girl, female, or lady in the Caribbean.

Thanks to the support of the SJRK project, Motivando a la Gyal held a pre-launch event in August 2018, improving their social media platforms with self-developing content (illustrations, videos, audios) and also they had support for the logistic of the festival in September. [Read more in Motivando a la Gyal report - Spanish]

Juliana Soto, from Karisma, presented a series of “maps” that she developed after listening to the whatsapp audio messages that the young women of Motivando a la Gyal sent to her, answering a list of questions. The maps are a way to understand the expectations, the dreams and all the “behind the scenes” experiences of the group in Medellín, in an anonymous format.

A photo of someone holding a drawing up to the camera, which shows a colourful mapping of ideas with 'Motivando a la Gyal' in the center and coloured branches growing out of it. Text is hand-written in Spanish.

A 'mind map' as a visualization of the expectations, dreams and 'behind the scenes' experiences of the Motivando a la Gyal organisers.

Project in Fresno: Opportunities for young coffee growers

The goal of this initiative is to support students in the last grades of high school in rural areas of Fresno, Tolima, Colombia. For them, it is a time when questions about the future (i.e. staying in the country or the possibility of going to the cities) begin to intensify. With “Opportunities for young coffee growers” Karisma designed a series of workshops that involve creativity, the possibilities of local entrepreneurship, and digital tools, we are seeking to amplify these questions and find possible ways to solve them through collaborative dynamics, while stressing the local context.

The project has 5 stages:

  1. Tuning our stories.
  2. Exploring opportunities in our territory.
  3. Visits to local entrepreneurs and creative workshops**
  4. Developing projects
  5. Final thoughts and reflections

In the spring of 2018 the students visited different places in town and close to town, including:

Karisma designed a guide to develop those visits (in Spanish).

A photo showing students standing on and amongst structures on a farm with lush rolling green hills in the background.

Student visit to the Finca El Cámbulo in Fresno, Colombia.

The goal of the workshops was to give a creative, artistic and communicative channel to the visits related to entrepreneurship activities. For example, the first workshop was a drawing workshop led by Colombian artist Angélica Ramírez. Please see Angélica’s report about the experience (in Spanish) and the presentation of the workshop.

In June 2018 Karisma finished the workshops in Fresno with Natalia Mesa Parodi, a writer who led a workshop about reading aloud and written creation activities. [Spanish report, including images].

A key part of the project is the use of the Kimera Local Network (offline) and the Coffee Grower Network (online) to follow up the project.

More about the local network:

During the project, the KIMERA LOCAL NETWORK has been adapted and improved, using it in each of the venues of the Real Campestre School. The local network has been used to disseminate and to give participants access to information about local ventures and activities.

Additionally, it has allowed the documentation of the progress of the project and also, facilitated collaborative dynamics among the participants, including the diffusion and sharing of the storytelling videos, and the outcomes of the creative workshops.

As for the limited or null connectivity, internet access does not exist in practice at the schools. It is expected that this digital tool can be adjusted to the requirements of the central server in Canada and allows the integration of the local results with those of the central project in Canada and will share the contents and results of the central project in the different venues in Colombia.

A screenshot of a webpage titled 'Red Educativa Realense - Real Campestre La Sagrada Familia', with text in Spanish.

A screenshot of the Kimera local network site.

Local network:

Collaborations: bringing together the rural and urban experiences

In May 2018 Platohedro hosted a workshop in Medellín. The workshop gathered together students from Fresno with activists, artists, and designers from Motivando a la Gyal, researchers from IDRC (OCAD University) and activists from Karisma Foundation. We also had the chance to prove the first version of the Storytelling Tool, developed by IDRC, and took notes on the reactions of the students. Please see this blog post and Tweet for more details.

In Medellín we followed a very intense agenda. The following “radio session” was recorded at the end of the event to provide an opportunity to reflect on and discuss the project of Motivando a la Gyal.

A colourfully illustrated agenda listing all the activities undertaken for the El Planeta es la Escuela - the Planet is the School - workshop.

Workshop agenda for El Planeta es la Escuela - the Planet is the School - at Platohedro in Medellín, May 2018

In October 2018, the Motivando a la Gyal group from Medellin visited the students in Fresno. The proposed theme was “the land and the sowing, from the city to the countryside”, and the goal was to create new networks of collaboration between the project participants, and to have the opportunity to exchange knowledge, experiences, stories and challenges from different perspectives. During this visit the Motivando a la Gyal group had a chance to see the new orchards that the students from Fresno started to grow after they had participated in the collaborative workshops in Medellín.

The students from Fresno are running a new project: a Facebook newscast to share information from the school to the broader community of the town. Some of them did an interview to the Motivando a la Gyal group during their visit. The video is available here:

Ongoing work