The Possible Dialogues Journey
Diálogos Posibles/Possible Dialogues is an initiative to connect social and environmental leaders, activists, artists and academics who have common interests relating to climate change and justice, but have not had the opportunity to interact.
It was sparked at the end of 2019 by a conversation between Hector Fabio Yucuna Perea, Youth Coordinator of the Organisation of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC) and members of Más Arte Más Acción. They questioned how indigenous peoples’ struggles could be shared in the climate debate and properly considered in climate negotiations that impact on their territories. Opening out these questions with artists and institutions in Scotland with an interest in environmental justice, Possible Dialogues emerged and in 2020 the coalition met online to build relationships, share knowledge and test ideas. It is now a multi-layered creative project that brings together partners from Scotland and Colombia in the lead up to COP26, the global leaders’ climate conference in Glasgow.
Chapter 1: Elders from Araracuara at the OPIAC Farm, La Mesa, Cundinamarca
In 2021 the Colombian partners began working in the territories to initiate dialogues and build an understanding of the struggles facing communities in the Amazon. The covid-19 pandemic made it impossible to meet in large numbers, but a small group of indigenous elders from Araracuara were able to gather at the OPIAC’s farm in April to share ideas about their relationship with the earth and the challenges they face. From this encounter a short video was produced and shared with the Possible Dialogues partners in Scotland with the aim of building knowledge to eventually co-create messages for a wider public.
In June 2021 artists Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich presented Chapter 1 of Possible Dialogues for the first time to public view as part of a series of events at the Encampment of Eternal Hope at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. Through conversations and audience participation two groups addressed the questions of: “How can we learn to care for, maintain and respect the planet? How can we educate ourselves to take care of mother nature (the planet)?” and “How can we move towards understanding our collective role in becoming guardians of the natural environments that we inhabit?”
In brief three main positions were articulated by the audience to the questions posed around living in harmony with nature and learning to become guardians of the planet. (1)‘Technology’ eg. An app allows you to collect credits every time you make purchases, with credits accumulating to plant trees to offset consumption, (2)‘Political’ pressure/ political reform (3) rebuilding a personal ‘spiritual’ connection to nature and the planet ‘reindiginising’ the self. These ideas and others opened up more debate afterwards.
Chapter 2: Youth Summit Vaupés, Amazonas with the OPIAC Youth Team
In June 2021 the OPIAC and MAMA travelled to Vaupés in the Amazon to record the second territorial dialogue with young people and members of the Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA), an international organisation that defends the self-determination of the region’s indigenous peoples. This second encounter took the video and ideas that emerged from the first dialogue back to the territory and went deeper into the impacts facing younger generations due to the changing climate and disrupted seasons.
In November 2021 the Scottish partners Feminist Exchange Network will present Chapter 2 at the CCA Glasgow. As part of the Feminist Exchanges for Climate Justice, Scottish young activists group from Rumpus Room will inhabit the Intermedia gallery at CCA for the evening to respond to the film created at the Youth Summit Vaupés, Amazonas and to showcase some work they have been creating together around their own experience and fears around climate change
Organisations: Organisation of Indigenous Peoples of Colombia, Los Andes University, Rosario University, Más Arte Más Acción, DAAD – German Academic Exchange Service, Feminist Exchange Network, ÚNA Festival, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, If Not Us Then Who, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland
Artists/Participants: Zoe Walker, Neil Bromwich, Ailie Rutherford, Drew McNaughton, Andrés Vélez, Osneyder Valoy