Gracias Guaviare! Thank you Guaviare!

Gracias Guaviare! Thank you Guaviare!

04 June 2015
Charlotte Streck

Two weeks ago, we concluded our third stage of Sinfonía Trópico, which brought us to the Colombian Amazon. We selected San José de Guaviare as the centrum and point of departure for our activities.  A lucky choice: we immediately felt welcome by the municipality and the department, found extremely capable and enthusiastic partners, and had the unique chance to work with an amazingly talented group of young people. In fact, after encountering so much beauty in Guaviare, it’s still difficult getting used to the colder climate in Berlin. 

Guaviare was no random choice. It is a department with a long history of conflict and with alarmingly high rates of deforestation. With the exception of Caquetá, there is no other department with higher deforestation. It is therefore no surprise that the environmental focus of our work rested on demonstrating the value, wealth, and beauty of the forest and its role in shaping the identity of the people living in the Colombian Amazon. 

Artistically, the focus of our work in Guaviare was video, film and photography. We worked with more than 50 teenagers, teaching them documentary film and photography, thereby opening their eyes to the environment all around them, both to its beauty and the environmental pressures to which it is exposed. We were lucky to secure a partnership with Ambulante Mas Allá, a group of documentary filmmakers from Bogotá. They worked for three intensive weeks (in fact, day and night) on short films that were to be presented during our closing events on May 17th.

 We also worked with Mateo Perez, a photographer and professor for photography at the Faculty of Arts at the Javeriana University in Bogotá. Mateo worked with a group of young students, teaching them a wide array of different aspects of photography.  The group made their own photographic paper from organic fiber, they constructed a camera obscura, developed their own prints, and went on several photographic excursions into the tropical forest and farms adjacent to the forest.

The young artists from Colectivo Atempo found an impressive way to raise awareness about the number of trees that are cut in Guaviare every day. On May 14, they spent more than 16 hours counting and laying down 18,992 little sticks on the square in front of the departmental government - one little stick for every tree that went down that day. They also organized the painting of another “Mural de Diversidad” that has become our signature in the public spaces within the communities that we visited.

The outcome of these activities has been three short documentaries, which are currently in the post-production stage and, once finalized, expected to be widely disseminated. They deal with the state of the rivers and water resources, deforestation, and the role of young people in influencing decisions concerning their sustainable future. We also opened a photo exhibition, and organized a closing event, which featured dedicated compositions and texts from indigenous peoples, young rappers, and traditional musicians.

We are grateful to the people of Guaviare, in particular to the Mayor of the City of San José de Guaviare, Geovanny Gómez Críales, and our partner Warner Valencia Sánchez, and the more than 40 participants in our workshops. Thanks for working for us – you made sure that we fell in love with Guaviare and will return again.

Charlotte Streck and Lillevan