In Langscape Magazine Articles

Photo Gallery: Story Map

December 17, 2017

by Jennifer McRuer and Nuevas Voces

A protected area surrounding Isla Grande aims to conserve marine habitats, natural resources, and cultural values. A disharmony between nature and culture, however, persists through rapid tourism development, water pollution, dwindling fish stocks, mangrove deforestation, coral erosion, changing traditional practices, industrial resource use, and economic disparity. The Isla Grande community is committed to conserving ancestral territories and strengthening biocultural connections. Map: Luisa Ramirez, 2016. Modified and reproduced with map author’s permission.

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The Life Plan. Isla Grande developed a “Plan de Vida” [life plan] toward sustainable development. Quote: Ever de la Rosa, 2014. Photos: Manuel Maldonado, Jeison Ceballos, 2015

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The Team. We are a co-researcher team of six Island youth, a Spanish research translator, and a Canadian doctoral researcher, motivated by biocultural integrity, conservation, and ecotourism in Isla Grande. We investigated these interests over six months in 2015. We call ourselves “Nuevas Voces” [New Voices]. Photo: Community Member, 2016.

Photovoice. Using cameras, we stroll, bike, swim, and dive to capture connections with ancestral places of land and sea. Photo: Heides Molina, 2015

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Participatory Mapping. We walk and bike to map the places most significant to everyday lives in terms of ecosystems, biodiversity, culture, sustainable development, and innovation. Photo: Manuel Maldonado, 2015

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Biocultural Heritage. “To me, [biocultural heritage] has to do with everything in the community and how we depend on the environment. Our heritage is like the fishermen and all the people that live because of the tourism, and [traditions like] the champeta [local dance], and Paito [an elder who plays traditional African music] … All of this is part of a concept that many people live but maybe don’t understand the word” (Dani). Photo: Katya Torres, 2015

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Sustainability. “For us, sustainability means production, capacity, culture, and coordination. Culture includes the methods of our ancestors that we continue today like artisan fishing and handcrafts, using what we have, and tools from the environment to develop our environment. Production includes culture: we produce certain things through cultural uses, through our customs. Capacity means we have the capacity to share, to maintain our environment and our community in a good shape. Coordination is to be sustainable as you have to [use resources] always at the same level, or better” (Sebastian). Photo: Heides Molina, 2015

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Buen Vivir. For co-researchers, buen vivir [well-being] concerns the rights, interests, decisions, and actions that shape healthy place relationships: “Of course [there are rights] for the ecosystems, and the lack of these rights happens when we don’t respect the ecosystems’ buen vivir” (Ezequiel). Photos: Heides Molina, Jeison Ceballos, Ezequiel Torres, Dani Salgado, 2015

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Language. Collective knowledge expressed through language intimately connects narrators to place. Discussing natural resources and livelihood practices summoned youths’ knowledge of common plants and animals in ancestral territory places. Place-based knowledge was attributed to elders and personal experience. Photos: Jeison Ceballos, Ezequiel Torres, Katya Torres, 2015

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Material Culture. Speaking about artifacts created from, or representative of, Isla Grande’s biodiversity, youth emphasized sustainability: “Some of the materials that people use in handcrafts are [made from] our natural resources and some of them are also made using recycled items like plastic bags. This practice helps both the economic side and the environmental side because there is no need to buy, and there will no longer be garbage on the ground” (Jeison). Photo: Heides Molina, 2015

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Innovation and Local Knowledge. Changing environments promote innovation based on local knowledge. Youth emphasized aligning resource use, cultural values, and environmental stewardship. For example, they cited increasing solar panel use instead of generators as well as traditional water sequestration techniques enhanced with cisterns and boat transport. Photos: Ezequiel Torres, 2015

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Subsistence. Maintaining economic, social, and cultural ties with place requires diversification: “I think something that reflects well-being very much is the ocean. We know here on the Island we don’t have a place, like an enterprise for the community, apart from the ocean. But not all of us are fishermen so we need micro-enterprises” (Jeison). Youth envision ecotourism, fish farming, and mangrove plant nurseries. Photo: Juan Vega, 2015

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Social Relations. Leadership is performed by the whole community: “The most important thing to know about our politics on the Island is that although we are governed by the mayor of Cartagena, we have a Communitarian Council and we are titled as an ethnic community. We have a leader who is the president of the Communitarian Council but being a Council means all the community participates and takes decisions about our policies” (Jeison). Photos: Jeison Ceballos, Heides Molina, 2015

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Economic Relations. Youth desire responsible community governance to promote economic security, buen vivir, and sustainability: “If only we could face [economic] challenges as a united community while preserving the Island. It is just a case of having different alternatives. … This is the whole controversy: we need money, but we also need a way to conserve our territories … the economic is not above the [buen vivir of] the community” (Jeison). Photos: Katya Torres, Ezequiel Torres, Manuel Maldonado, 2015

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Beliefs. Promoting collective biocultural heritage through annual cultural events, to “not forget where we come from” (Dani). Reflection on National Afro-Colombian Day spoke to identity: “I realized that we are all humans, we are people, the color is just the color because the blood is red for everyone. If you throw a person’s blood in a glass and mix it with another, both are the same; you cannot say this one is mine” (Dani). Photo: Dani Salgado, 2015

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This photo gallery is an extension of Story Map: Youth Reconnect to Place and Biocultural Heritage in Colombia by Jen McRuer.

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