When she signed up for the intensive course in Creative Leadership for Social Change, three full days of training sounded like a long time to Lynette Gomez, Community Development Program Manager of SATIM. To her pleasant surprise, the sessions were highly interactive and filled with useful exercises for creatively engaging the communities she works with and improving how she carries out her work. On the last day of the workshop, Lynette told the group that she hopes to participate in the 12-day certificate course in the future.
So what exactly took place in this recent workshop for 17 field and management staff from eight marine conservation organizations in Punta Gorda, Belize? Through numerous creative processes facilitated by ArtCorps Alumnae Aryeh Shell and Cherine Badawi, participants explored their purpose, leadership styles, collective visioning and movement building. At the same time, they engaged in rich dialogue about the challenges they face in conservation: overfishing of their reefs, land grabs, plastic pollution, to name a few. Through skits, role play, sculpture building, mural making, music and illustrations, the participants one-by-one let down their guard, and began to look at things anew, challenging assumptions and seeking fresh ways to build collective action.
The workshop required many to step right to the very edge of their comfort zones…yet they did. By the end of our three days together, each participant shared their plans for creative community projects to help advance their causes. With great resolve, each pledged to integrate these new tools in their work and collectively wished for more opportunities to deepen their understanding and capacity in art for social change.
Christina Garcia, Executive Director, Ya’axche Conservation Trust says, “It is the first time I have participated in such a training and would really recommend for leaders of conservation organizations. I really enjoyed every moment of it!”
Christina and the other participants emerged from the experience invigorated by the strategies they learned and more empowered to implement the new approaches they gained during the workshop in their communities. To sum it up, Danny Hun from the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment stated, “WE are the solutions to our problems.” Yes, they are, and after the workshop, they are also better equipped to realize their initiatives.
The handbooks for this workshop were made possible thanks to the generosity and top-notch services of Zeno Design in Newburyport, MA.