Our town visits started today with an afternoon in San Lorenzo, about 2 hours from Manizales. In true plan-all-you-want-but-this-is-real-life-style, the plan we finalized yesterday evening with the student team had to be scrapped. It’s better to remain flexible & improvise on the spot, than engage in non-productive activities.
Perhaps the most exhausting first session we have ever had with an artisan group, our afternoon focused on truly trying to understand the objectives of the group, and in particular how they think we could work together. That second part is less clear but, working from the point of a desire to collaborate, we will investigate further when we return on Thursday on our way back to the capital.
It was surprisingly difficult to get the artisans to express their dreams. It’s a humbling experience to be reminded that most people in the world have perhaps never been asked to dream beyond their current life, and to imagine the impossible. But without that encouragement, can we truly end up with better livelihoods? Is it OK to aim for small improvements, or should we always have that dream goal in mind, so as to never settle for less?
An artisan community within an indigenous reservation (which has political and financial complexities that we’ll need to investigate further), CISLOA (the association’s name) were content with our visit, and even happier for our return. For now, we have way more questions than answers, but what is certain, is that through persistent and patient dialogue we think we’ll be able to arrive to a key place – what the next concrete step should be.