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Indigenous wisdom and ecopsychology for empowering emerging Latin American change makers: moving from Covid disruption to better social and ecological wellbeing

(Above) Sabana Grande, El Rodeo and Escuintla join Rony Lec from SERES for a lesson on deep ecology. Photos courtesy of the project.

The global COVID-19 pandemic makes visible the disconnection between humans. This new phenomenon also generates, first of all, health crises and later, in a more concealed and insidious way, economic, ecological and social crises. The systemic nature of the COVID-19 crisis and its unprecedented cascading effects have reverberated in all sectors, levels and in all the countries of the Latin American and Caribbean region. Furthermore, there has been and continues to be a breakdown at different levels: emotional, relational and territorial.

The Latin American context has the elements to face this situation and to make it possible to envision and move towards a more benevolent reality. Indeed, Latin America still preserves a wealth of ancestral knowledge that could be a key to move from COVID-19 disruption to more social and ecological wellbeing. Also, young Latin American leaders are not indifferent to these problems and are looking for alternatives and solutions to create a more sustainable world.

A discussion between the Abuelo Kiche (Abuelo is grandfather and Kiche is the name of the indigenous ethnic group) and youth groups leads to a “a trip to the past”, during which the youth “see” and perceive what cities, forests, rivers, modes of productions, and ways of life were like before.

Through the project, Indigenous wisdom and ecopsychology for empowering emerging Latin American change makers: moving from Covid disruption to better social and ecological wellbeing, we – Daniel Abreu, Manuela Fernandez and Abigail Quic – offered live virtual and recorded sessions (3 sessions of 2-3 hours each, and 3 recordings) of ecopsychology and indigenous wisdom in the context of a global crisis and changes under COVID-19 and environmental, societal and economic risk drivers and issues. In this time of great turmoil we seek the ancestral wisdom of the elders (how to deal with alienation, intense stress, death, deep societal change, nature regeneration and emotional healing) and practical guidance from eco-psychology/the Work that Reconnects (specially Active Hope practices) and adapt this knowledge from the perspective of young Latin American environmentalists and indigenous leaders.

The sessions aimed at generating a dialogue between young environmental change makers and indigenous leaders in the Latin American region through ecopsychology exercises and sharing of experiences online. In this dialogue, the voice of indigenous people is not interpreted but recognised as bearers of valuable knowledge. Also, we presented to indigenous people what young Latin American leaders are feeling, doing and thinking, to generate common points and to create a space to be heard and understood.

How? We used conceptual frameworks such as ecopsychology to understand and harmonise people’s relationship with the earth. In a nutshell, eco-based psychology integrates psychological insights with the grassroots environmental movement (Roszak 1992). We also used Work that Reconnects (WTR) practices, referring to the suggestions and guidelines for facilitating the WTR online.

The virtual sessions were held via the Zoom platform on Saturdays, March 13th and 27th and April 10th, 2021.

República Dominicana
8:00 am – 10:30am
10:00 am – 12:30 pm
11:00 am – 13:30 pm

Hear directly from Daniel, Manuela and Abigail about their project and the unique chance to learn from the indigenous peoples of Guatemala (Mayan Kakchiquel), the Sacred Valley of Peru (Quechuas) and Chile (Mapuches).

Read the final report for more information on this project.

Taller de Ecoactivismo Basado en Sabiduría Indígena y Trabajo que Reconecta

This project, Indigenous wisdom and ecopsychology for empowering emerging Latin American change makers: moving from COVID disruption to better social and ecological wellbeing, is a collaboration among GEN members and is supported through GEN Project Packages. Learn about other projects by GEN members here.

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