Building a Project


Tuesday, 23 August 2022


Alvaralice Foundation

By Miguel Ángel Durango. Yunus Center for Social Innovation Research and Education Assistant

At the beginning of March, I was invited by the Alvaralice Foundation to join the team of judges for the special version of the “Civic Award for a Better City” because I could bring an academic perspective to the analysis of the initiatives submitted.

The first presentation was led by an extraordinary woman named Carmen who has built a cultural center that benefits more than 100 children in the neighborhood of La Estrella (Comuna 20), and I realized that this exercise defied theory. Years before, I myself had been on the opposite side, nominated for the same award with an initiative postulated in 2013, the cultural organization Alfombra Mágica. Now as a judge, I recognize the expectations with which each nominee presented their proposal. in many cases the years of hard work go unnoticed and unremarked upon. And this award, beyond the economic stimulus, tells the story of the effort that people are making to achieve a friendlier city. 

We toured the city from the periphery to the center, getting to know the 28 finalist initiatives. We first went up to commune 20 and then to commune 18, sectors that have maintained a remarkable social and environmental activity responding to the challenges of their surroundings. We listened to the stories of the women who led an initiative called Camino al Barrio. Then as we continued our tour, we learned about the rebellious stories of the eastern collectivities.  We visited the Retiro, the Poblado, Manuela Beltrán and ended the tour in the downtown neighborhoods.

We met people with admirable generosity, with sensitive and enthusiastic wagers, who were well adjusted to the demands of their own realities. Thus, we realized that youth have been the great protagonists of this city, and the way in which they have poured all their impetus into experimental ideas of social transformation through hip hop, theater or audiovisuals. We also recognized the experienced work of leaders, who over the years have given their time to causes such as alleviating hunger, reducing gender gaps, or making their neighborhoods safer. They are very different in their motivations, diverse in their struggles and ways of approaching them, but they are united in the common purpose of challenging passivity in a city that needs active agents in their communities.

There are still a significant number of untold stories. People in all sectors of this city are building opportunities and thinking of creative ways to respond to the needs of their communities. Although the results are not yet apparent, this sometimes chaotic city breathes easier thanks to community organizations and civil society which give hope through autonomous and experimental efforts that arise from the collective ideas with which to solve the challenges that each community faces.

From this journey, we can conclude that the concern for improving the city is becoming the rule and not the exception. Cali is full of people who are wagering on addressing their own problems. We are witnessing a shift in favor of collective and community construction and putting plans into action to improve living conditions for all. We must recognize that this award is making a great effort to connect all the ideas, resources, cooperation and the necessary ties between them to consolidate this project.

We need to celebrate this collective awakening and encourage the solidarity of all sectors so that the community wagers are sustained and capable of growth.

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