Plan de Vida: An indigenous approach to reclaiming our communities’ futures

LifeMosaic's Serge Marti explains the 'Plan de Vida' approach to giving communities control of their futures

THIS Thursday and Friday (17-18 November) The GalGael Trust and LifeMosaic invite you to join indigenous leader Jeremias Tunubala, in Govan, Glasgow to learn about the Plan de Vida, an exceptional approach for communities to re-envision and reclaim their futures.

In much of the global north, the 'developed world', there is a growing sense of disempowerment and despair fuelled by austerity, globalisation, mass surveillance, increasing inequality, climate change and the clamour of war. 

Our destinies seem decided by distant power structures over which we have little say. These conditions have fuelled Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency, and the rise of European demagogues blaming all ills on foreigners and the poor.

Jeremias Tunubala

Scotland still feels more optimistic. Common Weal director Robin McAlpine recently wrote about research by the New Economics Foundation which found that "Scottish interviewees genuinely seemed to believe that the future could be better than the present, that we were capable of doing better than we're doing. That seems to have applied irrespective of constitutional view." 

Being able to imagine a better future seems to be an essential condition to bringing it into being.

The Plan de Vida, or Life Plan, is an exceptional approach for communities to re-envision and reclaim their futures. It was first developed by the Misak indigenous people in the Cauca region of Colombia and later adopted by hundreds of indigenous peoples across South America. 

The Plan de Vida, or Life Plan, is an exceptional approach for communities to re-envision and reclaim their futures.

The approach is also being embraced by non-indigenous rural communities and poor urban communities in Colombia.

The Plan de Vida approach starts with a participatory process of remembering the past in order to analyse and critique the present, and begin to determine a vision of the future. It is simultaneously a tool for movement-building, a road-map of where we want to go and a platform for defending what we hold dear.

Communities need to be organised and to have a vision of the future in order to anticipate and be prepared for the changes and the challenges they face. In the Plan de Vida that vision of the future is built through the participation of all members of the community remembering where we have come from, what we can learn from our ancestors, and finding out what our potential for creativity and change might be. 

What do we consider beautiful and meaningful? And what institutions, agreements, and policies do we need to put into place that reflect this?

Liliana Muelas, who was elected this week as the new leader of the Misak people, says: "Today we have the development plan. It is made from an economic point of view, tied to a period of government, planned from office blocks and desks, but it doesn't include the word and spirit of the community.

It was first developed by the Misak indigenous people in the Cauca region of Colombia and later adopted by hundreds of indigenous peoples across South America. 

"We don't want a development plan […]. Our model is the plan de vida, that comes from our autonomy and puts forward our vision of education, our vision of healthcare, our vision of how we want to live and be."

Plan de Vida is an indigenous approach. What can rural and urban communities in Scotland learn from it? What is already happening in Scotland and how can we build on these experiences and opportunities? 

How can we move from engagement and consultation to community-led visioning and planning? How can Scottish communities determine their own destinies?

Join The GalGael Trust, LifeMosaic, and Misak leader Jeremias Tunubala this Thursday and Friday (17-18 November 2016) in Govan, Glasgow to learn more and address these questions. Book your place here.

Pictures courtesy of Serge Marti

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.