Creative Capacity Building with Artisanal Miners in Colombia

CCB ToT participants and facilitators-in-training celebrating on closing day with water-pump build-its in hand.  Photo: Sher Vogel
CCB ToT participants and facilitators-in-training celebrating on closing day with water-pump build-its in hand. Photo: Sher Vogel
MIT D-Lab

 

To promote safer, healthier, and more equitable participation in regional gold supply chains, MIT D-Lab has been training Colombian miners and community leaders to develop sustainable solutions to Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) related challenges. MIT D-Lab is leveraging its expertise and longstanding Colombian partnerships to develop a comprehensive economic diversification program that generates opportunities for co-creating technology and business solutions with multiple stakeholders, including miners.


After hosting two Creative Capacity Building (CCB) workshops in the fall of 2019 to develop technology for creating livelihood opportunities with small-scale miners in four target communities: El Bagre, Santa Rita, Zaragoza, and Niche, we completed an inspiring CCB Training of Trainers (ToT) with Amy Smith, Libby McDonald, Melissa Mangino, Margarita Gamarra, and a facilitation team from C-Innova including Alex Freese, Liliana Murcia, and Angela Calderon. The workshop ran from January 13 to January 24, 2020, in a small, mountainous town outside of Andes, Colombia called Santa Rita. The goal of the training was to give small-scale miners and community leaders an opportunity to learn about and practice facilitating CCB activities so they could begin using these methods to diversify the local economy as part of the D-Lab ASGM Inclusive Economies project In Antioquia, Colombia.

Facilitators-in-training learning the design process through a kinesthetic exercise called “Aypepeta.”  PC:  Sher Vogel
Facilitators-in-training learning the design process through a kinesthetic exercise called “Aypepeta.”  Photo:  Sher Vogel

Week 1 - Facilitator Training

The first week of the workshop included 15 facilitators-in-training – five from home town of Santa Rita, eight from the the Bajo Cauca region working with UniMinuto and Mujeres del Oro, and two from the Innovatepec innovation center in El Salvador, established with support from D-Lab in 2019. All 15 facilitators-in-training had participated in a CCB workshop in the past semester. As Amy explained during our first morning circle of the week, the goals of this first week were to:

  • Understand the history and philosophy of CCB in a way to be able to share it clearly and be apart of the future of it
  • Understand CCB pedagogy (the curriculum and the theory behind it) so you can use it to make new activities
  • Feel more comfortable using CCB tools and teaching others to use the tools
  • Really know and love the design process
  • Understand the art and science of selecting CCB projects and planning for CCB logistics and follow-up

During the week, facilitators-in-training had the opportunity to dig deeper into the design process as well as to learn about and practice facilitating key CCB activities. Facilitators-in-training worked in small groups with others from their community to prepare and deliver practice sessions. Then they would pair with another group and receive feedback. (A number of people noted in their surveys that some of the most valuable parts of the week were learning how to listen and co-facilitate, how to give useful feedback, and how to receive feedback effectively.) Many of the facilitators-in-training in this group were already experienced users of CCB tools, but they learned additional practical teaching tips on how to teach others to use CCB tools accurately and safely.  Moreover, facilitators-in-training also learned about the specific logistics and soft skills it takes to scope projects and host a CCB in your town including what you need to prepare and what it takes to support all the projects that come out of a CCB workshop afterward, including defining and launching a local Innovation center.
 

Left: Nahaun, facilitator-in-training from El Salvador works with team to practice teaching the design process. Right: Tatiana, facilitator-in-training, practicing teaching teaching the lantern build-it to fellow facilitators-in-training. Photos: Sher Vogel
Left: Nahaun, facilitator-in-training from El Salvador works with team to practice teaching the design process. Right: Tatiana, facilitator-in-training, practicing teaching the lantern build-it to fellow facilitators-in-training. Photos: Sher Vogel

At the beginning of the week, one person bravely confessed how excited she was about the project, but how nervous she was to speak in front of other people. When asked if anyone else felt the same way, over a third of the group raised their hands. By the end of the week, in the group debrief, every one of them mentioned feeling much more confident not only in their knowledge of the material and facilitating, but in public speaking in general.  

Week 2 - Practice facilitating a CCB workshop

For the second week, we said goodbye to Amy and a few facilitators who had to head back home and we said hello to 30 new ASGM miners from Santa Rita who were eager to participate in a CCB workshop. The 13 remaining facilitators-in-training split into two groups as we facilitated two CCBs concurrently in two different parts of the finca where we were staying.  

Left: Mayra, facilitator-in-training, leads the project team in their first team exercise. Mayra, facilitator-in-training, leads the project team in their first team exercise. Phot: Sher VogelRight: Gilberto, facilitator-in-training, leads a session on introducing the design process to Santa Rita participants. Photo: Liliana Murcia
Left: Mayra, facilitator-in-training, leads the project team in their first team exercise. Mayra, facilitator-in-training, leads the project team in their first team exercise. Phot: Sher VogelRight: Gilberto, facilitator-in-training, leads a session on introducing the design process to Santa Rita participants. Photo: Liliana Murcia

The goal for this week was three fold. The goal for participants was to learn about the CCB design process as a way to collectively solve challenges and create new products that might eventually turn into small businesses. The goal for facilitators-in-training was to practice co-facilitating sessions they had learned about the week before and receive daily coaching and feedback from the C-Innova facilitation team and myself.  And a personal goal for me was to observe their facilitation and coaching, provide feedback, and learn from the C-Innova team’s specific approach to share with other facilitators in our CCB network.

By the end of the week, participants developed five projects and facilitators-in-training had a very clear understanding of the design process, what it takes to facilitate a CCB workshop, and an idea of what follow-up coaching and practice they need to feel comfortable facilitating a full CCB on their own.  As for me, I had some quality coaching times with the C-Innova team and was able to learn a few key tips for improving facilitation of the CCB design process (for example,Inviting people to build off of each other’s sketch models during the experimentation phase to develop five improved options to select from).

Next steps

Since the workshop, facilitators-in-training have returned home and participants have taken home their prototypes. Between now and March, facilitators-in-training will work with D-Lab staff and other Latin American innovation centers to clarify participants’ vision for their local innovation centers, how best to organize them, and what activities they might offer. In late March, C-Innova will facilitate a small expo to showcase all the technologies that were developed through the a larger series of CCB workshops last semester for this project, get feedback, and inspire others with ideas of what they could do when they work together.  

Facilitators-in-training will be facilitating one more CCB with mentorship and coaching from C-Innova staff and then continuing onward facilitating CCB workshops on their own. In early June, we will all reconvene in Santa Rita to teach another dimension of the design process - how to use the CCB design process, mindsets, and principles to design new local businesses.