On Tuesday the 4th of December, !DROPS and Value 4 Chain facilitated the workshop ‘Co-Innovating a social design brand’ at the Build Peace Conference in the Universitad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia.

The workshop was a collaboration with outown and artisans from the Wounaan community. These artisans are displaced people, due to the conflicts in their region. They are currently living in a village near Bogotá, called Ciudad Bolivar. They still believe in their cultural heritage and even in exile they’re still making their wonderful craft products. The artisans mostly work with Werregue and Chocolatio. These sources come from their native region and they import them to Bogotá.

During the workshop, we first presented all the organizations involved and we focused on the challenges the Wounaan and other communities are facing. Each month in 2017, at least 39 indigenous leaders were threatened. While !DROPS was in Colombia, another massacre of 6 people took place in the region of the Wounaan community. They are facing some real challenges.

The artisans could share more about their challenges, products, and history with the participants of the workshop. Once the participants had gained more insights, they brainstormed about how to tackle the challenges and find solutions.

Some beautiful ideas came out of this two-hour paper-prototyping: a web shop, a shop located in different cities in Colombia, creating a Facebook page on which the Wounaan artisans can share their story, …

Right now, !DROPS and Value 4 Chain are developing some of these projects, in order to start a social design brand with the Wounaan artisans.

A big THANK YOU to all participants present at the workshop and the artisans who came all the way from Ciudad Bolivar.

On Thursday December 6, !DROPS visited the artisans in Ciudad Bolivar, where we learned more about their crafts. The artisans work mostly with werregue, which comes from a certain palm tree. They create beautiful vases and bowls from it. The grains of the werregue can be used to make necklaces.

Aside from werregue, the artisans also work with Chocolatio and Hichame. They make bags, vases, and other wonderful things with that.

On Monday December 11, we went to the Expoartesanias, the biggest expo on artisans in Colombia. A wonderful and inspiring expo, where we learned more about the crafts and talents of Colombia, for instance in design and fashion. A very inspiring day, where we met a lot of interesting people, both from Diseno Colombia and Moda Viva, who want to build bridges between the artisans living in rural regions in Colombia and designers from Bogotá and the bigger cities. This way, they want to maintain the cultural heritage of the artisans and have a social impact on them. They do this by experimenting with temporary fashion and the artisanal craftsmanship.

Our stay in Colombia was truly inspiring, and we’re more motivated than ever to develop the social design brand in order to have a social impact on the displaced artisans of Wounaan.

Stay tuned to find out more about the next steps in this project.