From May 10 - 14th of 2016, North and South American ICAs gathered for a Regional Conference in Peru. The gathering marked the first time the ICAs in the region had met face-to-face in over 10 years. ICA Peru
hosted the meeting at their beautiful training center in Azpitia, a quaint town 2 hours outside of Lima. Azpitia was one of the ICA Peru's main project sites a few decades back, and the training center that was created during that time has been wonderfully maintained and still serves groups that ICA Peru works with.
Over 15 colleagues attended, representing ICA Guatemala
, ICA Peru, ICA Chile
, ICA Associates in Canada
, and ICA-USA
. The gathering started with each ICA sharing their current projects and initiatives, and the direction each ICA is headed. This was followed by skill shares on new methods that had been developed by each of the ICAs, showcasing how local ICAs created new and innovative ways to adopt Technology of Participation
(ToP) methods to fit their community, culture, and programmatic efforts. The entire conference was held in Spanish, allowing maximum participation from conference attendees.
In the evenings, the visiting colleagues went on field visits inside the town of Azpitia to see the results of ICA Peru's hard work through comprehensive community planning. The projects included a local pisco
distillery that grew their own grapes and to make pisco and wine, which was part of the 'economic development' component of planning, and a preschool that had been started as part of the 'social development' component of planning. Every meal was eaten at a local restaurant that ICA Peru's programming had helped get launched many years ago.
During the final two days of the conference, the ICAs came together and crafted a strategy for the region, and the process was co-facilitated by many of the conference attendees. The strategies included:
- Increasing partnership, projects, and communication among the region;
- Creating a space in all the ICAs to be able to engage a new generation; and
- Increasing methods training and marketing, specifically in Latin America.
The conversation around the expansion of ToP methods training in Latin America was very timely due to a larger ToP Policy conversation that is currently happening around the world (read more in the following articles below).
This regional conference was significant for many reasons. From a world-wide perspective, it was the 5th and final regional conference that occurred within one year's time. Each region of the world's ICAs (East Africa, West Africa, Europe, Asia/Australia, N&S America) came together between May 2015 and May 2016 to look at ways to better collaborate, broaden, and deepen ICA's social change work. Although the traditional cadence of a global conference every four years was not kept in 2016, the regional gatherings could arguably be much more powerful in the long run. The localized conferences allowed all interested ICAs the chance to meet with colleagues outside of their country and will undoubtedly catalyze future initiatives to take place globally.