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Recrear Magnify 2016

Note from the Organizers The conference this year was so international: you can say it was almost Olympian. Ten countries represented - curious birds from all walks of life. In our two week jam together we leaned on each other - oh but quite literally during our contemporary dance infused personal development course. We explored Medellin’s quirky social movement corners - coming into contact with graffiti, wooden games and gourmet cooking - all to break the cycle of violence faced by youth in the city. We also learned a lot about resistance, ethics, violence prevention and what it means to do participatory action research. To understand research, we played - A LOT. We ran around nature using a digital app, we experimented with participatory video, we painted our experience . . .we facilitated moments for one another. We let it all out: our questions, our laughs, our tears and our desire to connect with one another. It was wild, some of us were even inspired to write about community-led movements and how to build more genuine community engagement. When it’s all said and done, we survived the marathon and it feels great!

Gioel, Jonas and Kirsten

Introduction Magnify is a two week intercultural blast and a course on youth-led Participatory Action Research. In 2016, Magnify was hosted in Medellin, Colombia. A group of 15 people from 10 countries spent time together learning from each other and their environment. Below you can read more about our insights on the various elements of the conference.











Personal Development Course We explored ourselves and others through contemporary dance, creative movement, meditation and yoga. In this process we found our leader voices, laid the foundation for our team, and launched ourselves fully into trust building. Spontaneity and creativity were the outlets we used to express ourselves and connect with others using our bodies, music, and breathing. We learned to be more conscious about what our breath is saying to us in certain moments and how to use it. We learned to take time to eat, to be grateful and to observe how our environment nurtures us. We realized that sometimes we go too fast when it’s really not necessary. We can take time, be ourselves and enjoy the moment.

Community Chats & Visits Casa Mía. Easily one of the conference favorites, the visit to Casa Mía allowed us to connect more genuinely with a community-based NGO doing niche work in the comuna 6. As one of Recrear’s project partners, Casa Mía pulled out all the stops to host the group for the day. From putting on a performance, to calling upon their different youth networks to do a knowledge exchange session, to then blocking off the street to host an evening of games with the community. Casa Mía brought community spirit to life.

Casa Kolacho. Through the Casa Kolacho led tour, we were able to explore one of the most notorious neighbourhoods of Medellin. We got to hear about the history of the Comuna 13 and how youth responded to an environment of violence by creating an undercurrent of change. Through graffiti, hip hop and rap, youth reclaimed spaces of their neighbourhood as their own. In the tour we got to not only hear this story, but live parts of it. From racing down the slide amidst colorful murals, to riding down the controversial ‘electric stairs’ that have been both a blessing and a curse for the community, to tasting some of the locally famed ice-cream and hearing about the different cries for peace that were etched on the walls of the community. Organizations are not the only ones that inspired us. We were fortunate to open up spaces for reflection and dialogue with civil society practitioners, photojournalists and social entrepreneurs. They had a lot to teach us about ethics, challenging the status quo and how Colombia’s eminent post-conflict phase is nerve-wracking just as much as it is exciting. Sometimes the voices we tuned in were some of the most celebrated in the city. The mere existence of a Metro in Medellín is no small feat, but one of the most successful large-scale social projects to have been implemented. Connecting the city from North to South, the Metro doesn’t just bridge distances but social classes too. Then there were those people who seemed to share so much in common with us, it was like looking at a mirror. A session on Participatory Video delivered by a Colombian researcher turned out to be just what we needed to help crystallize the idea that PAR is a methodology that is out there moving communities. For the group, this session was an invaluable opportunity to ask questions about a PAR project in action within a community they themselves are just getting to know. In return the session also gave participants the opportunity to practice some of the PAR Video storyboarding techniques - the kind of tool they can take with them in their future work. Our chats also brought worlds together. The experience-exchange session between the Magnify group and that of Plata, Cultura and Cambio was another powerful moment of the conference. We saw intercultural mixing and curiosity packaged in questions going back and forth throughout the night. The session allowed both groups to come closer to different elements of Recrear.

Panel On Resistance We organized a panel discussion on Resistance, a buzz word among many in the social justice space in Medellin. The panel had a range of views that showed how varied thinking is in the youth sector.

From the pro-government and convinced views of the Secretaría de Juventud to the more experiential and passionate voices of the youth leaders, to the more radical voices of practitioners who are looking at the sector from a bird’s eye-view.

Participatory Action Research (PAR) training course From coming up with research question, to exploring positionality in communities to using most significant change as an evaluation tool - we took our training to the next level. Our intention was to give participants a beginner’s PAR toolkit. We weren’t interested in turning everyone into researchers but rather sought to give them useful tools for community work. By the last two days of the conference, we had participants running their own PAR inspired workshops for others, putting in practice some of the tools they’ve picked up. With every session, the toolkit started to become more and more complete. It started easy enough with a writing marathon. You wouldn’t think that writing non-stop for 3 consecutive sessions of 10 minutes would come naturally, but I think we all surprised ourselves during this session. Maybe it was the post personal development course effect, but we easily allowed our thoughts to flow. In between each burst of writing, we paused to share - airing out our words in return for feedback or a reaction from the other person. A breath would barely go by before we had to put pen to paper again and yet it became more effortless with every round.

Once people got hooked into the habit of writing, a must for any good researcher or community worker, we brought in a blogger to help spark our creativity. Through the blogging session, people were able to pick up useful prompts and learn the basics to good storytelling. They left the session with taglines buzzing around them: ‘everybody has a story to tell’ and ‘instead of saying it, show it’. Writing wasn’t the only tool we played with. Through back-to-back painting, participants also learned about how easily misunderstandings take place when doing research in communities. We explored where the disconnect comes from and how can we best try to overcome it. This meant deep diving into the world of active listening and harnessing new tools to be able to capture people’s stories in more genuine and participatory ways.

What our participants said “RecrearMagnify reminded me of periods in my life when I lived with friends. You really get to know people when you see how they wake up, the first thing they do in the morning and before going to bed etc. You see how they are, without judging them. We came to Medellin to learn about participation action research, and how it happens in communities. We were also one of those communities. Part of our community process was becoming one. We learned to work in synergy, bringing together different ideas and respecting each other in the process. Not just in the workshop space, but everywhere. For me, cooking in groups was one of the best examples of community buidling.It was a fun, creative exercise that gave me the feeling of being in family. I had to let go and trust in the abilities of others. I enjoyed observing myself and others in moments of stress and also in the light and fun moments. We pulled it off! It was a beautiful experience. I took with me these candid moments and all the theoretical and practical wisdom people possessed.”

- Maria Gabriela, Venezuela

“The opportunity to attend Magnify 2016 in Medellin, Colombia was a game changer for me. It can describe it as 2 unexpected weeks of personal discovery, community involvement and skills development. Not only for me but also for those we interacted with while in Medellin. From organizations in Medellin, I learnt how willpower and determination can create leaders and transform communities. From Recrear, I gained a new approach to achieving this kind of community-led transformation: Participatory Action Research. The skill training and personality development workshops moulded us into PAR researchers. Through this research approach, I learned how the issue of community development can be tackled in a closer and more purposeful way that creates long lasting impact in communities all over the world. Of the different approaches I’ve seen, it is one of the approaches that makes me the most excited about transforming communities. Today, I use the knowledge I gained during Magnify in my daily life - in the professional and the personal. On top of it all, I connected with such amazing and diverse people that opened my eyes. I would recommend Recrear to anyone who wants to make an impact in the world in more beautiful effective ways.”

- Mourya, India

“Magnify 2016 was a fun, diverse learning and sharing experience that shed a light on a different approach for research, rather than the purely scientific approach that is frequently used. This conference taught me that important insights can be obtained by becoming a part of the community and turning research inside out. I left the conference curious to learn more about how to combine qualitative approaches like Participatory Action Research with the quantitative scientific approach that is mostly taught in universities.”

- Melissa, Holland

Sponsors and Partners 20 organizations joined forces with Recrear to make Magnify 2016 that much more memorable. We had support from community organisations inviting us into their everyday lives, great restaurants opening their spaces for us, and private companies as well governmental organisations guiding us around the city and giving us new eyes to see it through. A big “GRACIAS” to all who were part of making Magnify 2016 a reality. We couldn’t have created such a dynamic experience without you!

Medellín C 79 / M 68/ Y 54 / K 51

C 18 / M 100/ Y 78 / K 79

C 76 / M 0/ Y 45 / K 0

C 0 / M 0/ Y 0 / K 80

Cuenta con vos

Budget Even behind the scenes, did we learn a lot this year. Hard-work together with endless local support and inspiring collaborations, allowed us to reach the other side of the conferences with positive numbers, while rewarding conference organizers with a symbolic stipend for dedicating 6 months to making Magnify 2016 a great success.

Here are the budgets from this year and last year

Magnify 2016, MedellĂ­n Expenses: Accommodation 14 days: 2938.10 CAD Transportation: 587.00 Material and Media: 289.89 CAD Communication and Marketing: 155.47 CAD Food 14 days: 1601.70 CAD Personal Development Course Trainer: 587.00 CAD Welcome package and gifts: 228.17 CAD Organizers stipend: 1500 CAD Total Expenses: 7600.12 CAD Income: 12 Participants paying full fee: 7290 CAD 3 Participants with partial stipends: 795 CAD Total Income: 8085 CAD Final balance: 484.88 CAD

Magnify 2015, Montreal Expenses: Accommodation 14 days: CAD 3750 CAD Transportation: 2462 CAD Material and Media: 100 CAD Communication and Marketing: 0 CAD Food 14 days: 1677.08 CAD Personal Development Course Trainer: 635.74 CAD Welcome package and gifts: 140 CAD Organizers stipend: 0 CAD Total Expenses: 8707.44 CAD Income: 4 Participants paying full fee: 4700 CAD 11 Participants with partial stipends: 3250 CAD Total Income: 7950 CAD Final balance: -757.44 CAD

We feel our chest puff out in pride whenever we pull off one magical Magnify after another. It’s the promise of bringing together committed youth leaders, creating an environment for cross-cultural learning and picking up wonderful action research techniques in the process. However like any good magic trick, we have our secret - and that’s where you come in. Sponsors and partners are at the core of making Magnify come to life - and we’re always eager to recognize it and look for ways to make them become an active part of the conference. Want to join other great organizations and companies in the hall of fame of sponsors and partners? Write to us! Or directly to Jonas, our Director of Organizational Development

A big shout out to our brilliant designer Camilla Zamparini, who put together the design of this report and to all the Magnify participants who co-created the content of this report and gave us another unforgettable experience!

Thanks for reading! We would love to hear your thoughts!

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