Mapping Populations, Mobilizations, and Territories in Medellín

Room: Auditorium 2

Friday, 12:00
Duration: 20 minutes (plus Q&A)

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  • Luis Sebastian Bravo Chacon

The project was developed based on collaborative mapping in the hillside neighborhoods of Medellín. Through the training of community leaders from 15 social organizations and building on research on social activism and digital tools, the project aimed to empower communities through social cartography, virtual mapping, and digital technologies, promoting inclusion and community articulation. By enhancing visibility and promoting social change, peacebuilding, and well-being, the project recognized and amplified the voices of marginalized communities. As a result of this project, each organization was able to build maps to recognize initiatives in Medellín associated with risk management, climate change adaptation, participation, community intangibles, urban art, and social transformation of territories.

Between 2019 and 2022, the POMOTE Studies Center collaborated in the creation of collaborative maps in the hillside neighborhoods of Medellín. These initiatives contributed to the recognition of the historical, social, political, and cultural dimensions of marginalized communities from official territorial planning. Through training processes in social cartography, these communities built the identity and memory of their territories, fighting for the right to their territory and a dignified life. The Eastern Hillside neighborhoods of Medellín were mostly founded by rural populations fleeing the armed conflict in their places of origin. The war in the countryside threatened their lives, so they migrated to the city and occupied the hillsides as victims of the conflict, generating solidarity networks that gave rise not only to neighborhoods but also to community organizations. These communities are articulated in collaboration networks promoting training processes that seek to contribute to the recovery and preservation of territorial memories.

The project aimed to carry out an experience of training, experimentation, and dissemination in methodologies of social cartography and virtual mapping with community leaders that contributed to the recognition of processes of social transformation of hillside neighborhoods, promoting the use of digital technologies as an alternative for inclusion, community articulation, and political advocacy. Through training workshops, the participants were accompanied in the process of migration from paper to digital cartography, explaining basic cartography concepts and their application to digital technologies. The participants were trained in the use of mobile applications such as StreetComplete and Mapillary to recognize initiatives in the territory. During the training cycle, field activities were developed oriented towards the dialogue of knowledge and the systematization of experiences, addressing different points of view to recognize, collect, and present reflections and learnings that contributed to the transformation of territories in terms of the right to territory, peacebuilding, and good living.

The Umap platform was used, which uses OSM data as a basis for visualizing the problems, experiences, and life stories of organizations in their territories. 28 leaders of organizations and movements from the outskirts of Medellín carried out exercises in social cartography and mapping of their territorial experiences associated with the right to territory, peacebuilding, good living in the community, artistic expressions, security for early childhood, risk management, gender-based violence, and waste management. As a result, 15 dynamic maps were created and exhibited at the project’s closing, reflecting the processes, initiatives, and realities of their territories in terms of community participation