Ángela María Holguín Ramírez, Cielo Maria Holguín Ramírez, and Elsy Torreglosa have been community leaders in the Moravia neighborhood of Medellín for over 20 years. Ángela is the co-founder of Moravia Tours, a local business that promotes responsible and sustainable community tourism, Cielo has led formal education processes and been at the center of cultural development in the community, and Elsy is a founder and active member of the Moravia based gardening and greenhouse group, the Cojardicom Corporation.
As part of the sustainable neighborhood plan Ecocity Builders developed in partnership with UN Environment, the local government, NGOs, universities, and neighborhood organizations, they have been working on a sustainability diagnosis for their community within the framework of healthy communities.
We recently caught up with the three of them to get their feedback on the collaboration.
How was your experience in general?
Our experience as project liaison leaders was very rewarding. It was also a great challenge because it involved selecting a representative group of community leaders. We made the sustainability assessment with them, accompanied by a group of local experts and Ecocity Builders. Together we discussed the proposals and the priorities.
Do you think your experience made an impact on your community?
This experience generated a positive impact in our community because it allowed us to identify the importance of creating sustainable projects and work in an articulated way within the community and also align those proposals with the development plans of the Municipality of Medellin so that they can be viable.
How does it change your view of the world?
The project teaches us to take a contextualized view of the world, to prioritize projects with a sustainable vision, and most importantly, to be aligned with the development plans of the Municipality of Medellín.
What unexpected things did you learn?
We learned about the importance of a social, cultural, environmental, and economic balance when developing a sustainable project.
Also, we learned how important it is to be familiar with the Municipality of Medellín’s development plans for Moravia, how these plans relate to the community proposals, and how we can integrate them to be streamlined and viable.
We learned to consolidate the four proposals from the Neighborhood Sustainability Plan.
We learned that projects must be integrated in order to have a positive impact on the community.
How are you integrating what you learned in your daily practices or in your community? You are now considered “eco-citizens”? Why?
We are applying what we learned in the development of this innovative proposal to the practice of responsible and sustainable community tourism. Since we were born and raised in Moravia and part of the transformation of the neighborhood we want to tell the world our history of transformation and position Moravia as an example of global resilience — that is why we consider ourselves eco-citizens.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes. We would love to have Ecocity Builders back in Moravia to develop the 4 proposals we prioritized. We’d like to keep in regular touch with the organization and continue to be advised so we can realize our dream of being a sustainable neighborhood that can serve as an example for other communities around of the world.
We welcome the opportunity for cultural exchanges that enable us to learn from other proposals as well as share ours. Moreover, we would like to be able to practice our English through an international internship.