ARTS signifies Support for the Reconstruction of the Social Fabric. We are an area made up of four individuals who support human rights organizations and communities in their reflections on and the construction of comprehensive protection tools. Our aim is to create safe spaces for discussion and analysis within and among Colombian organizations and to strengthen them in the face of the impacts of sociopolitical violence. As an area we seek to share lessons learned by PBI relative to comprehensive protection, as a third “leg” that functions alongside physical and political accompaniment. This leg is pedagogical and psychosocial accompaniment.
For us, comprehensive protection is everything that we do as individuals and organizations to equip ourselves with tools that make us feel safe. We understand that security is not a merely objective element but is built on subjective realities and the historic, geographic, cultural, and political contexts of the organizations and communities. Thus, security is not automatic. It is constructed and reconstructed based on these elements. We build security considering all its dimensions: a) territorial, community, and project-based, b) group and relational, c) psycho-emotional and corporal; and d) significance or spiritual.
We understand that protection is more than the measures we take in the face of the physical and political risks generated by our work, but also include collective, inter-relational, psycho-emotional, and spiritual risks. At the center we place the risks faced in the context of a potential breakdown of the social fabric (such as the escalation of conflicts or increased distrust). That is why we always work with the circle of comprehensive protection that takes into account the interdependence between the aforementioned dimensions of comprehensive protection. These are not isolated aspects, as they all take place at the same time. The inner circles (collective, psycho-emotional, and significance) are dimensions historically addressed from a psycho-social lens and with feminist contributions regarding care. We understand that comprehensive protection cannot exist without a psycho-social and differential approach that takes into account cis-heteropatriarchal, colonial, racist, ageist, ableist, ecocidal, and other power relations.
Psychosocial and Protection Work
Psychosocial work seeks to strengthen community abilities and revalue the resilient capacity of individuals, acting on personal and community ties. In the case of the ARTS work area, given PBI’s expertise in protection, the work is carried out using the following capacities:
- context analysis, risk analysis, actor analysis, an introduction to comprehensive protection, digital security, organizational and community capacity development, building care tools, work on how violence impacts ties, dreams, and bodies, etc.
- Popular education and a collective construction of knowledge. We use pedagogical tools that value lived experiences and build meaning based on these experiences.
- Art and creativity: dance, theater, song, drawing… We use artistic tools that help develop creativity, understanding that this allows for the discovery of new solutions to conflicts and challenges.
- Facilitation and group capacity development. We understand that the collective and ties between individuals in a group are the foundation for reflections and to construct spaces.
- Contributions from social movements. We are inspired by a questioning of power and the transformative efforts of social movements that think about the world from a lens of autonomy.
- Emotional containment: this is everything we do to create safe spaces where people can express their emotions, feel supported, listened to, and understood, while also being held up so that this expression can be an emotional release but never the sensation of being overwhelmed and revictimized. Emotional containment allows for the release of lived experiences, from a collective space and empathetic lens.
- Emotional education: this is everything we do to reflect on how the mind, body, and emotions operate in response to violence, identifying impacts and replicating tools that allow for collective care and wellbeing.
- Emotional transformation: this is everything we do in relation to groups to strengthen ties, reconnect with hope and the meaning of human rights work, allowing for dialogues and reflections on communication and conflict transformation.
How We Work
The types of spaces accompanied by the area:
- Processes Interventions or connections that require several sessions and are repeated over time. This could be a process to create protocols, organizational capacity development, care practices in relation to psychosocial impacts, etcetera. Before initiating these processes, it is essential to establish objectives, expectations, roles, and timelines with each collective.
- Workshops The work and approach used by ARTS can be seen in the results of these workshops, strengthening security analysis, identifying the psychosocial state of accompanied organizations, and reinforcing physical support, and weaving networks.
- Gatherings This is work carried out over several days with a concrete objective. These spaces allow for coordination between different organizations and may be proposed proactively by PBI, such as the National Gathering of Women Defenders.
- Consultations Specific support through a conversation or meeting where we can share tools, visions, analysis, or recommendations.
- Referrals Support to connect with other organizations, referrals related to digital security with Karisma and referrals for individual psychosocial support with organizations that provide psychosocial attention.
The organizations can request this support directly or through other PBI teams or areas and, in accordance with the area’s capacities a response will be provided. All processes arise out of the needs of and requests from organizations. In most of the cases, the following route is used:
- A space is requested and there is communication on needs and the space’s objectives.
- ARTS prepares a methodological proposal.
- The methodological proposal is shared with the organization to validate the proposal.
- The workshop is held.
- The workshop is evaluated with the organization.
ARTS’ priorities are framed by those established by the PBI assembly, as well as emergencies (due to a risk situation faced by the organization) or by strategic accompaniment. Following the ARTS mandate to promote feminist and anti-racist political debates within PBI, it will also prioritize, with a differential perspective, organizations that have generally been deprioritized by the hegemonic system: rural, communities affected by structural racism (Afro-Colombian and Indigenous), women and non-binary people.
What ARTS Does NOT Do
In the context of the area’s work, there are several elements that are outside of our focus:
- We do develop protocols for organizations, they themselves lead these processes with support from the area through reflections and evaluation.
- We do not facilitate collective spaces for political reflections.
- We do not accompany individual or collective psycho-therapeutic spaces. The area’s psychosocial work does not directly address a community or organizations’ trauma or histories of pain, to avoid generating revictimizing spaces given that we are not able to sustain, in the long term, the emotional movement this generates.
- We do not provide medium- or long-term individual support.