Trans.MISSION II – Colombia

Pantano de Martos
Eastern Cordillera

The Colombian strand of the Trans.MISSION II collaboration between Hay Festival and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) features Colombian writer and activist Juan Cárdenas and a team of experts led by Dr Naomi Milner. Using the research work as inspiration, Juan has created a piece of creative writing to communicate the socio-ecological systems within Colombia and their response to environmental change. 

Juan Cárdenas is a writer, creative writing teacher and activist who has worked extensively with Afrocolombian and indigenous communities mapping oral traditions. He has also worked with former FARC guerrilla members and community leaders to get them to tell their stories. Cárdenas is also interested in nature and the environment and has campaigned for public policies on the matter in his native Colombia.

Naomi Millner is Lecturer in Human Geography at Bristol University is working on one of three linked research projects under The Exploring & Understanding Colombian Bio Resources programme. This programme seeks to improve understanding of socio-ecological systems in the Colombian regions of Boyacá and Cundinamarca, and their response to environmental change, including climate, land use, and social or political change; and the underpinning role and value of biodiversity in these ecosystems.

The work was launched at Hay Festival Cartegena in Colombia, 30 January–2 February 2020. Trans.MISSION II is the first international public engagement collaboration project for NERC, with new pieces of work to be launched at subsequent events in Arequipa, Peru (7–10 November 2019) and in Hay-on-Wye, Wales (21–31 May 2020). 

Trans.MISSION II is a global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences. At a time of unprecedented public interest in how human actions affect the environment, Trans.MISSION II will pair NERC researchers from Peru, Colombia and the UK with artists and storytellers in each country to create stories about ongoing research projects.

Download an illustrated transcript of 'Spiral' by Juan Cárdenas.

Watch Trans.MISSION II – Spiral It's 2049 in Colombia. Two childhood friends exchange messages across an ideological divide. One now works for the Reserve – a large scale mining operation in the Serranía de las Quinchas posing as a conservation project – while the other lives in one of the displaced communities on its fringe.