In November of 2003, at a meeting held in Natal, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, the first steps were taken to form a Learning Community by uniting the clusters of projects supported by the Kellogg Foundation in the Northeast of Brazil. The objective was to promote an overall reflection of the topics addressed by the projects and to create strategies of cooperation. Conceived as an ongoing building process, this community made another breakthrough at the 2nd Meeting of Youth and Local Development in the Northeast, in Gravatá, in the state of Pernambuco, Northeast Brazil, on August 16-20.
Sixty one people participated in the meeting, namely youngsters and supervisors from the Comprehensive Clusters of Projects in the region: the Alternative Technology Service (SERTA) from Pernambuco, the Friend Link Institute and the Develop Project from Ceará, the Dream Machine Forum from Rio Grande do Norte and the Young Citizen Project from Maranhão. Together with consultants from the Kellogg Foundation and its partner organizations, they discussed local development strategies involving the mobilization of youngsters, while they also had another opportunity to share their experiences from the projects, which is one of the main purposes of the Learning Community.
“The Learning Community, for us, represents a new paradigm in which we are at the same time all apprentices and all teachers,” said Abdalaziz de Moura, president of SERTA, at the opening of the meeting. Located nearby the site of the meeting, the Bacia do Goitá Alliance with Adolescents project was one of the event’s programming highlights. During one whole day, participants of the other clusters of projects visited the organization’s headquarters and the four municipalities where it operates, and they were able to see the results of the work developed in different areas, such as education and agriculture. One stage of the visit was dedicated to Ecoorgânica, the first organic product cooperative in Northeast Brazil, created from an initiative of SERTA.
Andrés Thompson, Kellogg Foundation program director in Northeast Brazil – one of the Foundation’s three priority geographic areas in Latin America -, explained that two of the main outcomes of the meeting were a strengthening of relations between the groups of projects and an active participation by youngsters. “A better quality relationship significantly increases the possibility that the projects will support each other mutually, exchanging methodologies and technologies, for example,” said Thompson.
According to him, another important development was the opportunity the participants had to learn more about the programs that comprise the clusters of projects in the region in the fields of education, sport, information technology, leadership and coaching.