WATER TRAILS is a children’s pilgrimage and participatory action research project, around community stewardship for the waters. It centers around the research on memory and imagination associated with certain watersheds in the region of Barichara, Colombia, and is guided by a central question: What is needed to bring water back to life?

The main researchers will be the children. We believe something powerful can happen, when children ask that question; and we trust that when we listen to each other and the land in a no-enemy stance, we can create answers together.

Moreover, we believe these answers already exist. Not as a concept, but as future possibilities. They exist in the hope of the child, in the field of the future, and in the realm of imagination. They are very real and necessary, and, as in nature, what is necessary becomes real.

However, for such imaginations to prove true, they must be rooted in the field of memory. So part of this journey is for the water walkers to relate to place, nourish themselves from the ground of relations from where they are sustained, and in doing so, create a link to trust.

First Walk Report
Second Walk Report
Third Walk Report

Hearing memory from a no-enemy stance, is a way to anchor hope to the ground using trust and imagination – so it does not flee in its creative possibilities, but rather co-create well-being in place. We will walk the territory, listening to the people and the land, asking through memory and imagination about the waters, initially on three specific routes: Quebrada La Toma, Quebrada Limoncillo o el Garbanzo, and the third is TBA. They walks will be one or two days, where we will invite the communities associated with each watershed to join us in the walk, along with their children. We will walk for the waters together. 

At the end of each route we will create a report where we will include (as much as possible) all of our joint perceptions, as well as possible joint actions. Finally we will conclude this initial phase with a meeting of communities and walkers to dream, design and deliver actions for restoring the waters together.


Barichara is a small town (9,000) inhabitants in the northeast of Colombia. It is located at the edge of a cliff, and the end of one of the last “fingers” of the Andes Mountain Range. Strong wind currents blow from the north and the town’s most prevailing ecosystem resembles that of a tropical dry forest (although it is not quite so); with short intense rainy seasons, and often long dry summers. The native people to this land before colonization chose to jump from the cliff rather than submit to slavery. Legend has it that their bodies never touched the ground. The legacy of freedom and sovereignty is still palpable. Because of its geographic and ecosystem conditions, the equilibrium of the water here is a fine craftsmanship of cultural adaptation. Over the last 30 years, this equilibrium has been heavily degraded by monoculture and tourism, and around 70-80% of its flowing water bodies have dried. This project aims at creating the conditions and motivations to bring these waters, and all that they represent, back to life.