This profile was prepared when Patricia Ariza was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Patricia Ariza has developed an innovative program that permits the most excluded sectors of society to dialogue with the larger society and design and implement their own creative solutions to social problems. This movement involves a network of volunteers comprised of artists, teachers, members of marginal social groups, government workers, and citizen organizations, who work together to ensure that excluded groups are incorporated into community development programs. Through extensive and systematic workshops, members of excluded groups regain their self-esteem and values. They work together to create artistic presentations and cultural events which are performed before the general public. Parallel to this, Patricia's program taps into the collective imagination of the people who live and experience social problems on a daily basis. Based on this firsthand knowledge, the groups are encouraged to develop their own solutions to the problems of poverty, lack of infrastructure, violence, and other social ills. Previously excluded groups learn how to raise awareness of issues facing their communities, to participate in public debate, and to dialogue with society at large.