What is an indigenous community Life Plan

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Because of their culture, environment and completely different mindset, indigenous communities need a different and careful approach from external actors. In my opinion, this approach should focus more on facilitating the community’s own choices and actions. Allowing them to create their own future, not only empowers them, but also helps them to create a more resilient community.

In this context, I found the indigenous community Life Plan (aka Plan de Vida) to be a very good example of a practical, organic and holistic approach, owned and developed by the community itself.

What is an indigenous community Life Plan

Life Plan, is an interesting approach for indigenous communities to re-envision and reclaim their futures. It was first developed by the Misak, in Colombia, and later on adopted by hundreds of indigenous communities across South America.

Life Plan suggests more than just a plan for economic and social development. It is actually centered in the preservation of the indigenous history and culture. Although aware of the increasingly interconnected world and the need for some radical changes, indigenous communities that embrace Life Plan, tend to adapt to the western world in their own terms and pace.

Curiously in the re-envision sense, it seems to be similar to the Transition Movement, founded in UK. Where being able to (re-)imagine a better future seems an essential condition to integrate and tackle global problems in local solutions.


Back to the subject, the main Life Plan’s approach steps are:

  1. Remembering the past, where they come from and what they can learn from their ancestors. This way, they are able to analyse the present and find out their own potential for creativity and change.
  2. Create a vision of the future of the community – their own collective Utopia.
  3. Agree and commit to the goals and tasks that are necessary to achieve it. It’s easier for them to assume a commitment, because the vision was previously built upon the participation of all community members.


This approach can be simultaneously:

  • a road-map of where the community want to go;
  • a platform to defend their own core values and well-being;
  • a tool to re-create the sense of community, that seems to be at risk.

As far as Indigenous initiatives are concerned, Life Plan is quite extraordinary. Rarely have Indigenous groups linked their own cultural revival and western modern society in such a way.

It is a cultural, economic and social development plan that creates a more resilient indigenous community, and allows them to guide long term changes in order to be able to face the challenges of our globalized world.


I’ll go a bit further on future posts, but meanwhile, if you want more information and resources on indigenous community Life Plan, you can visit Life Mosaic website. Here you can find several resources, including a toolkit for Indigenous Communities and community-based and non-governmental organizations (CBOs and NGOs).

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