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Cultural Landscapes BlogLong-term local initiatives and the importance of keeping them alive. An example from Colmenar Viejo (Spain)

Long-term local initiatives and the importance of keeping them alive. An example from Colmenar Viejo (Spain)

11 May 2016 - 08:40/by Maria Garcia Martin/Tags: local initiative, photo contest, stakeholder collaboration

Since 1987 Colmenar Viejo (Spain) organises an annual photo contest that has grown in quality and importance to reach international impact. Photographers of the standing of Enrique López-Tapia de Inés, Isabel Díaz San Vicente and Juan Tebar Carrera have participated and been awarded in this contest since its beginnings. This year, the main price has been a trip to Antarctica on a historic sailing boat; and due to the synergies built between the municipality and HERCULES (Colmenar Viejo is one of the Study Landscapes of the project) the main topic of the contest has been the landscapes of Colmenar Viejo.
Long-term local initiatives and the importance of keeping them alive. An example from Colmenar Viejo (Spain)

But it is not the prices and the names of international photographers what should catch our attention. As a member of HERCULES I have been invited by the organisers to be part of the jury. To my surprise, it turned out that within our final pre-selections for the different prices, there were photos taken by people from the village of Colmenar Viejo (of course the process of selecting the photos was anonymous, so we found out this later).

“The first years of the contest we got many photos from locals that could not compete with the national and international participants, today the panorama is completely different” explained one of the organisers. Thanks to the long-lasting effort of the organisers and promoters, the residents of Colmenar Viejo have developed a special sensitivity towards nature and landscape photos. The 26 years old photo contest has raised on them the interest for photography, building renowned photographers.

This year a new award was created in parallel to the photo contest: the award to the best idea for improving the local environment. If this new category persists, within few years Colmenar Viejo might become a referent in solutions and involvement of local actors for the protection of the local environment.

In the case of Colmenar Viejo, the persistence of the initiative is due to the collaboration between multiple sectors and stakeholders at different levels: the local cultural institution that hosts it, the support from the local administration, the sponsorship of a private company (working at an international level), the expertise of a national photographer association and this year the collaboration of an European research project.

With this post I would like to emphasize the power a local initiative might have if it persists in time and involves multi-layered collaboration. I also want to recognize the role of the organisers of such initiatives and encourage them to keep on putting their efforts on them. The organisers of the photo contest in Colmenar Viejo have probably not realized, the impact their initial idea and their perseverance might have, in the future safeguard of Colmenar Viejo’s landscapes.


Photo: the Award Jury in work.

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Geneviève Girod

11 May 2016 - 08:40

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The information and views set out in this Cultural Landscapes Blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the HERCULES project nor the European Commission.

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