The Revolution of Proliferating Participatory Methodologies

‘Every moment of business as usual is a lost moment for making change’ (Time to Listen).  I recently read a great article written by Robert Chambers on the Participation, Power, and Social Change blog talking about the great innovations in and proliferation of participatory methodologies.  Many development professionals are coming to realize that we cannot continue with business (top-down development) as usual.  The importance of competent facilitation, self-reflexivity, and listening to and respecting those at the grassroots with whom we work are cornerstones of our Community-Based Development Certificate program and our work.  Through continuous mutual learning in the field our instructors then take what they learn and facilitate our courses in a way that everyone can share and learn from each others’ experiences while keeping up with best practices in bottom-up community development.

The Community-Based Development Certificate course calendar has been scheduled through the end of 2013.  Registration for the Spring Session I of online courses closes end of day Sunday, January 20 so register now to become a part of “the quiet revolution of proliferating Participatory Methodologies”.  Register online:  http://villageearth.org/training-and-consulting/online

New Course on Climate Change & Community Development

 

We have a problem: our planet is heating up due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This is
manifesting in different ways and all around the Earth: weather patterns are changing, desertification is
expanding, sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acid, and many species are on the brink of
extinction. The levels of human-produced greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increased significantly
since the offset of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s. The global atmospheric concentration of
CO2 increased from a pre-industrial value of about 280ppm to 379ppm in 2005 (IPCC Fourth Assessment
Report, 2007). The average global temperature rose about 0.8 °C higher than its pre-industrial level. In an
effort to mitigate climate change, economists, governments, corporations and environmentalists have
proposed, since early 1990s, the use of ‘offsetting’ mechanisms to help polluting industries to compensate
for their CO2 emissions by either expanding or protecting forests somewhere else. The idea of offsetting
industrial carbon emissions through biological carbon sequestration and storage has been fiercely debated
since it was first proposed. Many NGOs, developing country governments, and local communities oppose
the concept for a variety of reasons. Based on this idea of carbon offsetting, REDD schemes were created.
The idea of REDD was first put on the international agenda at COP 13 in Bali (2007). Some see REDD as
one of the best mechanism to help combat climate change, whereas others remain skeptical to their
efficiency and even see them as dangerous.

This is why Village Earth has begun offering a new course Climate Change and Community Development: the Impact of Carbon Offsetting Schemes.  This course will first run January 25 – March 1, 2013 with registration ending January 20.  Click the link for more information or to register.

NEW TOURISM & DEVELOPMENT ONLINE COURSE

Globally, tourism initiatives receive considerable public funding and private investment as a means of economically developing low-income communities. NGOs are taking on a growing role in local tourism initiatives, as well as voluntourism, in hopes of injecting capital into the communities where they work. Amongst proponents, tourism is seen as a mechanism for local communities to capitalize on assets such as the natural environment and cultural heritage. Yet critiques often note that tourism can be destructive, elite and at times oppressive. In light of this critical lens, this course will explore both successful and problematic tourism initiatives. The course will critically examine the nature of tourism, its impacts on communities and considerations that must be taken into account in order for a tourism project to have the desired impact of development without destroying.  The course is now registering through October 14.  Click the link for more information or to register:  http://villageearth.org/training-and-consulting/online/tourism-and-development

New Online Course: Community-driven Dispute Resolution

Village Earth is offering a new course, Community-driven Dispute Resolution, as a part of the Colorado State University Community-based Development Online Certificate Program.   This course will cover community mediation, facilitation, collaborative problem solving, conflict resolution, conflict transformation and even conflict transcendence. Looking more closely at these processes and practices, we will explore their social and cultural significance and applicability in various communities. We will explore the power dynamics of disputes and their contexts and how we seek to find our own center in relation to such disputes. The course will be largely issue-focused, with an eye toward working with indigenous communities and in other sensitive cultural contexts.  This course runs 5-weeks with the next session running July 13 – August 17, 2012.  The deadline to register is July 8.  Register online:  http://villageearth.org/training-and-consulting/online/community-driven-dispute-resolution

The course instructor, Lee Scharf, has worked as a mediator in community mediation, peer mediation in public school systems, court-ordered mediation within tribal, federal and community mediation contexts, has conducted large national facilitations and worked in environmental conflict resolution in all media. She has a Masters’ degree in Environmental Conflict Resolution and over twenty years’ experience as a mediator working with tribal nations. Ms. Scharf’s environmental conflict resolution taxonomy and annotated bibliography was published by the American Bar Association in 2002. She worked for the Environmental Protection Agency from 1991 until 2006, first in the Superfund Enforcement program and then in the Office of General Counsel in Washington, DC. From 2000 until 2006 Ms. Scharf was the National Tribal Mediation Lead for EPA through EPA’s Conflict and Prevention and Resolution Center. She is a Coordination Committee member of the Native Dispute Resolution program for the United States Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution. Ms Scharf is currently an Associate Fellow at Colorado State University’s Center for Collaborative Conservation in Fort Collins, Colorado, and is a member of the Executive Advisory Committee for this Center.

For more information:  http://villageearth.org/training-and-consulting/online/community-driven-dispute-resolution
You may also contact the instructor for more information:  [email protected]

Participatory Monitoring & Evaluation in Romania & Moldova

Village Earth has just recently completed a successful Participatory Monitoring & Evaluation two-day training event in Bucharest, Romania with IREX-Washington DC, IREX-Moldova, and Romani CRISS, a Romanian human rights NGO.  During the training, participants learned the theory and methods of participatory monitoring & evaluation with a specific focus on the Most Significant Change technique.  Together with these local NGOs, Village Earth traveled to communities in the Romanian countryside to do a mid-term evaluation of the Youth Civic Engagement and Dialogue program on which the local NGOs have been working the past year.  The project has brought to together Roma and non-Roma youth to work on school and community service projects in an effort to reduce tension between ethnic groups within these two countries.  The Most Significant Change technique was used along with participatory video where students in the youth groups filmed each others’ significant change stories.  We were able to elicit very rich data using these methods and analysis was done in the field with local staff.  Village Earth has now traveled onto Moldova to continue the technique with rural Moldovan schools that are engaged in the same project as well.  It has been a great combination to do a training followed by directly using what was learned in the field.  A great learning experience has been had by all.

If you are interested in a similar training / consultation for your organization, please contact Training Director Kristina Pearson [email protected] for more information on Village Earth’s training and consultation services.  http://villageearth.org/training-and-consulting

Village Earth / CSU Online Courses Move to new RamCT Blackboard Starting Summer 2012

New RamCT Blackboard goes live for summer 2012

CSU-Village Earth courses move to the new RamCT Blackboard for all online coursework at the start of the summer term, June 1, 2012.   The current RamCT system will no longer be used for teaching after this date.

We hope that this new platform will be easier for students to access and navigate from all over the world.

Click the links for more information about the Online Community-based Development Certificate Program or to register for upcoming summer courses.

Learn How To Use The New System – It’s Different! 
For previous students in our program that would like to familiarize themselves with changes to the system or for new students looking to get a head start on understanding the course platform check out the Blackboard On Demand Learning Center for Students:  http://ondemand.blackboard.com/students.htm 

Questions?

See the RamCT Help web site

New AT Library Discount Application Form

Check out the new graduated scale of discounts that Village Earth can offer to non-profit organizations for the Appropriate Technology Library and orders originating in certain countries according to the UN’s Human Development Index:  Appropriate Technology Library Discount Application

We hope this way we will make the Appropriate Technology Library available to more people around the world who can use it as a valuable resource.   Order the complete library or just the DVD or CDs (minimum 4 CD order) that you need.  Just fill out the application and we will respond as soon as possible.  If you have any further questions, please e-mail [email protected]

Grassroots Scholarship Winner

Village Earth is proud to announce that we have selected a winner for our first VE Grassroots Scholarship to attend one of our online community-based development training courses. Grace Wairimu Ndungu is 36 years old and works in Kenya for an organization called Youth Action for Rural Development (YARD). As a project officer, she works on their orphans and vulnerable children project. With over six years of experience in community work, she holds a diploma in community development and several certificates in child-related courses and HIV management. Most of the beneficiaries she works with are either affected or infected by HIV. She focuses on children as the point of entry to working with the entire household. These beneficiaries are identified with the help of community members, teachers and leaders. You can read more about Grace’s organization here.

While working in the community, Grace has come across cases of gender disparity in development. For this reason, she has decided to attend Village Earth’s Gender Equity in Development to learn more about addressing some of these issues.

If you are interested in learning how to sponsor a grassroots community organizer or aid worker like Grace to attend a training course through the VE Grassroots Scholarship program, please contact Jamie Way at [email protected]

Appropriate Technology Library End of Year Sale

From now through the end of 2011, we are offering a half-off discount on the complete Appropriate Technology (AT) Library on DVD or CD-ROM. Buy the complete library of 1,050 books for only $249 – that’s less than 25 cents a book for the most comprehensive, compact, and cost effective appropriate technology and sustainable living resource in the world! The AT Library contains the full text and images from over 1050 of the best books dealing with all areas of do-it-yourself and village-level technology. It is portable and easy to use on 28 CDs or 2 DVDs.

Use the Google Checkout option in the shopping cart and the Coupon Code “2011discount” on the website or call 1-970-237-3002 ext. 503 to order by phone.

Single Course Scholarship Competition Now Open!

Thanks to a generous donation by Audrey Faulkner, Village Earth is now offering a scholarship for one free online course. The scholarship is only open to potential participants that have no possibility of paying for their course on their own. With our limited resources, we would like to support the most innovative project work being done by someone with the most need. If you believe that you fit this description and are working on an exciting new project, please tell us more in the format below. (Note: Any applications exceeding the stated lengths or not following any of the stated rules will not be considered.)

1) In less than 175 words, describe the project you are working on. (Include who you work with, what your goal is, where your project is located, etc.) Please also include a web address if your project has some online presence.

2) In less than 100 words, tell us why you believe you and your project would benefit from a scholarship to one of our training courses. (Here you may include responses to questions like: How our training would help move your project forward? What challenges are you facing and how do you believe we could help?)

Please send applications to [email protected] with the title “Scholarship Application” by November 30th. We will announce a winner in the following newsletter.

Village Earth to Announce Four New Courses

Village Earth is pleased to announce that we will be offering four new courses over the next four sessions! Next session, we will be offering Community-Based Forest Management for the first time. This course is a must-take for practitioners looking to utilize collaborative methods that allow communities to manage of their own resources.

In addition, Village Earth will soon be offering courses in the areas of mediation, resource management and social media utilization. Please check back often to learn the details of these exciting new courses!

New Course on Challenges Facing Small Scale Farmers

In order to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the poverty alleviation programs for smallholder producers will have to be as effective as possible and attract the active participation of as many beneficiaries as possible. A new Village Earth course Challenges in Smallholder Agriculture will evaluate how this might be accomplished by looking at some of the subtle factors that can enhance or hinder the overall effectiveness of programs benefiting small scale agricultural producers. During this process, the course will challenge some of the fundamental premises upon which the development effort has been based. For example, it will investigate the caloric energy smallholders can access relative to what they are expected to exert. This may have a major impact on the number of hours they can be expected to work each day, as well as alter estimates for how many days it will take for them to complete tasks associated with implementing development programs. Finally the class will evaluate the mechanism through which assistance is funneled to smallholders and the role the community as a whole can play in the effort. To register for this or another Village Earth course, please visit our online training courses.

Village Earth Offers New Course in Community-Based Forest Management

In recent years, more prominence has been given to the potential of community-based use, management and conservation of natural resources as a way to sustainably use and conserve natural resources, while improving the livelihoods of rural people. Community-Based Forest Management has been hailed by advocates for its effectiveness in promoting conservation and maintaining traditional livelihoods, while simultaneously developing local economies. For these reasons, Village Earth has developed an online course on the topic, as we believe that it will help  development practitioners in applying this innovative and respectful approach to resource management.

In the past, forest policy was based on the notion that indigenous people using the forests were ignorant and destructive. However, many practitioners and experts are now realizing that these local communities are actually the most interested parties in the sustainable management of their forests, given that it is their source of life. Additionally, local communities are often top experts on the forest ecosystem. Using these concepts, community-based conservation (CBC) approaches aim to involve local people in the management of natural resources and to adjust management practices to their needs. This course will review the scope and significance of CBC, as well as the best practices in the support and establishment of such initiatives. If you are interested in joining GSLL 1520 Community-Based Forest Management (which will run for its first time starting June 24, 2011) please visit our website for more details. You can also review our other course offerings in our growing program.

Training Iraq’s Young Leaders

In late July, Village Earth provided two days of curriculum for college age students from Iraq. The diverse set of approximately 20 Iraqi students was selected from all over their country to take part in a summer exchange program.
Colorado State University was one of only two universities chosen to host students. The other was the University of Southern Indiana. The Colorado curriculum focused on civic engagement and social advocacy. Village Earth provided a four-day training on community mobilization and building support through proper framing of your message. The group used this training to generate their Facebook page, Iraqis Will.
Beside increasing cultural understanding within Iraq and between the US and Iraq, the leadership exchange program helped students design action plans for projects that they will implement upon their return to the country. This is the second year that Village Earth has provided training to young Iraqi leaders.

VE acts as consultant to the Chicago Field Museum

Last April, Village Earth was invited by the Chicago-based Field Museum’s Environment, Culture and Conservation Division (ECCo) to facilitate a number of workshops with indigenous Shipibo and Kakataibo communities in the Peruvian Amazon. Specifically, Village Earth was asked to help organize women artisans in these communities to form artisan committees as part of the communities’ “Quality of Life Plans”.

These quality of life plans are part of ECCo’s conservation efforts to protect the Cordillera Azul National Park in the central Peruvian Amazon and its surrounding buffer zone. As a part of the conservation strategy of the buffer zone, ECCo and its local partners have developed quality of life plans with each community to maintain cultural autonomy and sustainable livelihoods in the face of intensifying pressure from extractive industries. Within these plans, each community has determined their  priorities for community well-being. Like so many of the other indigenous communities Village Earth has worked with in the Peruvian Amazon, issues like artisan cooperative development and clean water were noted as community priorities. It is hoped that alternative economic development projects like these will bring sustainable sources of  much needed income to communities and provide an alternative to the traditional extractive industries which threaten the conservation of the park and its buffer zone.

Because of Village Earth’s experience in this region of the Amazon, they were hired as consultants to facilitate the artisans women’s workshops within the communities.

The workshops were very successful in that the women analyzed their situation and came up with plans together to organize themselves. ECCo’s local partner, Peruvian NGO CIMA (Center for the Conservation, Research, and Management of Natural Areas) and the indigenous federations that represent these communities, are providing guidance and insuring that the artisan committees are continuing to receive training in business development and connection to markets.

As Village Earth has seen over the past few years, artisan cooperative development has been a successful way for women to bring more income into their families, while at the same time continuing to value their cultural traditions as expressed in their arts and crafts. So far the project has been successful due to the dedication of the CIMA extensionists and tecnicos from the indigenous federations that continue to support the committees.
For more information about our training and consulting services, please visit our website. For information about our own projects in the Peruvian Amazon, please visit our project website and blog.

New Course in Disaster Management

In response to our course participants’ interest in disaster management, we have developed a new five-week online course entitled Grassroots Participatory Disaster Management. In light of the many recent natural disasters, we feel this course will help expand our students’ expertise by understanding participatory methods of working in high-stress, disaster situations. Please visit our website to review this and other online training offerings.

Distaster Mitigation Course Now Open

For sometime now, we have been receiving requests to develop new five-week online courses on the topics of disaster mitigation and renewable energy as applied at the village level. We are glad to report that this upcoming session (starting June 4th) we will now be offering “Community-Based Disaster Mitigation.” We expect high enrollment, so enroll early while space remains. Registration closes on May 28th. Please visit our IISD training website to review other online training offerings.

In-Person Trainings for Engineers Without Borders and Others

In an effort to fulfill our mandated role of educating others on the Village Earth Approach to sustainable community-based development, we have recently conducted numerous trainings with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapters from around the country. The two-day, in-person courses focus on a number of areas essential to the successful implementation of projects. 

In order to create successful projects, we must ask ourselves, “What is it about a project that makes it successful and sustainable? What structural, social, or even psychological barriers inhibit or prevent individuals and groups from getting involved and working together for change?” In this training we focus on a model for how EWB chapters can fit into the overall process of community change, focusing on the relationship between local partner organizations, EWB Chapter organizations and communities. We explore the concept of appropriate technology as both the “hard” physical technologies, but also the “soft” social-organizational technology that ensures equitable distribution and long-term sustainability. This training draws on the theories and methods of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, whose work has guided some of the most successful development and education programs around the globe, including the Orangi Pilot Project in Bangladesh, the NAAM movement in Burkina Faso and the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka, among others.

These courses have been very well-received thus far. One student told us, “To put it mildly, this course has changed the way I view myself in the world. I have no doubt that it will affect how I conduct myself as a member of a team and as a leader. I am especially interested to see how it affects my interactions with my existing social groups of work, family, school and friends.”

So far, UC Santa Barbara, University of Illionois Champaign-Urbana, Rutgers University, EWB Northeast Regional Chapters, Colorado Springs Professional EWB Chapter, Princeton, Hope College, University of Michigan and the Colorado State University EWB Chapter have participated in our specialized training. If you are interested in scheduling an EWB training or a specialized training for your group, please contact us by replying to this email.

New Course on Community-Based Food Systems

The cultivation, preparation, distribution, and consumption of food are rich processes that shape how we organize ourselves socially, economically, and politically. Control over food systems at the community level is central to self-determination and sustainability. In this seminar, students will learn about various approaches to building community-based food systems and movements for food justice around the world. This seminar will evaluate successful efforts at food system relocalization and the protection of community food resources, as well as the factors that threaten these efforts. With a special consideration for the needs of indigenous, marginalized, low-income, and migrant communities, students will develop a conceptual toolkit and set of resources that will allow them to assess the limitations and possibilities of their own community’s food system. This course will help to support community-based food systems efforts by creating linkages between students, information and resources. It will be taught by Teresa Mares, who is currently a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at the University of Washington. To participate in this course, enroll now.