Empowering Youth Cambodia: Using Sports to Develop Future Leaders in Cambodia

girls-sports

Using Sports to Develop Future Leaders in Cambodia:

Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC) has had great success in developing young leaders from marginalized backgrounds that are now helping to build their country back and help others overcome barriers. To nurture and develop young people requires a holistic approach, and so one of EYC’s many unique offerings is a sports programs for their students. EYC’s sports include cycling, football (soccer), yoga, ultimate frisbee, swimming and dancing; each activity providing opportunities for teamwork, physical development, and fun. EYC has plans to focus on greater numbers of girls participating. Please consider making a donation to support these amazing young people and have your impact grow. https://www.villageearth.org/global-affiliates/empowering-youth-cambodia

EYC works in four slum areas in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and together with the community, we empower vulnerable young people through education, mentoring and direct support.  www.eycambodia.org

Annual Report from Mila Yatan Pika Pte Oyate Okolakiciye (Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization)

 

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This report is for the period of July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.    Mila Yatan Pika Pte Oyate Okolakiciye (Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization) continues to provide a home/pasture for members of the Pte Oyate (buffalo nation) and the community continues to reap the benefits in its of spiritual and physical nourishment from them.

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Our relatives standing with a little one.  8/01/15

 

July 2015

The Wakanyeja Woapiye Wicoti  (Children’s Healing Camp) was held in Porcupine, SD on July 1 – 5.   Enrollment was set for twenty-five (25) children between the ages of 0 – 11 years but this number was quickly surpassed after an overwhelming response by parents, grandparents and guardians.  A total of fifty-one (51) children participated in the camp activities with thirty-eight (38) camping in the tipis during the camp period.  Children received a Wopakinte (spiritual purification) with some receiving a Lakota spiritual name.  Other activities included horseback riding, trips to Evans Plunge, a large, in-door swimming pool in Hot Springs, SD and to Mato Paha (Bear Butte), Sturgis, SD to walk to the top of the sacred butte to offer prayers.

We offer our deep appreciation and gratitude to all those who volunteered and offered their services, including the Students Shoulder to Shoulder participants whose organization is based in Denver, CO, and the Wisconsin based group Gunderson-Lutheran Medical Center.  We also acknowledge the tunkasila (grandfather) and unci (grandmother) spirits and the two wakan iyeska (interpreters of the sacred) for their teachings and for the healings received by the participants and the volunteers.

 

August 2015

The Lakota Wikoskalaka Yuwitapi  (Lakota Gathering of Young Women) was held in Porcupine, SD on August 10 – 15.  The camp offered traditional teachings related to becoming a young woman.  A number of them received their Lakota spiritual name and participated in the womanhood ceremony with the help of the Wakan Iyeska (Interpreter of the Sacred) Hmuya Mani and other women volunteers.  Other activities included horseback riding, talking circles,  setting up tipis, and a walk to the top of Mato Paha (Bear Butte), Sturgis, SD to take spiritual offerings.

 

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Journey to Mato Paha (Bear Butte) Sturgis,

 

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Young women  resting on way to top of Bear Butte

 

 

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Communicating with relative, the horse, and preparing to ride

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  Volunteers and some of young women participants

Awards received in various categories for their work in making the Young Women’s Gathering a success.  National Indian Health Board conference, Washington, DC, September, 2015.

 

September 2015

The caretaker continued to make weekly checks on the buffalo to ensure their well-being.

The suicides on the Pine Ridge Reservation have increased since January.  We continue to make our spiritual offerings and will work to assist the young people and their families by continuing to offer the healing camps for the children, the young women and the young boys and young men.

 

October 2015

Knife Chief Buffalo Nation co- sponsored a conference “Ending Trans-generational Grief in Native Families” on October 8, 9, 10 in Rapid City, SD with approximately 35 participants.

The conference was in partnership with the Tiospaye Sakowin Education and Healing Center.  This Center is comprised of four groups – Tasunke Wakan Okolakiciye (Medicine Horse Society) promotes Lakota lifeways with emphasis on Lakota language revitalization and healing; Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society promotes re-establishing and strengthening relationship with the buffalo nation; Oaye Luta Okolakiciye (Healing Journey Society) promotes healing from substance abuse/chemical dependency; and Sung Nagi Okolakiciye (Horse Spirit promotes strengthening relationship with the horse nation.  These four organizations work together for the healing of the Lakota people.

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November 2015

We co-sponsored the Koskalaka Wica Yuwita Pi Wicoti (Young Boys/Men) Gathering Camp on November 6, 8, 9, held in Porcupine, SD.  Details of the event can be found on the website (same name).  This Camp is the second of two held in 2015 due to the great need of healing for our young males.  The first Camp was held in June.   We are so thankful and appreciative of all who volunteer their time, energy and resources so that the young people have this great opportunity.

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We worked on securing an agreement and partnership with the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority for the lease of pasture for the buffalo.

 

December 2015

Knief Chief Buffalo Nation received a gift of 17 buffalo from the Devyn Strong Estate in California.  The buffalo were transported back and transitioned into the pasture.

We co-sponsored a conference on December 16, 17, 18 entitled “Utilization of Culture, Language and Lifeways to Impact our Children’s Education” as part of the Tiospaye Sakowin Education and Healing Center.  Conference was held in Rapid City, SD with approximately 30 participants.

The Conference was intended for service providers and those in the helping field, education, school staff, mental health, counseling, social services, social workers, youth program staff, and juvenile detention staff.

Knife Chief Buffalo Nation hosted a planning meeting after the Conference to plan for events and strategies to continue the work.

Will co-facilitate cultural learning sessions for the community on the sacred ceremony of the Wi Wanyang Wacipi (Sundance) and the Inipi (purification/renewal ceremony) .
Will begin the planning and preparation for the Manhood Ceremony to be held in the spring.
Planning and preparation is in  process for the following camps:
Young Men’s Camp – May 28 – 30

Children’s Camp – July 6 – 10

Young Women’s Camp – July 28 – 31

We are in the process of developing a partnership to help establish a Girls Preparatory School in Porcupine, SD on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The caretaker continues to check on our relatives, the buffalo, two times per week depending on the weather and road accessibility.

 

January 2016

The Tiospaye Sakowin Education and Healing Center partnering societies met on January 24 and January 31 to collaborate on planning and scheduling upcoming activities.  A description of the societies within the Tiospaye was given in the October 2015 report.

The Knife Chief Tiospaye began the one-year mourning period following the loss of a beloved family member.   Sister Ardis Iron Cloud began her journey to the spirit world on January 11, 2016.  She was a co-founder of the Knife Chief Buffalo Project which began the development process in collaboration with the American Friends Service Committee to return buffalo to the land.  The first buffalo were placed in the pasture in 2001.

The Tiospaye Sakowin Education and Healing Center support the establishment of a Girls Preparatory School in Porcupine, SD.  Plans are underway to open the school in August, 2016 and to begin with sixth and seventh grades.

 

February 2016

Caretaker continued to make checks on the buffalo, pasture, and food and water supply twice during the week with weather permitting.

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March  2016

During this month two activities were held.  A Lakota traditional teaching was held on March 14 by Hmuya Mani, Interpreter for the Sacred.

A sacred site visit was made to Hinhan Kaga Paha (Imitates Owl Mountain) aka Harney Peak in the Blacks Hills of South Dakota.  A successful initiative was undertaken and led by two Lakota men to change the name from Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak.  Harney Peak was named after Army General William S. Harney.  Black Elk is a famous “holy man” as referred to by historians.  It is known that he climbed and stood on top of the Peak to do a vision quest, one of the seven sacred Lakota ceremonies.  (Note:  the Rapid City Journal reported on August 12, 2016, that the Federal Board of Geographic Names voted 12 to 0 in favor of the name change.)

Every year Native Americans from across South Dakota climb to the top of the mountain in March to take offerings of prayers and food to the grandmother and grandfather spirits.

 

April 2016

Knife Chief Board members attended the Oglala Sioux Parks & Recreation Authority (OSPRA) Board meeting on April 12 to negotiate an amendment to the pasture lease which was approved.

 

May 2016

On May 14 an annual visit was made to Pe Sla, one of seven sacred sites located in the Black Hills.  Offerings of food and prayers were taken to the site.

On May 18, a young man completed the manhood ceremony by making offerings of prayer and killing a buffalo.  The meat is used for sacred ceremonies and shared with people who receive blessings from this.

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Grandfather, father and brother support their relative (center) in the manhood ceremony.

In collaboration with other societies within Tiospaye Sakowin Education & Healing Center, Knife Chief Buffalo Nation supported the “Koskalaka WicaYuwita Pi” (Gathering of Young Women) on May 26 -29, 2016.

 

June 2016

On June 4 a trip was made with girls and young women to dig and gather timpsila (wild turnip) used in preparing sacred foods for ceremonies.

A sacred site visit was made to Pte He Hota (aka Devil’s Tower) on June 18.  Offerings of food and prayers were made.

 

Plans for Future Events

Final plans were made and work was done in preparation for the arrival of the Students Shoulder -to -Shoulder (SSS) group on July 04.  The SSS, the international school of global citizenship partners with the following NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations): Bolivia, Cambodia, Detroit, Kenya, Nepal, New Orleans, Nicaragua, Tibet and Pine Ridge  Knife Chief Buffalo Nation).   The Knife Chief Buffalo Nation collaborated with SSS staff during the year to provide a variety of experiences for high school age students from across the U.S.  One experience will be for the group to assist with the Children’s Healing Camp scheduled from July 6 – 10, 2016.

Preparations were made for the Young Women’s Camp which is scheduled for July 28 – 31, 2016.  The Young Men’s Camp will be held in October or November, 2016.

 

Conclusion 

This has been a year of challenges.  The Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization has experienced the loss of family members – two brother/cousins in October and November, and a sister in January. On the Pine Ridge Reservation, many families, extended relatives and friends have been impacted by the many suicide attempts, and by the completed suicides.

As of this writing, the Pine Ridge Reservation has also seen five deaths of young people since August 2016 due to violence, two were shot and killed by non-Indians; another two shot and allegedly killed by tribal member(s); and another person died as a result of being beaten.   The loss of a life due to violence is so sad but also so heartbreaking when young ones are the victims.  In July, 2016 a two-year old child was beaten and died as a result of injuries. The tribal council terminated three judges due to the situation which led to his death.  In a more recent case, two young children ages 4 and 5 years old were found in extreme conditions – described as “nearly starved to death.”  They were airlifted out and remain in a hospital off the Reservation.  Tribal official and various program personnel have met and are attempting to address these situations.

With all this in mind, it is evident that so much more must be done now to help with healing the people so that we will not continue to carry the burden of trauma and place this trauma on the tawacin (mind), tacan (body) and nagi (spirit) of the young and on the generations to come.

The sacred teachings received from our relatives, the buffalo nation, can help us to live in harmony and in a healthy lifestyle if we follow the teachings.  The Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization (KCBNO) will continue to participate in the reciprocal relationship with the buffalo nation, and will continue to work in partnership with other societies and organizations to host the children’s camp, the young men’s camp and the young women’s camp.  The relationships made with them continue thorough out the year and not just during the camp days,

We extend a heartfelt appreciation to the people who support our efforts whether it be financially, physically or spiritually.  Your support is truly appreciated and we especially appreciate the Tunkasila (spiritual entities) for their continued support and guidance.  We also acknowledge the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) for what they inspire in us and for their teachings, i.e., protection of the young, conservation of the land and the strength and fortitude to endure whatever is placed in our path.  Lila wopila tanka! (We thank you all very much).

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Email:  knifechiefbuffalonation@gmail.com

Telephone:  605-441-2914, 605-407-0091

Website:  www.knifechiefbuffalonation.org

or www.villageearth.org look for Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization under Global Affiliate.

 

 

Help VE Affiliate “Maloca” Support the Indigenous Kamaiura of Brazil Relocate Their Village To Mitigate Impacts of Climate Change

readytowork-2Village Earth Affiliate “Maloca” is seeking funds on the Crowdrise fundraising platform to “Help an indigenous Kamaiurá village move in order to combat climate change effects and survive“.
Please consider supporting this cause. 
The soil around the Kamaiura village suffer because of change in microclimate (dur to deforestation around Xingu Park) and a rather big Kamaiura population. The waters of the lake that feeds the Kamaiura are low and do not give enough fish (also due to changes in climate). The Kamaiura suffered from hunger this year – their manioc crops, their staple food, died three times this year. 
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The Kamaiurá have a solution
The chief of the Kamaiurá, Kotok, is very concerned about the future of his people and he decided to act: he will move from his Kamaiurá village and open a new village on a piece of land where his ancestors used o live a few generations ago. This move will reduce the stress on the environment around the current Kamaiurá village and will ensure maintenance of livelihoods for all Kamaiurá people. Splitting from the main village and creating a new one is a big deal (like splitting a country in two), but this is their own solution to ensuring the whole population will have access to enough food for the years to come.
If we get enough funds, the money will get to the Kamaiura in mid-November and they can start working on opening the new village. Spread the word, spread the love and … support the cause!
Thank you so much!
Luminita

Event: Linking Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods in High Biodiversity-Poverty Hotspots | Oct. 27th, Fort Collins, Co.

conservation-and-biodiversity-panel

Join us October 27th from 5pm – 6:30 at Avogadros Number, 605 S. Mason Street in Fort Collins, Colorado where Village Earth Executive Director will serve on a panel hosted by Trees, Water, & People to discuss linking conservation and sustainable livelihoods in high biodiversity-poverty hotspots

 

Moderator:

Gemara Gifford, Development Director at Trees, Water, & People

Gemara Gifford is Trees, Water & People’s Director of Development. Gem raises funds and develops projects for TWP’s International and National programs with an emphasis on biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods. Her graduate research in the Highlands of Guatemala aimed to identify practices that optimize bird conservation and the ability of local communities to meet their nutritional and economic needs, and she is now beginning to replicate this model within TWP’s projects in Central Honduras. Gem brings to TWP her extensive background in wildlife conservation, community-based development, and a commitment to working with marginalized communities, critters, and habitats in        the US and Latin America. She completed her M.S. in Natural Resources at Cornell University as a Gates Millennium Scholar, and her B.S. in Zoology at Colorado State University as a Distinguished First Generation Student Scholar.


Panelists:

Sebastian Africano, International Director at Trees, Water & People

Sebastian Africano is the International Director at Trees, Water & People (TWP), which he first joined in 2005 as a Marketing Intern for TWP’s clean cookstove program in Honduras. He joined TWP full-time in 2009 and currently manages all macro aspects of our International Programs, including business development, partnerships and program strategy.  He has a BS in International Business and Marketing from Penn State University, and is looking forward to receiving his MBA from Colorado State University (CSU) in May 2017.  Additionally he supports several CSU programs in the College of Business (Executive Education and Entrepreneurship) and the Warner College of Natural Resources (Center for Collaborative Conservation, CLTL Master’s Program).  


Robin Reid: Director at the Center for Collaborative Conservation

Robin Reid is the Director of the Center for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University.  As Director, she oversees all the CCC’s programs and staff. She is also a Professor in the Dept. of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability and Senior Research Scientist in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at CSU. As faculty, she teaches courses in collaborative conservation and sustainability, and helps discover new ways to implement collaborative research-for-action for people and the     environment in the drylands of East Africa, Asia and North America. 


David Bartecchi: Executive Director, Village Earth

David Bartecchi is the Executive Director of Village Earth, a Fort Collins-based not-for-profit organization that provides training and consulting to the aid and relief community including an online Certificate Program in Sustainable Community Development through CSU Online. Village Earth also manages a Global Affiliate program that provides organizational support to 20 grassroots and intermediary organizations in 14 different countries. David has spent the past 18 years working primarily with Native American communities to reclaim their lands from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Range Unit Leasing Program and with indigenous communities in Peru and Ecuador.


Marcela Velasco, Associate Professor, Colorado State University – Political Science

Marcela is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Colorado State University. Her areas of specialization include Latin American Politics, social movements, environmental politics, and development politics. Her research is on Colombian indigenous and Afro-Colombian organizations and how they shape local politics.


Brett Bruyere, Director, Conservation Learning Through Leadership Graduate Program

Brett’s teaching and research addresses environmental communication and community-based conservation, often in a context of developing world settings. He also serves as the Director of the department’s Conservation Leadership through Learning graduate program, and is the founder of Samburu Youth Education Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to educational access in the northern region of Kenya.


Rina Hauptfeld, PhD Candidate, Colorado State University

Rina Hauptfeld is a current doctoral student in the GDPE and HDNR department. As a CCC Fellow her project is focused on partnering with the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF) and the Filipino Citizen Science Network to take advantage of citizen science momentum while giving practitioners tools to sustain work towards community based conservation.

Better Decision-making Through Community Mapping in Mongolia | October 26, 12pm. CSU Morgan Library

mapping-in-process

Village Earth and the Center for Collaborative Conservation are hosting a very special presentation on community-based mapping and GIS by  Enkhtungalag Chuluunbaatar from the Ger Communty Mapping Center based-in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia. This presentation will take place from 11:30am to 1pm, October 26th at the Morgan Library Event Hall on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Enkhtungalag Chuluunbaatar

Abstract: Ulaanbaatar, capital city of Mongolia is home to almost half of the country’s population, in which more than 60% live in the ger area. Centralized administrative power, rapid urbanization, economic and political instability calls for a stronger civil society with a vision for long-term, sustainable, and inclusive development. Ger Community Mapping Center sees community mapping as one of the tools to inform and empower local communities and the general public to promote participatory decision-making. Community mapping draws on the implicit knowledge within local communities on everyday issues with long-term consequences.

This presentation will take place from 11:30am to 1pm, October 26th at the Morgan Library on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Co-sponsored by Village Earth and

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Tourism “business as usual” is Broken: Reflections on the Global Tourism Industry

ethical issues with tourism

By Cynthia Ord, Tourism and Development Online Course Instructor

Tues Nov 8 is an important date for Americans – the federal election will determine our new president. Meanwhile, across the pond in London, it’s also a big day for the global tourism community. Nov 8 will mark the 10th annual World Responsible Tourism Day, celebrated as part of World Travel Market (WTM), one of the biggest annual trade shows of the industry.

At face value, the WTM trade show looks a lot like “business as usual”. In a huge conference center, reps from big-name travel brands network with public tourism boards and deep-pocketed destination marketing organizations (DMOs, in travel-speak). Execs strike deals. Thought leaders deliver keynotes. PR agents pitch puff pieces to the travel media elite. Costumed “Mayans” from the Guatemala booth and “Carnival” dancers from the Brazil booth parade around the corporate suits in a charade of authenticity.

But tourism “business as usual” is broken.

Only a fraction of tourism dollars reach the destinations themselves. The quality of service jobs created for locals is low. Overcrowding degrades the travel experience. Tension flares up between hosts and visitors. Biodiversity suffers. Climate change alters destinations. These are just few of the challenges we face as the runaway global travel industry speeds up to 2 billion annual tourists spending $2 trillion yearly by 2030.¹

Take a deeper look at the WTM and, fortunately, you’ll also find a group that faces these challenges head-on. They organize the Responsible Tourism Day events. I’ll be spending Nov 8 at the WTM learning and celebrating on that bright side of the trade show. Here are a few highlights from the World Responsible Tourism Day schedule that I’m looking forward to:

Responsible Tourism Awards
Out of 13 finalists, five awards will be granted for the following categories:
Best accommodation for responsible employment
Best contribution to wildlife conservation
Best innovation by a tour operator
Best for poverty reduction and inclusion
Best responsible tourism campaign
An overall winner will also be announced.

I’ve spent countless consulting hours this past year researching all the different responsible tourism awards schemes out there, and the WTM award is arguably the most illustrious and competitive. This is one election whose candidates I can really get excited about. Sure to be a glamorous affair!

Keynote Speaker Doug Lansky
Doug Lansky, travel writer, tourism industry advisor, and author of the thought-provoking new visual book TRAVEL: The Guide, takes us on a journey to find the Holy Grail of tourism: sustainable, profitable, and authentic travel.

Captivity, Wildlife and Tourism
Over the last year increasing concern has been expressed about the use of wildlife in tourism with campaigns focused on elephants, lions and orcas. Three panelists will consider these campaigns and reflect on how successful they have been.

This topic is near to my heart, as I spent several months in Thailand this past year examining the thorny issue of elephants in tourism. I compiled a guidebook on the subject called Elephants in Asia, Ethically: Humane Experiences with Asia’s Sacred Animal. Several of my collaborators on the book will be presenting at this discussion panel.

Other panel discussions on the Responsible Tourism agenda include:

  • Responsibility and resilience: how can tourism be more resilient?
  • Human rights in tourism
  • Responsible “better” volunteering
  • Disintermediation and destination management
  • Communicating responsible tourism: advocacy and marketing
  • Enhancing the tourist experience in Africa
  • Climate change and tourism

These are the issues that face local communities in the destinations that, as travelers, we often either love to death or fail to consider. It will be a busy few days for me at the WTM, and I’ll be thrilled to pass on my new knowledge and insights as instructor of the course Tourism and Development. Now enrolling through November 1.

Applying the APT Approach to Wicked Problems in International Community Development.

Community Development

What are wicked problems? Can sustainable community development be considered a wicked problem? If so, what value does this this lens provide us, what changes in policy and practice does it imply and what is preventing international non-governmental organizations from addressing wicked problems?

In a perspective essay in the forthcoming October 2016 edition of the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, noted scholars in the field of planning and complex problems Brian Head and Wei-Ning Xiang, building on earlier works (Xiang & Wei-Ning, 2013 & B. W. Head & Alford, 2013), argue for the expanded use of Adaptive, Participatory and Transdisciplinary (APT) approaches when dealing with “wicked problems” (Brian W. Head & Wei-Ning, 2016). In this brief blog post, I will attempt to reflect what this might mean for development NGOs.

 

International Community Development as a Dilemma for Traditional Project Management

Anyone who works in international community development understands the unique challenge of planning in such a complex and unpredictable socio-political context. Ika and Damiam (2014) offer some reason why international development projects are so complex from a project management perspective (Ika & Damian, 2014).

  • International development projects cover almost every sector of project management application
  • International development projects are public sector projects
  • International development projects are international projects
  • International development projects share managerial/organisational challenges with conventional projects
  • International development projects are different and more complex: unique goals and way of organising
  • International development projects are different and more complex to manage: unique context and institutional challenges
  • Different types of projects emerge with time and with an increasing complexity
  • Overall, international development projects are an extreme case of conventional projects

 

Image from Ika and Damian 2014

Above Image from (Ika & Damian, 2014)

 

International Community Development as a Wicked Problem

The term “wicked problems” was first uttered in 1967 by W.F. Churchman at a seminar he had organized to investigate whether lessons learned from the space program could be utilized to solve the various social problems tearing at fabric of American society at the time (Skaburskis & Andrejs, 2008). When presented with a list of differences between social and scientific/technical problems by Horst Rittel, Churchman responded, “Hmm, those sound like “wicked problems” – kicking-off an entire field of study. Rittel, later refined and summarized the list in a now famous 1973 article in Policy Science by Rittel and Webber called “Dilemmas in a general theory of planning” (Rittel & Webber, 1973).

Rittel and Webber’s 10 characteristics of wicked problems (quoted in B. W. Head & Alford, 2013)

  1. There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem.
  2. Wicked problems have no “stopping rule” (i.e., no definitive solution).
  3. Solutions to wicked problems are not true or false, but good or bad.
  4. There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem.
  5. Every (attempted) solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; the results cannot be readily undone, and there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error.
  6. Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan.
  7. Every wicked problem is essentially unique.
  8. Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem.
  9. The existence of a discrepancy representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways.
  10. The planner has no “right to be wrong” (i.e., there is no public tolerance of experiments that fail).

Ok, anyone working in community development should relate pretty quickly to the lists by both Ika and Hodgson as well as Rittel and Webber, so how does the lens of “wicked problems” help? Well, according to Head 2008, traditionally, social planners have “coped” with complex social and ecological problems by “cherry picking” problems “[dealing] with manageable elements today, while recognizing that there will be other aspects to tackle tomorrow. However, because of their amorphous and interdisciplinary nature, wicked problems require an entirely different approach.

According to Xiang (2013, p.2), [b]y examining a wicked problem as a whole through a panoramic social lens rather than a scientific microscope, and working with it through an open and heuristic process of collective learning, exploration, and experimentation, the APT approach [Adaptive, Participatory, and Transdisciplinary] promises to be efficacious in fostering collaborative behaviour, reducing conflicts, building trust among all stakeholders and communities involved, and ultimately producing better and more satisfying results.

To be fair, the NGO community hasn’t been entirely in the dark when it comes to debates about the shortcomings of traditional project management models. In fact, as Ika and Damian (2014) point out, “The poor results of projects from the 1950s through the 1980s have led to disillusionment with the traditional approach and widespread calls to change or even reject outright the traditional [project management] approach in [international development] and adopt instead what have been described as ‘process’ projects.” The champions of process projects, most notably David Korten (1980), describe them as long-term projects that become more impactful over time through a process of trial and error (Korten, 1980).

According to Korten “the learning process approach calls for organizations that have little in common with the implementing organization geared to reliable adherence to detailed plans and conditions presented favored in the blueprint approach. Its requirement is for organizations with a well developed capacity for responsive and anticipatory adaptation – organizations that: (a) embrace error; (b) plan with the people; and (c) link knowledge building with action.”

Now, Korten was writing about this in the 1980s so surely NGO’s and other actors in community development have adopted these practices? Sadly, INGDOs are still largely failing to address the wicked problems of community development. There is a longstanding and growing argument that INGDOs are not doing enough to address the world’s social and ecological problems and remain too close to donors and governments to fully utilize their competitive advantage of being neither governments nor private sectors (Banks, Nicola, David, & Michael, 2015).

What is really needed is for INGDOs to engage with communities for the long-term and work as partners to help tease apart and address the complex relationships of power, policies and perceptions in an adaptive, participatory, and transdisciplinary (APT) way. However, despite widespread agreement on the importance of this this kind of partnership, very few INGDOs actually do it because of their failure to take a critical stance on issues of power (Ika and Hodgson, 2014), bias towards a single sector (Romeo, 2003), a particular technological solution (Samper & Jimena, 2012), faddism (Mansuri & Rao, 2004), failure to spend adequate time and resources needed to mobilize and engage the community and focus on implementing the priorities of funders vs. that of communities (Power, Grant, Matthew, & Susan, 2003).

 

Recommendations for INGDOs

  • Being able to implement an APT approach requires high-levels of programmatic freedom which is often compromised by our relationships, in particular funding sources but also political relationships. If we want to truly address wicked problems we need to develop funding and partnership models that allow for the kind of freedom independence they require
  • The traditional “project” or “contract” approach, focused on addressing just one or two sectors for a 3-5 years is too narrowly focused and short-term to address wicked problems. An APT approach requires that INGDOs become skilled in facilitating broad-based participatory planning that engages stakeholders in not only identifying and prioritizing project but more importantly, engaging stakeholders in a thorough analysis of issues in a holistic, transdisciplinary manner. 
  • The role of participatory monitoring and evaluation must be elevated beyond just being accountable to donors to an active process of clarifying and redefining people’s understanding of the issues and behaviors bound-up in wicked problems. In essence, monitoring and evaluation should be viewed as a tool for the social construction of reality. 
  • NGDOs and community workers must promote a culture of self-critical awareness which promotes bottom-up learning among individuals and within institutions.

For more about this topic, read the related blog post: Breaking-out of the Piecemeal Project Approach: The Importance of Holistic Community Planning

If you are interested in the ideas and concepts discussed in this post, you’ll enjoy the following courses in our online certificate program at Colorado State University. Development and the Politics of Empowerment, Approaches to Community Development, Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, Community Mobilization, Community-Based Organizing,

References Cited:

Banks, N., Nicola, B., David, H., & Michael, E. (2015). NGOs, States, and Donors Revisited: Still Too Close for Comfort? World Development, 66, 707–718.

Head, B. W., & Alford, J. (2013). Wicked Problems: Implications for Public Policy and Management. Administration & Society, 47(6), 711–739.

Head, B. W., & Wei-Ning, X. (2016). Why is an APT approach to wicked problems important? Landscape and Urban Planning, 154, 4–7.

Ika, L. A., & Damian, H. (2014). Learning from international development projects: Blending Critical Project Studies and Critical Development Studies. International Journal of Project Management, 32(7), 1182–1196.

Korten, D. C. (1980). Community Organization and Rural Development: A Learning Process Approach. Public Administration Review, 40(5), 480.

Mansuri, G., & Rao, V. (2004). Community-based (and Driven) Development: A Critical Review.

Power, G., Grant, P., Matthew, M., & Susan, M. (2003). 7. Operationalising bottom–up learning in international NGOs: barriers and alternatives. In Critical Reflections (pp. 86–103).

Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4(2), 155–169.

Romeo, L. G. (2003). The role of external assistance in supporting decentralisation reform. Public Administration and Development: A Journal of the Royal Institute of Public Administration, 23(1), 89–96.

Samper, J., & Jimena, S. (2012). Cross Sector Partnerships for Development in Colombia. The Annual Review of Social Partnerships, 2012(7), 10–10.

Skaburskis, A., & Andrejs, S. (2008). The Origin of “Wicked Problems.” Planning Theory & Practice, 9(2), 277–280.

Xiang, W.-N., & Wei-Ning, X. (2013). Working with wicked problems in socio-ecological systems: Awareness, acceptance, and adaptation. Landscape and Urban Planning, 110, 1–4.

Breaking-out of the Piecemeal Project Approach: The Importance of Holistic Community Planning

Community Development Training

In a recent blog post I argued that if international community development is a “wicked problem” than we should follow the advice of Head and Wei-Ning (2016) and stop “cherry picking” problems and instead adopt an APT (Adaptive, Participatory, and Transdisciplinary) approach. However, the authors give very little insight into what this might actually look like or how it might be applied to a particular disciplinary context like that shared by International Development NGDOs, which has integrated a surprisingly standardized toolbox of procedural norms.

In particular, while NGOs have developed countless tools for collecting information from communities on a wide range of topics such as infrastructure, social networks, gender roles, health, education, natural resources, etc., there is often little rationale for the use of one particular tool over another and the information it’s collecting, aside from generating a pool of information from which ideas for project emerge. As the training manual for one large INGDO states, “assessments, mapping, community profiles, and similar participatory processes can generate a large pool of issues that the community would like to address through projects.” From this pool, stakeholders are generally asked to prioritize or rank issues and identify projects that can be worked-on with support from the NGDO. Single-sector NGDOs will often narrow this participation even further by agreeing to support only those projects within its specialization.

What I find most problematic is that while there is often a strong emphasis among NGDOs on stakeholder participation in providing information and ranking, there is very little emphasis on engaging communities in bigger-picture analysis of the issues – especially at a macro-political level. Why is this a problem? To begin, past experience have likely taught them that NGDOs have a bias for defined technical projects which automatically narrows people’s thinking to “things” like a new well, health clinic, or latrines vs. the often more important but less tangible outcomes like enhanced collaboration with neighboring communities, educating farmers about local land-tenure laws and how they might be impacted by proposed international trade agreements, or addressing the complex gender-based status issues associated with outmigration of young men, as just a few examples.

The second issue with this piecemeal, problem-based planning approach is that there is literally no end to problems. We can always identify, prioritize and create projects to address problems but is doing so moving the community qualitatively towards a better situation? Or, by focusing on “problems’ are we just “putting-out fires” where as soon as one goes out another appears? Furthermore, ranking exercises just tell us how troublesome or annoying a problem is and not necessarily its contribution or role in the larger wicked problem. The same critique could be made about asset-based approaches. Just because something “works” doesn’t mean its amplification, replication, or adaptation is moving the community towards a better, more just situation.

Lastly, the traditional process of planning is overly focused on outcomes and doesn’t emphasize enough the importance of the process itself. Part of the defining characteristic of wicked problems is the role that varying perceptions of that problem have on its potential resolution. Take for example climate change – clearly a wicked problem, and in the United States we have a large population of people who, for various reasons and motivations, do not believe it’s caused by human activity. We also have varying levels of understanding on its severity. Based on the science one would think climate change would be the number one geopolitical priority, that we would be mobilizing like we did to get a man on the moon in the 1960s. One could argue that there needs to be much deeper dialogue taking-place to more closely align our perceptions and behaviors with the science. Community planning is the perfect opportunity to begin this dialogue. It’s an opportunity for people to deeply analyze the issues and facts together and create a shared understanding of the issues and how they can be resolved.

 

How can we apply APT principles to community development planning?

The first step is to not make the mistake of underestimating the complexity of local issues. A good rule of thumb is that they are likely as complex, if not more complex, than the issues in your own home community. Accept that because of cultural, language and privilege you will likely never fully grasp their complexity. It’s important to also recognize that, despite your limitations, you can play a valuable role as a facilitator. First, your ignorance gives you license to ask dumb questions giving you the ability to constantly be learning. Second, the fact that you are not embedded in local social networks gives you the unique perspective to “see the forest for the trees” and understand the range of ways people are thinking about an issue. Not being embedded in social networks can also mean you can more easily navigate them, serving as a broker to help connect individuals and groups that might not do it on their own.

 

The Importance of Holistic Participatory Planning

The planning process I’ve gained the most appreciation for and will be referencing here was developed by the Institute for Cultural Affairs (ICA) and is called the “Technology of Participation.” ICA developed this planning process with the social construction of reality in-mind.  The process, allows for wide-scale participation and follows four stages – visioning, contradictions, strategic directions, and action planning.

 

Community Visioning

How do we overcome the piecemeal, problem-based approach to community planning? A community vision is a shared understanding of the kind of world we want for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and beyond. It should reflect our highest shared values (equity, respect, community, culture, etc) vs. the selfish interest of individuals. In planning circles, a vision is typically 5-20 years in the future but I’ve heard of visions being as far into the future as 100 years. The purpose of a vision is not to serve as a benchmark to assess our progress against. Rather, a vision is something that is always out in the future, just beyond our reach and constantly evolving.

Ideally, a vision should be holistic and encompass any areas the community feels are important. For example, infrastructure, access to land and resources, housing but also less tangible things like the way people treat one another, their status relative to other ethnic groups, cultural revitalization, and language.

A vision overcomes the piecemeal approach by setting a standard by which contradictions, strategies, and actions are measured against, focusing your energy on the things that will help move your community towards its vision.

 

Contradictions

If we all agree that we want to live in a world like the one described by our vision than why aren’t we already there? This is how I understand and describe the contradictions phase of the planning process. This is often where the deepest-level analysis takes place because the participants are asked to view the vision holistically and they are asked to look at the contradictions holistically. This is where you start to get very nuanced discussions about, for example, how the out-migration of young men is causing a whole host of social problem, shifting of gender roles, and health issues and how it is not just about earning more money but how it’s also bound-up in what they’ve learned it means to be a “man”. Such nuanced discussions build awareness and consensus about the issues so by the time you get to the next stage, strategic directions, people are more likely to come to consensus. The goal of this phase is to help clarify and build consensus on the contradictions.

 

Strategic Directions

For the strategic directions phase we ask the participants “What can we do in the next year to begin to overcome the contradictions and move towards our vision. Because they/we now have developed a shared understanding and language to talk about the issues/contradictions, they/we can also develop more nuanced, transdisciplinary strategies to begin to overcome them. But it’s important to remind participants that this is a two-part question – coming up with actions that overcome the contradictions BUT ALSO move us towards our vision. This is where our higher-level values come into play. If we identify preserving our language or forest is a priority than we’re going to rule-out out actions that might endanger our language or forest.

 

Action Planning

The goal of this phase is similar to traditional NGDO action planning models, namely to agree upon who is responsible for what, develop implementation timelines, identify available and needed resources, etc. The difference however, is that people will be much more motivated to follow-through with implementation because they have a deep and nuanced understanding for why they’re doing it and what they hope to achieve.

 

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation plays a critical role in APT strategies for its contribution to the creation of social reality – namely by helping to answer questions and test assumptions raised during planning and implementation. For example, it was the participants assumption that they could transform young men’s perceptions of what it means to be a man through a series of community plays. To test this they developed a pre and post play questionnaire to assess members of the audience’s perceptions on manhood and whether it was impacted by the play.

 

Conclusion

By transitioning from a piecemeal to a more holistic APT approach to community planning, I argue that NGDOs can play a more impactful role in tackling the wicked problems we face as a global community. Planning approaches like the ICA’s Technology of Participation is one tool to assist this transition. Regardless of the tools we use, as a community, we need move beyond participation as just another donor requirement and instead see it and utilize it as a powerful tool for analysis and transformation.
Topics discussed in this post are also discussed in the following courses in Village Earth/Colorado State University’s online certificate program in sustainable community development: Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, Community Mobilization, Development and the Politics of Empowerment, Community Participation and Dispute Resolution

Upcoming Courses in the Online Certificate Program in Sustainable Community Development

There’s one session left in 2016 for the Village Earth/Colorado State University online certificate program in Sustainable Community Development. Three courses are available (below) and will take place online November 4th – December 9th, 2016. The deadline to register is November 1st, 2016. 

Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation

Next OfferedDeadline to RegisterRegistration StatusOffered By 
March 3 - April 7, 2017February 28, 2017Open

Course Description

Discover participatory methods in monitoring and evaluation for community development, where multiple stakeholders are involved in the process of planning, collecting, interpreting, communicating, and using information. Gain skills in using regular monitoring and evaluation processes, which will lead to continuous improvements.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • Plan a monitoring and evaluation project
  • Develop evaluation questions that address stakeholders needs
  • Select the most appropriate data collection method for a given situation
  • Effectively communicate monitoring and evaluation data
  • Use the monitoring information for effective feedback and improvement

This course counts towards the following specialized tracks: Natural Resources Management, Economic Development, Political Empowerment, Food Security, and Participatory Facilitation, Community Planning and Development.

Instructor: Pilar Robledo

Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation

Pilar is currently Director of Programming and Training for US Peace Corps in Kiev, Ukraine. She’s also serves as Education Cluster Co-lead at UNICEF Pakistan. Previously she’s worked for UNHCR, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, and IREX. She holds an MPA in Public Administration from University of Colorado, Denver and a BA in Anthropology and Latin American Studies from CU Boulder.

 

 


Community-Based Organizing

Next OfferedDeadline to RegisterRegistration StatusOffered By 
July 28 - September 1, 2017July 25, 2017Opens March 21, 2017

Course Description
The importance of an approach to community-development that increases the rights of poor and marginalized people within governing structures has never been more apparent. Situations of severe oppression and marginalization demand organizing-techniques that go beyond a traditional “hand-out” style approach to development. Taking a practical hands-on perspective, this course will explore the theories, tools, styles and challenges of community-based organizing. It will discuss practical strategies for developing community leadership and working with marginalized communities. Together, we will discover the impact that ordinary individuals can have on the world.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • Apply basic organizing techniques, such as popular education and direct action
  • Understand the role of privilege, race, gender and class in struggles for change
  • Understand the history and basic principles of community organizing
  • Design methods to help support and organize the community in which they are working

This course counts towards the following specialized tracks: Political Empowerment and Community Planning and Development

Instructor: Raul Paz Pastrana

Raul has been an organizer for over eight years and has given many workshops around the country and Latin America. These workshops have focused on diverse topics such as theater of the oppressed, popular education, participatory filmmaking, strategic organizing and base building.

He has worked as the Organizing Director for Centro Humanitario para los Trabajadores, a non-profit that works to empower immigrant workers in the Denver, Colorado area.  He currently works as a Director/Producer and Cinematographer at Andar Films in New York, NY.


Tourism and Development

Next OfferedDeadline to RegisterRegistration StatusOffered By 
July 28 - September 1, 2017July 25, 2017Opens March 21, 2017

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, we will explore both successful and problematic tourism initiatives. We 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.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • Identify best practices for successful tourism initiatives
  • Work with a community to evaluate how tourism may impact their lives
  • Network with private, public and non-profit institutions in the field of tourism and development
  • Understand common challenges and issues with eco-tourism and voluntourism

Counts Towards the Following Specialized Tracks:  Economic Development and Community Planning and Development

Instructor: Cynthia Ord, M.S.

Cynthia Ord holds a Masters of Tourism and Environmental Economics degree from the University of the Balearic Islands in Palma de Mallorca, Spain and a B.A. in Spanish and Philosophy from Colorado State University. Her M.S. program focused on the socio-cultural, environmental and economic impacts of global tourism. Ord’s research focused on non-commercial volunteer tourism networks. She currently lives in Addis Ababa and works in tech solutions for tour operators in Ethiopia. In the past, she’s worked on e-market access and business development for small and medium sized tourism enterprises in the Global South, with a specialty in Latin America. In her spare time, she is a travel blogger.

Introduction to Humanitarian Assistance for Community Workers and Funders

According to Good Humanitarian Donorship, Humanitarian Assistance is broadly defined to mean the action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situations.

Humanitarian assistance in the international arena vastly differs from domestic emergency response within the United States.  As a field unto itself, humanitarian assistance also differs greatly from shorter-term disaster response in scope, objectives, and duration.  In addition, the field encompasses codifying norms, international standards, and critical concepts that exist to maintain humanitarian principles, ensure quality intervention, and create sustainable improvement.

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, over 400 medical teams arrived to assist communities in need. Only a tiny fraction of teams were able to identify or plan intervention strategies and programs utilizing international humanitarian architecture or standards. This lack of knowledge translated into failures in communication, coordination, and usage of resources with direct implications for populations affected.

This problem is neither new nor has it been adequately addressed over time. Several studies, ranging from 2001 to present have reported that a dearth of nongovernmental organizations responding to disasters offers any teaching or orientation prior to departure. Authors and practitioners have put forward a critical call to action for improved accountability, well-defined core competencies, and greater quality control.  With appropriate and tailored training, practitioners will have exponentially improved efficiency, impact, and sustainability. In turn, these professionals better share expertise with local and national staff who remain, as always, the first-responders in their communities as they build themselves toward resilience and self-reliance.

In addition, the underlying circumstances necessitating pre-departure education of humanitarian workers have been intensifying. For example, the complexities of urban disasters require multi-sector coordination, community stakeholder engagement, and division of scarce resources more than ever. There are increasing risks and threats to humanitarian aid workers and less room for inexperience, waste, and error. Compassion in and of itself is not enough, however, compassion coupled with knowledge, guided by experience, and directed into effective action leads to substantive effective change.

If you would like more information and want to better inform your humanitarian efforts, consider enrolling today in our Introduction to Humanitarian Assistance Course.