What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Obviously, non-profits come with the presumption of being ideologically driven.  Unfortunately, this scenario we are setting out upon is driven by an ideology.  But I suppose this can be said about anything.  Everyone and everything has an underlying meaning or purpose, a reason for doing.

The basic principle that I (not we) are moving into this with is completely altruistic.  I have some very divergent views from the mainstream.  Yet this does not absolve me from living and working in the real world as it exists today.  There is ideology and reality - life is about balancing the two, as is this project.

The ideology that I, and hopefully a soon to be incorporated non-profit, will be approaching development and redevelopment work is to try to minimize ideology, especially our own.  I view this as one of the biggest detractors and obstacles towards sustainable global development.  When most organizations, companies, governments, individuals, whatever, go into an area with an aim to make something 'better' they are starting from a point of judgment.  For most people in the West it is about making the lives of people 'better'.  This is obviously a very subjective terminology.  I would prefer to think of lives on a linear level, they are equally different, not hierarchically ranked.  All these 'things' we have in the 'developed' West, yet happiness still seems to elude most of us.

The goal of this specific endeavor is to try not to go into any event or project driven by a specific ideology or template.  Every place in the world is different, every person different, every culture wanting different things and motivated by different things.  Agendas.  The world is full of them, yet the only one that should matter is those of the people that will most directly be affected by whatever scenario is to happen.

What this means is that this prospective organization will not be pushing any specific ideologies as the 'solution' to someone's or some place's 'issues'.  Capitalism, Socialism, Democracy, Civil Liberties, whatever, the specific pathway is, they do not always solve issues on their own.  Unregulated free markets can truly hinder an overarching community's development, just as a planned economic system can allow for much less initiative and reward than may truly stimulate advances.  Dictatorships throughout humanity have been mostly rigid and oppressive, and while democracy gives everyone their say it is slow, inefficient, and inherently compromising.  On there own and as we understand them they bring about presumptions and judgments, but these judgments are of peoples interpretaitons of the past, not the future or even the present.

We need new thinking that is not afraid to work outside existing ideology and presumption.  Would the world really be such a terrible place if it was run by Gandhi in a dictatorial position?  A communist Soviet Union was the fastest country ever to industrialize, what can we learn from this?  Free Markets and industrial incetive have made the US the worlds superpower, and a strong social safety net has lead Europe's people to high levels of statistical 'happiness' and security.

What can we learn from all of this?  That there is no one way, no one best, but that different things work in different places.  The ultimate aim of any scenario is to try to make local people happy.  Try to empower both local communities and local individuals without empowerment of one coming at the expense of the other.  Thus, our project will be about each individual situation and trying to use knowledge and human experience to empower localities and individuals within them alike.

All projects will be looked at in terms of a balance of both individual and community good.  If you bring in a factory and there are rich owners but poor workers, have you helped the community?  If you set up a fully equal communal work scenario, how is the individual rewarded for greater effort?  Balances must be found.  Balances with humanity, with the environment, with ourselves, with our communities, etc.  Localized solutions for localized cultures.

This is the main ideological premise that I'd like our organization to be based upon - ideology without ideology.  We want to make a difference for the people where we do work, not for ourselves or our own goals and principles in life.

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