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Showing posts from 2014

What the Wealthy Have to Offer to the Study of Poverty

I have in a previous post (October 27, 2012) expressed my intellectual, personal and ethical discomfort with the extensive 'subjectification' (more trendily termed "participation') of poor people in research with the lofty and well-intentioned goal of 'understanding the poor' or 'understanding poverty' in order to alleviate the plight of the exploited and excluded. It resonated with many people and was read by multiples of the usual number of readers of my posts. However, I offered no alternative, so here goes.

Let's interview the wealthy. Yes. Let's find them in their communities, offer them up something they desire, like to shake the hand of Bill or Hil or an invite to Davos (if they aren't already shuttling in on their private jet), and ask them pages of questions about why they do the things they do and ask them how they could do them with less harm to the world.

Community-Based 'Solutions'
Poverty is not 'created' by the…

New Name, Same Game: The Africa Summit and "Global Resilience"

I am not a fan of 'summits'. And this first ever African Leaders Summit is not changing my mind any. That it's the first time anyone considered Africa worthy of this kind of attention is telling but I will give someone credit for FINALLY acknowledging that Africa is a market ripe for umm.... exploitation(?). Though it isn't a far leap to think that the Chinese invasion into Africa has 'nudged' the USAID machine into action. Like Dambisa Moyo, I question if another 'aid program' is the solution but I leave those arguments for her and Bill Easterly to do it justice.

Summits get folks all fired up then they go away and come back a couple years later and have a another go at it, reporting on what happened and what didn't and what they are going to do next time (which is usually more of the same with a new name and another big splash out of media attention) and everyone travels far far away in business class and say what they could skype in and reports …

The 'Good' Tourist: 6 best practices for visiting the world

Tourism and Development
Many developing countries in the world (and communities in the USA) depend on tourism as their primary source of economic income and development, but the good intentions of tourists can have a negative impact on a community and leave them at the will of far-away-owned hotels, cruise-ship companies and tour organizers.
Happy Holidays
So as you plan your holidays you may want to consider the country/people you are going to visit and the impact you will have on them and their communities. If you don't want to contribute to the degradation of the environment but want to promote social and economic justice, here are a few ways to making your sustainable contribution to local economies that reduces global inequalities and builds personal, community, and organizational capacity.


AVOID CRUISE SHPS. (If you're going to Alaska, you are forgiven as there's no other way to see much of it). Cruise ships are the biggest tourism offenders in destroying our natural r…

Peace-Building in the Middle East: Joining hands across borders, religions and institutions

This is a story of peace-building amidst all the stories of war-mongering. The McGill Middle East Program (now known as the International Community Action Network - ICAN) is based on the ground even as rockets fly through the air. It is a story of hope, faith, trust, hard work, and cross-border, inter-faith and institutional collaboration. It is a story of people much more than a story of politics.
Amidst the fray of Middle East dramas (btw the USA bombs kids too - they are called 'collateral damage'), it is good to remember that that there are many people in Palestine and Israel wanting and fighting for peace. People who believe in peace despite all the reasons that make it seem impossible. People who have risked life, limb, sanity, health etc to create community-based peace solutions (that also involves politicians at high levels). 
In the interest of disclosure I acknowledge  that this blogpost is also committed to giving props to my mentor, friend and best teacher ever --…

Perkins Paranoia

When Tom Perkins, founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers wrote an inflammatory letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal on January 24th, I wonder if he knew how explosive his letter would be. He should have. We all know that Holocaust references are only made to create a firestorm. Which makes one question the editorial choices of the Wall Street Journal which most likely gets hundreds of letters a day on much more pressing issues than the brief tasteless burst of paranoia that was Mr Perkins letter.

What Mr Perkins feels in terms of hostility towards the ultra rich in America is undeniable. People want to find a target for their economic frustrations and so they find a group to pick on. That is never a good idea as Mr Perkins so inappropriately acknowledged in his short missive. Whether it is immigrants, the wealthy or bankers, making any group the target of hate does not reflect the complexity of the problem nor does it solve it or make us feel better.

However, be su…