A Symbol of Our Approach
Making a beautiful and durable basket is a complex process, involving many hands. The place where the raw material is gathered must be cooperatively managed, so that it is protected. Material has to be harvested at the right time and in the right way. Old and young must learn from each other so that weaving techniques are passed to future generations.
Our approach to community development has many similarities to this process of basket weaving. We have found that the most successful development initiatives are born from authentic and equitable community participation. We, along with our partners, engage with diverse voices at every step of a project cycle, involving communities locally, regionally and globally by exchanging ideas and resources—creating and learning together—so that the best development options are considered.
The image of a partially woven basket symbolizes our emphasis on process and our belief that collective effort gives rise to results that are both practical and sustainable.
Our Unique Approach
We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
We work shoulder-to-shoulder, as the Haitians say, in collaboration with community organizations and groups—creating and learning together. We emphasize inclusive, community-driven, participatory processes for prioritizing community problems and developing solutions to address them.
This process starts by acknowledging and building on traditional, indigenous knowledge and the values of the communities with whom we work. Through community “talking circles” and more structured activities such as cognitive mapping, problems are defined and prioritized.
Knowledge sharing informs potential development solutions. Exchange takes place first among a cross section of local community members, elders and leaders. As appropriate, sharing then happens through cross-cultural exchange with external partners and community members.
Partners in Progress, its partner organizations and community members then work together to visualize and map out a phased plan for development.
Development plans are cooperatively implemented and evaluated with partner and community representatives. This works to promote co-learning and a culture of continuous innovation following a simple but transformative model: “Learn – Do – Improve,” or “Apren – Aplike – Amelyore.” The following diagram illustrates this participatory development process.