Around the world, wealth is measured in many ways. There is a diversity of definitions of what it means to be well-off, for example, the country of Bhutan has a measurement of Gross National Happiness as opposed to the usual Gross Domestic Product as a measurement of how well a country is doing. Development always entails looking at other worlds in terms of what they lack, and obstructs the wealth of indigenous alternatives. Instead of the never-ending concept of “development”, many of the indigenous movements of Latin America have adopted an Aymara concept called suma qamaña–living well, not better.
So then what is development when we at Village Earth use the phrase? We see development as a process of humanization, a part of the decolonization process outlined by great thinkers like Fanon, Escobar, and Freire. It is not a paternalistic ‘we feel sorry for you’. And through a Community Praxis Model we practice “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it”. Oftentimes, do-gooders are the elite in themselves defining development and it’s their dialogue. So how do we encourage and promote the dialogue of local indigenous conceptions of development? Through community-based solutions and social movements.
If you would like to learn more about these concepts, please join us for upcoming courses such as Community Mobilization, Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, and Participatory Water Resource Management.