A "what if...?" moment

      A very important question was posed in response to how-matters.org’s recent guest post, ”Participation: Reality or the Promised Land? A View from South Sudan, which is “What can development professionals who believe in and practice participatory processes do to promote it?”

      It’s a tough question to answer, especially for people on the “inside” of the system, because this often means challenging the very power structures that issue their paychecks. There are too many instances in the field and at headquarters to recount here when I thought, “this is messed up.” But did I raise my voice, suggest a different way, stick my neck out for participation?

      Like many development practitioners, I can honestly say sometimes, yes and sometimes, no. We choose our battles, sometimes clumsily.

      Then I remembered something that I read long back from the Community Development Resource Centre in Cape Town that has always stuck with me and inspired me, in terms of orienting myself towards positive change within the development industry:

      When discouraged over the years by inhibiting hierarchical structures or an unhealthy obsession with results or a blatant disregard or disinterest in local priorities, I often turned to this passage from CDRA to help me orient myself again towards possibility.

      In thinking about local organizations and their role in development, the other day I wrote down this set of possibilities,

      I’m not sure how to get there. But what I do know is that as development practitioners who care about ownership, we all need to create more “what if” moments for ourselves.

      And that is sometimes the most important battle we fight.

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      This post originally appeared at: http://www.how-matters.org/2011/08/16/a-what-if-moment/

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