Thoughtful Conversations & Sideways Approaches: The Barefoot Guide Connection

      Are there alternatives to the cynicism and disillusionment that pervades in so many organizations that are working towards ‘development’? Where are the people who are interested in creating more grounded, creative, human and humble ways of doing this work?

      You can find them here.

      When I first picked up and started reading The Barefoot Guide to Working with Organisations and Social Change almost four years ago, it was one of those strike-you-through-the-heart moments. Finally, someone had given voice to what I considered my role to be as someone working in aid and philanthropy. Finally, someone was talking about authentic leadership and how to make it more possible for ordinary people to acquire more power over the choices and decisions that affect their lives.

      And more importantly, they were talking about my role in it.

      This was very different than the conversations I’d been having about reports and strategic frameworks and research proposals. These were pre-how-matters days and upon finishing the Barefoot Guide, I sent it to all my colleagues, printed out the pictures to decorate my office walls, and made readings from it part of our team meetings.

      I don’t think I’m the only one who felt this immediate kinship. The Barefoot Guide has now been downloaded well over 50,000 times as a vital resource in enriching development practice. Two popular Barefoot Guides have already been produced. Four translations currently exist and five more are nearing completion. Two more Barefoot Guides are in the works.

      All of this flurry of activity, which had been happening via listserves and emails between a global team of seasoned practitioners across many organizations, has moved to a home on the web, The Barefoot Guide Connection, where all of us can join in.

      Among the many great online communities focused on aid, The Barefoot Guide Connection is invites practitioners who are interested in a genuinely ‘developmental’ approach to their work. The following excerpt from The Barefoot Guide shows what this means:



      Come join and explore The Barefoot Guide Connection with me! (I’m excited to follow the blog and I’m planning to jump in the Café to discuss, “Has the word ‘learning’ become overused?” Right up my alley.) The site is a hub for the sharing of questions, frustrations, possibilities, and resources—something all of us working in development can use.


      This post originally appeared at:


      Related Posts

      RCTs: A band-aid on a deeper issue?

      Would YOU fund this organization?

      Spotting Community Ownership

      Development Aid 2.0

      Seeing the future in sovereign local organizations – Part 2

      Why Organizations Matter