The Earth Village Project is focused on regenerative rehabilitation; we’ve taken the word relief out of our vocabulary. There are no beneficiaries; we work collaboratively with the community, learning together. It comes back to the age-old adage of “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for the rest of his life.” We’re learning from the community of Batug, understanding what their fish really is and teaching them how to harvest it with the flow of nature.
For the Windship Build, the community came together and created a Co-op. The Co-op catered meals for 70+ people over ten days and they built a picturesque bar overlooking the river. All the commotion gave rise to a watering hole where the locals hung out and numerous micro-businesses. These folks are enterprising.
The men of Batug even stood up to manually dig dirt, sand, gravel and rocks for the Windship construction. The tragic, yet pervasive story of international development work is how much men suck. When entrusted with money, men practice a pattern of pissing it away on beer and cigarettes. Not this time though, the men of Batug broke this pattern and stepped up in a big way, happily.
The Earth Village Project is breaking old paradigm patterns that no longer serve our aim of regenerative rehabilitation; this is how society will progress. Why did this pattern of men sucking break here? I don’t know precisely, but I’ve got a guess. I believe we all inherently want to be helpful. We’re scared it might not be received well or we might lose something in the process. Trust tempers this fear. The community trusts us because we’re living with them as part of their community. So, everyone in the community is eager for opportunities to step up and help.
The Capitan of Batug commented on how grateful he is for Yolanda because despite the destruction, it’s the most excitement and energy his sleepy little Barangay Batug has ever seen.
There’s a meeting that happens every week in the Mayor’s office in Dulag where all the aid organizations in the neighborhood get together and share updates. I noticed how every other organization present is operating from a handout mentality bent on scale.
Putting my barefoot businessman shoes on, this doesn’t make sense. From my business experiences, I learned about prototyping and pilot projects to validate assumptions with the target market. From my barefoot experiences, I learned about grassroots community organizing and the value of collaboration to build trust. It’s not rocket science; this is common sense stuff. It’s maddening how it plays out so uncommonly in our world.
The Earth Village Project has a holistic approach focused on a single community as a pilot project. We’re taking time to become part of the community we seek to serve. It’s not easy to do things differently, but what’s important is doing the best we can with what we know to be true.