Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Sunday 22 September 2013

Consumer model or investing in resilience?

Namdrik Atoll Local Resources Committee is a 2012 Equator Prize winner. The case is described in United Nations Development Programme. 2013. Namdrik Atoll Local Resources Committee, The Marshall Islands. Equator Initiative Case Study Series. New York, NY. Here we try to retell the story from the perspective of the mayor, imagining how he would address is peers, p[olicy makers on other Micronesioan islands.

Strategic Story Elements
Target audience: Other policy makers of Micronesian Islands
Key point: Climate change asks for reconsidering the modern consumerism model
Conflict: Consumerism versus working on resilience
Hero: Clarence Luther, Mayor of Namdrik Atoll  
Adversary: Modern lifestyle and consumer habits of the inhabitants of the atol

“People in the West mostly have a picture of the idyllic life on our Micronesian Islands. They think of palm trees, white beaches, an abundance of fruits and happy people”. Clarence Luther, the impressive Mayor of Namdrik Atoll, Marshall Islands smiles and continues: “That may have been so for the faraway past. When I was a boy over 50 years ago, we indeed ate our own fish and grew our own food. We couldn’t rely on the supply ship which only came maybe twice year.”

“Today we are part of modern life with tinned food, bottled drinks, fridges. You name it. But now if the supply ship doesn’t come for three weeks we are worried – what will we do, what will we eat? This question was bothering me more and more. Especially when I learned about climate change and seal level rise. So I started helping my community to develop one by one initiatives with support from government and partners. We reintroduced traditional crops such as breadfruit, taro and native pandanus. It protects and restores the soil. We started value-added secondary food processing industries. A pearl farm to provide jobs and fund community development projects in education and health. We introduced rainwater harvesting and solar technology."

"In doing so I realised that if we don’t do what we are doing it takes your power away and you don’t know what to expect. We can do something to make our lives better for now and the future. If we don’t do something we are not going to survive for long. This way we have a lot of lessons to show other parts of Micronesia and Melanesia. For example, we demonstrate that you don’t have to follow the consumer model.  I know that we all do to some extent but just showing that you don’t have to follow it totally." 

"Now we are taking care of our natural resources and our mangroves. We do not have to be scared anymore if the ship does not arrive in time, we can stand on our own feet: this is what they call resilience."

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