Gangsters, bullies, liars and thieves

by David Week 7 March 2011

I’m a fan of political correctness. As one wag put it, political correctness is just another word for being polite. If the citizens of Indian have renamed their city Mumbai, I’ll call it Mumbai, not Bombay. I call the ni Vanuatu the ni Vanuatu, not Vanuatans. I don’t refer to adult women as girls, except […]

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The critical role of the “first mile” in development

by David Week 12 February 2011

I keep seeing the term “last mile” used in a development context. This terms seems to have currency in North America. I’ve never heard it used professionally in our hemisphere. Troublesome words The problem with language (as feminists and racial minorities well know) is that it perpetuates a mindset. In development, the classical mindset is […]

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The river of urbanisation

by David Week 6 February 2011

I met all day yesterday with my colleagues/friends from the NGO startup CoDesign. In among the to-and-fro on agenda items, the following thesis was floated and briefly discussed: By making rural life better, can we stem/slow the drift of people into urban slums? My answer is: no, not in any way that matters. The importance of rural […]

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Eugene Smith, Albert Schweitzer, moral dilemmas, local knowledge

by David Week 27 January 2011

Eugene Smith I’m in Amsterdam, and yesterday I went with my daughter, and with a friend, to see a Eugene Smith exhibition at FOAM, Amsterdam’s photographic museum. Eugene Smith was an American photojournalist who documented WW2, and later worked for Life, and for Magnum. Some of his photographs are iconic, and you may recognise them: […]

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The realities of resettlement after disaster

by David Week 12 January 2011

“Blaming” the government of Haiti My antennae perked up when I saw this flick by on twitter: Why Haiti is still such a mess a full year after the quake and who’s to blame: http://ow.ly/3Cc1g The reference is to a post by an Australian NGO, ActionAid. The post begins like this: Tomorrow marks the one-year […]

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‘People to People’: an alternative way of delivering humanitarian aid

by David Week 21 December 2010

Azwar Hasan is the founder of Forum Bangun Aceh (FBA), a good friend, and a great colleague. He and I worked for three years on LOGICA: Local Governance and Infrastructure for Communities in Aceh. Az was Deputy Team Leader; I was the infrastructure Adviser. LOGICA took a community-driven development approach to assist 200 of the hardest […]

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Crossing the Streams

by David Week 12 December 2010

In “Aid as a conversation between cultures”, I recounted my early experiences in understanding aid as a two-way exchange, rather than a one-way flow. This paper, from 1993, was my first attempt, together with Howard Davis, to put that understanding in writing. On re-reading, I now see this paper as representing an important first step: […]

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Aid as a conversation between cultures

by David Week 12 December 2010

A few days ago, I posted this statement on twitter: “In my ideal world, aid is a conversation between cultures, on the subject of human development in both cultures.” A few of my fellow twitterers picked up on this idea: @debelzie @BonnieKoenig @meowtree @Ethnicsupplies @warisara @idealistnyc One exchange that stays in mind was this: @idealistnyc […]

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New Designs for the Comprehensive High School

by David Week 8 December 2010

The paper below completely transformed my understanding of education. Like architecture, education is one of those professions that seems anchored by the “weight of history.” The paper describes a Federally-funded US re-design of the high school, which attempts to remove that weight, and shift the high school from the 19th C. to the 21st. Let me […]

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Marilyn Waring is someone you should know

by David Week 5 December 2010

Marilyn Waring At last, thanks to the National Film Board of Canada, this classic doco on my favourite feminist economist is now available for viewing online. In 1975, at the age of 23, she became the youngest MP in the New Zealand Parliament. As a member of the National Party, she famously (or infamously) crossed the […]

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“Smart Aid”: A cautionary note

by David Week 24 November 2010

Thanks to Good Intentions for inspiring this post, which started life as a comment. I have some qualms about the very idea of “smart aid”. It seems to imply that this is something new, while all has been done in the past is “dumb aid”. I think of the development of aid (the development of “development”?) […]

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How to become an aid professional

by David Week 5 November 2010

First: you need to know what an aid “professional” might look like, and the hazards (and potential strengths) of being an aid “amateur.” There’s been a small debate on the blogs recently, and Saundra of Good Intentions has posted a cool summary of the results, here. Everyone starts at some time as an amateur, and learns […]

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