The Juncal Community is the first neighboring community to San Ramon.
It shares a similar landscape in terms of typography as well as sociology. We have often doubled the communities together in our project efforts.
During the flooding times of 2012 both communities were served through our emergency aid response.
The water system in the San Ramon community is built specifically to be able to serve the Juncal as well.
During our 10,000 medicinal plant plants give away as part of Edens Rose Organics, recuperating the traditional organic family medicinal herb garden through our Manos Montubio project; half of these plants were given to the Juncal.
When we started our macramé project in the Juncal community we were greeted with over 50 participants and we had to hire additional trainers. This is a community where we have a close relationship but we have yet to commit a direct effort in the form of a project with this community.
I was contacted by someone from within the Juncal community who is outside of the basic directive or community governance model. They expressed a desire to donate a piece of land they had for use in a project set for the benefit of the community that would be envisioned as directed specifically by our organization.
I expressed that this is not our traditional model and now we look for the most inclusive possible experience with community individuals and governments and framing in developing the needs to be addressed in crafting the technique together for the development of a project.
I was not surprised but I was a bit taken back by the directness of their response. This land had originally been donated to the community over 10 years ago by the family of our contact and they felt that within this management as they perceived it of the land was due mainly to the lack of capacity within the community model for introspective analysis and organizational development.
They felt that for the community to be in a position to represent themselves together with our organization any project or even to represent themselves in a project on their own that what was required was a long-term effort for the building of capacity and basic rudimentary aspects of engagement. They believed based on the work that they have seen from our organization that this is just the kind of effect that the erf will bring to the community through a pilot project that they hoped we would do on this donated land.
For me this was a very delicate situation and it took a lot of consideration for me to arrive at my conclusion. Really this situation screams of imbalance and walks the thin red line that we find ourselves up against as community development agents.
I called a meeting with the community directive for the Juncal and the family wishing to donate the land to the ERF. I explained to each of them my perspective based on extensive experience in this work and suggested that the land be donated directly to the community. In this way the community could request help from the ERF in fulfilling the requirements that it had set out for itself in the use of this land for the best benefit of the community.
Both parties emphatically disagreed with me and really opened my mind with a healthy dose of perspective. I am very careful and extremely conscious about imparting my vision or the vision and desires of the Edens Rose Foundation in the development of projects because this type of whitewashing mandate for the directing of community activities by foreign actors is exactly what I see as the chief disabling factor, forward movement and long-term sustainable development within communities.
In this case my reluctance to engage in making that kind of disabling mandate was in itself a preconceived disabling mandate. In fact, after numerous examples of the community’s perspective different from mine and yielding to that and wholeheartedly agreeing with many of their avenues of thinking, I did finally agree with them that it may in fact be a good idea for Edens Rose Foundation to commence with a pilot project built on the tenants of long-term capacity building and socializing what I believe to be a successful community development model to be managed internally by the community.
Throughout this meeting, I prevailed upon all involved a refined technique I possess for coaxing their involvement even inadvertently where necessary in framing the basic idea of the pilot project that they wish for me to create.
In the end I feel a successful balance had been reached and the family donating the land feeling comfortable about the method and the level of involvement of the community directive and framing things from the beginning in this delicate way led me to believe that the level of trust and the level of capacity for both of the community directive and the donating family were much more advanced than they were giving themselves credit.
I very much look forward to turning the tables back around and quickly bringing them into a shared perspective that the community is inevitably in possession of all that is required for the orientation of a direction that will bring them to a destination of the highest profitability in engagement of their basic necessities.