What is "Radical Listening"?
Radical listening is trusting community members to be the best solvers of their problems; it means asking for individuals' ideas and implementing their solutions. Radical listening is a pillar of Health In Harmony's programs and identifies the root causes of poverty and destruction of the natural environment that harms the whole planet.
What does it look like?
Health In Harmony was founded after witnessing aid and development programs falter or fail due to lack of cultural understanding or involvement. Health In Harmony founders recognized protecting the forest was not a matter of interest or education, but a matter of ability and resources. So they held more than 400 hours of community meetings before even choosing a site or determining what the ASRI program would provide. Community members clearly identified the drivers of illegal logging as lack of access to affordable, quality health care, and lack of economic alternatives.
As ASRI has continued to grow, it has continued to be guided by community input and holds consistent community meetings.
When the number of loggers dropped but continued to persist, ASRI again approached village leaders who suggested that each community appoint one person to work one-on-one with his logging neighbors to find them alternative livelihoods. ASRI was skeptical, but the Forest Guardians program has remained very successful since it was implemented in 2011.
The Sustainable Farming program was started with enthusiasm but quickly hit the snag of having no source of manure. ASRI wanted to distribute goats to members of the community. Again, community members came forward and requested that the livestock go to widows, and ASRI listened. They agreed widows were the most disadvantaged members of the community, with the least economic opportunity but the most need. Today, the Goats for Widows program has distributed several hundred goats that are providing not only enough manure to sell to the farmers groups, but enough to sell elsewhere too. The villages around Gunung Palung National Park are active members in protecting their rain forest and creating the ASRI programs that help them do so.
Health In Harmony works to implement radical listening as a core methodology in our everyday interactions with staff, board members, donors like you, and our program partners.
As a partner, we promise to listen to you too. Please contact us anytime you have suggestions, questions or ideas!
*Photo credit: Erick Danzer