Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Isabel Allende says, "YES", and tells us why...

Today, there's an interesting follow-up interview with Wangari Maathi in Worldchanging. In a wide ranging discussion about how to not leave Africa in a situation where it permanently lags behind, she explains that the soil and local empowerment must come first.

Wangari Maathi

Wangari Maathai (find her at 4:09 in Allende's talk) is
 the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. As Allende says, Maathai "planted 30 million trees, and by doing so she has changed the soil, the weather in some places in Africa -- and, of course, the economic conditions in many villages.” Writing in the Harvard International Review, Maathai explained the reasoning behind her crusade -- her belief that the best way to achieve sustainable development is to empower local communities.

Truly, she carries a very special type of charisma which I can only describe as "collective" (perhaps it's tribal?). I once sat in a discussion circle with her in New Mexico. There was something that I noticed that went way deeper than her analysis or presentation of programs -- she rarely drew attention to herself but instead took great pains to enliven everyone else and get them involved in the discussion. It is community empowerment that she brings to every situation and it was beautiful to witness.

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