Guest Post by Judy Mavroleon, Community Social Change Workshop, April 2013

Conducting research and preparing case studies prior to actually participating in the Community Social Change workshop really helped clarify the situation in the Peruvian Sacred Valley (PSV). It allowed us to observe the many activities and key issues surrounding the numerous stakeholders in that region. During the workshop itself, we delved deeper and gained insights into the development philosophies and behaviors of the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD) and other NGO’s in the PSV.

The AASD has taken a different approach to community development than other NGOs in that region by placing greater focus on the development process and emphasizing the importance and significance of building long-term relationships with the PSV locals. This community development approach is in contrast to the current and generally accepted outcome approach which heavily emphasizes concrete assessments, metrics, and evaluations over some prescribed timeline. The AASD approach can be more clearly described as a kind of intentional “hands-off” intervention (if it could even be classified as an intervention), where the process of development evolves from a community over an undetermined period of time. In this scenario, AASD strives only to provide ‘aid’ in a very un-intrusive way by waiting for a local community to approach them and request AASD’s assistance to accomplish a particular project (i.e. build a greenhouse). Only then, does AASD provide assistance to that community by providing training and mentoring, and occasionally accompanying a community leader to visit the Peruvian government offices. AASD’s methodology is in sync with the rhythm of each individual community. It works in conjunction with the drive and desires of that unique community – when it is ready to accept something new into its culture. In this sense, AASD “follows the energy” and responds to or compliments that energy with ‘aid’.

The Community Social Change workshop provided an opportunity for students and AASD to share and receive a wide array of ideas surrounding current community development, future community development, and the potential for social enterprise specifically in the PSV. It was extremely thought provoking and laid the ground work for potential transformations within current community development philosophies for all of us.