A Blog Around The Clock

Hopebuilding and Storytelling

On the Hopebuilding’s Weblog, Rosemary wrote:

When I was a journalist, many years ago now, it never really occurred to me that we spent much more time on “bad news” than on “good news”. In fact, sometimes people caricatured the “good news” attempts as being Pollyanna-ish; they thought “good” news was not really news.

But these days, as I spend so much time on the web, I really appreciate the “good news” sites. It provides a healthy balance to the daily diet of so much “bad news” in the media – what my friend Jim Lord calls “deficit thinking”, and what he replaces with “appreciative thinking”.

And from that idea, Hopebuilding Wiki was born – a collection of stories from around the world describing how people overcome adversity, or got together and solved a problem:

Hopebuilding wiki was created to share stories of achievement by ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things to make their world a better place to live in, but whose stories are not as widely known as they should be.

You will meet people here who saw a problem as an opportunity to create something new or something better, whether it be a school principal finding a way to use spare land to grow crops for a school lunch program, and thus inspiring dozens of neighbouring schools to do the same thing; a community of slumdwellers setting out to provide water and sewer service to their area, using their own resources and skills; people in large cities creating jobs for, and bringing gifts to, the homeless; or a huge company like Wal-Mart realizing that putting canned fish on the shelves meant doing its best to ensure that the fishing industry was sustainable.

You will meet people who built peace for themselves, even while the rest of their country was in chaos, and people who sustained their communities even in the middle of conflict. You will find people who dreamed of eliminating or reducing the death toll from terrible illnesses, suffering people who reached out to each other to provide comfort and support when others would not, and people who wanted to give others the tools to manage their own health effectively even when no professionals were available. You will find inventive people whose creativity is offering us new solutions to live sustainably on our shared earth.

Hopebuilding includes stories from both the “developing” and “developed” worlds, as they are often called, because I believe that people living in fragile states and in inner cities and aboriginal communities in North America and Europe have a great deal in common, both in terms of challenges and in inspiring ideas and solutions based on their own capacities and resources. Many people living in fragile states think of North America and Europe as being incredibly wealthy, not as places with homeless people and public schools without learning resources. Similarly, many people in North America and Europe have a picture of fragile states as being places where nothing works, because that is what they see on the news, rather than places where people have used their own knowledge and capacity to develop creative solutions to the challenges they face – solutions that may well help people in “developed” states as well. Realizing that we share the same challenges means we can be inspired by each other’s solutions, capacities, and ideas – and for me, that is the essence of a peer-sharing approach to international development.

For me, these stories show why local knowledge, and local capacity, is such a vital foundation for development at every level. New technologies have shown us that our world is an inter-connected place, and our problems are shared. It is not a world in which some people have all the problems, and other people have all the solutions; in fact, some of the most creative ideas are coming from places or groups that were once seen as ‘under-developed’. Sharing our creative solutions widely means local peoples’ expertise and achievements in one country can inspire local people facing a similar problem in another country.

While I live these days in a small village in a relatively remote part of the world, it inspires me daily to be able to find and share such stories of other peoples’ achievement through the Internet. The people in these stories give me hope, and I salute their achievements. I hope you will, as well.

Check out the stories there….