The world is like a ride. You think it’s real – it’s just a rideBill Hicks
And we can change it any time we want It’s only a choice – between fear and love.
Conventional funding bodies using conventional methods of ‘aiding’ are accustomed to having a huge degree of control over the project. They see themselves as essential and believe that if they did not enforce Organisation Policies, chaos would ensue. Fraud and corruption would be rife. So they spend as much as 90% of the money on making sure. More would probably get through using the Mafia!
Offices, advertising, experts, overseers, insurance, accountants, executives, researchers, grant writers—a bewildering bureaucracy supposedly there to ensure the efficiency of the operation and to make sure the money gets to where it was intended to go. Any sane outside observer would see that these organisations are driven by fear. Fear of failure, fear of losing control, and most of all fear of the people they are supposedly helping.
Freed from this kind of mental restriction we will be free to pursue our objectives without fear. Fear is the opposite of love and is what all Bad Things in our world are rooted in.
In the Direct Sponsor design, each individual recipient is answerable to their own small group of sponsors and their own local community. It’s in their interest to cooperate with the others in their local project because if they do not, they won’t benefit from (for example) converting to permaculture. They will make no progress and their funders will stop funding them. This is just the way things are; there’s no need to make up a set of regulations for people to blindly follow. But that isn’t what it’s about. That’s fear-based thinking. We don’t want to restrict people.
By becoming a sponsor, you open up boundless possibilities, not just for your recipient but for yourself as well. You are actively taking part in making a change happen. You’re transferring a little of your money (power) from a fear-based economy to a love-based one. Not entirely, but it’s a big first step. I tried to keep this in a left-brained perspective because that’s what most people are used to, but really it isn’t something the left brain can fully grasp. (If you don’t get this paragraph, just ignore it and send money anyway, it will be fine!)
The normal way to herd the peasants is to impose a hierarchy on them. A local area would have a coordinator, and a region would have another, higher level officer. Then perhaps a national office above that. The money filters down the system, with each level exercising their influence and power, because they handle the money and pass it down the line. Each level up has more power and a wider vision of the scope of the project. At the bottom, the peasants just do as they are told to get the money (stakeholder participation!). More often than not, this power is abused. At best, the hierarchy is an enormous financial burden on the donors and recipients.
In our design, the people at the ‘bottom’ get the money, and they pay for any services needed. Nobody knows better than them what they need. The coordinators’ normal power role is reversed. They are employed by the people. A teacher doesn’t run a permaculture center and get funding based on promises to do certain things, then hand out favours to the people; instead, the teacher is directly paid by the people and is not superior to them.
In reality, it will be a lot more cooperative than that sounds, because the design of the system makes competitive behaviour redundant. There is no prospect of ‘promotion’ for anyone. A recipient farmer might become a coordinator, but they will receive the same amount of money, and do the same amount of work, as the previous coordinator, just a fair local wage for the job.
People who seek to gain power over others will not be attracted to the roles this design offers, just like ‘pests’ are not attracted to a well-designed permaculture plot. People will still be able to be local heroes if they like, but they can do so only by virtue of what they actually do for their community, like in the traditional gift economy, not by tapping into a flow of money and being good at strutting around looking important.
We are starting with a pilot project in Kenya, showing some of the possibilities we could realise with the Direct Sponsor idea.
In Kenya, we have a PRI Centre called Badilisha Eco-village. It’s run by a permaculture teacher called Evans Odula. Sponsors will sponsor a family near the centre, and Evans will help them to make a permaculture design on their land, providing mentoring and support until they are self-sufficient. We estimate this will take two to three years. The sponsorship money will provide a subsidy to tide them over for losses in income during the conversion, as well as pay for Evans’ teaching and support. In turn, this income will help Evans to maintain the permaculture school and other things at Badilisha.
We have twelve local families ready and eager to start, one of whom is already sponsored. Not only are we solving the long-term security of those families, we’re helping Evans to spread permaculture in his local area and supporting the Eco-village project too. Each family can go on to teach others, so the thing grows organically.