Monday, March 2, 2009


The 1010 Project was asked to present a workshop on poverty eradication at a PeaceJam conference here in Denver this past weekend. The Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator and I were going to co-present, but she fell ill and I flew solo. I think it went well. The room was packed, the kids asked good questions, and none of my multimedia fell through.

Some of the tougher questions were about comparisons between microfinance institutions in the developing world and sub-prime mortgages in the US. It sounds crazy, but it's a good question. I answered that we have to hope that our rosy vision for the future is correct, and that communities in the developing world have a better sense the rest of us. Other good questions were about regulation of the informal sector in our world's slums. It really was a lot of fun. I'll include the description of the workshop below for your perusal:

Initiatives to tackle poverty are not new, but the methods and best practices employed by people to do so change quite often. Even twenty-five years ago, the prevailing notion was that eradicating poverty could be done from the top down. Those initiatives failed, or produced systems of dependence wherein no real change was made. What was needed was a shift from the top-down model to a bottom-up model. What was needed was ownership of poverty eradication by the very people who would benefit from it: the poor.

It is important to explain to the general public, and especially young people, that ending poverty is not simply a question of how much foreign aid is sent to the developing world but rather a question of where that money is going and how it is being used. Purchasing emergency rations during humanitarian disasters is perfectly noble, but when the food trucks leave, are the people there really in a better position?

The 1010 Project employs a model of development that ensures sustainable, healthy growth coupled with positive social change, and we are not alone in our work. There are countless activists in developed and developing countries working hard every day to make sure that foreign aid dollars and individual donations are used to their greatest effect. This is achieved by actually listening to what the poor have to say. They usually have ideas about how they can help themselves and their communities to break the cycle of poverty but just lack the resources.

Also important is the notion that the “conversation” about poverty is changing. We are used to seeing photos of hungry children and destitute slums; we are told time and time again about the conditions in such places, with malaria and HIV/AIDS running rampant. The conversation now includes success stories; reports about community-based organizations coming together to help each other. Billions still live on less than $2 per day, but every day, thousands of people and families are lifting themselves out of poverty. We know how to help them, and they are more than ready to partner with us.

We will walk participants through the following content areas:
  1. Introductions: Our icebreaker is discussing what “poverty” means to us. This is, in a large way, the perfect starting point for any discussion about ending global poverty – defining it.
  2. History of foreign aid infrastructure and poverty alleviation/eradication techniques.
  3. Description of The 1010 Project methodology as it relates to poverty eradication.
  4. Description of other NGO/NPO work, e.g. Kiva, GlobalGiving, etc.
  5. “Success stories from the field” – Describing the positive effects of in-country ownership of poverty eradication initiatives.
  6. Taking it to the streets – What can activists do to advocate on behalf of the poor, and how can those successes be expanded upon and globalized?
  7. Q & A

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