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A VISION OF WORKING TOGETHER Empowerment Works is a progressive think-tank in action advocating a collaborative, multi-sector approach to sustainable development. The EW Model seeks to catalyze the efforts of various social entrepreneurs, humanitarian & environmental organizations by increasing their access to global markets, appropriate technologies and capital through collaborations between diverse public and private sectors of the world economy.
The seeds of this model were sewn in 1994 when founder Melanie St. James spent a semester traveling throughout China and discovering that far too little was being done to turn the tide of poverty, environmental devastation and human conflict across the globe. She became dedicated to the relationships between: population density + resource scarcity = violation of human rights, poverty, conflict.
Five years later, after conducting over 40 interviews with women and men regarding issues of human security and reproductive health throughout the war-torn region of Casamance, Senegal, West Africa, the brilliance of the human condition was further unveiled. While the people live in economic poverty, they possess a deep sense of community, passing knowledge of their natural resources, cultural arts and many special traditional skills down through the generations. Using their local resources and specialized talents they create beautiful artwork, handmade fabrics and other crafts. However, powerful external forces as past colonization and current globalization have been destructive to the natural harmony of this land as well as indigenous knowledge and cultural pride. The trash once filled with Mango seedlings is scattered with plastic bags. The Western Marlboro Man and Coca-Cola are moving in, while native traditions and bio-diversity are disappearing.
These issues are not limited to the Casamance, they are mirrored throughout the developing world today. Globalization doesn't have to hurt those who have been exploited already in the past. Globalization represents a vast channel of exchange, transfer of goods, it is a vehicle of mobility. It's up to us- the people of the world to decide what and how things move through this channel. Like a weapon, it is a tool and can be used destructively or constructively. A clear choice is before us: To forget our children or to think of their futures; to exploit the availability cheap labor and raw materials, or to implement proactive solutions, to ensure bio-diversity, a quality of human life on earth that we can celebrate. This can be done by celebrating now, the very things that give us life and that make life worth living. The communities we work with suffer separatist conflicts, shrinking food supplies, environmental degradation, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and other significant threats to their health, their economy, their culture--their survival. Yet they maintain a great sense of hope for their children, and work hard against insurmountable odds toward a secure future. They want and need better opportunities. This is why Empowerment Works has formed. We help communities in crisis to overcome economic hardship by providing them greater access to markets, appropriate technologies, investment capital so they may honorably share their cultural arts, indigenous knowledge, diverse perspectives, etc., with other communities across the globe. Empowerment Works is comprised of a growing network of people, who understand that by bringing the best of what we have to the table, we build a better world for humanity.
- Jaime Nack
- (805) 683-9114
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