Monday, June 6, 2011

Avoiding passivity

Oxfam America (my current employer) just posted it's quarterly publication, OxfamExchange, highlighting our work around the world. I'm certainly biased, but it's a great report (especially the story about Haiti). Here's a taste, from the introductory paragraph:

Development work is hard to write about. At Oxfam, we try to avoid simplistic storytelling on one hand and impenetrable analysis on the other, because both do a disservice to our supporters and the people we serve. The issues that we face, however, are complex, and effective solutions require careful thought, sustained investment, and hard work. We worry that even our best-told stories may produce the same passivity that TV engenders. Like watching a movie unfold—however fascinating, the characters often seem distant, unrelated to your life.

That last thought really resonates with me; since starting to work in development, it's been easy to be passive about the myriad challenges and injustices facing people around the world (and in my own community), and critical when writers oversimplify. I'll leave it up to you whether this report succeeds in sparking action, but I thought it was a great read and wanted to share. Would love to hear your thoughts if you read it!

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