Seeing the images from Haiti this week is difficult. Broken buildings, corpses lining the streets, a child half buried by rubble but still alive - all of these realities are too much to take in. Just how many people have perished is still unknown, but what kind of future can there be for a people and a land already impoverished. There have been many mission trips from multiple U.S. churches, including my own, to Haiti in the past few years. There are more micro-development projects in Haiti by non governmental agencies than in any other country. Yet, has any of this helped?
This New York Times columnist speaks of the need to change the culture, raise the expectations and get the country in gear. Here is an excerpt:
The Underlying Tragedy
By David Brooks
Fourth, it’s time to promote locally led paternalism. In this country, we first tried to tackle poverty by throwing money at it, just as we did abroad. Then we tried micro community efforts, just as we did abroad. But the programs that really work involve intrusive paternalism.
These programs, like the Harlem Children’s Zone and the No Excuses schools, are led by people who figure they don’t understand all the factors that have contributed to poverty, but they don’t care. They are going to replace parts of the local culture with a highly demanding, highly intensive culture of achievement — involving everything from new child-rearing practices to stricter schools to better job performance.
It’s time to take that approach abroad, too. It’s time to find self-confident local leaders who will create No Excuses countercultures in places like Haiti, surrounding people — maybe just in a neighborhood or a school — with middle-class assumptions, an achievement ethos and tough, measurable demands.
The late political scientist Samuel P. Huntington used to acknowledge that cultural change is hard, but cultures do change after major traumas. This earthquake is certainly a trauma. The only question is whether the outside world continues with the same old, same old.
California winemakers have a new sustainability standard. Does their model have any lessons for fresh produce marketers? Here is a link to a treehugger.com story about the certification effort. Note the lead of the story says: “Finding sustainably produced California wine is about to get a whole lot easier.” Yet, later in the story, it is noted that there is no label planned for the certification. So, will it be easier or won’t it? This is the essential dilemma: whether or not to succumb to the urge to use sustainability (or food safety) attributes in marketing to consumers.