About This Blog

Some readers may recall being regaled (bored?) over the past several years with tales of the great tome on economic development that I was in the process of writing.  The purpose would be to sum up a long career and attempt to pass along some simple lessons I learned along the way. Some may be surprised that I have learned some lessons that I consider to be worth sharing.  Some may be surprised that I can write at all.  A select and obviously discerning few have been kind enough to express their interest in seeing the finished product.

I have chosen this means of sharing my thoughts over the traditional hard copy or the more modern e-book formats for several reasons.  First is that by “publishing” the opus one chapter at a time, I hope to stimulate a discussion among the readers.  Comments are invited to facilitate that discussion not just between individual readers and myself, but among the reader group.  As “right” as I might consider my thinking to be, I do not pretend to offer the last word on any particular subject.  One of my major points in a later chapter is to promote the “conversation” as an important implementation tool.  I will consider this blog a success if it can serve as the stimulus of an ongoing conversation about important things among development professionals.

The second reason for going the blog route is that a formal book, with front and back covers and the whole thing, is more of a one way presentation of some finished thoughts from the author.  I do not want to suggest that my thoughts are in any way finished and I am far more interested in stimulating a two-way discussion of important subjects than delivering a lecture.

The third reason for going the blog route is that the likelihood that a whole book will ever be completed seems to lessen over time along with my confidence that many would be moved to actually pay hard money for it.  The blog approach relieves the readers from the obligation to pay to read about my lessons, which is not necessary in any case since I was reasonably compensated throughout my years of learning the lessons.  It also makes it possible for the readers to easily select the lessons they may be most interested in and leave the others for that mythic time later, when they will have more time.

The blog itself, like the book that seems may never be completed, will take the form of a series of lessons about ground level economic development.  These are lessons that I have learned and done my best to practice myself over a long career as a development “field guy”.  I will present and discuss the individual lessons and illustrate them with cases from my own experience.  Some of the cases are quite old but that is because the lessons were learned long ago.  I suppose it also reflects the unfortunate fact that learning is most easily accomplished by the young.  I believe, however, that the lessons hold true and are as valid today as they were in the past and that they can be applied far beyond the agriculture and enterprise development projects that have been the focus of my own efforts.  I will present those lessons, periodically, and one by one, in the most user friendly way I can devise.  I will also include a place to present books or other material that the readers may find interesting and make other additions and amendments responding to reader suggestions.

Readers are warmly invited to comment on each post as well as on other comments.  All comments that are neither patently offensive nor obviously submitted by spammers, phishers or other bad actors will be published whether they agree with me, disagree with me, or raise other issues for discussion.  To a considerable extent this blog is a work in progress and will remain so as I try to find the most user-friendly format both for presenting my blog posts and encouraging discussion among the readers.  If and when it may seem appropriate I will invite others to submit more extensive thoughts for presentation as a credited post on the blog.  Each post (after the first one) will be preceded by a brief summary of the topic to be discussed in that post for the readers to consider before committing his or here time to a more extensive presentation of the lesson itself.   Readers will be given the opportunity to register to receive an email notification of each new post as it is published or to receive each new post via RSS feed.  I pledge not to clog up mail boxes with endless minutiae and cannot foresee ever making more than one blog post per week — and probably far fewer unless there is a discussion that seems to be generating a high level of interest.  I have no commercial purpose in presenting this blog and do not foresee the inclusion of any advertising or other extraneous material.

So, read on gentle reader.  And, enjoy.

Gary

3 thoughts on “About This Blog

  1. Just wanted to share the challenge of the conversation even for locals.
    I have been corresponding with a young man who is studying in the U.S. He is from a small farming community in West Africa. Before he went home for the holidays he asked for some advice on how best to have a real conversation to find out the issues his community is facing with food security. He wanted to help his community solve their challenges through their farming resources.
    In a nutshell, the “conversation” revealed that their issues could be solved if only this fellow could get for them “new” seeds, tools, fertilizers, an animal plow and irrigation equipment. So much for his self-help approach with his community.
    So the “what did you bring us” is as alive and well with locals (at least in this case) as it is with the development gang. This has become the prevailing reality: agencies tripping over each other often in the same community to give stuff away in the name of resilience, gender equity, and food security. What to do?

  2. Hi Gary … Long time since Kenya and the Peace Corps. Your introduction has piqued my interest and I’m happy to see some of my favorite rants being expressed (much more eloquently) within the areas being focused on. I’m looking forward to the following in-depth sections, and hope to weigh-in when I find I have some relevant experience to relate.

    • Thanks, George. It is great to hear from you again. Where are you these days?

      I will be putting my next post on line within the next couple of days — about the importance of “The Conversation” as a development tool. I hope it will provoke some good conversation among those who have decided to take part in this little adventure.

      Gary

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