Building Lasting Prosperity

Although most of my past articles have been addressed in some way to Business leaders who aspire to create sustainable value in their organizations, my readers have come from a wide array of people, some business leaders, some professionals in various fields, and many others.  I wanted to acknowledge all of you and hope that you continue to enjoy reading.

In my last article, I talked briefly about an organization called Partners for Prosperity. You may remember a Remington Shaver commercial where the President came on the television and said “I liked the product so much I bought the company”.  Well, in my case, I didn’t “buy the company” but when I understood what Partners for Prosperity was striving to achieve I “bought” the message and when they found themselves with an opening, they invited me to join them as their Executive Director and I accepted.

Does that mean the end of my coaching practice? Well, no. There are still individuals and organizations that can benefit from my coaching right here in the Cowichan Valley or in Vancouver or other locations and as long as some of my time is available, I’m still willing to serve those needs. Having said that, I’m very much looking forward to my work with Partners for Prosperity.

Since I’ve started with them, I’ve had a lot of questions about what Partners for Prosperity does and what it stands for. In order to explain that, it’s worth getting an understanding of what we mean when we talk about prosperity.

In the traditional sense, prosperity has been based on an economic perspective. When you run a business, prosperity is usually tied to making money. It means having assets or financial ability and that in turn translates into having the freedom to do whatever one chooses.

For us, prosperity is a little different. It’s still about freedom and the ability to choose but not quite so much in an economic sense. It is more about freedom to express culture diversity, to have food security, descent housing and infrastructure, gender equality, availability to education, fundamental freedom of choice with regard to religious belief (or not) without persecution, freedom to investigate and learn, and freedom to develop and share arts and culture.

While economics does play an important role, there is a much greater emphasis on development of the the higher human nature, the virtues which make us what we are, and building of capacity from within a community itself rather than having one community trying to develop another. When we talk about “developing” vs. “developed” countries, it has the potential to belittle the contribution of the inhabitants of the so-called “developing” country to their own success. Prosperity for us involves recognizing diversity as a positive element of life that contributes to the whole, rather than holding to the belief that our way is the best way. It also recognizes the historical impact of certain cultures dominating others and seeks to heal those relationships through love and respect of all people. It strives to root out influences which have bred dependency on aid, recognizes individual and community rights to self-determination, and believes in our growing, albeit early, collective maturity. True prosperity seeks to demonstrate our collective ability to get beyond the historical abuses of power on the part of individuals, groups or governments which have so often lead to hopelessness for those who have suffered oppression and have likewise destroyed the humanity of those who oppress.

Partners for Prosperity’s goal is not to create development projects independently. Rather, it is to listen deeply to communities that are wanting to develop in their own capacity and in their own way. It seeks to partner with them to understand the environment necessary for that development to take place and it engages participants to facilitate the creation of that environment in ways that are respectful of the capacity of the community to develop itself and to contribute back to the greater good of society.

Our goal in Partners for Prosperity is to work closely with Volunteers to help them to develop new understandings of Social and Economic development which take into account the higher nature of humanity and accompanies them in their own development. When we help others to develop, they also help to develop us. When we look around, we find literally millions of people who are willing to serve others, to give of their time and energies, to try to make the world better place for those who follow in their footsteps, but who lack the skills or the means to apply their generosity of spirit. There are also many organizations who have successfully operated in the realm of Social and Economic Development who have valuable skills but who have limited capacity to replicate their successes. Partners seeks to play a role in creating partnerships with these various participants by developing a systematic approach to learning and expansion through research, outreaching to communities, reflecting, planning and applying our collective learning through action. We are developing a systematic approach for sharing and accompanying new Volunteers, for attracting new partnerships with NGO’s, Governmental groups and Businesses, and to make it easier to establish new programs of development lead directly by the communities we are working with.

I’m inviting everyone to participate, whether you are a:

  • Business Leader who wants to develop a socially active business or are willing to contribute financially or through your resource pool,
  • Volunteer who is willing to take on a development role while adopting an attitude of humble learning,
  • Student who seeks to expend your energies while learning new skills, developing deeper insights and creating your own future world,
  • Community member or leader wanting to celebrate and share your culture and uniqueness, while developing new capacities and sharing with us,
  • An NGO already working toward a better society and have skills or partnerships to contribute,
  • Friend willing to share this message with others and you believe that we can create a prosperous world together,

Initially, we are aiming to maintain and develop our projects and capacities in Haiti and Ghana, to maintain existing partnerships such as OUR Ecovillage and others, and to establish or share in other projects on Vancouver Island using these as our learning ground. But we also need to expand and have many connections elsewhere. As we further establish our methodology, we will have many opportunities to help facilitators across the globe in assisting groups of Volunteers in their own locations to establish their own Social and Economic development projects, all of which will be designed to develop the richness and capacity of the communities and individuals involved.

Please take the time to share your interested in helping us or learning more about Partners for Prosperity. Please contact me at  garth@partnersforprosperity.org . Share your vision, your experience, your learning, your hopes and your offers of time, resources or even money and please, share your name and phone number so I can call you back. I look forward to sharing our goals and working with you directly.

All the best,

Garth Schmalenberg

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