I’ve been in a lot of philanthropy, aid reform, and open data conversations over the years. And too many times now, I’ve heard the phrase and/or sentiment that, “We will need to build an ecology of people who can...”

The underlying ideas behind the insanely shallow idea that an “ecology of people” needs to be built is absurd. Liaising and relying upon existing stakeholders, structures, and community groups is infinitely more effective and efficient that creating new networks or committees, especially in a short-term project.

This reveals one of the social good industry’s most killer assumptions: That in poor communities, nothing exists, i.e. that there’s a blank slate upon which our interventions can be built.

From DC, I wonder how much of it can be attributed to Robert F. Kennedy’s description of “the shaping impulse of America”? I’ve seen it in other countries as well though, and among other westerners.

It’s the need to 'create' and 'build' rather than 'strengthen,' 'transform' and 'amplify.'
It’s magical thinking and a changing world means it’s time to shift this mindset.

Yes, yes, do-gooders have been trained to talk about how much context matters, but why then are our approaches, programs, procedures, practices, meetings, and the words and tone we use still not centered on tapping existing capacity and local resources?

Read the full article about why philanthropy should escape a "building" mindset by Jennifer Lentfer from Thousand Currents at Medium.