It is unusual, risky even, to put values 'out there' on a professional website. Especially when for me, as for most of humanity, there is a distance between who I aspire to be and who I am. Anyway here is who I try to be, what I try to bring to my work. If we work together I hope values will inform our collaboration. Take this page as an invitation to challenge me when I do not live up to what's here and a request to accept me anyway.
Some key principles that inform my work:
I am not in this game for what I earn, nor even what I learn - though both are collateral benefits. I work to make a small contribution to the planet I dream of. I only choose to work with projects whose big picture I believe in
Equality is not only just but also essential in order to approach complex problems that have no formal answers. Hierarchies simply exclude people from being part of a solution. I also see inequality as the major obstacle between humans and solutions to our social and environmental issues. If I work with you I must believe your project increases equality at some level.
For me human wealth at the price of environmental degradation is not development. Development must enhance humanity-and-the-environment-in-which we're-nested taken as a whole., as I say in this blog. It is unlikely that we will work fruitfully together if what you see as a successful project has a negative environmental impact. A difficult tension in international work is my carbon footprint. I genuinely include it when considering accepting an assignment and if we work together I may ask to modify plans to minimise travel. My wife and I impose a carbon tax on ourselves and donate to environmental organizations.
Boundaries and divisions between people is one of the biggest hurdles to what I think of as development. I am positive about reducing these and am unlikely to work with a project that increases divisions. Common ways people exclude others today are by gender, ethnicity, caste, financial barriers, geographic exclusion... and many others. They are all wrong. The unpredictable nature of our work space means an intervention may exclude some people as an unexpected consequence. Should that happen I’d want a project be able and prepared to iteratively modify itself to reduce such effects.
Whatever your intervention is, for me it has to be fair. I bring a justice lens to projects, looking for those that increase the fair distribution of what this planet has and equal rights for all to express wishes.
I am strongly motivated by non-violence. In the big picture this has seen me be arrested for a creative protest against USA trying to get New Zealand involved in its invasion of Iraq and many pieces in national and international publications against war and the current rampant militarism of the West. On a practical level in development work I strongly support approaches that speak truth to power without using violence. I also see individual, family or community scale violence as major issues for programmes to address.
A principle more than a value perhaps is usefulness. I only accept work with organisations whose vision I believe in, but even then only take assignments which might affect practise. I am not keen on evaluations which are simply to tick a box or training courses which are too short or unfocused or do not include the people in the organisation who make a difference to what is done and how.
In addition to these big picture values that I project onto the world I apply ethics and values to myself. I try to be honest, kind, and. accepting. I work with diligence, respect for others and their beliefs. I also try to communicate promptly , clearly and honestly in all matters. An introduction to me wading in these muddy waters where values meet life is this keynote address I gave to Auckland Medical students in 2014.
If we work together lets deliberately allow values to underpin what we do.