En moments convulsos d’injustícia, d’emocions intenses, contradiccions i dolors, quan la ràbia brolla, és aleshores quan cal aturar-se. I ser més valentes que mai, per defensar la sortida al conflicte i la no violència. Aturar-se, mirar amb la perspectiva suficient, i projectar quin és l’objectiu a assolir i amb quins costos. Venim d’una setmana dura. El punt de partida ha de ser necessàriament l’acceptació de que tenim una escalada de conflicte, una situació molt greu i la voluntat de posar-hi remei. Aquí uns punts que poden semblar obvis, però que resulten necessaris per sortir de l’atzucac:
Intelligència collectiva per sortir d’aquesta situació. Cal no accentuar l’escalada del conflicte i posar les bases per a la seva resolució. Tot això amb molta cura, recuperant el sentit de les paraules, dotant-les de significat amb accions i coherències individuals i col·lectives.
Diàleg i escolta. Quan parlem de diàleg no parlem només de diàleg entre Estat i Catalunya, parlem d’escolta activa, de diàleg social i comunitari, familiar, interpersonal, etc. Cal treballar en tots els nivells. Assumir el diàleg com a mitjà per a la resolució passa per refermar la via de la no violència, asserenar-nos i amb la màxima contundència instar i reivindicar aquesta via. La pràctica del diàleg no fa perdre contundència reivindicativa, no té cap connotació conformista ni de resignació, el diàleg mai no para l’altra galta. Caldrà tenir molt present que existiran i s’hauran de combatre prejudicis que pretenen desacreditar el parlar. No és fàcil, no cal ingenuïtat, però quantes més veus i ànimes estiguem aplicant-lo, més difícil serà mantenir l’immobilisme dels que no volen aplicar-ho. Que altres no vulguin no desacredita la via dialogada. Defensa de drets i llibertats. Contundència en la reivindicació de la sortida política a un conflicte polític. Contundència a l’hora de lluitar contra l’aberració que suposa a nivell democràtic la gestió judicial del procés. En aquest sentit es farà indispensable la reparació dels danys causats i la recerca de fórmules per a que els presos polítics recuperin la llibertat i puguin exercir diàleg des de la seva posició de líders socials i polítics. No violència. La via pacífica radical ha de ser un límit, amb convenciment ètic i determinació estratègica. És eficaç lluitar contra les injustícies amb contundència des de la no violència radical. En aquest nostre conflicte coexisteixen diferents violències amb les seves respectives quotes de responsabilitat. Tenim violència estructural institucional, cultural, sistèmica, violència contra les persones, violència contra les coses… Davant d’aquest ventall de naturaleses violentes només aconseguirem una legitimació del marc no violent si tractem totes les violències amb igualtat pel que fa a la intensitat amb la que les rebutgem. Hi ha el perill de frivolitzar qualsevol tipus de violència i reduir-la a la caricatura, o optar per la legitimació argumentant que les altres vies no han funcionat.
Condemnem les violències: TOTES LES VIOLÈNCIES. La violència que suposa la vulneració de drets i llibertats, la violència urbana de grups de ciutadans, la violència policial. Totes.
Comunicació no violenta. Ajudarà a poder atansar-nos a un clima social afavoridor del diàleg un ús del llenguatge que bandegi una projecció social dicotòmica, que defugi dels bàndols, de la identificació de l’enemic. No hem de menystenir l’efecte del llenguatge violent i excloent com a promotor de la violència. Conseqüentment és absolutament necessària l’aportació de matisos i la creació de punts de trobada a partir de la reflexió i la cura. Contundència, en la reivindicació de la sortida política a un conflicte polític. Contundència a l’hora de lluitar contra l’aberració que suposa a nivell democràtic la gestió judicial del procés. Entenent que no vol dir acceptant, les causes de les diferents violències, el nostre posicionament clar i ferm és el rebuig de totes i cadascuna de les violències.
De l’estat, provocant que cada vegada siguin més persones que demandin el canvi de model, de paradigma, amb la màxima unitat de la radicalitat democràtica, tant és quin model territorial o configuració de país tenim. I el màxim d’unitat de les forces polítiques que opten per desencallar el conflicte per la via de la no violència. La solidaritat entre pobles i ciutadania, sense exclusions, amb la mirada ampla.
Discrepància. Educar i actuar en la discrepància. Cal no perdre de vista que els posicionaments polítics dels adversaris són legítims, i interioritzar com deia Albert Camus, la possibilitat que l’adversari tingui raó, part de raó.
Humanitat i empatia. Defugir les posicions nosaltres / ells i lluitar contra la deshumanització de l’adversari. Comprendre que en tot aquest procés hi ha molt dolor i patiment de persones molt diverses, tant diverses com la societat. Saber reconèixer el dolor dels altres, i cercar solucions plegades.
Política. És l’hora de la política en majúscules, la que té un imperatiu de transformar la vida de la gent, la que resol conflictes i no en crea ni els accentua. Política a l’alçada de les circumstàncies sense partidismes ni electoralisme, que denunciï i fugi de la judicialització de la política i posi límits clars a la vulneració de drets i llibertats.
Democràcia. Democràcia també amb majúscules. La defensa de postulats democràtics sense cap mena de matís ni concessió, democràcia entesa en sentit ampli, on es contempli la dissidència, la mobilització, la discrepància, i l’exercici de drets i llibertats. Un sistema polític democràtic sa és aquell que admet al seu si postulats de canvi del sistema. Sinó no és completament democràtic. Responsabilitat. La responsabilitat política va molt més enllà de les responsabilitats dels representants polítics. Hi ha capacitat d’influència individual i col·lectiva en diferents àmbits de la societat, cadascú a la seva mesura i en els seus respectius entorns (quotidià, col·lectiu, familiar, professional, activista,…) hi té una responsabilitat. Oportunitat, cal potenciar l’oportunitat que suposa un moviment reivindicatiu tant multitudinari en l’aposta de la no violència, a nivell teòric, de relat i pràctic. Més enllà d’opinions i posicionaments, s’ha en posar en valor l’aposta sostinguda per la via pacífica com a mitjà de reivindicació, fins el punt que és un dels trets d’identitat del moviment. Hi ha més conflictes. Tenir la referència d’un model reivindicatiu pacífic és una oportunitat d’estendre aquesta cultura a la nostra societat. Mobilització i lluita. Mobilització i més mobilització, per a reclamar cada un d’aquests punts essencials per a la convivència, i per a qualsevol forma de societat.
La situació de clara vulneració de drets provoca que cada vegada siguin més persones que demandin el canvi de model, de paradigma i si és possible amb la màxima unitat de la radicalitat democràtica. S’entreveu un augment de la solidaritat entre pobles i ciutadania, sense exclusions, amb la mirada ampla, fet que deixa lloc a la esperança.
És possible sortir reforçats com a societat a conseqüència de l’afrontament d’aquest conflicte i de les seves conseqüències. És possible si cerquem els punts de trobada.
Tenim la intuïció que som moltes, la majoria potser, que en tenim el convenciment i la determinació de posar-nos-hi cadascú en la seva parcel·la de responsabilitat i capgirar la situació, sense renuncies d’allò essencial. Ens hi posem? Comencem per parlar i escoltar molt, especialment a aquelles persones que pensen diferent, cuidem-nos al marge del que pensem, fixem-nos en el que compartim, en com utilitzem les paraules, a qui responsabilitzem, i en quina part nosaltres podem canviar. Ja serà molt per començar.
Noe Ayguasenosa i Soro, diplomada en Cultura de Pau. Va ser impulsora de la Unitat de Mediació de Mossos d’Esquadra.
Gorka Espiau Idoia, ex-portaveu d’Elkarri (moviment social pel diàleg i l’acord al País Basc) i ex-Senior Fellow de l’Institut per la Pau dels Estats Units.
Gorka Espiau, Patrick Duong, Itziar Moreno and Joshua Fisher.
As in other regions, and despite political stability and high GDP rates, many conflict-affected and post conflict areas in Asia and the Pacific, face social and economic challenges that inhibit their ability to transform themselves. In fact, most of these areas are locked in “intractable” or “wicked” dilemmas, trapped between powerful external forces and self-harming dynamics. These extremely negative conditions present tangible obstacles to sustainable transformation (limited resources, physical and social impact of violence, lack of external investment) as well as intangible ones, primarily associated with the power of violent conflict to narrow our imagination. Faced with these dilemmas, we tend to accept that change is not going to be possible and that belief system limits our actions and options. This also impacts on countries’ commitments to implement the Agenda 2030 and ‘Localize the SDGs’.
Additionally, end of violence is normally considered as a prerequisite for real economic transformation due to the negative impact of conflict on investments, running operative costs and brand image. “Peace first and then reconstruction” seems to be the inevitable narrative, neglecting the intrinsic relationship between them. Despite the Agenda 2030 that highlights the interconnectivity of development challenges and the importance of a systems approach to integrate peace building, socio economic transformation and environmental sustainability dynamics within the Sustainable Development Goals, most of the interventions, including those of UNDP are still designed, managed and evaluated as linear projects rather than considered as interconnected elements of any long-term socio-economic transformation strategy.
The Basque case is an exception to the above-mentioned trends. At the end of the 1970s, the Basque area was emerging from forty years of dictatorship in which any expression of local culture had been repressed. The area was experiencing an industrial collapse that generated high unemployment and an international image directly associated with terrorist violence. Despite these circumstances, the Basque society managed to stop violence while transforming its economy and industrial base. It now leads international rankings in advanced manufacturing, education and healthcare, and has also generated a balanced distribution of wealth. While the tax system is similar to the European average, the Basque Country has enjoyed high income equality rates for decades. This data allows us to think that it is possible to tackle violence with the generation of wealth in a distributed manner.
Compared to similar conflict situations, the key factor of this transformation seems to have been associated with an intangible component that enabled the development of an ambitious collaborative strategy and a permanent conviction that change was in fact possible with endogenous forces. The intangible or cultural dimension of this transformation (the “software”) can therefore be interpreted as the set of values and beliefs shared by the Basque society, expressed in collective narratives of change, ultimately conditioning the extraordinary strategic decisions that were taken.
According to the Basque experience, systems change only comes about when the entire community feels empowered to act in a different manner. These narratives of collective change can be found in all conflict areas that have undergone positive transformations. Clarifying if the community believes that change is possible or not is a key element that will condition the entire intervention. New tools for listening more deeply to the existing narratives and belief systems are therefore required. Instead of looking for rare ‘talent’ in exceptional individuals, the most advanced forms of peace and socio-economic transformations at the sub-national level set out to empower an entire community so that everyone can act in an innovative way. Understanding the area as a complex system and interconnecting the existing efforts must be a priority of any peace building effort.
The Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies (ALC-University of the Basque Country) in collaboration with AC4 (Columbia University) are already testing how to build such platforms as Social LABs in the Basque area, Colombia, Croatia, Perú, India, Mozambique, Quebec and now in Thailand. Experience from these early test cases demonstrates that deep collaboration is the mechanism that spurs social transformation. That collaboration is key in generating empathy and a collective identity across a society and reinforcing that with non-transactional (or not only transactional) exchanges of ideas leading to collective mobilization of human, financial, and social resources. However, because these processes and the contexts in which they occur are dynamic and constantly changing, this type of collaboration requires a constant flow of information across social networks to enable harmonized adaptation to change.
The building blocks to set up a Social Innovation Platform for Peace and socio-economic transformations at the sub-national level’ are: (1) new community listening tools, (2) new co-creation and prototyping capabilities on 5 different levels (community actions, small and medium scale initiatives, large scale public/private partnerships, service redesign and new regulation), (3) a portfolio approach to manage prototyping and scale, (4) the possibility to set up locally focused investment funds and (5) the integration of management, communication and evaluation strategies to enable a constant flow of necessary information across a society.
New LABS in Asia
Acknowledging the need to adapt the Basque experience to the local Asian contexts and building upon the positive experience of the co-design workshop conducted in Southern Thailand by a variety of local and international institutions (September 2019), UNDP (Bangkok Regional Hub) in collaboration with ALC-AC4 is exploring the possibility of launching 3 UNDP powered Social Innovation Platforms for peace building in collaboration with local authorities, business and civil society.
For UNDP, the ‘Basque approach’ is particularly interesting for two reasons. First, as a mean to prototype new approaches in Asia and the Pacific to sustain peace and enhance socio-economic development and thus ‘Localize the SDGs’. Second as a way to test UNDP’s capability to use collaborative platforms at the subnational/municipal level to ‘work out loud’, connect experiments, develop partnerships, mobilize investments and ultimately be recognized as an ‘integrator’ and amplifier of existing interventions (#NextGenUNDP). ALC and AC4 are also convinced that this exchange will help the Basque region to learn from existing practices in Asia, allowing collective intelligence emerging from distanced but connected parts of the world to tackle common challenges.
Through our experiences contributing to build similar Social Innovation Platforms, we’ve seen the real added value of this approach to positive transformation. That values comes in the form of increased collaboration across a society, and can be summarized in 5 key elements (Begovic M.):
1.- From transactional to relational.
Traditional projects and interventions are managed hierarchically. Platforms, on the other hand, are managed collaboratively and horizontally, and large institutions such as UNDP become conveners, facilitators and curators of the platform, selecting the actors that get to implement the process and benefiting from the network of companies that collaborate with the platform. The characteristics and expertise of the partners will determine the nature and scale of the projects. The co-creation process will make sure that all kinds of actors get involved, generating different types of interconnected prototypes.
2.-From acknowledging demand to uncovering unexpressed needs.
Traditionally, technical solutions are designed by “expert groups” in collaboration with local intermediaries, expecting social and economic change to happen naturally by local people following the advice and training given to them. Platforms challenge this top down approach, challenges and aspirations of local communities are interpreted collectively by a mix group of citizens, public authorities, climate experts, business and not-for-profit organizations. Technical solutions are co-designed with institutions and companies and responding to local dynamics.
3.- From defining-problem default to mapping-solution default.
Platform approaches invest significant resources in deeply understanding the community dynamics before designing the intervention. Working in this way, allows all the resulting initiatives to be directly connected with the real narratives of the community members at all levels, multiplying their impact.
4.- From premium on executing to a premium on learning/adapting.
Traditional analysis generates a list of objective problems/challenges to address. Platform approaches complement quantitative data and empirical, tangible evidence with a list of social priorities and perceptions. This intangible information provides us with a rich, deep knowledge that is very difficult, almost impossible, to find with traditional analysis techniques. In order to harness distributed intelligence, platform approach combines impact evaluation and developmental evaluation methodologies, identifying specific indicators for each intervention.
5.- From scaling projects to scaling processes.
Traditionally, identified challenges are tackled by existing solutions or co-creating specific and linear projects with experts. Within this approach, identified challenges are tackled by an open innovation platform (a variety of actors, methodologies and interconnected actions). The prototypes generated by the platform are considered as a portfolio of interconnected investments to attract additional sources and offering a better risk management strategy.
The Basque experience indicates that a systems approach to socio-economic transformation in a conflict setting requires a strong connection between the operating narratives and belief systems, coupled with very specific and interconnected actions. Successful socio-economic transformation in conflict areas can therefore be co-created by generating a new narrative of transformation (change is possible) with a portfolio of collectively designed interventions that are structured as a Social Innovation Platform bringing together a variety of actors, methods and initiatives.
In the Asian context, the strategic goals of these platforms are to prototype a new integrated approach to peace building and sustainable socio-economic development in conflict or post-conflict areas for the UNDP. This new laboratory will test if the current “Peace first and then reconstruction” approach should be replaced by collaborative platforms promoting “socio-economic and peace building at the same time”.
Coleman, P., Redding, N. & Fisher, J. (2017). Influencing Intractable Conflicts. Chapter 85 in C. Honeyman et al. (eds.) The Negotiator’s Desk Reference. Volume 2, 2nd Edition. Washington, D.C. ABA Section of Dispute Resolution.
Coleman, P., Redding, N. & Fisher, J. (2017). Understanding Intractable Conflicts. Chapter 84 in C. Honeyman et al. (eds.) The Negotiator’s Desk Reference. Volume 2, 2nd Edition. Washington, D.C. ABA Section of Dispute Resolution.
Coleman, P.T., Liebovitch, L.S., and Fisher, J. (2019). Taking Complex Systems Seriously: Visualizing and Modeling the Dynamics of Sustainable Peace. Global Policy.https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12680
Fisher, J., & Rucki, K. (2016). Re-conceptualizing the Science of Sustainability: A Dynamical Systems Approach to Understanding the Nexus of Conflict, Development and the Environment. Sustainable Development 25(4): 267-275. https://doi.org/10.1002/sd.1656
Fisher, J., Stutzman, H., Vedoveto, M., Delgado, D., Rivero, R., Quertehuari Dariquebe, W., Contreras, L., Souto, T., Harden, A., & Rhee, S. (2019). Collaborative governance and conflict management: Lessons learned and good practices from a case study in the Amazon Basin. Society and Natural Resourceshttps://doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2019.1620389
Liebovitch, L.S., Coleman, P.T., and Fisher, J. (2019). Approaches to Understanding Sustainable Peace: Qualitative Causal Loop Diagrams and Quantitative Mathematical Models. American Behavioral Scientist.https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764219859618
When we talk about the topic of innovation, people usually think about some amazing things that only happen in a place like Silicon Valley. ‘Innovation,’ or ‘Social Innovation,’ in particular is often perceived as and associated only with cutting-edge technology, public services, and social entrepreneurship. However, there is much more to it. What does it actually mean? That depends. Innovation can be anything from the new ideas, solutions, tools, methods, approaches or the processes of doing things differently, which can eventually lead to a positive systemic change in our society. This, of course, includes the work in the conflict areas where peace is absent and violence is prevalent.
In the conflict areas, ‘innovation’ or ‘socio-economic development’ and ‘peace building’ are often seen as two separated topics. However, the study of the Basque Transformation by Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies (ALC) led by Gorka Espiau, social innovation specialist, indicates that:
• Conflict, violence, peace-building, human rights, health, education, and sustainable human developments are all interconnected in a complex way;
• Social innovation can improve the social and economic conditions in the conflict areas;
• Building social innovation platforms in conflict areas could help create a ‘sustainable peace’ – a definition that doesn’t mean just a situation without physical violence, but also includes human security in social, economic, and cultural dimensions.
Last week, UNDP had a chance to work with Gorka and his colleague, Iziar Moreno to introduce social innovation process and explore the possibility of creating social innovation platform for socio-economic transformation with groups of local authorities, civil societies, academia, and startups from the southern border provinces of Thailand – Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat. Our journey to the South begins with curiosity to see how social innovation platform can be created as a space to generate ideas/initiatives from the local communities where people face with complexities and extreme difficulties; and how this platform can help us to interconnect multiple development issues in the area.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE WORKSHOP?
1.SHARING OF LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE BASQUE COUNTRY TRANSFORMATION UNDER EXTREMELY CHALLENGING SITUATIONS
Gorka shared his experiences and lessons learned from the Basque case, where people suffered from a profound economic collapse, the highest unemployment rate in Southern Europe, and an image associated to violent conflict. Despite these challenges, today the Basque Country holds advanced positions in healthcare, education, and income per capita. Instead of violence, it becomes known as the city of development and this renowned success is what we called ‘the Basque Transformation.’ This sharing of the Basque case helps participants learn and contextualize.
To summarize the Basque case at a glance,
• The transformation in the Basque Country happened as a result of the people’s hopeful attitudes despite worst scenarios. The sense of urgency and the feeling that no one would help them made it possible for people to start creating something better for themselves. They believed that ‘Change is Possible.’ Their decisions were connected with common values and narratives, that is, instead of being remembered as a symbol of violence and conflict, they wanted the city to be remembered as a symbol of positive change.
• There were many actions that may seem unrelated, for examples, the decision to engage with Gugenheim Foundation and to invite Frank Gehry to build a museum in Bilbao and make it a symbol of transformation (resulted in what we later called the Bilbao Effect), the establishment of Mondragon, a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives, a movement of local chefs who brought in modern and French culinary skills to mix with their local ingredients and traditional cooking technique. Many restaurants are now awarded Michelin Star, and many other activities. However, looking closer, these actions all became the interconnected mechanism that helped accelerate the social and economic development, which eventually made Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) decide to lay down their weapons, eventually leading to ‘sustainable peace.’
For more details of the Basque Transformation, stay tuned and check out our next article very soon!
2. CONNECTING THE DOT – WHAT HAVE WE DONE?
A group exercise allowed participants to think about ‘new things’ that they have done or has already happened in their communities, from which resulted in positive changes. Participants were tasked to comprehensively define them in 5 categories.
1. Community actions e.g., a small-group forums in mosque, to discuss support for for orphans, led to a new idea on fund-raising. They agreed to raise funds through garbage selling instead of donations. The garbage were later sold for use as fertilizer and to raise money to help the orphans.
2. Small-medium scale entrepreneurship e.g., the establishment of Fiin Delivery, a food and document delivery service
3. Large scale public-private partnership e.g., public-private partnership on water management system
4. Public service e.g., an ambulance/emergency service in a remote village to take patient to a nearby hospital.
5. New regulation e.g., Community cremation rules which is an agreement that all community members are to help with the funeral arrangement when someone dies.
Allowing participants to think in these 5 levels helped them see a clearer picture of connections as well as slowly began to have a common vision on social innovation that it isn’t something out of reach but is something that may have already be done in the area.
“IT IS ABOUT HOW WE INTERCONNECT THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING IN THE AREA, AND THAT COULD BE HIDDEN DUE TO VIOLENCE AND CONFLICT, AND HOW WE CREATE ALTERNATIVES.”
3. LEARN TO ‘LISTEN’
To create systemic change, the first and foremost important process is ‘listening’.
We must ‘listen’ to the untold stories, to things that sometimes may not be said out loud in order to find the reasons behind people’s actions, attitudes and behaviors, as well as their beliefs and values in life to see the narratives and how the stories are making sense collectively (collective sensemaking)
Most importantly, we must find out if people believe that ‘change is possible or not’ as the belief can directly affect the development. For instance, in some communities, despite a lot of projects, budget or government support, young people still want to leave their hometown to find jobs somewhere else because they are taught by their parents that to be successful is to be able to work in the capital city. In contrast, in the place where people think that change is possible, they might open small businesses in their community to tackle unemployment challenge.
This process allowed participants to learn the importance of deep listening to identify the challenges and opportunities and see the connection between stories.
Social innovation builds co-creation on human-centred design processes which help us overcome the traditional top-down approach. Participants together envisioned the future of the provinces they want to see as well as co-created and co-designed social innovation ideas and solution to prototype further.
Some interesting ideas and stories from the locals:
• Participants shared common perspective that agriculture, food and sustainable tourism are opportunities. They take pride in their unique cultural richness and natural resources. But, due to the negative representation of conflict and violence in the media, less people come to visit this area and tourism cannot be promoted. They also feel that they cannot fully utilize their resources efficiently. At the same time, the provinces also have many talented people and interesting events but these are not represented in the media as often as the negative ones.
• People see the opportunities to export both fresh and processed fruits, especially longkong and durian, to other provinces or neighbouring countries. In Narathiwat, local people mainly depend on rubber tapping. The authorities try to encourage people to grow other kinds of vegetable and fruits for additional sources of income. However, rubber tapping is seen as a way of life inherited from their ancestor. They still want to preserve the knowledge and local wisdom amidst unstable rubber price. The questions may lie in how to achieve the balance between maintaining identity and creating new economic opportunities – and that the solutions shall truly meet the needs of people in the community.
• Participants see the possibility of partnership and connection to other communities. They present tourist destinations in their provinces, which can easily be developed into a sustainable community-based tourism. The travel routes can also be interconnected between various districts and provinces.
• In some areas, extreme difficulties discouraged and make people lose hope in life. It is difficult to organize creative activities and many activists also stop their action on development issues. To solve the issue, participant suggested the idea of ‘PeaceLab,’ to use technology and media to support local people’s learning about human rights and sustainable peace.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THE PROCESS?
1.LISTENING AND REFLECTING TO CREATE SYSTEMIC CHANGE
The most important thing that happened this process is that we listened to people from ‘every sector.’
This workshop convened participants from different groups, including local authorities, community leaders, entrepreneurs, startups, academia and civil society organizations.
By staring with a simple question, “How would you describe Pattani/Yala/Narathiwat to people who have never heard of your provinces before?” We were able to listen to different stories and different narratives from people, though living in the same province, who have different backgrounds, experiences, interests, and professions. And in these differences we found an interesting connection; people actually feel that they are connected by taking pride in the diverse cultures and identities of the area, including Muslim, Buddhist, and Chinese. They felt that the charm of the Deep South is that, despite the diversity, they can share the rich resources and co-exist with each other as reflected during the dialogue “Religious affairs, we do separately – Social affairs, we act together”
After that, more intense questions were asked. “What do you think are the challenges in the area that people know exist but have never spoken out loud?” The discussion made us see a much broader and deeper narrative and helped us visualize the connections in social, economic, and cultural dimensions from upstream to downstream.
From the observation of the atmosphere during the dialogue, we found that by having a listening space for people to tell their stories, people are more engaged and truly feel they are part of process. Moreover, it helps them to see the connections of different narratives and to not rush to the conclusion on ‘what is the right thing to do.’ The two keys to this listening process, especially for facilitators, are 1) to be a glass half empty and 2) to not make any pre-judgement and conclusion before knowing the whole stories.
Another important process is the reflecting after listening, and the collective sensemaking by which people give meaning to their collective experiences, visualized through diagram mapping. The purpose of this step is not to find solution to the problem but allowing participants to reflect on the connection of their own stories. As facilitators, we didn’t really have to worry if our linked arrows between each post-its are going to be right or wrong because, even they are wrong it will be a tool to encourage participants to think deeper and correct them. This mapping is a joint process which all participants are responsible together and which makes sure that everyone’s stories are in the picture.
2. THE TRANSFORMATION IS STEMMED FROM THE COMMON BELIEF THAT “CHANGE IS POSSIBLE”
The listening process should not occur only once, but repeatedly, every time and in every stage of development process so that we could gain a deeper understanding of the narrative. We have to dig deep to find hidden messages in each story – whether people think that ‘change is possible or not.’
The question may sound simple, but to make sure that the answers we get come really from their hearts is not an easy task at all. Especially in the areas plagued by daily conflict and violence, people tend to undermine their belief in change, development, and living a positive life. Participants might answer ‘Yes, I think it is possible, but…’ followed by many other conditions. This shows that they do not really believe in the possibility of change
So, the further question is that if people don’t believe that change is possible, what can we do? Maybe shifting the vision to focus on a much smaller action for a tangible outcome (or even show that what they have already done is actually the change itself) could be a better starting point to show that it is possible to create change. So, the question ‘is change possible?’ is important in a way that it helps with designing and shaping process of development in a sustainable way.
To summarize, ‘Transformative Change’ can only happen when people believe that change is possible. This belief will eventually be the driving force for individuals, organizations, communities, and society.
3. A SUSTAINABLE AND SYSTEMIC CHANGE MUST COME FROM THE LOCAL PEOPLE THEMSELVES.
The intense workshop on listening, sensemaking, co-creation, and prototype allows us to see a new light of interconnected opportunities such as food and culture as previously mentioned. However, for the next step as facilitator, even though it is surely easier for us to lead the process as we know a lot about tools and familiar with the approach of social innovation, we may need to step back to open up a space for the local to come up with their own conclusions and interpretation, and find solutions that are most suitable for them. That way the interpretation and solution will represent the local needs and ways of life, and not being misrepresented by the outsiders.
The process of creating transformative change that is driven not by experts but by local people is much more challenging and complex. Of course, participants might not be able to connect the dots and grasp the essentials all together at once, but it is definitely a good beginning of creating a learning process for local people to get to know new tools and methods that can be used in a sustainable peace building process. We believe that this process will eventually lead us to sustainable developments in the southern border provinces of Thailand. At the heart of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it isn’t merely working to achieve the 17 Goals, but it is working with ‘Leaving No One Behind’ lens.
Making sure that everyone from every sector, including the most vulnerable persons, is engaged in the process may take more time and is more complex, nevertheless, it enables the paths towards sustainable development and peace building.
““SOCIAL INNOVATION SHOULD BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER TO HAVE COMMON MISSIONS. AS A LOCAL COMMUNITY, WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND PROBLEMS THAT WE ARE FACING AND CONNECT THEM WITH NEW IDEAS.” ”
Most importantly, this workshop of building social innovation platforms in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat would not be possible without the passionate participation from all participants.
I would like to take this opportunity to praise the representatives from all three provinces
• CHABA Startup Group
• Sri Yala MyHome
• Saiburi Looker
• HiGoat Company
• MAC Pattani
• MAC Yala
• MAC Narathiwat
• Hilal Ahmed Foundation
• CSO Council of Yala
• Nusantara Foundation
• Thanksin University
• Institute of Peace Studies, PSU