Monday, March 12, 2007

Big Problems? Try small problem solving.

An important post from Denise Caruso over at Hybrid Vigor this morning - citing an article called the "Myth of Carbon Offsets" on Caruso, author of Intervention and NYT columnist (subscription required) notes that the bigger the problem (climate change, food safety, etc) the more likely that real solutions - those that are equitable, sustainable, and transformative (my definition of real) - must involve local, community stakeholders.

Here are my two sound bites on this nugget:

"The more global the problem the more local the problem solving."

Or, if you prefer,

"The bigger the problem, the smaller the problem solving needs to be."

Philanthropists, development experts, social investors and entrepreneurs give local stakeholders rhetorical due, but the focus on replication and scale pretty quickly quashes their real support for local expertise. Finding ways to foster global connectivity and let small, local solutions take hold is the real challenge. This is the same challenge I wrote about in my essay on Open Philanthropy in The World We Want - from which I still owe blog readers the last three of my seven building blocks for open philanthropy. The full list of seven:

1. Facilitate adaptation, don’t hinder it
2. Design for interoperability, local specificity will follow
3. Build for the poorest
4. Assume upward adaptability
5. Creativity and control will happen locally
6. Diversity is essential
7. Complex problems require hybrid solutions

And the earlier posts describing numbers one and two and three and four.

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