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It's not about the tools... it's about the mindset, she said.

Yesterday I met with Sirinate, a constellation member with a long history of applying ACP and CLCP in many different contexts. We met in the beautiful city of Bandung, where we were joined by Wiwin. Our meeting was to discuss the facilitation of some upcoming events for a partnership the Constellation has entered into with World Fish Centre, around livelihoods and aquatic ecosystems. But, for me, the meeting was much more than that.

You see, I don't know about you, but sometimes I get intimidated by the experience of others. I am relatively young (is 30 young? They do say that 30 is the NEW 20!), and whilst I have a wealth of rich and diverse experiences in my life and work, like many people, I let my inner critic tell me that it's not enough. That I have nothing to offer. So... when I meet people like Sirinate and Wiwin, I can be intimidated. Have you ever felt this too?

But during the day I realised something special. Experience is, indeed, very important. But what the Constellation offers is a pool of experience. The experience of someone else is not a threat, it is a gift! By sharing, Sirinate's experience becomes mine. By sharing, I can then pass this wisdom to others. When I listen, I learn so much from Wiwin. Sometimest she shares stories that she heard from someone else.And such is the circle of knowledge. None of us are experts but yet we all have something to offer. Together, our experience and wisdom is mind-blowing.

So... getting back to the title of this blog. There's one thing that Sirinate said yesterday which stuck with me all day. She was talking about her conversations with members at the World Fish Centre, for whom participatory practises are not new, but our approach is. She reminded them that participatory tools are just that - Tools. They can be applied and applied but there's more needed for them to truly foster ownership. It is the mindset that matters. We (facilitators, community workers, people) must truly believe in the capacity of communities to take action for themselves. We must truly believe that the resources exist and the solutions are there to be unlocked. We must believe in their wisdom and expeirience. This is the mindset. With this mindset, almost any particicpatory tools (CLCP, AI, ABCD, PRA) are useful.

Having taken a long rainy bus-ride back to Jakarta, I was able to reflect on one more aspect of this mindset. We must also believe in our own capacity. Our capacity as individuals, as facilitators and as a community.

This kind of self-belief and confidence is what will make the Constellation and its members competent in our own dreams. 

Thanks to those two beautiful ladies and to all of you who inspire me daily with your wisdom.


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