It’s been a great year at! I am invoking a “shut down” for the holidays as of today and will return on January 15th. Why the big break?

Because there are ideas to be flushed out, plans to be finalized, proposals to be finished, reflections and connections to be had.

2011 has been a “shake-up” year. With the Arab awakening in North Africa and the Middle East and the emergence of the Occupy Movement, there have been many, many moments infused with energy and inspiration for those involved in “flipping the aid system” to put more local and national actors in the driver’s seat of development.

Thus the need for a break. It’s time for me personally to re-group and re-focus on what more can be done to explore, unleash, and promote the potential of community leaders, grassroots groups and local, indigenous organizations as the fundamental focal point of effective development aid, in the process increasing the demand for human rights and development. The promise and potential of far-reaching and responsive small grant mechanisms to help enable grassroots movements to emerge and gain strength is extremely exciting for me. Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal, Devex, and The Chronicle on Philanthropy point to how and why this can work.

No matter what type of aid work you’re involved in, as the year closes, I invite you to also reflect upon how you support local leaders and activists (such as the ones from Kenya featured in the short documentary from Fahamu below) in their efforts to unleash social change.

People, under the direst of circumstances, can and do pull together. My hope is that in 2012, the aid and philanthropic sectors will move closer to recognizing this.

(If unable to view the video, see


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