Monday, April 30, 2012

A Call From Grace


I quietly slid the door closed and buried my hands in my pockets, making my way along the maze of sidewalk in the darkness. I paced back and forth in front of the stacked silver mailboxes, like a confined polar bear at the zoo. Finally, hands shaking, I flipped open my phone and scrolled to his name.

I had been haunted with the nagging feeling that I should call him for weeks. And it was getting worse. You know the feeling—the same tug on the back of your mind that exhorts you to finally get your oil changed, switch your laundry, and text your mother-in-law. The voice of should and ought and must.

I thought the voice was God’s, calling me to connect, to reconcile, to be the better person. Calling me to call.

As I scrolled to his name, heart racing, a trickle of sweat running down my back, I froze. I scanned the letters of his name that once made my heart leap, and the tears pricked hard at the back of my eyes, hurt balling up in my throat.

The ought to voice screamed louder, screamed “DO IT!”

I dropped my phone, dropped my body to the sidewalk and yelled back “Just give me a minute!”
Huddled on the curb, I forced the breath in and out of my lungs. Forced my hands to still. And in the stillness, a different voice spoke:

“Aly, I love you whether or not you make this phone call.”

Not the voice of ought, but the voice of Love. The voice of Grace.


I wasn’t accustomed to hearing voices so kind, so clear. I knew it was not my own.

I stared wide-eyed into the sky, the dark, soaking in grace. When, minutes or hours later who knows, I pocketed my phone and walked back to my apartment, the phone call still unmade, all outward signs pointing toward failure, I didn’t care.

I was a different person. A person who was just beginning to tune her ears to the voice of Love, but a new creation nonetheless.

I did eventually call him, and we met up to reconcile, albeit somewhat unsatisfactorily. But that’s not really the point. That night I learned something, knew something, I perhaps had never known before: I was loved in that moment and in all moments. Even if I didn’t make the phone call that night. Even if I never made the call.

Even if I never obey the prodding of his Spirit, I am loved.

I am loved. I am loved. I am loved.

Daily I am a new creation. Daily I am learning to retune my ears. To depend on Grace to call me out of my own ego and frenzied justifications and call me in to relationship with the One who loves. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Light Floods: Darkness, Dreams, & Daylight


The Darkness

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV)

The darkness flooded strong and heavy. Torrential.

Before Plant With Purpose wiggled its way into my heart, I wanted to live abroad. I dreamed of Antigua’s cobblestone streets, flowering woven shirts, bright skirts, distant volcanoes, and a day when I would dream in Spanish. I hoped to call Antigua home.

And that hope burrowed down deep within me, determined.

But I was scared. I was content, even joyful, to serve at Plant With Purpose. So I stayed silent. Stayed put.

About a year and a half ago I felt God calling me to ask if it would be possible to work for Plant With Purpose remotely from Guatemala. To ask if my dreams could come true. After an initial yes, I was given a final no.

I. felt. so. foolish. for thinking I could get what I wanted. That I wouldn’t have to choose between the job I loved and the country I wanted to call home.

And so, not ready to leave my job, I stuffed in the disappointment. Swallowed it down. Tucked it into a pocket. And went back to work.

Could I dare to hope again?

Night Vision

I spent one and half years in grief and burnout, trying to discern if the call for Guatemala was God-given or God-thwarted. Was I being too selfish or were my dreams too small?

I learned to name the grief, the ache, the burnout.

I learned to see God in the dark.

As my sight failed, my Hope grew. I learned to don my night vision God goggles, my hope growing wide as my pupils.

At a prayer workshop at my church, I was given a vision of light, of freedom, of joy:

"Someone is running in the dark, past all of these closed doors. But God rushes in and takes your hand; suddenly you are running with him in the light—free."

I was running in the dark, past closed doors. I was running so hard and so fast and so desperate. I couldn’t see the light, but knew the light was coming. I kept running anyway. What else would I do?

I was promised light.

The Light

I know this is a lot of background and you’re probably wondering why I don’t just hurry and up and tell you already how the story ends, how God has made a way, but the darkness is what makes the light so sweet.

In the last few weeks of praying and pleading, of discerning and deliberating, I sensed a calling to let go. To loose my fists that clench too tightly around Plant With Purpose. To silence the voices that tell me I am nothing without my job, without this identity as a social justice do gooder. To quell the fear that Plant With Purpose is the best part of me, the only good part of me. That alone I will unhinge, disappear, disintegrate.

And so I decided to leave. To let go. To step forward.

I have friends who live in Guatemala who have graciously offered their home to me. I have roommates who have graciously agreed to let me leave halfway through our lease. I have a family that has graciously encouraged me to follow my dreams, even if it means I’ll see them less.

And so I told my boss I will be leaving Plant With Purpose at the end of June.
And so I told my roommates I will be moving out in the middle of July.

And so I told my friends I will be coming to live with them in Guatemala.

Just as soon as I made these plans, as I took this step, the light began to flood in. God answered my prayers for confirmation, my heart cry for meaningful work.

I have been given the opportunity to work as a freelance writer for other non profits. Over the last few months, the dark months, God has been building connections and giving me time to cultivate relationships that will allow me to do what I love to do in the country I would love to call home.

I have been running in the dark for so long, banging closed doors, and now I see the light. Like the woman at the prayer workshop told me, it is as if God has rushed up beside me, grabbed my hand, and we are now running in the light.

FREE.

I stand here astonished. My vision flooded with light, with gifts, with promises fulfilled.

Ful-filled. Filled with fullness. Only the Great of Greatness, the Holy of Holies, the true God of True God, the Deep of Deep can fill with fullness. Is Fullness Himself.

The light floods quick, burns pupils. I am left, face unveiled, squinting out the glory, whispering gracias, gracias.

***

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Braids, Burnout, and Obedience

I work for an incredible organization. And this week I had the privilege to travel to the field to visit the coworkers and farmers with whom we partner.


On trips like these, the words I crank out from 9 to 5 take on life. Take on faces with wrinkles and smiling grandpa eyes. Take on braids and crooked smiles and school uniforms.

On Monday morning I joined with hipsters and surfers and college students from San Diego to plant trees with mothers and fathers, farmers and pastors and mayors from a tiny, rural town called Zumbador in the Dominican Republic. In case you missed my thoughts on planting trees at Life Before the Bucket or in Relevant Magazine, planting trees with the rural poor is something very close to my heart.

Together, we planted orange trees in what will soon be a thriving agroforestry plot. As Leoncio, a farmer I have written stories about from my desk in San Diego, placed a small seedling, the very symbol of new life, cool and damp in the palm of my own hand, the tears sprang hot on my face.  A holy moment of holy grace. 

***

There was a time when I couldn’t read or listen to stories of Plant With Purpose’s work without crying. Literally. From videos to newsletter articles to hearing the Executive Director share his stories from the field, I was a regular waterworks.

The tears were triggered by something beyond me, or perhaps within me, an unconscious reflex. A sign of God at work.

Before I started praying again after I swore off the church and God. Before I even knew how my writing skills and experiences with both rural and urban poverty—and the connection between the two—would line up with the exact needs and role I would later take on at Plant With Purpose. Before any of that, I knew that God was moving in those tears, in the passion behind the tears. I knew that in this passion, this stirring, this calling, was where I would find God. Where I would be used beyond my wildest dreams. Where I would be given the gift, the privilege, of sharing the stories of hope and transformation and restoration that are occurring in rural areas around the world as a result of Plant With Purpose’s work.

Over the last year, the tears have been plentiful. But these tears haven't been the tears of a passion so strong my eyes could not stay dry. Instead they were tears of pain, of grief, of defeat.

Sometime in the last year, I hit burnout pretty hard. Really hard.

If you’ve never experienced burnout, I am grateful for you. It is one of the most harrowing trials I’ve ever gone through as a writer, as an employee, as a person.

An article by Psychology Today describes burnout as “a cunning thief that robs the world of its best and its brightest by feeding on their energy, enthusiasm, and passion, transforming these positive qualities into exhaustion, frustration, and disillusionment.”

I don’t claim to be one of the best or brightest, but I know I once had an energy, enthusiasm, and passion for my job that I could not contain. And I know that after three years of pouring myself into my work, I woke up to exhaustion, frustration, and disillusionment. It seemed overnight the job I once loved, the job I literally lived and slept and breathed, the job that gave me life—that was my life--, became a burden, suddenly unmanageable and simply un-doable.

I tried to push through. I took time off. I changed my job description. I set better work-life boundaries. I changed my job description again. I started this blog. I prayed and prayed and prayed.

I haven’t shared this struggle on this blog because I’ve been embarrassed. I’ve feared the voices that would tell me to just try harder. To just suck it up. To just get over it already.

But even without writing it, those voices were screaming in my head. Telling me it’s a tough economy and I have a job that helps people and has flexible hours and occasionally sends me to really cool places around the world and I must try harder to make it work. 

The voices told me I was entitled and greedy for wanting more.  For wanting the passion to be reignited. For wanting rest and revival.

If you follow this blog, perhaps you can recall my posts on trusting God through the darkness and the storm and the bad days and all of those metaphors of persevering through difficult seasons in our lives. My darkness, my storm, my bad days have been burnout.

And through it all I have been praying, seeking answers, seeking comfort, seeking joy. And God has been silent, mostly.

But He has been faithful. In the darkness He has been moving. Passing by. Making a way.

Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts says, “When we look back, we see God’s back. Wasn’t that too His way with Moses?

“When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back” (Exodus 33:22-23 NIV).”

She asks, “Is that it? When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I am falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent. In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors.”

This last year I have felt too many tremors to count. Spilled too many tears to tally. Clutched too tightly to the shards of cracking dreams. 

But He has been faithful. He has been moving, protecting, passing by.

He has been calling me out of the job I love to call me in to something new. And I have waivered, pouted, thrashed, and tried to divine the answer from the rod of my own casting, instead of trusting His divine wisdom.

I have failed and flailed and I cannot do it anymore. I am surrendering to His calling out. In the end of June I will be leaving my job at Plant With Purpose.

Tomorrow I will share where I will be going and what I believe God is calling me into. Tomorrow I will share how God has made a way for joy to be restored. I will write of His faithfulness.

But today I sit in joy and pain, together. Relief and sadness, together.

Today I mourn that I am leaving. I mourn the limits of my brain and body and my own efforts. I mourn the burnout. I mourn that this last week was my last trip to the field as a Plant With Purpose employee.

As yet more tears (I didn’t think I had more to shed) slide down my cheeks, I mourn. I mourn and give thanks together. Give thanks for the time I’ve had, the role I’ve had. Give thanks for the smiling grandpa eyes and the girls with braids and crooked smiles and school uniforms.

I give thanks even in the mourning because I trust the One who will turn my mourning into dancing.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Blog Breather

For the next slew of days, I will be visiting the incredible work of Plant With Purpose in the Dominican Republic, so here is your official warning that this blog will remain silent until my return. 

Please utilize this time to catch up on all your other favorite bloggers and stay tuned for Dominican updates next week! 

¡Hasta luego!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

T.S. Tuesday: On Youth

"I don't believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates."    T.S. Eliot


The eTrade Baby 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Writing God In: Thoughts on the Blogging Life

The day my grandmother died, I started a list of details. An inventory of humdrum data to delineate the day, the particulars of a grief observed.


The stockings lay limp by the mantle, the bounty already uprooted. A Christmas day in the mid-afternoon.

We were huddled on the couch, my brothers and I, watching the Motorcycle Diaries—to me a Christmas miracle that they had agreed to be burdened by subtitles—when we got the call.

The details rose up to my consciousness, as unstoppable as grief, as love.

       I sat in the backseat on the passenger side.
       I picked at a hangnail on my right thumb.
       I held my mother’s hand as we walked down the hallway that smelled of urine and antiseptic.
      Colored ball ornaments hung from the ceiling.

I couldn’t feel; could only record.

Above all else, I wanted to remember.

****

“It makes me wonder whether only writers’ minds work this way,” said Brendan Koerner in a fascinating post on the mind of the writer.

He is referring to an excerpt in Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs in which “Buford gets pummeled by Italian riot cops.” Instead of wishing it were over, or merely trying to get through the pain, Buford writes, “mainly I was thinking about the pain. It was unlike anything I had known and I wanted to remember it.”

That Christmas at the nursing home, the grief was unlike anything I had known and I wanted to remember it. Not my grandmother, per se. I’d already stockpiled a million and seven spaghetti-and-meatball-cooking-I-Love-Lucy-watching details about her in the months and years preceding her death. I wanted to remember that day, that pain, those particulars. So I could tell the story.

At the end of his post, Brendan writes, “when your life is given over to telling stories, this is the default approach to every situation. There’s always a little voice chirping in your ear, “Imagine how this will sound on the page.”

A writing mind is an observant mind; a mind hungry for the story.

There’s always another narrative to knit, another phrase to turn over like a butterscotch hard candy in your mouth, clanking against your teeth, spreading sweetness across your tongue.


The mundane begs to be immortalized in my words. The death of a grandmother brings life to my musings. I am a different person by the time the words spill from my lips. I am a new creation as I track details, grant new names, new life.

Almost a year ago to the day, God whispered to me, in the middle of a church service, to “write my love story.” It was a command to share my story, the story of God’s love for me. It was the motivation for this blog, but it was also a command to remember.

To remember the times I couldn’t step foot in a church. To remember the outrage I felt at injustice. To remember the first time I felt a real, a raw, a ragged hope begin to stir in my own honesty.

Writing is an act of remembering. Even more, it is a discipline of thankfulness.

The writing, the blogging, the sharing, is shaping me. It has shaped me—in good ways and bad.

When I want to write God off, blogging forces me to write God in.  And that is good.

In writing I uncover details I’ve forgotten. I remember miracles. I marvel at the threads of goodness pointing to a good God woven through my life.

Writing can transform prayers of pleading into proclamations of praise.

But lately I’ve discovered a downside to writing. I’ve found that blogging has changed my prayers, what I’ve come to expect, what I’ve started to demand.

The whispers of God that I used to view as grace, grace, and more grace have become—like Buford recounted—nothing more than great story material. God gives me a revelation and I’m immediately thinking, “Imagine how this will sound on the page.”

I’ve been desperately wanting God to speak not because I legitimately want more of him, but because I want more to write. I want God to speak so I have something to say.  So I sound smart. So I sound spiritual. So people don’t wonder why I didn’t post. So my blog metrics don’t tick down to just my mother, again.

It’s thoughts like these that make me want to nix it all. Tear down the blog. Rip up my journal. Cry out for forgiveness for manipulating God’s words for my own purposes.

I ask myself, For whose glory am I writing?

The heart check comes back inconclusive: Some days I write from pure gratitude that God would speak at all, that he would allow me to share, that he would use my words to speak to others. Other days I write from a selfish stance, greedy for my own glory.

I forget that it was God who prompted this blog in the first place. God who crafted me with a proclivity for details, with an instinct for recollection, with an unceasing desire to write to write to write until I see His face.

And so I write. And so I pray and ask forgiveness. And so I ask for God to speak.  And, then, in the details, in the remembering, in the recounting, I want to give glory.

I want to write God in, for it is in God that I write. 

Blogger friends, can you relate to this urge to mine every word, conversation, and prayer for good content? Do you think it's still worth writing about God even if your motives are mixed? How do you stay centered on God's glory? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Promote With Purpose

Today's post is targeted at all the bloggers out there who 

1. Need content
2. Like promoting good causes 
3. Need content

Everyone else, check out the cool things that are happening at Plant With Purpose and get involved however you feel led. 

To my blog friends:

Dear purveyors of wit and wisdom, bringers of bloggy brilliance, social media socialites and social justice activists,


Would you consider wielding the power of your platform for good this week?

April is turning out to be an especially exciting month for telling Plant With Purpose’s story of bringing environmental restoration, economic empowerment, and spiritual renewal to the rural poor--including the adorable Haitian girls pictured above.  For those who don’t know, Plant With Purpose is an organization that is very dear to my heart (and coincidentally my paycheck). 

Earth Day is coming up on Sunday April 22, 2012, and Plant With Purpose has a number of splendid promotional opportunities. From being featured on the 58 Global Impact Tour to getting our Groupon (link goes live on Monday), there is plenty to talk, write, and tweet about. These two campaigns in particular will directly support Plant With Purpose's transformational work with matching grants, doubling the impact of your words. 

And so I humbly ask, would you, in your own quirky, creative, and blogtasatic way help us tell our story?

If so, please check out the prolific list of partnerships and events taking place this month and pick one to promote. You could blog about our challenge to Save the Earth with World Vision’s creative activist network, ACT:S, like I did on Thursday. You could retweet the sounding joy of restoring fruitfulness to the land. Or come up with your own tree-mendous Earth Day topic. For example, Rachel Held Evans is featuring Executive Director Scott Sabin in her “Ask a…” series, where he will share his thoughts on being a Christian environmentalist. Or blogger, Andrea Ward, posted an inspiring blog on her discovery of Plant With Purpose through the 58: Global Impact Tour.  

The opportunities are as bottomless as your blogs. Just respond in the comments for more information, comments, concerns, or suggestions.

Thank you in advance for your promoting prowess!

Sincerely,

Aly Lewis and The Plant With Purpose Team


photo credit: Plant With Purpose

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Act for Justice

Have a heart for the poor? Like to take pictures, write stories, or engage in other artistic endeavors? Care about justice issues, but don't know how to get involved?


World Vision has launched a creative activism network called ACT:S that I'd love for you to check out.

The heart of ACT:S is to "connect faith and justice through creative activism, which means we create to inspi
re action. We make resources like art and music, take over spaces, host events and tell stories to bring the world’s most challenging issues to life and mobilize our generation to act."

Pretty sweet, huh?

It's a great place find and share your activism, to inspire and be inspired. And this month, ACT:S has issued an Earth Day Challenge featuring an issue and organization that is close to my heart. I've shared my thoughts on the connection between poverty and the environment  and why I do what I do from 9-5 at Plant With Purpose.



What are you still doing here? Go check it out, Share your ACT:IONS, get inspired by others’ resources or tell your own story.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On the Difference between Hope and Entitlement


If I had a dime for every time a well-meaning older friend told me not to fret my current  boyfriendless state because "God will bring the right man to me," I'd be rich enough to buy myself the aforementioned perfect man. 


Apart from the fact that those statements often make me feel worse, not better about my lack of a love life, I also worry that trite phrases like these are actually spreading false theology. 


I don't doubt God could bring the right man into my life, but I also don't believe he promised me one. 


He never promised me the perfect love story or the perfect job or the perfect body. 


As a restless twentysomething, I've been doing a lot of dreaming and scheming for my future. I've been trying to work out the difference between my God-given hopes of finding love and keeping a fulfilling job and the unhealthy entitlement monster that tries to convince me that God owes me these things and I will not be satisfied until I get them.

I came across this wonderful post today over at Ragmuffin Soul about the many things that God doesn't promise us
The author writes,


 "The ONLY thing that we are promised is the love of Jesus."


Not an easy life. Not freedom from depression. Not the perfect marriage. Not a fulfilling job. Not even a happy, functional family. 


Only love. 


The author writes, "And that love can…Hold you during a rough adulthood…Sustain you during rough depression…Restore you when you sabotage your marriage…Provide for you when you are out of cash…Support you when Jesus is your only grace…Reveal to you when you look in the mirror and see Grace on your chest…Be Hope for you when the fridge is empty…Fill you when you read His Word…Satisfy you when you have worked harder on your job than on your family…"Now that sounds like a promise worth putting my hope in.  

What empty promises do you put your hope in? How do you balance your desires between hope and entitlement?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

T.S. Tuesday: Why I Need Wake Up Calls from Attractive Latin Men



“Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm but the harm does not interest them.” T.S. Eliot

I didn’t ask to be here. In this world full of suffering and pain and a million gut-wrenching moments. I didn’t ask to be here, but I’m here just the same.

In the middle of it.

This weekend I watched the film, También la Lluvia (Even the Rain in English). It’s a fascinating movie about the making of a movie about the conquest of Latin America (meta, right?). The basic premise is this: “A Spanish film crew helmed by an idealistic director and his cynical producer come to Bolivia to make a revisionist epic about the conquest of Latin America - on the cheap.”

I learned about the film from Tim Hoiland’s excellent and thoughtful review. Starring Gael García Bernal of Motorcycle Diaries fame, and exploring the effects of Spanish imperialism from the time when Columbus sailed the ocean blue until now, I just had to watch it. 

Here's the trailer:

I was not disappointed, but I was disturbed.

I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in Latin America and the entirety of my professional life advocating on behalf of the rural poor, so I wasn’t surprised by the injustice the film portrayed. But I was disturbed by how pervasive and overwhelming and awful it can be.

From the forced slavery and abuses the conquistadores imposed on the indigenous population in the 15th century to the unjust trade laws backed by multinational corporations today, there’s enough injustice to go around—and to get depressed.

Towards the end of the film, riots break out among the indigenous population as they protest the privatization of water that will mean a 300% price increase for families to access one of life’s most precious resources.

In a poignant scene, one crewmember asks another, “What are we going to do about this?”
“Nothing,” says his comrade. “It’s not my problem.”

“But you’re in the middle of it," the first retorts, eyes wide, head shaking in disbelief.

Even as crowds gather, streets are blocked off, and violence builds the man chooses to say, “It’s not my problem.”

Most days, I am that man. I close my eyes. I shut off the news. I turn up my ipod. I do whatever it takes to convince myself that the world is not rioting and bleeding and exploding all around me.




Most days I forget the truth: I am in the middle of it, whether I like it or not.
Movies like jolt me awake.

T.S. Eliot wrote, “Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm but the harm does not interest them.”

Am I so busy trying to feel important that the harm and suffering of others does not interest me?

I was going to write that I am praying for the courage to ask, really ask and seek an answer, to that question. But a prayer feels like a cop out.

The world is turned upside down and all I can do is muster a prayer to notice? To be interested? To be bothered with the commotion around me?

Maybe it is a cop out, but it’s a pretty darn good first step and perhaps the only answer to all the pain and suffering and injustice that overwhelms and disturbs and depresses me: LOVE. Praying that He will transform my heart and open my eyes and shape me more and more into someone who looks more like Jesus and less like someone who only takes an interest in herself.

So I’m sorry for my flimsy response. I’m sorry I have no answers or bite-sized takeaways for you to combat injustice. I can only say that I’m praying. I’m trying to notice and I’m trying to act.

And I hope you try to notice too. We are in the middle of it, after all.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Daring to Dream


When I began my job as Plant With Purpose’s Grant Writer, I was relatively new to the International Development scene—microcredit and sustainability aren’t exactly staples of the Creative Writing major’s vocabulary. But in my time at Plant With Purpose, I’ve found the key to successful development programs isn’t based on knowledge or jargon. Success in the development world comes from being human and viewing others as such. 


I may not know a whole lot about development (although I’m learning), but I do know what it’s like to be human. I know what it’s like to feel hopeless and disempowered. I know what it’s like to not want to be overlooked or have my skills and talents disregarded. I don’t like to have things done for me, and the only way I actually change or grow or solve problems is when the problem solving approach is something completely unique to me. 

The people who’ve been most influential in my life—my mom, my best friends, college mentors—have all been people who help me unlock my gifts and talents, helping me become more fully who I was meant to be. 

That’s what Plant With Purpose does. Sure we work with communities to plant trees and apply sustainable agriculture techniques. We supply microloans and train church leaders to respond to the needs of their congregations and communities, but the most significant part of Plant with Purpose’s work is that the work or “development” being done isn’t Plant With Purpose’s work at all. It’s the communities’. Plant With Purpose takes a “community development approach.” In other words, we empower communities to start to take responsibility for the solutions to their own problems. 

Plant With Purpose views the farmers we work with as partners, not fix-it-projects or mere passengers on this development journey. Lasting change cannot occur unless people want to change—and more importantly—believe that they can change. You can’t actually force anyone to grow—just ask any mother of a teenager. That’s why Plant With Purpose conducts a Participatory Rural Appraisal before starting work in any community. During these appraisals the community decides what their greatest needs are and what needs to be done to solve them. Only if Plant With Purpose’s expertise aligns with the community’s needs do we begin to work with them. 

Plant With Purpose empowers hopeless communities to begin to dream again. The communities provide the vision and the dream; we provide the tools, training, and means to turn their dreams into reality.


About Plant With Purpose

Plant With Purpose reverses deforestation and poverty around the world by transforming the lives of the rural poor. Plant With Purpose has been breaking this vicious cycle since 1984 by changing it into a victorious cycle of environmental restoration, economic empowerment, and spiritual renewal in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Tanzania, Burundi, Mexico, and Thailand. 

Photo credit: Plant With Purpose
This post originally appeared on the Plant With Purpose blog and has been re-posted with permission.