Written by Plant With Purpose on October 12, 2010 in General

by Corbyn Small

I had the unique opportunity yesterday of guest speaking in an upper level Business Sustainability course at my alma mater, Point Loma Nazarene University. The main highlight for me was the other guest speaker who had joined us for the class. Dr. Rob Gailey, the Director of the Center for International Development, Associate Professor of Business at PLNU, and the man who sparked my passion for international community development.

Senior year I took a course, Theories of Economic Development, with Dr. Gailey. It ended up being the class that opened my mind up to the idea of graduating and doing something other than working for a marketing firm and building focus groups to analyze the effectiveness of using the word ‘fruity’ vs. using the words ‘fruit filled’ on a box of cereal.

Skipping forward past the series of events and blessings from the Lord that brought me to working at Plant With Purpose today, there I was sitting in a classroom where I had sat just a few years prior as a student, as a guest speaker with the professor that had made such a difference in the job hunt which had ensued after my graduation.

We started off talking about defining community development. We settled on the idea that ‘community development’ would result in seeing people’s increased ability to make choices. Increased choices meant a mother would have the choice to send her children to school, a farmer would have the choice to plant a different variety of crop that might bring higher profits at a local market, an individual would have the choice to restore a communal piece of land with trees, families would have the choice to use financial services to expand their small businesses, etc.

We got to talking about how once the rural poor begin to have additional income, access to economic opportunity, and increased choices that it was very important the choices they made were ones that would benefit their families and their communities as a whole. If a farmer increased his yields and sold additional crops in a market place, that he would in fact spend that increased income on sending his kids to school, increasing their nutrition, or working toward some sort of communal goal that would benefit himself and others as well. However, if a farmer increased his income and used his new earned wealth for things like alcohol, women, gambling or a new satellite t.v…. that would not be considered as positive community development.

But Rob stopped us short of our conversation focusing on the rural poor and the choices they make once their income improves. He turned the question around to us. As we have the ability to make choices, as consumers, as employees, as investors, and as members of families and communities… are we making choices that are in fact benefiting those around us? We have been blessed with the ability to make choices all the time. How are we going to make choices that are responsible to others around us? What are we going to do with the additional money that we make?

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