International Development, Community Engagement and Support
Most International Development is top-down, outside-in, item-led. Most particularly, an organisation or government from a developed country will analyse a situation in accordance with their own measures, and decide that a community require Item or Infrastructure A to better further their development, and install said item/infrastructure. As such, International Development tends to deal in very specific particulars and whilst we do not refute that on occasion infrastructure development is successful and useful, we absolutely reject that this process is not in any way owned by local communities, who are likely to have very different aspirations and needs to those imposed upon them in a time-specific and measures-led way by external first-world bodies. Having worked in territories over the horizon with remote communities for many years, we fundamentally believe that all meaningful change is necessarily slow, locally-led, attitude-and-aspiration-based. It is not about a water tap but about a sense of possibility. The water tap may bring clean water but it also brings dependency and encourages people to wait for further outside assistance, causing conflict when it fails to arrive. But someone who believes in themselves is capable of generating the autonomous power - with assistance and guidance - to develop systems for themselves. It may well be that these systems are not as modern, cutting-edge or perfect as imported systems, but they are generated and owned by local communities, which in the short-term may signify less, but in the medium and long term will signify so much more.
As such, working with communities primarily in the Americas, Ninth Wave is intent not on generating change per se, but on identifying and empowering people who are capable of generating change for themselves and their communities. These programmes and case studies currently take place in the USA, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Peru.
A Window Into The Future
Some territories can tell us what is to come; they are a window into the future.
Whether it is the way they are shaped and what they contain, like deep-sea fissures, or how animals and plants move closer or further, or - more pertinently to us perhaps - what our species is doing, in our name, out of our line of sight.
Among these, perhaps the territory of greatest current import is Antarctica.
Down on the final continent the biodiversity crisis is channelling itself in plain view, as is the arrival of microplastics. Because by the time situations reach there, we know that they are by then necessarily a problem everywhere else.
But most particularly, down at the ends of the earth, where nobody watches, we humans are also heavily present, and bent on pretending that we are anything but. Down there, nations pay lip-service to custodianship and protection of a pristine environment, whilst using these smokescreens in order to jostle for position and generate leverage of greatest strength in anticipation of the future break-up of the continent. There, countries develop faux scientific bases whilst others have now sent families down to live there 365 days of the year, preparing themselves to argue indigeneity and mineral land rights in 300 years time. In these spaces, science is co-opted as imperial justifier, and national militaries - long-since outlawed from the continent by international treaties - happily co-exist in the shallow pretence that they are simply conduits for science and infrastructure and not presences in their own right.
The Antarctica continent is about to be broken up. Everyone involved in its break-up knows it, but nobody else does. It is a story entirely hidden from view, much as the fact that all legislation being currently developed for Antarctica is also being designed with a view to extra-planetary exploration and mining. For Antarctica, read other worlds.
At Ninth Wave, we think these stories and this news is important, to all of us, and as such one of our major programmes of work is to shine a light into this darkness. Because if we're going to choose to pact with the devil, it's important to be able to see his face.
Opportunities for Re-Imagining Isolated Communities
Je suis venu trop tard dans un monde trop vieux
(I have come too late to a world too old)
— Alfred de Musset
In a global society built on centuries of environmental near-exhaustion, necessarily our knowledge and experience of how best to serve our environment is now greater than ever. In the context of established spaces and communities, this knowledge cannot be put to use whilst we constantly battle the damage that is done by the infrastructure we have already created. In other words, it is difficult to look ahead whilst we are constantly beset by the overwhelming need to fight fires from previous events and actions.
Isolated and remote spaces, by their very nature, offer an opportunity to rethink the way that environment is controlled and break free from some of the constraints of our past mistakes. In essence, the remoteness of such spaces is in itself an opportunity.
As such, we are working alongside remote communities in Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic to re-establish progressive local custodianship of space, cognisant of the fact that progressive, sustainable communities are managed by enabled, empowered peoples.
Europe is in crisis. There is no avoiding this simple fact. And there is no point arguing for an extension of Europe as it stands when the ideals and founding principles behind what the union of countries and peoples was meant to mean have been lost. That way lies a losing argument. The only way forward - we contend - is to re-imagine what we want Europe to be, and generate new actions and memories around this.
It is in this spirit that between April and September 2017, over 30 Ninth Wave expeditionaries with links to and belief in Europe - actual, conceptual, or tangential - slowly journeyed west to east across the continent, by both foot and packraft. We generated our own movement, listening and murmuring as we went, we sought encounters that encouraged realisations of shared humanity. We travelled with artists, i.t. specialists, journalists, sales assistants, landscape gardeners, geographers, restaurant managers, students, authors, sailors and more, because we fundamentally believe that whoever we are, wherever we are from, there is more that unites us than separates us, that when we come together, we can find our way.
Now, emerging from connections and contacts made during the European Journey, a number of new programmes and projects are under development in various areas across the region.
For more information please contact:
We can house volunteers at one of our multiple locations for flexible periods of time. Volunteers need to be flexible, sensitive, humble, hard-working, inquisitive humans. To discuss volunteer opportunities please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading "Volunteer".
Internships with Ninth Wave come in all shapes and sizes, from positions working on single programmes in a particular place, to wide-ranging positions across locations, to specific job roles supporting social media, urban farming, creative endeavours, grant applications etc. To discuss opportunities, please email email@example.com with the subject heading "Internships".
While we’re not actively seeking full-time staff at present, our ever-growing team is built upon relationships developed organically working in the field on projects and expeditions. Contact us to get involved in a project, and we’ll get to know each other.
Teams of Ninth Wave expeditionaries undertake interdisciplinary journeys of slow, thoughtful exploration in remote and forgotten spaces all over the world. To find out more about opportunities to gain experience, pursue research interests and explore, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I'm incredibly happy and grateful for this opportunity. Working on turtle conservation projects with Ninth Wave was an experience I never thought would impact on me so strongly; it took me completely out of my comfort zone and made me realise that I have the opportunity to do something positive and give a little back for everything we get from our planet. In only a short period of time I learnt an immense amount."
Gabriella Cambranis (Mexico) - pharmacist
"I embarked with a backpack of clothes but left with so much more: I found an enticing peacefulness. Through our triumphs and hardships, conquered by teamwork, I learnt things about myself that I will carry forward with me throughout the rest of my life."
Kelsey Phillips (England) – student
"I can't express enough how beneficial these trips are to communities and participants involved!"
Mike Paro (USA) - artist
"Interning with Ninth Wave left me with some incredible and life-long memories. Each day brought with it a true sense of purpose, whether I was building furniture for the cultural center, communicating with excited expedition participants-to-be, photographing events, serving pizza at music nights, playing with local kids, or practicing Spanish. The team are infinitely supportive, enthusiastic, understanding, and daring. I came as a person who often lacked confidence in her own decisions and actions, and I left with a much greater sense of self and purpose, and for that I am incredibly grateful. Ninth Wave is no less empowering for its volunteers and employees than it is for its expedition participants and I would recommend the experience to anyone who’s ever wanted to find a place beyond the daily grind. Although no longer working with the organisation, it remains a vital part of who I am."
Anna Sand (USA) – sustainability and organics
Everyone should go for it! You won't regret it!
But be careful, it's highly addictive!!!"
Agata Pawlowska Gronkiewicz (Poland) – artist
"Ninth Wave was a guiding light to me. I stayed working with the team around 3 months, having at my disposal all the resources and walls to paint on but most importantly, I had the opportunity to explore what creativity and persistence are and why I never felt I have them as an artist (my background is digital painting and 3d). Here I had the space to build and follow my own rules and find out what diminishes my creative spark. Thanks for the magic!"
Teodora Lila (Bulgaria) – artist
"At Ninth Wave I found the ideas and characters that you can only come across when you decide to push beyond what you know. It's about getting involved with progressive ideals and making them real."
Edgar Michel (Mexico) - architect
"If Ninth Wave has done anything for me, it has shown me that the front row of a canoe is a great spot to see how much we have to gain from unlearning what we might already know as the right way to go about anything. From cultural stereotypes (paddle construction), how to connect with people and communities, what to eat, how to eat it, all the way to what is apparently appropriate footwear. Personally, through journeying with Ninth Wave, I found a new confidence within myself as well as a true example of the great kindness of strangers, and that sometimes you just have to open up a space for greatness and see what happens. Good or otherwise. It has changed my idea of how to travel, by getting more involved in the community and culture. There is a feeling of responsibility to make a positive impact, and to search for a real connection not just among travellers but with real ground level people. I heard about Ninth Wave two-and-a-half years ago, through my car stereo system whilst I was driving the streets of Perth in Western Australia. Now I'm back and I find myself thinking of trading my car for a canoe. I cannot wait to go again, and I just keep thinking of the lines by Hafiz: 'Stay close to anything that makes you feel alive.'"
Jacob Jones (Australia) – electrician & musician
Working with Ninth Wave has pushed me to explore new things and inspired me to find my passion.
Alee Gillis (USA) – environmental scientist
"I learnt how to let go and how to deal with anxiety. I also learnt a new way of thinking about problems which was super empowering and I've been using learned strategies in my everyday life now."
Hayley Fielding (Australia) – artist
"Volunteering with Ninth Wave has given me the space to have questions answered that I didn't even know I had. More than that, my experience is continuing to propel questions towards me that continue to push me forwards."