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 Island 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 our 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.
Islands, however, by their very isolated nature, offer an opportunity to rethink the way that space is controlled and break free from some of the constraints of our past mistakes. In essence, the remoteness of islands is in itself an opportunity.
And some islands - due to socio/historical/environmental factors, have even greater opportunities for rebirth and re-imaginings. For instance, the people of the Chagos Islands (forcibly evicted by the British Empire) and Montserrat (volcanic eruption) have a unique capacity to begin again and build a new kind of island community, opening a new space engaged in and informed by the knowledge we have about contemporary environmental issues. Both communities have been forced to leave their island homes for different devastating reasons: the Montserratians in the wake of huge volcanic eruptions in the 1990s, and the Chagossians through forced ejection from their home by the UK Government to make way for a US military base in the 1960s. From these dark chapters of history there comes the potential for rebirth through progressive custodianship of the islands by the communities they are home to.
As such, we are working alongside both island communities to re-establish progressive local custodianship of space, cognisant of the fact that progressive, sustainable marine communities are managed by enabled, empowered peoples.
Imagine Europe Pan European Journey
‘The EU was set up to be a shining light of what we are capable of when we stand side by side. So much has happened recently that we've forgotten that, so we need big, bold gestures to remind us what a beautiful experiment this really is - of how nothing is impossible when we work together’. Expeditionary Michael Rowe
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 60 Ninth Wave expeditionaries with links to and belief in Europe - actual, conceptual, or tangential - will slowly journey west to east across the continent, by foot, on sailboat and packraft, generating our own movement, listening and murmuring as we go, generating encounters that generate realizations of shared humanity. We will journey with musicians, accountants, scientists, bankers, nurses, refugees, firemen and women, engineers 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.