Beck’s Update - Shifting Worldviews: The International Community & Grassroots Projects

These photos were taken by the kids of Cadiao on our community clean up day.  Their first time looking through a lens and capturing the faces of their friends is definitely a moment worth sharing.

As the founder of an organization that’s soul purpose [I think that spelling is more appropriate] is to document and share the wisdom of underrepresented communities around the world, it’s no wonder I was drawn to take part in these relief efforts.

Steve and I first worked together in 2005, just after the tsunami that took 220,000 lives in Indonesia alone.  The aid we both saw was horribly inefficient and ignored many of the needs that the community tried to voice.  This event very much led us down separate yet complimentary and often-overlapping paths.

Steve went on with permaculture projects and trainings, creating a new form of aid that creates resiliency instead of dependency; I founded a charity to inform and inspire social change by using documentary media and education outreach initiatives to share grassroots solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems.  I’ve since worked with almost 100 grassroots projects in India, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, Brazil, and now the Philippines.

One of my roles after the tsunami was to coordinate grassroots aid efforts, working with local community-based projects to share information and resources between areas that often were accessible only by boat or a 2-day motorcycle ride through guerrilla-figher occupied mountains.  I’d send messages home to those who wanted to help, explaining how these grassroots projects were addressing the real needs of the community, as decided and managed BY the community.  Disappointingly, people had a hard time believing in the capacity of these projects because they were so small scale, and instead largely bought into the old patronizing post-colonial (and inaccurate) paradigm that a community in poverty isn’t capable of leading its own development.  Instead of supporting a grassroots project, people would rather support the big name brands of aid, even though they knew that the majority of their contribution would be wasted in bureaucratic red-tape.  This is, in large part, what led me to create The Paradigm Shift Project, as a way to introduce outstanding grassroots projects to the international community.

Thankfully, I can see shift happening.  Grassroots projects are getting better at communicating with the international community, and the international community is getting better at realizing how they can help most effectively.  People want to see the impact of their investment/donation, and we now have the technology to make that possible.

Which leads me to The Paradigm Shift Project’s role in this typhoon relief aid.  It’s our goal to share what’s really happening on the ground and how the international community can best help.  It’s also our goal to document the learnings from this experience in a series of training videos and make them available to all for free (like all our films), so that people all over the world can learn about these solutions for disaster resilience.

These training videos will cover:

  • sustainable reconstruction
  • home vegetable gardens
  • community gardens
  • eco-education and school tree nurseries
  • sustainable livelihoods and eco-entrepreneurship 
  • and more.

The Paradigm Shift Project would also like to train local groups here in Antique how to use digital media to share their stories.  This morning I was told that there isn’t a single filmmaker in the province.  I find it hard to believe, but even if that is the case, just look at what kids can do when you put a camera in their hands.  A few cameras, a few trainings, and this community can be shifting worldviews in no time.

Please help us make it possible.  If you have old cameras to donate, memory cards, old laptops, or if you’d like to offer your own filmmaking skills to help mentor the youth of Barbaza, please send me an email at  

And to donate to support our work in the field, please click here!

Thanks for all that you do to help make shift happen!

- Rebecca