What is “Radical Listening”?

Radical listening is trusting community members to be the best solvers of their problems; it means asking for individuals’ ideas and implementing their solutions. Radical listening is a pillar of Health In Harmony and ASRI’s programs.

What does it look like?

Health In Harmony was founded after witnessing aid and development programs falter or fail due to lack of cultural understanding or involvement. Health In Harmony founders recognized protecting the forest was not a matter of interest or education, but a matter of ability and resources. So they held hundreds of hours of community meetings before even choosing a site or determining what the ASRI program would provide. Community members clearly identified the drivers of illegal logging as lack of access to affordable, quality health care and lack of economic alternatives.

As ASRI has continued to grow, it has continued to be guided by community input and holds consistent community meetings.

When the number of loggers dropped, but continued to persist, ASRI again approached village leaders who suggested that each community appoint one person to work one-on-one with his logging neighbors to find them alternative livelihoods. ASRI was skeptical, but the Forest Guardians program has remained very successful since it was implemented in 2011.

The Sustainable Farming program was started with enthusiasm but quickly hit the snag of having no source of manure. ASRI wanted to distribute goats to members of the community. Again, community members came forward and requested that the livestock go to widows, and ASRI listened. They agreed widows were the most disadvantaged members of the community, with the least economic opportunity but the most need. Today, the Goats for Widows program has distributed several hundred goats that are providing not only enough manure to sell to the farmers groups, but enough to sell elsewhere too. The villages around Gunung Palung National Park are active members in protecting their rain forest and creating the ASRI programs that help them do so.

Health In Harmony works to implement radical listening as a core value in our everyday interactions with staff, board members, donors like you, and our program partner ASRI.

When you partner with Health In Harmony to save rain forests, you know that you are investing in solutions that have been designed by the people most impacted by the problems of deforestation. You partner directly with those living in villages around Gunung Palung National Park to save this rain forest we ALL depend on for our global health.

As a partner, we promise to listen to you too. Please contact us anytime you have suggestions, questions or ideas!

*Photo credit: Erick Danzer