We believe the best results come from bringing diverse groups of people together for a common goal. Our principle is to encourage people who wouldn’t otherwise connect to come together and have the opportunity to understand each others strengths and weaknesses and then help them to leverage their respective assets to help each other achieve shared goals.
We believe that communities are not passively waiting for outsiders to come and help. We believe that communities are actively constructing their own futures. That’s why we do not “intervene” in communities but, instead, provide a space where communities can realize their own plans and choose from a variety of tools and models that we help make available for them. Nothing goes into a community without the community choosing to take it there. We cannot want something more than the community and we cannot impose something on a community.
The process by which we approach our engagement with communities is as important – if not more important – than the final product we deliver. A project that creates something beautiful without any community engagement is less valuable than a project with a lot of community engagement, regardless of outcome.
We recognize that quick impact activities with high visibility can result in an outpouring of new funding. However, we believe this visibility should not come at the expense of sustainability. For Communitere, sustainability means environmental sustainability (choosing the most environmentally-friendly materials and processes), economic sustainability (creating processes that can be sustained without a continual stream of donated funds) and cultural sustainability (engaging in a way that respects rather than undermines local culture).
Communitere exists to provide safe spaces for both outsiders and community members to experiment with new ideas that can fail without negative impact on the communities they intend to help. This concept of “safe failure” leads to rapid innovation and provides effective solutions that would otherwise take much longer to develop. In addition, we firmly believe in the concept of “open source” and are committed that successful innovations be made public for others to see, copy and improve upon.
Communitere doesn’t “do” anything on its own. We strive to serve as a support system and resource center for communities, social entrepreneurs and development groups. The projects come from our partners and we facilitate these projects through access to resources, people and ideas. By doing this, we are helping to reduce overhead for organizations and businesses and lower barriers for the local community.
Because Communitere becomes a part of the community where it serves, we are uniquely positioned to identify needs within the local community that are not being addressed by local or international organizations. In many cases, Communitere’s local knowledge, deep resources and cultural awareness allow us to step in and fill that need. When we do so, we partner with the local community and make every effort to enlist other interested groups to maximize shared resources and knowledge.