Project in Haiti


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In Haiti, after the earthquake, the proposals for rebuilding came from the usual neo-liberal sources with former US President Bill Clinton invoking their anthem: Don't let a good disaster go to waste. In the rebuilding of Haiti, the discussion in the press was about privatizing government controlled businesses and services. Where was the worker co-operative plan for rebuilding the country along a democratic worker friendly economy? Well, it doesn?t exist yet. (Emphasis added.)

        John McNamara, quoted in Michael Johnson's blog "Taking the cooperative advantage to scale: 2"

         I am part of a group of students and professors going to Haiti this November to lay the groundwork for the project below.  I am very interested in ensuring that worker cooperatives enter the picture, and I would like to draft a proposal for a pilot program when we return. 

      If anyone has any interest in this, I would love to hear from you.  I?m open to suggestions, discussion, analysis, questions, collaboration, etc, anything to kick-start the brainstorming process and increase the likelihood that such a project will get off the ground running.  Anyone who would prefer not to post can e-mail me directly at alapierre@clarku.edu. I tried to just briefly summarize what we're doing and why, but would be happy to provide more info. 

      The scale of the disaster in Haiti was vastly magnified by overcrowding in Port au Prince.  People moved to the capital either for the promise of education and employment, or simply out of desperation.  Rural areas were devastated by neoliberal programs and trade agreements, as they were around the world.  In the aftermath of the earthquake, though, waves of people fled the city or returned to their homes in outlying districts.  There is widespread recognition among Haitians that decentralization of schools, services, and work opportunities are necessary aspects of a sustainable and democratic reconstruction process.  It goes without saying that these elements are missing from current recovery and ?development? plans which are entirely driven by the interests of multinational corporations.       

     Two professors at Clark University have initiated a collaborative project with the University of Notre Dame Haiti.  UNDH is an innovative school focused on agronomy in the rural district of Les Cayes.  The university uses its 40-acre farm to conduct outreach with the surrounding community.  UNDH has combined goals of building sustainable livelihoods, protecting/enhancing biodiversity, and expanding civic participation amongst the rural poor.  The purpose of the collaboration with Clark is to establish a Research, Development, and Advocacy Center which would facilitate/supplement existing UNDH programs and become the basis for an ongoing partnership.
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