Sustainable Development and Systems Thinking

June 15, 2015 by Madeline Friend

Neighborhood_Child_During_the_Global_Gathering

Keeping families together has been the basis of Amor’s work since our conception in 1980. By using homebuilding as a tool to bring people together, we take part in sustainable development.

The International Institute of Sustainable Development classifies this as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Furthermore, it elaborates on two crucial concepts:

  • “the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given”

  • “the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.”

To incorporate this new paradigm, which is emerging through the Majority World, we must view it as part of an interconnected, systemic process. By critically and compassionately viewing poverty through a lens of intersectionality (the ways in which various forms of oppression and discrimination interact), we are able to address limitations with unique solutions.

Paramount to Amor’s mission is connecting people globally to address and create dynamic change. We do not operate in a vacuum, but instead deliberately engage through the local community.

Engaging with social justice involves addressing complex environmental, social, and economic practices. There are many holistic and strategic tools, such as Asset-Based Community Development or Participatory Learning in Action, that people use to work alongside communities to shape meaningful results. Instead of a bifurcated power struggle, joining together allows for many voices to be heard.

Thinking like a system moves us from connecting solely to our immediate circle of needs and desires and creates space for lateral, diagonal, vertical, and zigzag connections.

Isolationism serves only a solid sphere of influence. It does not reach beyond its inherent bounds to formulate tangible change. Our connection to the land and to each other requires respectful and deliberate use. We live with others inside these systems, not outside or above them.


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Topics: Biblical Justice