Aligning vision and action of a landcare ethos through systematic intervention : the case of the Farmer Support Group.
The present context of community based natural resource management is characterized by multiple stakeholder involvement, a situation that presents challenges in aligning vision for common action. A 'systemic intervention' involved the staff and stakeholders of the Farmer Support Group, a non-profit rural development organization based in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The 'creative design of methods' guided inquiry in aligning vision of a Landcare ethos amongst the organization and their stakeholders, and in directing action toward the vision. Critical Systems Thinking is outlined as the framework in which the intervention methodology is encompassed. The importance of applying a broad range of environmental education methods to Landcare is established through drawing from present debates and contexts in environmental education and community based natural resource management. The 'organization as community' approach to organizational learning and development is highlighted as a means of creating synergy of purpose across staff and stakeholder boundaries. The intervention's methodology consisted of three phases: drawing out perspectives, forming a common vision in a mission statement, and developing action plans based on the mission statement. Outcomes included: identification of three schools of thought that drove perspectives on the role of environmental education in natural resource management strategies, formation of the FSG Landcare Ethos Mission Statement, which was inclusive of all stakeholder perspectives, and integration of the mission statement into FSG projects through action plans. The intervention found that aligning staff members and stakeholders in common vision and action towards developing a Landcare ethos could be accomplished through a blend of environmental education approaches that facilitate sustainable decision making by building capacity in individuals and communities in a participatory and locally relevant manner that is attentive to predominant perspectives and adaptive to change.
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