Ashley Tillman Hi! Thanks for your question and for your (and OpenIdeo's) continual desire to ask great questions and to learn! I'll include a short snippet from our submission for context and then additional response below. - By partnering with the local churches and providing them with resources and opportunities to engage congregation members at a deeper level, we're not setting out to change beliefs, but rather amplifying those that families already have. We have found that this is a really good way to bring about sustainable positive behavioral change from within, ultimately helping to bridge prosperity and planet.
Service, work, peace, love of the marginalized, and care for Creation (the Earth) are all integral teachings in the Bible. Often times though, around the globe and here in the US, churches can become disconnected from practical applications taught in the Bible. Framing training of environmental stewardship and management of household wealth in a Biblical context helps amplify existing community beliefs into tangible and sustainable action for those families and for the planet.
For example, here is a teaching that gives a really strong foundation for Plant With Purpose to stand upon as we start work in a community that often has many churches already present (it is important to note that participation in Plant With Purpose's programs is not dependent on particular religious belief and thereby not required of any participant. We gratefully work with everyone who is willing to work with us). On of the very first verses in the Bible, Genesis 2:15 says, " The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." By partnering with local churches and church leaders, we are able to engage congregations to participate in the stewardship and renewal of the land through a lens that is already familiar, thereby helping them increase crop yields and restoring land for future generations. Furthermore, in communities often neglected or looked down upon for being agrarian, through the Biblical lens we're able to speak to the nobility of agriculture and being a caretaker of the land.
Another example of Plant With Purpose seeking spiritual renewal via human centered design has to do with 'marred self-image'. The Bible teaches that mankind was made "in God's Image" and we see disempowerment as a form of spiritual poverty when someone feels like they do not have the ability to change their or their families' circumstances. Last week when I was in Haiti, I spoke to a Haitian pastor who said that because of the massive amount of short-term aid and missions projects, many Haitian churches are stuck in a cycle of waiting for someone from outside of the community to help address challenges (I'll note that this is not a blaming statement, rather a statement that bad aid has been perpetually "done to" Haitian churches rather than in "partnership with.") The pastor explained how incredible it has been to empower members of the church in Plant With Purpose's training sessions, which talk about the talents, skills, and resources that each of us have. Access to workshops and financial tools, he said, has resulted in families who are no longer waiting for outside support, but instead taking initiative to improve their community on their own. Some other examples of church partnership and empowerment that I have personally heard are churches who, as a result of the training they receive, decide to repair water sources for the community, engage in support of local schools, repair physical structures on their own church, and improve infrastructure of roads, bridges, or community centers. For Plant With Purpose this represents dignity and a community of individuals who have agency to improve circumstances and actively live out their faith.
I'd love to talk more with you about this if you have further thoughts or questions! Please reach out.
Thanks for your question and the work that you do through HAF! We currently use a handful of M&E methods ranging from self-reported surveys like you describe, to third party data sources like NDVI which can monitor change in vegetation index over time in the areas we're targeting our efforts.
On an ongoing basis we'll collect in depth data every 3 with occasional other surveys in between that time. Please do send anything you think may be helpful, it would be interesting to learn about the participatory evaluation descriptions you've used and what you've found most helpful (please email to firstname.lastname@example.org). You might be interested in the 242 trial data that we recently added to our posting. Lastly, Matt Lineal provided some excellent feedback in another comment thread on July 17th (scroll down) which you might find interesting and helpful.
Jean-Marc Mercy Thank you so much for your input! I am one of the team members at Plant With Purpose. We've been working through this next phase, gathering feedback, talking with other team members, replying to comments, and have a collaboration meeting tomorrow to revise content based on your input. We're grateful to have been paired with you given your incredible experience in human centered design and The Bridge. I really enjoyed seeing the video of you being recognized at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting!