I find the notion of “anthropological praxis” to be compelling and motivating, the idea that the insights and methods of anthropology are put into “practice” in communities. My focus then is not product oriented, as it would be with work that is strictly research, but process oriented—being part of community routines so that change can be fostered within existing cultural systems. In this way, the benefits of change can be optimized because change can be better absorbed, rather than be a wedge of intrusion that disrupts a community and diminishes the ability of people to take care of themselves. For 15 years, I have worked in the area of natural resource management. I have been part of the “partnership movement” that has shifted natural resource decision-making from a disruptive presence in communities that created political gridlock and the inability to implement policy, to one that is collaborative and community based. I have learned that the best decisions are the ones that are shared among the widest spectrum of society, with the focus on taking care of the land so that it takes care of us, as Native Americans continue to teach us. Those of us close to this work have come to call it “community-based ecosystem stewardship.” A second focus is on urban development and poverty reduction. A number of recent initiatives to reduce poverty have a “top down” approach that depend on driving change through institutional programs. That will never work because it colonizes the poor and makes them dependent on formal systems with their vagaries of funding. Instead, poverty reduction must be an empowerment process by which people better understand their conditions, begin to define their opportunities more broadly through a reflective process, and then link to helpful agencies whose role is one of expediting and facilitating.
Area(s) of Training
anthropology, applied anthropology, cultural anthropology, ethnography, medical anthropology
Area(s) of Expertise
I see myself as a facilitator of social change with a goal of building social capital in a community in a way that also accomplishes organizational objectives. Natural resource management, tourism development, urban redevelopment, are poverty reduction are my current areas of focus.
Most Recent Degree
Current Area of Employment
Executive Director, Center for Social Ecology & Public Policy; President, Social Ecology Associates; Adjunct Professor, Southern Oregon University