Today's 'three main takeaways' after a series of exciting lectures on many things: corruption, illicit flows, the interests of children and political systems in Latin America... Well, they became something like, 'One-bigcomplexhairy-takeaway-that-all-of-us-spat-out-the-first-second-we-started-discussing-to-see-what-we-had-in-common'.
(We hope this immediate consensus will give the world's anthropologists a healthy moment of pride.)
Today, we have mainly learned that, in policy-making (and other forms of public service), few things are as important as listening to all those who will be involved. After all, the world of politics and public service isn't there just to represent people on principle, but to address their needs, and these cannot be understood if we don't take into consideration certain concepts like cultural backgrounds, the clash of civilizations and social divisions. Thus, our new objective: to become public servants who respond to the beneficiaries' actual concerns.
Our methods? (Anthropologists, rejoice!) Ethnography, interviews, and crowdsourcing.
These methods sound pretty simple, but they are challenging. They sound simple because we just have to use two of our bodily organs (ears and brain) to execute them. However, we must recognize that, to use them correctly, we must make an effort to go beyond what is easily said or seen.
Now, we don't have enough time in Providence to run adequate surveys and produce trustworthy metrics for the sake of practice... But we did want to do something we couldn't easily do in any other place of the world.
Enter #OccupyProvidence. To all our Latin American peers who wonder how ground-level policy making and people's interests can meet in tonight's post, here are a few opinions we gathered at the Burnside Park today.