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Sponsoring Trans-Local Learning

Scaling across not scaling up

Verb. Trans-local learning is a process for connecting communities who have solutions to share. These solutions, technologies and methods are carried from one place to another and take root in a new local environment. There they emerge into something different, influenced by local culture, flavor and forms.

Noun. Trans-local solutions emerge when people carry an idea from one locale to another, and then adapt and integrate ideas into local conditions and community needs. Trans-local solutions rely on the wisdom and wealth in their community, their traditions, their culture and their environment.

There are no solutions that work everywhere, therefore attempts to “scale up” fail the moment they begin. Local efforts, inspired by other local efforts, draw on their own abundant resources to create sustainable solutions designed, implemented and embraced by the community.

The Berkana Exchange for Emerging Leaders

Universal solutions for the challenges of poverty, community health and ecological sustainability have proven woefully insufficient. Most have failed, creating terrible unintended consequences, and leaving people dependent and hopeless.

What does succeed is engaging communities at local levels. Led by life-affirming leaders, people identify the issues they care about, get engaged and creative. Together they develop innovative solutions to their most pressing challenges.

The Berkana Exchange connected the pioneering efforts of younger leaders in many communities, many in the Global South, so that they could learn from one another, practice together, share their skills, and feel supported by a global community.

The Berkana Exchange: Trans-local Learning

The Exchange created a rich learning community among pioneering leaders around the world. We began by identifying the efforts and dreams already underway among younger leaders we had relationships with.

Over four years, we created varied means for them to build a robust learning community of discovery and support—a true exchange. Berkana’s activities included:

Individual and collective mentoring and support.

Convening large gatherings for deeper explorations and to strengthen community. At these gatherings, everyone did real work, contributing to the efforts underway at our host community.

Providing financial support for individuals and small groups to visit one another and learn specific methods and processes, e.g. an exchange between India and Mexico to learn how to use bicycles to power machines.

The Berkana Fellows & Multiversity

The Berkana Fellows was a partnership with two learning centers within the Berkana Exchange: Abhivyakti (Greece) and Shikshantar (India). This was a bold experiment in self-organized learning, offering unique opportunities for young people who had walked out of formal educational institutions. This fellowship created learning spaces beyond the reach of formal institutions to support the emergence of healthy and resilient communities.

After two cohorts of Berkana Fellows, the three organizations launched Multiversity in 2009. This became Swaraj University, still a thriving two-year learning program for youth to develop the knowledge and skills they need to create viable green-collar enterprises that are productive, just and sustainable. Swaraj and others in the Exchange are now partnering with Ecoversities to continue developing places of learning that reclaim diverse knowledges, create new relationships and use imagination to create new approaches to higher education

Walk Out Walk On 2011

This book offers a learning journey into seven communities that were active in the Berkana Exchange: India, Greece, Mexico, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Columbus Ohio.

Each of these communities walked out of limiting beliefs and assumptions about themselves and their capacities. They walked on to create healthy and resilient communities.

They first had to realize that no one was coming to help. They turned to one another and, using their ingenuity and caring, and worked with what they had to create what they needed.

They discovered plentiful resources in the wisdom and wealth that are always present in people, traditions and the environment.