Human Development and Environment Centre
Host to the International Network of Organization Workshop practitioners
Who are we?
Integra Terra is a not-for-profit development NGO registered with the Chilean Ministry of Justice (Accreditation No 897. RUT number 65637750-K). Integra Terra is the host of the international network of practitioners of the Organization Workshop (OW) method created in the sixties by the Brazilian social scientist Clodomir Santos de Morais
Integra Terra was founded in February 2006 by an association of professionals working in the fields of social and, biological sciences, ecology and environment, engineering, architecture, education, culture and arts.
Working in partnership with communities Integra Terra identifies, develops and implements programmes to combat poverty, with the aim of achieving sustainable human development. Environmental conservation and management is taken as part of an integrated system, where every element is an essential part of a functional whole.
Traditionally, human development and the conservation and management of natural systems have been considered separate realms with independent funding sources and management.
Within the framework of cultural historical activity theory, Integra Terra looks at the social and the environmental as two poles of one single system, characterized by relationships of interaction and mutual determination. In the same way environmental resources (water, underground minerals) determine the type of social organization humans create around them (a mining venture or an hydroelectric plant), it is equally true that social organization determines most of what happens to the environment.
Around the environmental pole, the most frequent result of this interaction is degradation and pollution, while in the social organization sphere extreme wealth and extreme poverty are the norm.
In facing up to this reality, the environmentalist movement has often expressed only opposition and negativity. Integra Terra believes that those of us that are concerned about the environment must overcome the critical consciousness level - that of being ‘against’ everything - to achieve a level of organizational consciousness in order to identify and develop systemic initiatives that allow for the protection of the environment while improving the quality of life of the people.
To achieve the above, Integra Terra approaches human development as “the process of transformation of the activity of the individual, done on a social scale, with the intention of upgrading the individual, the product of their activity, the means or techniques they use, and, as a consequence, improving the quality of their life”.
Therefore, when planning the process of transformation of human activity aimed to create wealth, we consider the impact on the environment. Conservation and management of species and natural systems around us, in order to be sustainable, must take into account the systemic, integrated character of natural and social subsystems.
The Integra Terra mission is to contribute towards cultural change in the interactions between human beings and the natural world, reconciling human development with conservation and sustainable management of our ecosystems.
Integra Terra envisions poor excluded communities organizing themselves into membership enterprises in a participatory, democratic, bottom up manner. Creating their own livelihoods, employment and income, using the tools of environmental and social sciences to eradicate poverty and the ills associated with it and establishing in the process sustainable management of natural systems.
How did we begin?
Integra Terra became known in the nineties, through the adaptation of the Organization Workshop (OW) method from Latin America to Southern Africa and for linking community organization with low cost, environmentally friendly building materials in community based self-construction projects.
The membership of the Integra Terra Network includes OW practitioners from Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, England, The Netherlands, Mexico, South Africa and Zimbabwe. In the last years Integra Terra technical team provided technical support to Marsh Farm Outreach, a Community Interest Company registered in Luton, UK to bring the OW to England. Diversity Joy, a Non-Government Organization in the Netherlands was inspired by the Kwanda experience implemented by Seriti Institute of South Africa and partners, and are intending to develop their own version of Kwanda. A preliminary result has been the translation and publication of the Theory of Organization and the Organization Workshop handbook in Dutch.
After the initial adaptation of the Organization Workshop to Southern African contexts, Seriti Institute, one of the institutions affiliated to the Integra Terra Network, has made a significant methodological contribution through making the OW approach relevant to tackle poverty-associated social dysfunction - domestic and public violence, high incidence of crime, alcohol and drug abuse, vulnerable children, HIV AIDS – which merge with the implementation of public works in a process where community empowerment and organization becomes an overarching goal pointed towards further self-sustainable employment creation.
Social service activities aimed to assist communities to look better, feel better and work better, motto of the Kwanda Reality TV show, has now fed back into Brazil, the home country of the OW. TV producers of Geofilmes are intending to use the OW as a means to inspire 5 communities who have low marks on the Human Development Index to achieve the 8 Millennium Development Goals, as well as to “take the MDG to the streets” by registering the developmental stories of all 5 communities, and editing them into 13 episodes of 52 minutes each, to be broadcast through open TV. The general public will also be part and parcel of the program through SMS, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, radio and all available means.
How do we work?
Integra Terra works towards unbounded organization, working in a democratic, participative and transparent manner, contributing to member institutions in the development of staff formation programs and the accreditation of upcoming OW crews.
Integra Terra meets the requirements of communities and/or authorities via the creation of multidisciplinary teams of professionals and citizens, able to identify, diagnose, elaborate and implement solution strategies for specific social and environmental challenges.
Integra Terra member organizations are fully competent in the following services:
Social and Community Development:
- Identification, elaboration, management, monitoring and evaluation of Community Development Projects
- Community capacitation: organization and participation
- Staff Development and Capacitation addressed to organizations that develop social programmes. It includes organizational diagnosis, and problem solving strategies to streamline project implementation.
- Participatory design and management of self-build housing projects using low-cost, non-traditional and ecologically friendly building materials.
- Identification, elaboration, management, monitoring and evaluation of individual and personal development projects using integrated arts (drawings, painting, singing, dance and theatre)
- Production of developmental and documentary films.
- Elaboration, management and development of projects for young people at social risk
- Participatory design and solutions for community based organizations with problems of functioning, motivation and participation.
- Sociological and Social Sciences Research. Design and use of methodological criteria and procedures, both quantitative and qualitative
Environment Biodiversity and Conservation:
- Environmental Planning and Management
- Surveys and environmental studies in freshwater and marine coastal environments
- Design and development of field studies of the biodiversity in freshwater, terrestrial and marine environments.
- Statistical design and analysis of Biodiversity Study projects
- Applied Basic Research in ecology, biogeography and biodiversity of marine and freshwater systems.
- Gathering, systematization and implementations of data bases related to the biodiversity and environment of particular systems.
- Dissemination of general knowledge about ecology and biodiversity of the marine and freshwater systems of Chile.
In the social arena Integra Terra associates have international experience in the delivery of programs focusing on poverty reduction, autonomous employment creation, tackling drug abuse, expressive arts and social inclusion.
We use democratic and participatory methodologies which are designed to work with large groups of people, in order to develop practical and concrete solutions to problems which are too complex for individuals or small groups to tackle. Environmental problems have precisely this characteristic: they affect every one of us and need joint action to be taken by all stakeholders.
Integra Terra staff has conducted more than 80 Organization Workshops in Southern Africa, Central America and Brazil, with an average of 200 participants each. A case in point is the OW that took place in Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil, where 250 participants from the slums created membership enterprises that achieved more than 1.200 sewage connections from the homesteads to the main collection network. At the same time, these otherwise unemployed residents received a steady income from their productive work, as well as well the technical and managerial skills that meant a new livelihood for them.
The largest OW held in South Africa was held in Meriting, near Rustenburg, and involved 450 people from six communities. This was the ‘Learning Camp’ for the Kwanda programme which also sparked Community Works Program activities in each of 6 communities after the workshop.
In the environmental area Integra Terra is formed by a highly qualified team in Ecology at the PhD level graduated from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, some of whom presently do Post PhD programs. This team, complemented by other professionals with wide experience in environmental education presently undertakes environmental diagnosis, design and implementation of solutions for mining companies. They identify, classify and do the translocation of water species that are going to be affected by the mining operations to proper ecosystems. The recommendations coming out of those studies and interventions follow strictly the environmental authority requests to be fulfilled in order to authorize mining operations