You just can’t make this stuff up

The more you know the harder it is to just condense UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development into a short paragraph. Someone who came to one of our lectures recently said: “Just give it to me quickly, I’m busy.” Who isn’t busy? On the one hand we just want to say: Take my word for it, and on the other hand there are the skeptics who think we’ve made it up since they didn’t read it in the local paper or see it on FoxNewsCNNMSNBCCSPAN.

Everyone is being impacted by it, but since your government uses different names for all of the programs (it’s alphabet soup), you don’t recognize that there is a connection when you hear, for instance:

Your 10-year old child won’t be automatically going to the middle school in your neighborhood but has to apply for admission. S/he may end up across town where you’ll never attend parent/teacher night, never become friends with other parents, and not volunteer in the classroom (and hear the lesson) because you can’t make it home from your job in time.

Your business is being subjected to a Business Improvement Tax by your local government and you have to pay even though your customers now have to put money in the meters, pay huge parking tickets, and can go to the Mall with free parking.

You inherited a piece of land from your folks but now you find out that it’s impossible to build anything on it because the County has an ordinance that won’t allow you to install a septic system on your 40 acres. And the Biotic Resource Corridor that it’s in won’t allow development anyway. And besides you’re in the ‘viewshed’ so bicyclists can look at your land as they ride a nearby trail, and a building would ruin that.

You don’t believe that you’re being ‘forced’ out of your private vehicle but then you notice that even though Libya produces only 2% of the world’s oil your gasoline cost just jumped up 15% since Gaddafi started shouting. You also have noticed that there’s talk about a ‘Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax’ in your town council that would charge you for long commutes. You moved there to buy a house but the market has crashed and you’re not going anywhere for a while.

You, of course, were an avid fan of the Smart Train idea and voted for the 1/4 cent sales tax hike in perpetuity, but now the train is a distant hope since they underestimated costs, and the money went to repair the tracks (for freight) and big pensions for staff. All of those SMART Growth condos by the tracks are now going to hear freight train whistles and smell the fumes 6 feet away.

You’re sick of being called an “Oil Addict” and can’t understand why innovations for energy efficient vehicles have never been funded by your government. Until now, when you can pay $40,000 for a compact that gets 35 miles to the gallon…

You came home from work and noticed that your energy company had installed a SMART METER without asking you, and now you’ve heard that they can shut it off remotely, monitor your use, reduce your allotment, and generally mess with you any time.

You’ve gone from saying you’d never bother to learn computers to checking your email every half hour, and your kids never look up from their I-whatever when you talk to them. Their classrooms are so crammed with kids that even you think remote learning might be a good idea, and, hey, textbooks on-line should save money—they can update them, change them, change history with a click of the mouse—Great!

You just came back from a vacation in Mexico and noticed the retina recognition and fingerprint readers at every customs officer’s station, and it made you nervous. Of course they’re not using them on everyone yet, but how long will it be? You’ve also read that they have miniature drone spy hummingbirds that can fly 8 miles, in and out of windows, and record sound and video! Who? Your government. What else do they have? Do they know you’re reading this?

You go to a neighborhood association meeting out of some sense of civic duty and see that they’re electing officers to the association. You’d like to nominate your neighbor but you can’t because the by-laws say that any candidate has to be okayed by the board first. You try to make a comment but you are boo’d by your ‘neighbors’ in bike helmets and spandex. It’s clear that they have a candidate who will be elected and claim to speak for the entire neighborhood.

Call it Smart Growth. Call it Sustainable Development. Call it Form Based Zoning. Call it Capacity Building. Call it Consensus Building. Call it Green Building. Call it Wildlands. Call it Homelands. Call it Outcome Based Education. ETC. Hey, it’s not “What is Agenda 21”, it’s “WHAT ISN’T AGENDA 21” It’s not Republican, and it’s not Democrat. It’s not Libertarian, and it’s not Independent. It’s COMMUNITARIAN.

Satisfied? Are we making this up? Have you noticed? So? WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT? Listen, no one is holding a gun to your head; you’re not losing your job if you speak out. Will you please go and talk to your neighbor, friend, co-worker, partner, coach, financial advisor, lawyer, clerk, you get the idea…. SPEAK UP. SPEAK OUT. STOP AGENDA 21 NOW.

And they call us conspiracy nuts?

We were just thinking about the Total Information Awareness Act (TIA) from the early 2000’s and wondered what happened with all of those DARPA (Defense Dept) programs that sounded like something out of a bizarre 1984 fantasy or a Men in Black movie. By the way, did you know that the Defense Department DOES hire Hollywood screenwriters to come up with scenarios for them? Yep, they do.

Well, anyway, we wondered if TIA was REALLY dead since Congress said that they were not going to fund the surveillance of US citizens within our own borders. You remember, don’t you? One of the programs was going to allow people to BET on the potential for war in different locales. We’re not making this up. When Congress realized it wasn’t a joke they quashed it. The logo for TIA is particularly creepy; it shows that eye on the pyramid that’s on the back of the dollar bill beaming yellow light at the entire planet—the all seeing eyeball.

We didn’t do too much research, just took a look at Wikipedia. And found that some of those programs are still being funded. Now, total information is vital to Agenda 21/Sustainable Development. Really, it’s all about information. What you do, what you think, how to identify you, what you write, what you read, where you live, who you know, how you earn money and where you keep it, meetings you attend, conversations you have, your attitude, your hopes, your fears. Facial recognition software. Software that recognizes you even if you are completely covered from head to toe. Remote surveillance with drones the size and shape of a hummingbird. Audio surveillance. Infiltration of groups. Asset Based Community Development. Community Oriented Policing. Rails to Trails. Community Block Grants. Redevelopment. Neighborhood Stabilization. SMART METERS.

A vital part of Agenda 21 is PREVENTIVE measures to stop crime (thought crime?) before it happens. To actually intercede in communities and identify potential criminals and pay them a little visit BEFORE they commit a crime. OK, you might think to yourself that you like the idea of stopping criminals before they commit a crime.

What’s a crime? Who decides? What is a crime against the community? Who is a criminal? What is terrorism? Who is a terrorist?

UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development expands the definitions of criminality and terrorism. Countries that used the Communitarian ideology to determine criminality are Russia, China, Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany…do you see?

Are you a liberal identified person? Do you see the protection of the planet as something that you are willing to make sacrifices for? Fine. But have you thought about what those sacrifices will be? Do you feel the stress of money going into ‘higher, tighter, and righter hands’ as George Bush 1st stated? That was furthered by Clinton, and then Bush, and now Obama. All faces of the same Agenda.

Part of Agenda 21 is to limit your choices, restrict your money, exhaust you with overwork and commitments, destabilize your personal environment, subvert your education and discourage critical thinking; the list goes on.

STOP AGENDA 21/SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT by educating yourself and talking about it. Turn off the TV. Make this your hobby, your avocation. Have the courage to be a bit unpopular sometimes.

Oppose Agenda 21 in Madison, Wisconsin; Stop Agenda 21 in St. Louis, MO; Fight Agenda 21 in Seattle, WA; Expose Sustainable Development in Camden, NJ; Say NO to Smart Meters in Santa Cruz, CA; Oppose Sustainable Development in Los Angeles, CA—Stand up. Speak out. We’re with you.

See our website: for more info and What You Can Do!

General AND Comprehensive: The Plan

We’ve been receiving your emails and answering some questions. Here’s one:

Our county (city, village, township, province) is making a Comprehensive Plan now. What is that? Is it related to Agenda 21?

Yes. A Comprehensive Plan is also called a General Plan, and is mandated/required by State law. It is a long range plan for the physical development of the jurisdiction. It may be called Your Town 2020 or 2035, or something similar. You get it from your Community Development/Planning Department. The law requires specific contents of the General Plan (transportation, biological resources, community develoment, energy, and our personal favorite; the Socioeconomic Element.

The Socioeconomic Element will generally include: Community participation (Delphi meetings), Public Safety (Community Oriented Policing), Environmental Justice (curbing or eliminating industry), Child Care (child endangerment/family law), Education (indoctrination), Economy (picking winners and losers), Parks and Recreation (bike lanes).

The General Plan/Comprehensive Plan is adopted by your municipality after lots of meetings where the public is invited and those who are ‘team players’ and toadies are identified and honored as ‘community leaders.’ Those who raise objections are also identified. The General Plan will be used to deny property owners the right to use their land as it was previously zoned, and will identify the rights of the community as ‘balancing environmental protection with the needs of present and future residents for housing, jobs, and recreation, and on the need for transportation options to reduce dependence on automobile use.’ (Quote from Marin Countywide Plan, Marin County, California) Note the word “balancing”. That’s a key jargon word for Communitarians. It means that your individual rights are not as important and will be disregarded for the ‘community’s rights.’

This is the idea of planning a sustainable community. It is an ideology that was formed by people with little or no real-world experience in farming, industry, or property development. It forms the framework and justification for many of the restrictive laws and regulations that strangle opportunity for all but the chosen few. It is a land use plan but it extends far beyond the boundaries of the property lines into the life decisions we make. As with everything impacted by Communitarianism, the governing body knows better than the individual how life should be lived. The General Plan is the method, the document, the comprehensive design for living that is imposed upon us. With our input, they assure us. You’ll hear this: ‘This is YOUR plan. We are just responding to what YOU want.’

In this way, Agenda 21/Sustainable Development is implemented and justified for the masses.

Another SMART thing that isn’t: SMART METERS

OK, so forget about the health issues if you’re so sure it’s no problem. But think about this:

Smart Meters can be remotely turned off. From the office. No need to come to your home.

Not worried about it? Why not? The way things are going everyone’s suspect these days. Acting a bit strange? Investigation needed. Maybe someone will want to shut your electricity and gas off in the middle of the night–

Paranoid? Nope. And how about this: The meter monitors the type of appliance or electronics you’re using, for how long, and where it is in your home. Privacy important to you? Don’t care?
Then think about this. Why does the gas/electric company need to know when you’re using your whatever? They say it’s because you’ll have fun monitoring your usages. But you don’t need them for that. No. YOU know when you’re using your whatever. THEY don’t.

New appliances are about to be rolled out in 2012 that have chips in them that will communicate with your meter. They will require special sockets—installation necessary if you want a new appliance. No new fridge without a smart meter.

They will sell the information to manufacturers. They will share the information with law enforcement. They will remotely shut you down if they wish. They will monitor your usage, charge you for what they perceive as ‘over usage’ and limit your access to energy. They can selectively regulate usage. They may be able to monitor other activity as yet undefined. We don’t know all the reasons why they are spending so much money to replace your meter. Speculation runs across the spectrum. The power company has said that you won’t be able to get power without a smart meter. Why is this such a vital part of their program?

And that’s without any discussion about health. Get with it. Don’t be a chump. REFUSE SMART METERS.

It’s another program brought to you by UN Agenda 21. See for more info

Milk and Water: No Labels and the Third Way

You may have heard about the No Labels campaign. It’s a new political movement, a sort of counter to the Tea Party for those on the left or more left-leaning. No Labels. Not Republicans, Not Democrats, Not Independents. No label.

Ok, we took a look.

They’re Communitarians.
Another term for this is the Third Way.

The enlightened compromise. The civilized synthesis. The educated answer is consensus, they say. This is the heart of Communitarianism. Why? Communitarianism is the ‘balancing of the individual’s rights against those of the community.’ In the US Constitution we are guaranteed rights that we were born with: life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. That last one, as you know, was to be ‘property.’ Property is not just land. YOU are your own property. That was an element of fundamental freedom.

So how can you ‘balance’ those rights with those of the community? The community has no rights under the US Constitution. Individuals have rights and responsibilities, but the community as a whole, what is that? The collective? Whenever you ‘balance’ or subsume, or subordinate, or consensus-ize the individuals’ rights you’ll get something different from what we are guaranteed under the Constitution.

Here’s an example.
Let’s take two glasses and set them on a table.
One glass is full of water. Let’s call it a Republic.
The other glass is full of milk. Let’s call it a Communitarian state.

Now we’ll get a glass pitcher and set it on the table.

Let’s balance the water with the milk by pouring them both into the pitcher.

What do you have?
It’s not water anymore, is it?
It’s milk. Watery milk. But milk. Not water.

The Third Way.

Communitarianism. Balancing your individual rights with the ‘rights’ of the community. This is being pitched to you as the new enlightened form of political discourse. You are ‘selfish’ if you insist on your individual rights and freedoms. This is the justification for Agenda 21-Sustainable Development. For the good of the planet. For everyone’s security. For your health. To protect your children. To limit workplace violence. To stop bullying.

All of these things are laudable, but somehow they always result in more restrictive laws that affect everyone. They criminalize everyone. In our town, the Civil Code has been criminalized. What does that mean? If you don’t mow your lawn it’s a misdemeanor.

Will your child have a criminal record if he calls another kid a ‘queer?’ Will you be held responsible if your employee shoots someone and you knew he was upset over a breakup with his wife? Will your 15 year old daughter be strip-searched at the airport? Will you lose custody of your 10 year old because he is obese? Will you be evicted from your apartment because you smoked on your balcony in violation of a local ordinance? Will you be taxed for driving 15 miles to work instead of riding your bike? Will you be fined for watering your vegetable garden? Will your Smart Meter be used to tell advertisers what to sell you? Will your Smart vehicle with remote shut off capability be shut down by someone in your State capitol while you’re driving? Will your neighbor report you to the Community Oriented Policing Unit of your local PD because you seemed to be acting strangely? Your rights have been balanced.

That was easy, wasn’t it? No Labels. Why not? Maybe they don’t have the guts to say what their label should be. Or maybe they figure you’ll never guess.

For more on this please go to our website: and look at the blog The Way We See It under ‘Communitarianism’.

How to tell if you’re a Good German

This post and the one after it are for all of us who think that we could never have participated in the Holocaust.

Programs that are being instituted in your village, town, city, county etc. right now, are programs that carry the stench of the future, and the past.  

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD)
Community Oriented Policing (COPS)
Neighborhood Revitalization
Neighborhood Stabilization
Know Your Neighbor

These programs are sponsored by your local government and are designed to find out everything possible about you.  Why?  Because you’re being assessed and mapped.  Your skills are being put on a map, searchable through GPS (global positioning system), so that you can ‘contribute’ to the well being of the community.  Your assets—stored food, water, tools, weapons—are being recorded. Click on this paragraph to see the questionnaire.

These programs are being touted as something YOU want, that YOU asked for—at a visioning meeting, perhaps, where you were Delphi’d.  They can’t do this without your assistance…and your neighbor’s, if you don’t cooperate.  What they don’t tell you is that they also record your limitations, your handicaps, your resistance, your personal behavior, your private life, your habits.  The skill-sharing is the candy-coating.

Now read this (from Wikipedia):
In Nazi Germany, a blocklieder (block warden) was the lowest official of the Nazi Party, responsible for the political supervision of a neighborhood or city block, and formed the link between the Nazis and the general population.  He was charged with planning, spreading propaganda, and developing an acceptance to the policies of the Nazi party among the typically 40 to 60 households in his area. It was also the duty of the blocklieder to spy on the population and report any anti-Nazi activities to the local Gestapo office.  This allowed for a Nazi terror state and was helped by keeping files on each household.

See our website for links to the questionnaire they are using right NOW.

Are you a Good German?

Most of us, about a minute after we first heard about the Holocaust, wondered if we were the kind of people who would do that. If we were being honest with ourselves we said no, but then had that sort of vague uneasy feeling. Could we be sure?

In the 1970’s Professor Philip Zimbardo conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment at Stanford University. He was a psychologist who wanted to see if students would torture each other if given permission. He set up a ‘prison’ at the university, arbitrarily assigned some students to be prisoners and others jailers, and watched. The experiment had to be ended because of the brutality of the jailers—just ordinary students. How long did it take? Six days.

Well, guess what! You’re going to get your chance to see what you’re made of, if you haven’t already. Yes, you can look into your soul or wherever, and find out if saving your butt or going along to get along, or getting that appointment to a local board is worth losing your humanity. Maybe you’re one of those weak ones who has already jumped on the bandwagon of spying on your neighbor for ‘their own good’ (Community Oriented Policing, Asset Based Community Development, Neighborhood Watch, excluding people from neighborhood groups…). Flattery is a big manipulator. Maybe you’ll be asked to reason with a neighbor—-you’ll be told that you’re such an important insider, hey, the mayor will thank you!

Maybe it will take just a little more to push you over the edge. When your child comes home and says ‘Billy’s mom says you’re crazy if you don’t support the Bike Boulevard, and she’s mad that you’re not going along with the neighborhood.’ will you go along?

Maybe you’ll just hide in anonymity since it could maybe cost you your job to stand up. Are your kids 100% indoctrinated into UN Agenda 21–Sustainable Development? What’s that going to mean for dinner table conversation? Will you be silent? It doesn’t take much to destroy a social fabric. Just a willingness to go along with it. And a fear that if you don’t, you’ll be hurt, or unpopular. There are studies that show that people would rather suffer physical injury than be rejected by their neighbors.

The resistance to this movement is growing and you are a part of it. You’re reading this. You’re thinking now. It’s not a TV show, it’s not a drama, it’s not a game. This is your life. Anyone can be a good German. The Nazis did it slowly. They took years to get up to speed. They weren’t taken seriously at first, but they manipulated the system strategically. They tightened the screws, narrowed the choices, rewarded the snitches, took out the brave ones. Does that worry you?

Maybe you’ll make up flyers in the night and drop them off before dawn. Maybe you’ll stand up at your council meeting and talk about ICLEI. Maybe you’ll run for School Board and talk about Agenda 21 openly. Are you tough? They’ll trash you, mock you, malign you, and call you crazy. But go back in this blog and look at the post on Picayune, Mississippi. Those citizens stood up. They fought it off. So can you. STOP AGENDA 21-Sustainable Development.

What does it look like? It’s a redevelopment project in Garland, TX. It’s a visioning meeting in Tuscon, AZ. It’s a Bike Boulevard in Petaluma, CA. It’s a Neighborhood Summit in Eugene, OR. It’s an Asset Based Community Development questionaire in Baton Rouge, LA. It’s a Community Oriented Policing project in Philadelphia, PA. It’s a Transportation Grant in Evanston, Il. It’s a Neighborhood Revitalization Project in Pensacola, FL It’s an Urban Growth Boundary in Detroit, MI. It’s high density urban development in South Dakota. It’s a Climate Protection Campaign meeting in Sonoma County, CA. It’s a conservation easement in Bellingham, WA…it is everywhere.

Don’t be a Good German. Stand up. Speak out.

The 98th monkey and YOU: CRITICAL MASS

A quick check of the internet will bring you to many hundreds of sites, and millions of pages on Agenda 21, ICLEI, communitarianism, and the impacts that we all see in our communities.

We are reaching critical mass.  The question, of course, is what do we do now?  You are doing it.  Reading, talking about it, blogging about it, tweeting, facebooking—getting the word out more and more.

The Hundredth Monkey story is a good one.  Lots of monkeys on an island, one learns how to open a particular kind of shell.  He shows a monkey, who shows a monkey etc.  Progress is slow on the shell-opening front.  Then, the 99th monkey learns it.  Suddenly, all the monkeys seem to know the trick.

We are at the 98th monkey.  Read our page: What you can do!  and do it!  Let’s turn back the tide and stop this in Sonoma County, Marin County, Los Angeles County, San Francisco …Portland, Seattle, Boise, Las Vegas, Phoenix.  Let’s stop Agenda 21 in Chicago, in New Orleans, Atlanta, Asheville, Richmond, Tampa, Raleigh.  Let’s block Agenda 21 in Dallas, Houston, Galveston, and Detroit, Nashville, New York, Pittsburgh.  Join us in kicking ICLEI out of Spokane, Cleveland, Georgetown and YOUR TOWN.

There is power in true grassroots activism.  Don’t be swayed by dogma.  You can be green and conserve energy and be a responsible world member without losing your rights and liberty.  Just because others have used the communitarian trick of ‘balancing your rights with the community good’ doesn’t mean that this makes sense.  A + B does not equal F and you are smart enough to see it.



Why Communitarianism threatens a free society

I have been reading articles by Amitai Etzioni, the professor at George Washington University, who is the director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies.  He founded the Communitarian Network, a non-profit ‘dedicated to the moral, social, and political foundations of society,’ and is the world’s leading proponent of communitarianism.

It doesn’t do you much good to criticize a theory without thorough research into it, so I’m doing my homework.

An article by Etzioni in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs entitled The Common Good and Rights, A Neo-Communitarian Approach (Winter/Spring 2009), is a concise argument for the central tenet of communitarianism: The common good must be a central part of our public morality, and human rights  and liberty must be subsumed into the service of all members of the society.  This is what he calls ‘balancing.’

Etzioni states that where there is no ‘community’ the people are disaffected, lonely, anti-social, alienated, and prone to finding artificial community such as gangs and militias.  Without community, in his view, there are no informal social controls that will serve to enforce the moral code and commitments of the residents. The antidote, he says, is to produce a community that uses censure, or pressure, to control behavior.

Here’s an example of what’s wrong with that concept.

Now, in an open society, such as the one we are now building, a gay person can live freely in many places.  An outsider just 25 years ago (and of course, still, in many places), a gay person is now able to form loving attachments without fear of job loss, loss of children, or shunning by society.  But if you take a look at the ‘community’ of Etzioni’s making, you’re looking at America in the 1950’s.  At a society that can shun you, shame you, reject you, attack you, and claim it’s for the common good.  And they truly believed that.  And many of them were good people.  And still are.  And if you define the common good as producing uniformity, and regulated, wholly expected results, then I suppose homosexuality is not in line with the common good.  But why would you want complete uniformity in your culture?  There is a perceived threat.  Whether it’s valid or not, the group can decide to reject and stigmatize a whole segment of the population.  For the common good.

Now, this is the kind of thing that was done in the name of religious prosecution.  Community morality.  How many have been persecuted or killed because they didn’t have the right religion?  This empowers mob rule.  Enforcement of morals outside of the law is not serving the Constitution of the United States.  Etzioni says that common moral beliefs make a community.  That sounds like a religion. Like environmentalism?  Has ‘green’ been hijacked and transformed to a secular religion?  Is it being used as an excuse and justification for restriction of individual rights?  Etzioni is defining the community as the planet.  The global village.  So, by extension,  just your use of the resources on the planet can endanger it, and make you a threat to the common good.

Your rights have been ‘balanced’ against the rights of the community as determined by some.  Whoever is the most dominant group.  Some group is going to be making these decisions.  How is the good of the community determined?  By the Delphi Technique?

Our constitution guarantees individual rights for a reason.  Because they are the first thing to go when a community takes on the role of the arbiter of behavior.

I do not feel comforted by the idea of community rule.  I have been at the receiving end of community attack.  Abuse.  Cruelty.  Why?  Because I dared to speak out about what was wrong.  Are these the people we want dictating what is for the good of the community?  The only way you can get to what Etzioni is talking about is to overthrow our entire system of law.  Our constitution and legal system are based on individual rights.

In Etzioni’s article he states:
“The neo-communitarian position seeks to understand as well as design society in light of the inevitable conflicts between rights, which privilege the person, and concerns for the common good, which privilege the community or society.”

Did you catch that? Design society in light of the inevitable conflicts between rights and the common good.

Re-Designing society. This is happening now.  In your town.  Right in your neighborhood association, your PTA, your city council, your place of worship, your local planning department, your schools.  This is not a remote, scholarly concept.  This is being imposed and enacted across the nation.

The overthrow of our legal system is in progress by the election of politicians  and judges who support communitarianism and Agenda 21.  For the common good.

UN Aid project brings misery to Kenyan village: Film

If you can see this film on your public television station, see it.  Called ‘Good Fortune’, it follows a UN program that the people are fighting.  A United Nations program to destroy a slum and build new homes is contrasted with a private aid project to build a dam. Both are failures destroying the villagers’ way of life in the name of equalizing the poor with the wealthier countries.  Here is the synopsis of the film on the Point of View website.
Film Description: Over the past 50 years, the West has sent some $2.3 trillion in aid to Africa, the poorest of the world’s continents. It would be difficult to find anyone who believes that money has significantly reduced poverty or succeeded in promoting social stability on the continent. Many, both inside and outside the international development community, are asking how so much money could be spent to so little effect. A more explosive question might be why some communities in Africa are not only disillusioned by the aid projects, but even fighting to stop them.

Silva Adhiambo watching a bulldozer moving into Kibera. Courtesy of Landon Van Soest

The new documentary Good Fortune delivers eye-opening answers from the point of view of the people resisting development projects that are supposed to help them. To capture this vantage point, director Landon Van Soest spent over a year and a half in Kenya, living on a shoestring and filming in areas he had been warned were too dangerous to enter. The result is a rare and intimate portrait of two vibrant Kenyan communities, one urban, the other rural. What they share is being square in the crosshairs of huge aid projects whose supposed benefits don’t impress them. In fact, people in these two communities believe the projects will devastate their lives, and they have organized to fight back.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki calls Nairobi’s Kibera neighborhood, Africa’s largest slum and home to an estimated one million people, an “eyesore.” Sara Candiracci of the United Nations Human Settlements Program says flatly, “It’s not acceptable that Kibera exists.” But for Silva Adhiambo, a midwife from an impoverished village, moving to Kibera 15 years ago has proved an economic boon. There is plenty of need for her services in the crowded community of mud shacks, narrow streets and open sewers. She earns a steady income, something unimaginable in her native village, and can even send her children to decent schools. There is “a lot of trash” in Kibera, she admits, “but life is good here.” A stroll with Adhiambo reveals a community buzzing with economic activity — commerce at rows of market stalls, mechanics fixing just about anything and other services on offer, such as Adhiambo’s midwifery. Far from being mired in hopeless poverty, Kibera is a community of strivers who have ingeniously created a life for themselves from the meanest of materials and opportunities.

As recounted in Good Fortune, the Kenyan government and the United Nations have joined forces in a massive “slum-upgrading” program, which calls for Kibera to be demolished completely and replaced with modern housing and infrastructure. The community’s residents have been told their eviction will be temporary and they will be able to come back to the area and live in the new housing. But they have good reason to distrust the government. Similar projects have resulted in housing being expropriated by government officials and their allies — in one case, by the president’s wife, according to Adhiambo — and sold on the open market for inflated profits.

Adhiambo, her husband, Fred, and her neighbors organize to stop the demolition. For the government and the United Nations, the Kiberans’ resistance is misguided. After all, says the United Nations’ Candiracci, “You need to have a big project to have a big impact.” As the project becomes increasingly politicized, Adhiambo rallies to safeguard her community and finds herself involved in the dispute over Kenya’s 2007 elections, which at the time spiraled into violence and led to over 800 deaths and 600,000 displaced people.

On the other side of the country, in a rural region of western Kenya that is often described as the country’s poorest, American businessman Calvin Burgess is investing over $21 million in a huge state-of-the-art rice farm through his Oklahoma-based company, Dominion Farms Limited. Burgess touts the project’s ability to create employment, build modern infrastructure and ensure food security in the area. “This is how you solve poverty,” he says, “instead of creating Band-Aids.”

But Dominion’s indigenous neighbors don’t see poverty being solved; they see quite the opposite. Farmer and schoolteacher Jackson Omondi and his family have flourished in the area for generations by growing crops and grazing cattle in the fertile wetland. “I am not poor,” Omondi insists. “I have a resource which can make me rich, but now he [Burgess] is taking that away and he’s making me poor.” Omondi speaks for more than 500 families whose homes and villages will be flooded by the reservoir Dominion plans to create. Refusing to abandon his property, Omondi begins organizing his community, writing letters, holding meetings and staging protests.

Good Fortune’s behind-the-scenes account of the struggles by Adhiambo, Omondi and their communities to protect their livelihoods, and the very mixed results they achieve, serve as a dramatic wake-up call to the international development community and its allies in local governments. No longer can poor people be seen as passive recipients of international aid programs — and the political and economic machinations that come with them. Good Fortune is a tragic, heartening, infuriating and revelatory report from the poor people’s side of the global development struggle.

“The film explores how the lofty ideals of Western humanitarians intent on solving world poverty play out on the ground in the developing world,” says Van Soest. “Though the film profiles two Kenyans on the receiving end of foreign aid, it is really meant to be a reflection on us as Western citizens and the sense of paternalism we project on the developing world, even when we have the best intentions.

“I was constantly amazed at the courage and conviction that Jackson and Silva showed in the face of immense hardship,” Van Soest continues. “Both helped organize their communities, contacted local politicians and fought for their communities.” Producer Jeremy Levine adds, “We really wanted to bring Jackson and Silva’s voices into the debate on international development. It’s our hope that the film can help advocate for more community leadership in development and local, grassroots solutions for Africa.”

Good Fortune is a production of Transient Pictures.

This is reprinted from the PBS Point of View website