About epi - notebook

About Economics for Peace Institute

epi gives people tools to affirm what is meaningful in their lives, community and surroundings.

Mission

Economics for Peace Institute (epi) works globally through education and economic development to build peace, to foster sustainability and to restore the Earth’s natural systems.   epi promotes participatory research and participatory ecotourism. 

Description

Economics for Peace Institute develops participatory ecotourism and offers training in participatory research for regional and community planning. We leverage web 2.0 social networking technologies to achieve our mission. Income derived from participatory research educational programs plus grants and contributions are used to support our mission. We are a Colorado registered nonprofit startup and plan to operate as a global NGO. We plan to apply for IRS 501c3 tax exemption in 2010. We are a mission-driven start up social enterprise.

Philosophy

The Institute’s form of charitable participatory ecotourism preserves critical cultural and ecological processes in local and regional landscapes while also strengthening local and regional economies. Participatory action research (PAR) is an umbrella term for action-oriented research strategies ‘with’ people in their place-based communities. The Institute’s form of PAR informs public decision-making through science-based field work into local socio-cultural patterns.

Accountability

Our work is measured by its social benefits, its economic fairness and its ability to preserve ecosystems for future generations.   We hold ourselves accountable to locally-affected people, to our funders and to ourselves in mutual dialogue.

Corporate Seal

As our logo depicts, peace benefits from out of the box thinking; the dove is set free. epi promotes new ways of thinking about peace and sustainability. We hold that community well-being and ecosystem stewardship are cross-cutting values that glue “the people” together beyond any polemic.

Values

Upon joining epi, associates and Board Directors agree to practice a set of core values and support others in their efforts to do the same.  We strive to enact the values we seek to instill in our projects. We strive to be appreciative, transparent, cooperative, creative, innovative, self-reflective and in integrity.  Everyone involved with epi–from Board Directors to volunteers–has signed epi’s Associate’s Agreement including our core values statement and the co-creator’s agreement.  Signing these documents is a rite of passage at epi, along with using our virtual communications and project management tools.

Structure

The organization is structured to reflect its values and emulate within the organization its mission outside the organization.  epi is a participatory flat organization comprised of five teams.  Teams include the Participatory Strategies Group, Participatory Ecotourism Group and the Web Team. Other epiTEAMS are Business Operations Team and Educational Partnerships Team   Each team is led by a facilitator/director who ensures sound communication flows and necessary resources so that team associates can get the job done. This has been a difficult task for a startup nonprofit solely reliant on volunteers.  Good will has carried the day and much gratitude is due to all those involved.

The organizational chart represents an organic form with a tap root that feeds our business operations and informs our management team.  The tap root draws upon the resourcefulness of our Directors, Advisors and funders.  epiTEAMS interface with differing audiences or field environments each of which also informs service delivery.  Each team tests new research, theory, and best practice within their programmatic objectives. Conclusions drawn by our field staff inform the refinement of efforts to improve participatory practice in economic development, community development, conservation, sustainability, and other public projects.  The management team processes information from these sources in order to refine programming.  Field staff and management staff exchange roles on occasion throughout the year to further inform strategic planning and day to day operations.

History

In 2009, the Institute validated our PAR educational niche in at least three ways: 1) through peer-review by academic and practitioner professionals;  2) by catching the leading edge in web 2.0 development; and, 3) by cultivating a wide range of partnerships.

Founded in December 2008, the Institute’s conceptual framework quickly attracted a cohesive, high-caliber international Board of Directors and numerous talented local and national volunteers. The Board of Directors includes four international PAR practitioners and an international business program director who is also a Chartered Financial Analyst. The Institute’s Financial Director is a knowledgeable accounting professional with over thirty years experience in private, financial and educational institutions.

epi’s founder has written and presented on participatory action research since 2003 – and this, in leading public involvement newsletters and conferences (Association for Con­flict Resolution - Environment and Public Policy sector and International Association for Public Participation).

Volunteer associates, Board Directors, collaborators, and advisors perform start up activities. The business is located in a border town to tribal lands and in a HUBZone where tourism accounts for 33 percent of the economy. Cortez is five hours from the nearest major airport in Albuquerque and eight hours from both Denver and Salt Lake City. Telluride and Moab are less than 60 miles away. Those and several other local airports serve the tourism and energy industries.

Beginning in March 2009, epi’s founder, Myriem Le Ferrand, recruited and retained a talented team of four dedicated volunteers who have designed and built this web 2.0 site. To achieve this high level of performance, the team selected a hybrid Drupal/civiCRM open source technology. Drupal is a web-based content management system (CMS);  civiCRM is a web-based constituent management system for nonprofits and government agencies.  The site is connected to social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn. 

The Institute’s first project was a nationally invited workshop on PAR held in Portland, Oregon in late May 2009. Previously, in March 2009, epi’s founder and Dr. Linda Kruger, a researcher with the U.S. Forest Service launched the PAR workshop. The U.S. Forest Service-Pacific Northwest Research Station and registration fees funded the workshop.  Attended by both academics and seasoned professionals in public participation, the workshop served also as a focus group on PAR and validated a significant market for neutral, science-based, participatory action research in public planning.

Special thanks goes to Jonathan Henson of Harbor Moon Design in Port Townsend Washington for the donation of his talent and perseverance in the development of epi’s web 2.0 site.  Jonathan has consistently provided online technological solutions ranging from the collaborative PAR social network interface to groupware for project collaboration.  Soon, epi will have an integrated database, a constituent resource management system, and the capacity to support online community engagement services.

 

epi's web icons are images of 19th century scientific instruments and cultural resources.  Our icons are meant to evoke the observational strategies of Charles Darwin and other scientists including biologists, naturalists, anthropologists and even physicists. These set the stage for epi's blog: Hiking with Darwin.

Note about page icon:  Journals serve to record our life experience;  journals were an integral part of Charles Darwin's systematic notation of observations for future reference and theoretical development. Imagine the sights, sounds and smells of a world in which naturalists cast anchor on shores yet untouched by industrial development and tourism. Imagine arriving equipped with the latest instruments of science and discovery in the day of Charles Darwin (1809-1882).