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Share, listen & engage: A Peace Dividend Trust Blog

Before Scott Gilmore asked me to join the Peace Dividend Trust (PDT) team earlier this year, I had made a decision to move to Istanbul. For the past five years, I’d worked with entrepreneurs from emerging-markets, including Turkey, where my parents immigrated to the United States from. To say that I was awed by the innovations Turkish entrepreneurs were unleashing is an understatement. I wanted to be in that stimulating environment, which has become a global spotlight.

“Is that what you want to do?” the affable PDT founder asked me as we sat at the dark paneled bar of the regal Campbell Apartment. How he knew that wouldn’t satisfy me is a mystery.

“Yes,” I said, with an uncharacteristic and questioning high-pitch at the end.

“That’s too bad because we’re looking to do big things at PDT,” Gilmore said.

Those big things weren’t just expanding into more markets, although that is happening: over the next few months we’re going to launch an office in Liberia. We’re also looking at possible branches in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

The big thing that PDT was looking to do was…. Share, listen and engage.

“We know what we don’t know,” Gilmore said. “And that’s a damn lot.” He went on to say that in his experience, knowledge rested with the amazing people around the world – whether that was in Timor-Leste, Afghanistan or Haiti. It also rested in those who have committed themselves to ensuring those people are heard. Not just those in positions of power, but the tireless souls serving embassies, non-profits, newspapers and peacekeeping missions worldwide. The people doing the work. They were the ones with the answers.

In the cruel world of non-profits, it is all too easy for an organization to focus on promoting its platform and bona fides one-way. While there is justification for this, there is no excuse for not sharing, listening and engaging on the very issues and causes that sparked the non-profit world into being in the first place. And while that is what PDT has been doing all along, we’re going to formalize it.

Starting today, we’re rolling out a new blogging platform where we share, listen and engage.

Share: On Tuesdays, our blog will bring you first-hand accounts and stories from the frontlines in the countries where we operate. They will be accounts and stories about the amazing entrepreneurs in Afghanistan, Haiti, Timor-Leste and soon Liberia and their challenges. Some of these will be inspiring, others eye-opening. None will be self-serving idealism.

Listen: On Wednesday, our blog will bring you the voices of those experts, practitioners and academics in the development, aid and entrepreneurship field. They will be guest posts and interviews from the most provocative and brightest minds who share PDT’s commitment of ending aid dependency in the developing world. They will be people like Dave Algoso, Penelope Chester, Carol Gallo, Lauren Jenkins, Bonnie Koenig, Tom Murphy, Linda Raftree, Laura Seay and my dear friend Lina Srivastava.

Engage: On Thursdays, our blog will be a veritable op-ed page, bringing you commentary and opinions from PDT staff. And if you know our staff, (i.e. Scott Gilmore, oh he’s the boss… right..) they will be only honest, brutally honest, comments and opinions intended to push the conversation about aid and development out of comfortable theory and into the dirty arena of solutions.

Roll up your sleeves and fasten your seat belts. Our first will be by yours truly, tomorrow.

In looking back on Scott Gilmore’s question over six months ago now, while Turkey will always be the love of my life, thissharing, listening and engaging is exactly what I was meant to do. We hope you’ll join us – we want to share, listen and engage with you. If you’re interested in contributing a blog post or have an idea for a topic, we’re eager to hear about it.



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  1. Tom Murphy says:

    I assume a flashy launch party will be held for those participating…

  2. […] systematic about hosting commentary from their front-line staff and other aid/development bloggers. Here’s Elmira describing the new initiative. I’m happy to be part of the conversation. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); […]

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