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April 03, 2007

Kufunda Village

Go check out www.kufunda.org and tell me if it seems like an interesting potential sister community for TLC Farm!

Kufunda Village is quite a special place. In the heart of Zimbabwe, ju
st 20km outside of the Harare (the capital), is a group of permaculturists and educators.

Kufunda Village is a workshop and demonstration center that has dorms, a communal kitchen, classroom and plenty of outdoor meeting spaces. The Kufundees, about 25 people who live in Kufunda Village, run the place and also serve as community organizers for the five communities that they work with... read on.

Their model is unique: they work specifically with five communities, four rural and one urban. For the last five years they have focused on these communities, bringing to them the world of permaculture gardening, leadership development, and a variety of other useful skills and activities. The goal is to empower these communities to be able to stand up on their own in the face of a collapsing economy and challenging political situation.

With workshops such as starting a micro-enterprise to “the art of hosting”(facilitation) to AIDS awareness, they are boosting the level of confidence and ability of these communities. They also teach and demonstrate a variety of permacultural techniques, including gardening, pest control, composting toilets, natural stoves etc. Herbs are also a big part of their program—they have a diverse herb garden and do a lot of processing to make natural medicines. Very cool.

The model of focusing on five specific places is quite interesting to me. First of all, it allows Kufunda to develop deep relationships with these other villages and work with them over time. This focus also allows the five communities to get to know each other and help each other with their projects. And then, the idea is that these five communities will share the information to their neighboring villages as well. As I think about Portland, this could be an interesting model for TLC Farm (which, in my mind, would connect with Intersection Repair communities with City Repair- a longtime dream of mine).

The Kufunda Village community has some interesting international connection. Marianne, the visionary of Kufunda, also co-founded Pioneers of Change—an electronic network of international changemakers… check it out: pioneersofchange.net. She has also connected Kufunda to an international network of learning centers—check out: berkana.org . These links, together with other influences like Vipassana Meditation and open space forums, bring a uniqueness to Kufunda. In today’s confusing world of “development,” I wonder if Kufunda is able to make the best of all worlds… combining traditional African knowledge and rootedness with tools, both ancient and modern, from around the globe.