Why is the invitation so critical for Bridges Social Development? Because we have learned that projects that are created externally and then pushed onto communities without their ownership or participation don’t have the lasting desired impact. This is usually due to a mismatched understanding of what is needed, and an unsustainable model of the external human resources needed to execute. As such, Bridges Social Development adopts a pull approach that begins with an invitation, and focuses on working with individuals and communities to clearly understand and define their needs and priorities, and explore how we might provide the support needed, or where other resources or support systems could be more relevant.
Bridges Social Development itself emerged from an invitation – an invitation from the government of Yemen – and has since responded to many invitations from around the world. Whether the invitation is to speak on sustainable human development to a grade five class in Calgary, Alberta or to train a class of fifty doctors, nurses and midwives in a village in India, Bridges Social Development never acts without an invitation.
Today, the organization is receiving invitations primarily from First Nations and immigrant communities in and around Calgary, Alberta. These invitations have taken our work to a local setting, but the certainty we have about operating by invitation only, and our commitment to human capacity building, remains the same.