John Perkins and Jane Goodall in Panama

Global Brigades efforts in Panama have been blessed with amazing opportunities to work alongside leaders in international development. John Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, visited Panama in July of 2009. Perkins was on a mission to visit the Mamoní Valley Preserve (operated by our partner organization Earthtrain) and write about sustainable development movements in Panama in his new book Hoodwinked. John Perkins’s latest book, Hoodwinked, to be released November 10, 2009, is a blueprint for a new form of global economics. John challenges us to soar to new heights, away from predatory capitalism and into an era more transformative than the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. Perkins leads by example with Llyn Roberts in their nonprofit organization Dream Change; a group devoted to establishing a world our children will want to inherit. Hoodwinked details specific steps each of us can take to create a sustainable, just, and peaceful world. Global Brigades in mentioned on page 211 of Hoodwinked.

jane Goodall and GB staff-member Allen Gula in Panama.
Jane Goodall and GB staff-member Allen Gula in Panama.

John, Llyn and I were able to catch up again on October 7 2009 at a historic event hosted by the previously mentioned partner organization Earthtrain. The first Wednesday of October was a beautiful evening in Casco Viejo, where Earthtrain held an unprecedented meeting of humanitarians. Global Brigades staff members Adriana Piñiero and John Cunningham answered questions about Global Brigades to eager guests; I was fortunate enough to present my co-workers efforts in Panama, talk about Global Brigades projects and welcome Grammy Award winning Panamanian jazz musician Danilo Peréz to introduce his foundation: Fundación Danilo Peréz.

The evenings keynote speaker was famous primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall. Her trip to Mamoní Valley was her first visit to Panama as she too wanted to collaborate with organizations operating in the country. Her most profound recommendations for sustainable development stemmed from what Dr. Jane called ‘the wisdom of the elders’. Goodall reflected how today we make decisions for what’s good for ourselves now, what profit margins board members want to see at the next meeting, how accustomed our culture has grown to unhealthy short-term growth. We need a global consciousness shift towards long term decision making, sustainable development practices that encompass social and economic growth while protecting and conserving the environment. The wisdom of the elders contemplates how my actions today will affect my children seven generations from now.

During a personal interview Jane Goodall told me ‘Together we can save the world. We must!’ I’ve interpreted the ‘we’ as Global Brigades efforts in multi-layered sustainable development practices throughout the world. Our holistic development approach to the problems that face our communities and Global Brigades’ ability to provide a structure for students to lead international development projects inspires our guests in Panama. We are able to change the world through our hard work and dedication to our projects. Everyone has a vital role to play in this unprecedented social movement called ‘Global Brigades’- keep up the great work and dedication!

Allen

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