Asking Better Questions

Asking better questions (see my last post) has been a mantra for me taken from a number of very good teachers – the latest in the line being Mike Handcock and Dave Rogers of Rock Your Life.  And today I have found a book on just that subject.  “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas”  Warren Berger.

Already only just starting on Chapter One I have been pricked into some new openings in my work.  I am about to head to the east of Maharasthra to a small village called Tirzada – to start the construction of the first in what is to become a series of check dams.  These are designed to assist the farmers to harvest more rain water into the aquifers and subsequently give them a better water supply all year round and a more productive way of life.

It’s all about water. Or is it?

Where are the questions that will open this work into its fullest realm of possibility?

And to whom should I direct these questions designed to dig out the most beneficial and practical answers that will bring to Tirzada an involved community with a self sustaining and satisfying lifestyle for them all?

First I have to direct the questions to myself.

That one is clear as if we do not ask ourselves the deeper questions first – it is not possible to move outside and expect an answer from the wider world.

So what am I doing?
Why I am doing it and for whom am I doing it?

The why am I doing what I do stems back to Peru and the realisation for myself that I had life is dedicated to Mother Earth.  She is me and I am her – I am here for her.  Yes certainly there are times  when I lose sight of my vision entirely and get lost in detailed criricisms and forget this. But essentially that is the big WHY of my life.  I am fortunate because I have been blessed with that vision.

The questions now come through for the villagers and the farmers of Tirzada.

What do you need to help you to have a better life?

Paul Polak – Out of Poverty – asked this and other pertinent questions to many villagers and small farmers – and the strongest answers he gained came back to – being able to earn more money.   He went on from that to develop low cost products to assist the farmers to grow more crops and hence to earn more money.

His great questions brought me to begin asking what is the underlying cause of them not being able to grow more crops? and my answer was given – that of lack of a consistent regular supply of water.  From there the answers started to flow.. and I met the right people to guide me – and here today we are starting the water harvesting structures.. the check dams.farmer3  But now what further work can be done in the village to enhance this work?

In what way can we bring the villagers together into a stronger and more cohesive community?

What is the best method of bringing education to the villagers -both to the children and the adults – education about better cropping methods, about the sanctity of water, better cook stoves, biogas production and other innovative potentially life saving technologies such as drip irrigation methods?

At the village level politics is just as rife as it is at the national level.  Who are the best people in the village to have on side with us so that the political beast does not raise its head and get in the way of the work?

I am a foreigner – and a foreigner who also does not speak the local language. Can I offer value and valid insights through an interpreter relating to equality – environmental harmony, the need to honour all our water, the need to find the place where we are each responsible for our land and our world?

Humility – connectedness to myself, a stance of non judgemental being, and seeing the beauty in all comes to mind – for this is the intention of my work – and when I bring these qualities to all I meet then the only thing left to do is let go and let God.