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Letters from Alfonso Learning to Listen

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Letters from Alfonso: Learning to Listen by Earl Kessler
English | November 4, 2013 | ISBN: 193828822X | 262 pages | EPUB | 0.49 MB

From a Third World Village, Lessons for All of Us
October 2013-Santa Fe, NM
Earl Kessler was a third-year Peace Corps volunteer working to help the small Colombian community of Puerto Badel rebuild itself on higher ground that would be safer from disastrous flooding. A recently graduated architecture student, he presented a site plan for the new village that was neat, efficient, and eminently do¬able. Afterward, the meeting of local residents was silent. No one responded. "OK. ¿Que pasó?" Earl asked.
Finally, one man stood up to speak. Respectfully, tactfully, Alfonso led the other residents in spelling out a program for development of the new town with dimensions and lot sizes and uses that Earl could only applaud. Why didn't you tell me all this before, he asked, when I wanted your input on what was needed?
Alfonso replied: "We didn't think you'd listen."
This was the most important lesson, the key, the crux in shaping the thinking that has guided Earl's many decades in aiding the creation of shelter and urban programs for the developing world. Through the years after his time in Puerto Badel, Earl and Alfonso stayed in contact via a remarkable series of letters that Terra Nova Books now is proud to publish.
The exchange between the two men that is the heart of Letters from Alfonso: Learning to Listen shows their deepening friendship as it portrays the growing pains of the community through the human tales of its residents' conflicts and interactions.
In the words of Pablo Gutman, the World Wildlife Fund's Senior Director, Environmental Economics, "As the struggle to become a stable and secure neighborhood goes on, each victory seems short¬lived, followed by another crisis. The story of how the poor are the victims of the environment-floods, windstorms, tremors, drought-is rarely told as beautifully as by Alfonso, the community's leader, to Earl, his Peace Corps friend and supporter."
After his service in Colombia, Earl Kessler applied what he had learned there-how really to listen-in countries throughout the Third World. Whether working in planning, finance, or management roles, it was building trust and empowering communities that was central to his success in guiding housing, disaster relief, and development programs in Latin America, India, and Southeast Asia.
The essence of Earl's story lies in the vital lessons he shares, and makes Letters from Alfonso one of the most important books Terra Nova has published. It is available now in paperback through Amazon and as an ebook for Kindle and Nook and on PCs through free Kindle and Nook applications.

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