Furthering human development with organizational buen vivir

Gioacchino, Gioel (1); Quintero, Ximena (2) (2018). 'Furthering Human Development with Organizational Buen Vivir' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


This paper discusses how Buen Vivir inspires grassroots development processes in the city of Medellin.

Buen Vivir (living well, or living well together), is a Latin American indigenous cosmovision, which understands the human experience as holistically integrated with the rest of the community. Compared to the logic of growth and accumulation, Buen Vivir promotes the ethics of ‘enough’ for the whole community, prioritizing harmonious living with nature – it expands the concept of community to include the air, water, mountains, trees and animals that make up our ecosystem (Eduardo, 2011; Gudynas, 2011; Hernández Sánchez, 2009; Rauber, 2015). The paper explores the day-to-day practices and organisational culture of Corporación Casa Mia, a youth organisation in Santander, a neighbourhood in the northwest of Medellin (Colombia). It discusses how the organisation appropriated the concept of Buen Vivir and leverages it towards the quality and honesty of their internal relationships.

The analysis in this paper surfaces the complexity of operationalising Buen Vivir within an urban context dominated by neoliberal logic. I argue that negative experiences around sustainability consolidated into deep-rooted assumptions around funding, which challenge Casa Mia's organisational health. The community embeddedness of the organisation, coupled with the challenges of obtaining funding for their work, makes it hard for the organisation to remunerate staff: because of this, the sustainability of the organisation is at risk. Casa Mia’s leaders have been reflecting on the tension around funding and are in an active search for strategies to integrate the relationship with funding within the Buen Vivir approach.

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