Marianne Knuth

Ashoka Fellow
Zimbabwe,
Fellow Since 2004

Citation

This profile was prepared when Marianne Knuth was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Zimbabwe today is in political and economic crisis. The currency is seriously devalued, and unemployment is skyrocketing. Official figures say 50 to 75 percent of Zimbabweans need food aid. Unemployment is estimated at over 70 percent and rising. Furthermore, AIDS plagues Zimbabwe at rates similar or higher to those in neighboring nations.
To enable communities to survive this collapse, Marianne Knuth demonstrates how to use environmentally and economically sustainable living practices so that each community can take care of itself and not be dependent on the failing system to cover its basic food, health, and educational needs. In doing so she is turning the country’s crisis into an opportunity to build capacities that will strengthen Zimbabwean society in the long run.
The eco-village and learning center she has built, which is a living model of sustainability, attracts participants from across Southern Africa who join for between two weeks and three months. Small groups set intentions for the program and decide how they will live together, a framework that emphasizes training in leadership, cooperation, and basic knowledge of project management.
Marianne and her team are combining modern business and development theory and practice with ecological awareness, innovative deep dialogue techniques, and an exploration of indigenous African culture and wisdom into a unique and empowering curriculum for self-reliance. Participants learn concrete skills as well as deeper human capacities, hear stories of successful, inspiring communities elsewhere in Zimbabwe and around the world, and return to their communities to pursue solutions there.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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