Ghana Think Tank

Sep 26, 2014

The Ghana ThinkTank (GTT) is known for its unconventional approach to negotiating social conflicts. Using a blend of public art and community organizing, we have been “Developing the First World” since 2006. We collect problems in the “developed” world,  and send them to be solved by think tanks we established in Cuba, Ghana, Palestine, Iran, Mexico and a group of incarcerated teenage girls in the U.S.. Then we work with the communities where the problems originated to implement those solutions – whether they seem impractical or brilliant.

The impetus for the project came from our own experiences in international development, and frustration with US interventionism. By exchanging problems and looking for help in unexpected places, we undermine assumptions about the roles of helper vs helped so that those accustomed to imparting wisdom are put in the position of asking for help, and vice-versa.  This creates unlikely networks that cross-divides of ethnic and social conflict.

In addition to cities in the U.S., the Ghana ThinkTank has been commissioned in Germany, Israel, China, England, Morocco and Kosovo.

We are currently in the middle of two domestic projects that Kindle is supporting, along with start up funds and support from Creative Capital.

Ghana ThinkTank at the Mexican Border – A Creative Capital Project

Our success at bringing conflicting groups together at an international level has encouraged us to address immigration in our own country. In Ghana ThinkTank at the Mexico Border we are addressing the divides (and shared issues) between US born and foreign‐born residents.  We have been applying our process to spark collaborations between right-wing border vigilantes and undocumented immigrants in neighboring communities.  Our work so far has focused on Tijuana and San Diego but we are expanding our scope to include small towns in the American heartland where similar conflicts over immigration are taking place.

Ghana ThinkTank, Detroit

Our other domestic project evolved out of a commission by the US State Department to work as cultural ambassadors in Morocco.  In Morocco we built a solar powered multi-media donkey cart in order to collect solutions to US problems from rural villagers and ad-hoc think tanks outside of Marrakech.  One of the problems the think tanks were most interested in was the problem of US individualism and personal isolation, “many Americans don’t know or relate to their neighbors…”

“It’s your architecture” they responded, “if you lived in housing like ours it would help solve the problem”.

They explained that by having a central courtyard with windows facing in and one common entrance, it created social environments where neighbors shared more and were more likely to trust each other. This approach stands in stark contrast to the single family house with yard and picket fence that is common throughout the U.S.

In addition to these two projects, we are currently developing work in Sweden, the Netherlands, Texas, and continuing to implement some of the long-standing Think Tank solutions, including the Call to Action featured below.

 

Day Labor Employment Agreement – Referenced for Call to Action Below

This AGREEMENT, entered into this ____day of _________________, 20___, between _____________________, the (“Employer”), and ___________________________________ (the “Employee”),

WITNESSETH THAT:

WHEREAS, the parties hereto desire to enter into this Agreement to define and set forth the terms and conditions of the employment of the Employee by the Employer;

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants and agreements set forth below, it is hereby covenanted and agreed by the Employer and the Employee as follows:

1. Position; Employment Period The Employer hereby employs the Employee as agent of cultural diversity, and the Employee hereby agrees to serve in such capacity, for the period beginning this ____day of ______________, 20___, at _____ and ending on this ____ day of, ______________, 20___, at _____, the “Employment Period.”

2. Performance of Duties The Employee agrees that during the Employment Period s/he shall devote his or her full employment period to the business affairs of the Employer and shall perform his or her duties faithfully and efficiently subject to the direction of the Employer and as stipulated below:
1. Engage white event attendees in conversation about subjects of your choice
2. Partake of food and drink liberally
3. Observe environment and comment at will

3. Compensation
(a) Subject to the following provisions of this Agreement, during the Employment Period the Employee shall be compensated for his services as follows:
(b) S/he shall receive an hourly salary, payable on this _____ day of, ___________, 20___, at _____ in a single installment, in an amount which shall be [$ ________].

The Employee shall not be assigned duties and responsibilities that are not generally within the scope and character associated or required of other employees of similar rank and position.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Employee has hereunto set his/her hand, and the Employer has caused these presents to be executed in its name and on its behalf, all as of the day and year first above written. Signature Date _______________ Please Print ________________________________________

Diversify your community now!

Problem: My Community lacks diversity.

Solution: Hire immigrant day laborers to attend your social functions.

While working in Westport, CT, one of the wealthiest cities in United States, we kept encountering the problem of lack of diversity:

“We are almost all white and wealthy,” residents complained. The Think Tank in El Salvador responded that there was probably plenty of diversity there, but that they weren’t counting certain people.

“Who fixes your houses, who tends your yards? I bet they don’t look like you.”

The Think tank from El Salvador suggested they solve this problem by hiring immigrant day laborers to attend social functions in Westport, CT. So we did, at the same rate as their day laborer jobs, $15/hr.

Directions

1. Find an event in your social circle. It must be an event that would be happening regardless of your participation in the Ghana ThinkTank process. This solution is not about hosting a special intercultural mixer. It is about bringing others into your daily life.

2. Consider where cultural diversity exists in you community. Who is your cardiologist, your gardener, the person who does your nails, a neighborhood shop keeper… ?

3. Hire this person to attend your birthday party, end of Summer potluck, weekend get together etc. Make sure you pay at least the hourly rate of their usual jobs.

4. Report back to the Ghana ThinkTank at develop@ghanathinktank.org

Above is a contract you might consider using for the occasion.