The PROUT Institute has taken up two kinds of projects:
(1) projects that demonstrate practical solutions and serve people and communities, and
(2) projects that develop theory and policy in arenas that are strategic for guiding development of a progressive society.
PROUT Institute Solution-Oriented Projects
The PROUT Institute’s approach to social engagement focuses on developing theory-based solutions to socioeconomic problems. Our interest in solutions is seen in our activities that give practical expression to our social vision. This occurs through:
- initiating model projects
- collaborating with others on community initiatives
- consulting internationally with groups seeking to apply the PROUT vision
Our practical project activities are currently located in Eugene, Oregon. Affiliate development projects are in Denmark and the Philippines.
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At present, the best opportunities to demonstrate PROUTist approaches is at the local level. And it is mainly at the local level that a more humanistic socioeconomic vision will take form.
The Institute’s three main model site projects are:
Activities at the neighborhood level have included:
- initiating activities to develop a resilient neighborhood food system
- envisioning an Integrated Development Scheme project called SEED
- conducting training and planning to establish a food forest in a public park
- supporting development of camp facilities for the unhoused
- proposing a complex of sustainable and service features for low income housing
- providing community education and hosting neighborhood gatherings
- promoting permaculture design and installations at the neighborhood level
- conceptualizing and advancing the Fairgrounds Repair Project
- preparing the report “Sustainable Decentralized Development in Lane County”
- organizing the South Willamette Valley Sustainability Summit
We provide skills training and social vision to progressive youth who seek a purposeful life, engaged in social and spiritual change in the world.
- offering the Community Transformations Training Program
- creating opportunities for internship participation in the Institute
- hosting WWOOFers who are oriented toward social change
Our development support activity has been at an international level and reflects the PROUT Institute’s engagement in global cooperation.
- fundraising support for the Philippines disaster relief project “Sails of Hope”
- consulting and training for the Denmark movement AndelsTanken
- drafting “A Plan for the Economic Development of Khabarovsk Krai, Russia”
PROUT Institute Theory Projects
The Institute’s activities are not limited to constructing, organizing, consulting and training. We have also taken on theory and policy projects in five critical arenas that we believe to be essential for advancing a new social vision. These include:
- Cooperative enterprise: essential for empowering workers and building collectivity
- Integrated development schemes: essential for accelerating local development
- Local socioeconomic planning: essential for development that meets human needs
- Economic democracy: essential for a vision empowering people to end plutocracy
- New socioeconomic theory: essential for creating a progressive path of development
Cooperatives are the preferred form of enterprise because they provide the most empowering arrangement for human beings to work together. Only those economic activities that cannot be done collectively should be done individually, or under state control. If individuality dominates human life, it will adversely affect the common welfare.
The core value of the cooperative enterprise system is “coordinated cooperation,” in which free human beings, having mutual respect, work together for their common welfare.
The advantages of cooperative enterprises include: They broaden the base of property ownership and distribution of wealth. They can outperform comparable private sector firms if they have access to sufficient means of production. They enhance worker satisfaction and job fulfillment because workers participate in decision-making, equitably share profits, and enjoy mutual respect and social equity.
Integrated Development Schemes
Integrated Development Schemes are miniature forms of a progressive society; their program is to expand all possible services at a local level, particularly in the fields of education, culture, economics, and spiritual upliftment.
These development schemes work to improve the fate of all people, irrespective of creed, color, religion and national barriers. Their main focus is to establish local economic and social self-sufficiency and development and to transmit innovation from the hub of the development scheme to the surrounding society.
Through establishing local Integrated Development Schemes, combined with the application of the PROUT planning and developmental paradigm, it could be possible to elevate the living standard in underdeveloped communities within a few years.
The PROUT Institute’s conceptual work on Integrated Development Schemes gives rise to interest in Permaculture as a helpful methodology for implementing these visionary development schemes.
Local Socioeconomic Planning
The PROUT economy is a planned market economy. The aim of planning is the balanced development of economic potentialities to meet human needs. Economic planning should start at the level where the expertise of local people can best solve economic problems and create prosperity according to local needs.
PROUT oriented local planning will have the following benefits: Planners can better understand the problems of the area. Local leaders can solve problems according to local priorities. Planning will be more practical and more readily implemented. Local organizations can play an active role in mobilizing human and material resources. Unemployment can be more easily prevented. And a balanced economy can be more readily established.
Local planning should proceed with the following spirit: (1) Know your region: obtain an informed understanding of local people and local problems and potentials. (2) Create your plan: on the basis of practice and a theory-oriented approach, create development plans to bring well-being, equity, and balanced abundance. (3) Serve the community: act in a spirit of service; collaborate with others to bring forward constructive social change.
Where economic power is centralized, democracy is subverted. Centralization of economic power cannot coexist with government that is of, by and for the people; centralization of economic power twists political power into government by, for and of the special interests. Government becomes controlled by the power of money.
When decisions are made that affect moneyed interests, the voice of the people is trumped by corporate lobbyists and legislators beholden to corporate contributors. To end this plutocracy PROUT advocates economic democracy. Economic democracy can cure the undermining of the democratic process by corporate interests. The central intent of economic democracy is for common people and local communities to enjoy economic empowerment.
People must have an alternative to corporate rule. Economic Democracy is an idea that will restore people’s dignity, their economic security, and the democratic ideals and freedoms they cherish. Economic democracy can unify people around a common agenda to replace the tyranny of corporate profits with empowerment and economic security for the common people.
New Socioeconomic Theory
The crises arising from an unsustainable path of development endangers humanity’s social and economic stability at fundamental levels. Humanity’s future will grow dim, should there be inadequate solutions to the mounting costs of growth without sustainability.
Progressive responses to this dire situation have been constructive, but inadequate. Critiques of globalism, models of sustainable living, democratization of institutional relationships, change of consciousness, resistance to corporate excesses, community building, sustainable technologies, etc., are all essential, but not sufficient, to deliver us. There remains need for a guiding vision, a coherent paradigm of development that is inherently sustaining.
PROUT provides an integrative approach to social transformation within the framework of a comprehensive social theory. PROUT offers not only a solution-oriented approach to the crises of our time, but also a social milieu in which human life can find expansive fulfillment.