What does it mean to bring progress--schools, electricity,
roads, running water--to paradise? Can our consumer culture and
desire to "do good" really be good for a community that has
survived contentedly for centuries without us?
In October 2008, climbing expedition leader and attorney,
Jeffrey Rasley, led a trek to a village in a remote valley in the
Solu region of Nepal named Basa. His group of three adventurers was
only the third group of white people ever seen in this village of
subsistence farmers. What he found was a people thoroughly
unaffected by Western consumer-culture values. They had no running
water, electricity, or anything that moves on wheels. Each family
lived in a beautiful, hand-chiseled stone house with a flower
garden. Beyond what they already had, it seemed all they wanted was
education for the children. He helped them finish a school building
already in progress, and then they asked for help getting
electricity to their village.
" Bringing Progress to Paradise" describes Rasley's
transformation from adventurer to committed philanthropist. We are
attracted to the simpler way of life in these communities, and we
are changed by our experience of it. They are attracted to us,
because we bring economic benefits. "Bringing Progress to Paradise"
offers Rasley's critical reflection on the tangled relationship
between tourists and locals in "exotic" locales and the effect of
Western values on some of the most remote locations on earth.
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