As the Generative Development Lead at Springhouse, I’ve taken a special interest in understanding the meaning of the word development. In the nonprofit world, the word development is often used in association with gaining capital and financial resources for an organization.
However, when looking at the etymology of the word develop, we find an expansive and less active definition of development.
“1650s, ‘unroll, unfold’… 1590s, ‘unwrap, unfurl’ … 1750s, ‘come gradually into existence or operation’ … 1864 ‘become known, come to light’ (Etymology Dictionary).
Kazantzakis’ story of the butterfly from Zobra the Greek beautifully depicts this description of development:
“I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited a while, but it was too long appearing, and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened; the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath, in vain.
It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.
That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.”
Stories like this point us to a new understanding of development, which allow for a newer understanding of economics – one that is based on trust. Counter to an economic model that designates the value of programming for participants, or forces timelines of projects, Springhouse trusts participants in value designation, and the timing of unfolding. This asks us all to trust our relationship with the Earth, others, and the eternal rhythm.