A New Phase for Project Harvest Hope

By UUA International Resources

Through twenty years of partnership and pilgrimage, shared faith and common purpose, the mission of Project Harvest Hope (PHH) has been to nurture the Székeley spirit and traditions of rural life in the Unitarian villages of Transylvania. With a core vision of community and economic development and the renewal of civil society, PHH has sought to be agile and flexible in response to the rapidly changing economic and social landscape of our Unitarian homelands. Since the fall of Ceausescu in 1989, our Unitarian co-religionists have worked to rebuild their communities while adjusting to the opportunities and challenges of membership in the European Union and early-stage free market capitalism. This has provided PHH with ample reasons to review and revise its work while remaining true to its core vision. PHH began with a project to help build a mill and bakery in Okland. The next phase involved development of a dairy barn in Karacsonyfalva. In 2006, PHH began a partnership with CIVITAS: Foundation for Civil Society, to bring development tools to Unitarian communities. Working with CIVITAS demonstrated the desire and ability of our Unitarian brothers and sisters to develop and lead their own initiatives. In early 2011, PHH announced an exciting new partnership with the Székelyudvarhely Community Foundation (SzKA), a community-driven grant maker founded in 2007. SzKA has an impressive record of work with youth and young adults, of environmental activism, and of renewing philanthropic culture in the Homorod valleys. Working with SzKA, PHH has established a donor-advised “Unitarian Community Fund” with initial funding at $40,000. SzKA has advertised broadly the availability of grants for Unitarian community development, and is now working with potential grantees to prepare excellent proposals using a strategy called “outcome mapping.” SzKA will present those proposals to PHH for final approval. This process assures professional management, financial transparency, and excellent resources for communication with PHH donors. PHH believes this partnership is the logical next step in honoring and respecting our co-religionists in their efforts to design and manage their future. This new way forward does not change the way PHH operates. However, it does mean that PHH fundraising efforts will be more focused, and ultimately, that projects from Transylvanian Unitarian communities will be reviewed, managed, and funded by Transylvanian-based SzKA. Rather than initiating projects in Transylvania, PHH believes that the communities are best served by home-brewed initiatives. Through funding and community development programs, PHH and SzKA will help Transylvanian Unitarian communities to help themselves towards a more sustainable future.

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