Message From Dignity CEO Peter J. Middlebrook
I first became aware of the extent of global poverty when in my early 20s I hitchhiked overland from England to India. Over the course of the past 25 years I have worked in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and many other countries for the United Nations, World Bank, EU and UK Government. Exposed to the worst that war has to offer, the growing face of homeless has always affected me deeply, leading me eventually to complete a doctorate on poverty and social protection.
I have always been struck by the sayings ‘we are the people we have been waiting for’ and ‘i don’t wish to be a product of my environment, I want the environment to be a product of me’. Both of these sayings compel to make the world a better place, and to do that, one has to work at the coal face; where people’s suffering is most apparent.
I have been a player in the global development scene for most of my life, and despite many gains scored against poverty, it has always been clear to me that only when you are faced with being homeless do you realize that the current model of capitalism is in many ways deeply unjust. Born into poverty, in a country facing drought and war it not a choice, it is just happenstance. Someone else, and not you.
In 2018 my dear friend of a decade Ambassador Michael Gfoeller introduced my to Nottingham Spirk, the leading design innovation firm in the United States. Joe Gfoeller, Michael’s brother, is the director of investment there, and following four trips to Cleveland Ohio we decided to join forces (Nottingham Spirk and my company Geopolicity Inc) to design the most innovative humanitarian shelter, to fundamentally change the lives of those living without a place to call a home.
In 2019 and 2020 I traveled to South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Myanmar, talking to refugees to learn about their designed needs and concerns. By 2020, led by Nottingham Spirk’s John Sprik and Dave Pehar, and with my colleague Amba Tadaa, we developed the affordable, durable, modular and human friendly shelter we call X-Dignity.
We have plans to expand across Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and as we continue to advise governments around the world through Geopolicity Inc., we continue to work on other turnkey aspects of shelter, such as land acquisition, community resilience and environmental sustainability.
We are a small but growing community, and with the good will of our Advisory Board, chaired by John Stephenson, new partners and volunteers, we invite everyone with virtue and intent to support us in our efforts to bring a little justice to those whose suffering goes unheard.
Dr. Peter J. Middlebrook
Kenya, 17th January 2021