Principles & Practices

The Earthville Network is committed not only to upholding the highest standards for ethics in a charitable organization, but also to raising the bar for comprehensively holistic principles and best practices to support human and planetary flourishing.

The spirit of Earthville’s principles is distilled in this statement of intention, which is our aspiration in all of our activities:

Minimize harm, maximize benefit, and strive for the most profoundly beneficial results in the most elegant, efficient, and joyful ways.

Summary of Earthville’s Ethics Policy

Our “Principles and Practices” policy incorporates three commitments:

  • Embodying a set of core principles reflecting universal human values distilled from the great philosophical and wisdom traditions of our world;
  • Upholding the highest modern industry standards for charitable organizations, including non-discrimination, transparency, open-source sharing, etc.;
  • Developing our own evolving code of holistic principles and best practices designed to complement and build upon the two above in order to increase human and planetary flourishing, as derived from our experience and observations and refined through the course of practice over time.

Below, we will explore each of these in more detail.

Foundational Principles:
Universal Human Values of Compassion, Non-harming, Kindness, & Service

The Earthville Network’s values are rooted in four traditional principles common to the great ethical traditions of our world, both spiritual and secular:

  • Compassion toward all life
  • Non-harming of living beings
  • Kindness to others
  • Service for the greater good

An holistic understanding of these values as applied in the modern world includes not only caring for all life, but also social and ecological responsibility expressed in a commitment to service-oriented work and ecological sustainability.

Modern Ethical Standards for Charities

The Earthville Network also endeavors to uphold modern ethical standards and best practices for NGOs, including:

  • Ecological responsibility in all of our activities (e.g. efficient use of resources, responsible waste management, etc.)
  • Social responsibility in our own operations (e.g. cultural sensitivity, fair trade, compassionate labor practices, etc.)
  • Corporate responsibility including accountability and financial transparency
  • Collaboration and resource sharing including open-source sharing of solutions and ideas for the greater good
  • Public support and engagement including meaningful opportunities for members of the public to support, participate in, and guide our programs.
  • Results-oriented spending, achieving more bang for the charitable buck by intelligently investing in what produces the best results.
  • Inclusiveness, e.g. diversity, accessibility, and multilingualism
  • Nondiscrimination in admissions, hiring and firing, compensation, promotion, etc. (see below)

Earthville’s Holistic Principles

Building on the foundation of the traditional values and modern standards outlined above, Earthville incorporates an additional set of  holistic principles intended to complement the traditional core values and industry standards in order to ensure that we do our best to be true to our aspiration to minimize harm, maximize benefit, and strive for the most profoundly beneficial results in the most elegant, efficient, and joyful ways. Key examples of these additional principles include:

  • Responsible global citizenship: cultivating global awareness and cultural sensitivity to guide compassionate action that is effective and appropriate.
  • Sustainable thriving: leveraging human creativity and caring to create win-win solutions for a flourishing planet and a prosperous public.
  • Thriving organizational culture: maintaining (and continually improving) an engaging and compelling work environment that is supportive, respectful, nurturing, balanced, diverse, interdisciplinary, and creative, and thus conducive to inspired, effective and elegantly efficient work, enabling us to produce excellent results in sustainable and enjoyable ways.
  • Lifelong learning: maintaining an organizational cultural climate in which it is understood and appreciated that all of us are lifelong learners, that none of us knows everything but each of us has something unique to contribute, that continually refining our questions (and keeping them open) is usually more beneficial than assuming we’ve found the best answers, and that the greatest knowledge and wisdom arises from the best practice of humility and openness.

Summary of Policies & Practices Based on the Principles Outlined Above

With this foundation of ethical commitments, we endeavor to learn from the past and experiment in the present to forge a more harmonious and sustainable future. We work to preserve traditional wisdom and to carry it into the future by developing and promoting concepts and practices that can be readily understood and applied as best practices in the present and further improved in the future.

The Earthville Network is nonsectarian and committed to promoting mutual understanding, respect, and altruistic collaboration among people of all backgrounds and beliefs. In the conducting of admissions and personnel decisions, we do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender, nationality, ethnicity, beliefs, sexual orientation, lifestyle, or other arbitrary factors irrelevant to an individual’s ability to learn or to work. We celebrate diversity and we warmly welcome all people to participate in our programs with respect for others. People of minority or disadvantaged backgrounds are strongly encouraged to participate.

We value compassion and respect for all life as exemplified by Mahatma Gandhi and as expressed in the Dalai Lama’s philosophy of “Universal Responsibility” in addition to our own formulations of “responsible global citizenship” and “sustainable thriving.” Following are several of Earthville’s key policies and practices that are natural expressions of this commitment to compassion, non-harming, responsibility, and sustainability:

  • Precautionary principle: If an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to people, animals, or the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those proposing the act or policy; and otherwise, in absence of proof that it is not harmful, that act or policy generally would be avoided in favor of one with no such suspected risk, or at least less suspected risk.
  • Virtual office: The Earthville Network uses technology to accomplish what once required a physical office and mountains of paper. In this way, we pay no rent for office space, which minimizes our administrative overhead and maximizes the percentage of our donors’ contributions that go directly to our work on the ground. Our virtual office is about 99% paperless, saving both trees and money.
  • Facilities, energy, and waste: Our goal is to maintain the highest standards for ecological sensitivity and sustainability at our facilities. When we undertake new construction, we use natural, eco-friendly building methods to the full extent that local regulations permit. When undertaking renovations, we use the most eco-friendly and least toxic options. We minimize energy consumption at our facilities and use clean energy sources as much as possible, with a long-term aspiration to achieve 100% clean energy use. We minimize waste and practice the “three R’s” (reduce, reuse, recycle) as much as possible, with a long-term aspiration to achieve creative “zero-waste” solutions.
  • Food: Where food is served in our facilities and programs, as much as possible we use food grown locally and organically, without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, with our aspiration being 100% organic and local/regional. Likewise, to support the health of our stakeholders and to reduce the suffering of animals, we serve only vegetarian (pant-based, vegan) food at our facilities and events. Where possible (such as at our campus in the Himalayas), we grow as much of our own food as we can, creating green jobs and using volunteer support to lower costs.
  • Communications and relationships: In support of our commitment to create the healthiest and most supportive and conducive environment for learning, serving, and working together, all members of Earthville’s working and learning communities, from the leadership and staff to volunteers and students, are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the following norms of behavior, above and beyond the mainstream workplace norms: warm and respectful interactions with all people at all times; honest, compassionate, and constructive communication; creative, caring conflict; taking full responsibility for one’s own experiences, and for one’s choices and their outcomes; trusting in the essential goodness of others and always starting by giving the benefit of the doubt.

The Earthville Network also endorses the Earth Charter and views the principles expressed in the charter as a minimum starting point for responsible global citizenship.

A Work in Progress

We are all human, of course, and thus far from perfect, but we do our best to follow the principle of doing as much good as we can while causing as little harm as possible. If you have questions about our principles and practices, or if you have suggestions as to how you believe we might improve in this endeavor, you’re welcome to post them in the comments below. (All constructive comments and relevant questions are welcome, but any non-constructive or off-topic comments will be deleted so as to keep this website relevant and useful for our readers.)

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Get Involved

We welcome you to explore Earthville,  find your place within it , and add what only you can bring.

  1. Sign up: Drop by the “Earthville Embassy” page to become a “Citizen of Earthville.”
    →  Join
  2. Explore: Make your way around the Earthville website to discover what inspires you.
    →  Quick Tour  •  Stories  •  Resources for Global Citizens
  3. Participate: Connect with the Earthville community, online and on the ground.
    →  Social  •  Events  •  Volunteer  •  Participate
  4. Chip in: Give whatever you can to support our charitable work. Any amount helps.
    →  Give


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