People very often have many questions about the ICA and
our work. We thought that we would take some of the more
frequently asked ones and use them as a guide to share something
of who we are and what we do.
kind of business is the ICA?
The Institute is not a business or a corporation. The ICA
office in Belgium was registered with the Belgian Federal
Government in 1977 as a private, not-for-profit organisation.
It has a Board of Directors, which meets yearly to review
its programme work and the finances of the Institute. It files
tax returns with the Belgian Government and meets the other
legal requirements to maintain its registration.
the ICA come from?
The Institute grew out of the programme work of a not-for-profit
organisation in Chicago, Ill. called The Ecumenical Institute.
The Ecumenical Institute is an autonomous division of The
Church Federation of Greater Chicago. It was established by
the Church Federation because of a resolution passed by the
General Assembly of the World Council of Churches when it
met in Evanston, Ill. in 1956. This resolution called for
the establishment of an ecumenical centre in North America
like the centres that were established in Europe following
the end of World War II. In the mid-1960s the Ecumenical Institute
moved from its location in Evanston near the campus of Northwestern
University to the inner city on the west side of Chicago.
There it began to work in the local community to develop methods
and programmes to help the community help itself. In addition,
it developed a national and international training programme.
As this work developed the Ecumenical Institute began to receive
requests to open offices across North America and then in
the late 1960s in other parts of the world. In addition, it
became clear that in terms of furthering the Ecumenical Institute's
work of encouraging social responsibility and grassroots participation
in development a totally secular organisation would remove
some of the barriers it was encountering. Thus, the ICA was
started as a programme division and in 1973 it was incorporated
as a separate not-for-profit organisation. At that time, the
two organisations had the same staff around the world but
completely different programmes. Today the ICA exists as a
global organisation and the Ecumenical Institute is a local
organisation in Chicago.
have offices in other countries?
Yes. There are some 35 countries where offices currently exist. In addition, there
are a number of countries, where groups are in the process
of starting an ICA office. Each ICA office is completely autonomous
and self-regulating. They must be locally registered and are
responsible for their programme and financial development
and security. The
, based in Canada, is a network organisation
that facilitates data interchange and coordinates our global
conference every four years.
The ICA office in Belgium is an entirely self-supporting organisation.
It receives no major contributions but rather supports itself
with programme fees and income from its training centre. The
ICA offices in the developing world are often the recipients
of programme grants and contributions from multilateral and
bilateral donors, church funding organisations and other foundations
and funding sources.
you hoping to accomplish?
Two phrases have been important to the ICA over its history.
The first of those is the phrase that we first used when the
ICA was born in 1973. It was, "Concerned for the Human Factor
in Global Development." At that time and for all these years
this has meant simply that, we were committed to focusing
on human beings as the key element in creating a more human
future for all of us. We felt that if you want to bring about
change that is really going to make a difference and that
is really going to last then you have to take the people with
you and you have to enable them to participate in the process.
The second phrase is one that we have begun to use in the
last ten years or so. It is, "Facilitating a Culture of Participation."
We believe that the key to enabling a more human future is
the participation of people in the decisions that are shaping
their future. Whether this is in the work place or in the
community all of us should have the possibility of helping
to shape our one future. This will require a new culture,
a culture where every person's voice is heard. This is a Culture
of Participation. A Culture of Participation is fundamental
to commitment, to motivation, to ownership and finally to
a community where people care and are cared for.
you work with?
While the Institute is independent, we do cooperate with like-minded
organisations when the opportunity presents itself. Through
our international association we are members of Civicus, which
is a global association promoting the growth and development
of Civil Society. In additional our international association
has consultative status with the United Nations and various
forms of recognition from many of the UN agencies.
you mean by "culture" in your name?
Obviously, we do not mean Culture in the sense of "fine art"
but more in the sense of culture in the total fabric of the
social life of a community. Every community has its economic,
political and cultural dimensions. The cultural dimension
has more to do with the meaning or significance giving aspects
of a society. It is the more civilizing dimension, having
to do with education, morals, values, etc. In our concern
for "The Human Dimension of Global Development", we necessarily
focused on the cultural dimension of society.
the meaning of your symbol?
We refer to our symbol as a wedge blade and the original inspiration
for it comes from a 20th century poem by D. H. Lawrence. In
the poem, Song of a Man Who Has Come Through, he writes:
Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only, I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged
If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed
By the fine, fine wind that takes its course through the
chaos of the world
Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows, The rock will split,
we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.
Thus, the circle is representing the world and the wedge blade
symbolizes the decision of people to take responsibility for
the future of their community, work place, etc. For us the
symbol reminds us that we are about the task of building a
more human world by enabling the participation of people in
the creative process of deciding the future direction of our