“Closed City / Open Sky”

New poems in Nepali

क़ोसेको क़ोल्नु को लग्गे

य़ेदेओ तिम्रो ्मुतु भन्द्भन्ने यो हअम्रो धर को धोकहौर न फेरि खोल्चौ

आज भोलि सुपै चिच खोल्नुपाच

म्रो आम्ख खोल्नुपाच

म्रो जिबन्हरु होल्नुपाच

य़ोसन्सर खोलुन्पाच

य़ो अम्धि सँधै खोल्नु चआ

यो आम्दि


म्रो मुतुहरु बित्र मा

हमो घर बित्र म

तिम्लै थनब लाग्यो न गर्नुस

तिम्लै न गर्नुस

हम्रो मुतुहर सँधै खोल्नुहोर

येदे हमि सन्सर को धोक बन्द न गर्नुस।


क़विहरु मय बोल्नु को बरेम

क़विहरु न बोल्नु

भाइरस को बरेम

भाइरस र मय जस्तो चा?

क़ेजसो? कुन जस्तो?

मलै मय चहन्चु

मय र जस्तो

So I’m a director — a position that in the INGO context is the same as an Executive Director and I have heard many times is equivalent to CEO. My job is to oversee all of the strategy, operations, finance, programming and compliance of the organization I work for in Nepal. I have a letter of legal authority from the trustees and I am the main decision maker and main interface with governance.

I also was (and many people tell me you never stop being this) a MMA fighter and coach. I have fought full contact MMA and also done…

What’s possible when we connect and engage with people around what matters?

Development is such a contested space. In my view, this is largely to do with two particular phenomena; the antithetical relationship between non-profit making and where development comes from. I will deal with the second first.

For most of a half century there has been such a field of ‘community’ or ‘international’ development. Prior to the post war and sociopolitical redesign to have a domain of society that was to do with improving the living standard and could entertain a different kind of international dialogue as opposed to…

Phernu — to change.

In my study to become more fluent in the Nepali language I have discovered a lot of interesting perspectives about existence. In Nepali there is not a direct translation for none — only “no more” and there is no direct translation for never — only “not again”.

Life is cyclic and as J.R.R Tolkien said, ‘full of its’ own comings and goings’ but as I get older and I try to understand the currents of my own life and how and why I have got to the place where I am I have realized that life…

A Nepali Rangoli for Tihar, made by Raleigh International Nepali National Youth Society

“What’s possible when we connect and engage with people around what matters

The way I was taught about community development was that there was a significant difference between surviving and thriving. Strengths based community development practice challenges practitioners and communities into a space where we collectively and collaboratively think beyond social problems and beyond immediate needs. As much as it is true that communities require shelter, water, food source, income and security; much of what we talk about in international development is inherently ephemeral. A concept like ‘resilience’ is necessarily inextricable from ideas of story, culture and identity. …

“The end of a journey/is autumn nightfall” — Matsuo Basho

Self awareness is currency. I have found it in rare supply.
I never expected it would be so valuable.


You can often trace things changing to a single precipitous moment.


Toxic workplaces and toxic relationships will destroy everything about you that is healthy. The longer it goes on the longer it will take to repair. You don’t need it — move on with your life.


The Western World has become a dysfunctional game of one-upmanship. No one can do anything of significance or meaning in their lives anymore because everyone is just trying to be better than…

If you’ve ever been in an intercultural session — you will have seen the Iceberg.

~As always, what’s possible when we connect and engage with people around what matters.
writing in Kathmandu, Nepal. ~

To describe working inter-culturally as a challenge is entirely inadequate. I have learned, over the last twelve weeks as a Country Director for an International Development, aid and volunteering organisation has shown me not only just how complex the endeavor is but also how over-simplifying these challenges is both dangerous and does not create space for the opportunities that can come when we embrace and negotiate the contested space.

I have spent the last few weeks speaking of both the…

On radical mischief, disruption, wicked solutions and what matters.

Author’s notes:
These will be my last words written in Ipswich, Qld where I have lived and worked for the community for the past eleven months. I have taken a new challenge as Country Director for Nepal for Raleigh International which means my scribbling moving forward will be situated, once again, around international aid and development and global challenges.

Additionally I received two very important and humbling pieces of feedback recently which contextualize these last words in Ipswich. The first, from the Executive Director of Blueknot Foundation “What you are doing…

New Poems — Part 1

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart” — Goethe


Within and
at the time of arriving
to brink
so pushed up, pulled apart
as party-bread
garlic skinned laced
around cheese and wine
tinged tongues
gray span is the the
push into

are the name of these lands
gulped up by salivary
a bad wolf brays
at the head of
this perilous bay.

There now
the cusps
which are the bottoms of sea vessels
but do not linger
in their below wave touching.

In these afternoons…

~ as always,
what is possible when we connect
and engage
with people around
what matters?~ BD 21/6/19. Writing in Ipswich, Qld.

On this last Tuesday I attended the QCOSS Place Based Community of Practice which yielded some interesting delights to where I am situated in terms of my practice as a community development practitioner.

This session was about the launch of a place based community development toolkit and monitoring and evaluation framework which has been brought to fruition in the steadily increasing sectoral interest in holistic, grassroots, bottom up and place based community development methods since 2015–2016. What is…

Brent Downes

PhD. Multiple Award Winning Community Development Practitioner, scholar, author and educator. From Brisbane, QLD Australia. Currently in Kathmandu, Nepal.

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