Philantrotrecking – Jeff Rasley

“When getting involved in charitable work, find something that you enjoy doing that is helpful to the community.” Jeff Rasley

 The one-on-one experiences between people is what builds strong communities. At its core, community is anchored in the belief that people are part of something bigger than themselves, and that they have a right and duty to participate in its progress. His whole life, Jeff Rasley has been part of multiple communities and believes that it is all about experiencing life together by being present and contributing positively.

Jeff Rasley’s commitment to social activism began in high school when he co-founded the Goshen Walk for Hunger. In law school he fought for renters’ rights and organized the first rent strike in Indiana as president of the Indianapolis Tenants Association. As a young lawyer Jeff founded free legal clinics at two inner-city churches in Indianapolis. He was lead counsel on class action suits for prisoners which resulted in the construction of two new jails in Central Indiana. He spent five days working for NOLA Habitat for Humanity post Katrina. Jeff was plaintiff in a class action requiring clean-up of the White River after it was polluted by an industrial chemical spill. The Jeff and Alicia Rasley Internship Program was created by the Rasleys for the ACLU of Indiana in December, 2020.

Jeff is the founder of the Basa Village Foundation, which funds culturally sensitive development in Nepal. He served a term as president of Indianapolis Scientech, which promotes scientific inquiry and learning. Jeff is a director of six non-profits, including the Indianapolis Peace & Justice Center, University of Chicago Alumni Club, and Phi Beta Kappa of Indiana. He is U.S. liaison for the Himalayan expedition company Adventure GeoTreks Ltd. He has taught courses on “culturally sensitive development” and philanthropy at Butler and Marian Universities and memoir writing at the Indiana Writing Center

Jeff’s BA is from University of Chicago magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, All-Academic All-State Football, letter winner in swimming and football; JD Indiana University Law School cum laude, Moot Court, Indiana Law Review; MDiv Christian Theological Seminary magna cum laude, covaledictorian and Faculty Award Scholar. He has been admitted to the Indiana, US District, and US Supreme Court Bars.

 Jeff has published numerous articles in academic and mainstream periodicals, including Newsweek, Chicago Magazine, ABA Journal, Family Law Review, The Journal of Communal Societies, and Friends Journal. He is an award-winning photographer and his pictures taken in the Himalayas and on Caribbean and Pacific islands have been published in several journals. He has appeared as a featured guest on over 100 radio and podcast programs.

In today’s episode, our guest will talk about building and upholding cohesive communities. He will give us an account of his experience travelling to Basa village in Nepal and his interest in culturally sensitive developments.

Listen in!

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  • I grew up in a town Goshen, Indiana that my ancestors were early settlers so I felt so rooted in that community. [4:00]
  • Because I felt so rooted in that community, it was deeply a part of me and from a really age felt involved in it. [4:27]
  • Community goes two ways where if you feel embedded in a community, you want to get back to it but you also have certain expectations of it. [5:04]
  • One of the aspects of our modern culture is that people don’t stay in their home communities. [6:12]
  • One of the beautiful things I experienced in Basa Village is the fact that the villagers were so rooted in their community. [6:43]
  • For the west, we have to be very conscientious about developing and supporting community, because we don’t have that organic embeddedness that the traditional communities have. [7:48]
  • Community leadership is so important when deciding about what is right for your community. [8:49]
  • When you have an established culture, it is risky to start changing really fundamental experiences for people in the community and especially for children. [9:55]
  • Learning how in the 21st century, there are still these communities which are so well integrated and the people looking out for each other was amazing. [12:37]
  • Commercial break. [18:23]
  • What really works, for almost anybody in terms of getting involved in charitable work is to find something that you enjoy doing that is helpful to the community. [21:19]
  • I had fallen in love with trekking and mountaineering in the Himalayas and so I combined going over there on a track or an expedition with doing some philanthropic project [21:53]
  • Each time I went back, I just tried to do something a little bigger and then I went from things to money to developing a foundation. [21:18]
  • It may take some introspection but anybody who wants to give back can figure out something that they enjoy. [22:47]
  • Hearing stories from from my great grandmother about what Goshen was like when she was young, it was very similar to the way people live in Basa today. [26:45]
  • There are real risks for Basa in the sense that a road has come to the village, the internet and cell phones have come and this worries the village elders. [27:37]
  • The kids are now being exposed to a world that is very different from what they have known for hundreds of years. [28:11]
  • This exposure can lead to a lot of them being attracted to leave the village and for those that will stay, they will want to change the village in ways that were unforeseen. [28:20]
  • The fundamental values of the villagers, including the kids have not changed and part of that is because they have such a strong tradition on environmental responsibility and a sense of community. [28:41]
  • I hope it stays, because not only is it a wonderful thing, but also in terms of happiness, the villagers have a very high happiness quotient. [30:10]
  • Find something that moves you and one that you enjoy, but will move you to be involved with your community in a productive giving way and it will give back to you. [32:11]


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