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Finding Purple: A Walk Down The Path Of Sustainable Development Paperback – July 31, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1432734527 ISBN-10: 1432734520

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Outskirts Press (July 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1432734520
  • ISBN-13: 978-1432734527
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.6 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,632,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

What a great adventure and learning experience for him [the author]. It is one of those books that is hard to put down, once you start reading it.... He [the author] certainly made a difference in the lives that he touched. --Dr. Jerry Seese, Superintendent Saginaw Township Community Schools, September 22, 2009

He's rebuilt schools devastated by an earthquake in the mountain valleys of Pakistan where supplies could only be carried in by sure-footed donkeys. He's worked in the trenches, trying to solve the desperate need for permanent housing in Kabul, the war-ravaged capital of Afghanistan.

He's also built composting latrines the old-fashioned way, shovel in hand, in the Republic of Panama.

At 28, Ben Grostic of Muskegon has turned his back on the corporate world, even though he has a degree in architecture from the University of Michigan, for what he calls a "more rewarding" call into the nonprofit sector.

"I'm an idealist," Grostic says. "I keep thinking: This is how, this is where, the world can get better."

For four years, Grostic served overseas, first as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama; then on the staff of Shelter for Life International, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit agency committed to rebuilding communities destroyed by conflict and war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"There's such potential to change lives in that kind of work," he says. "If there's a need, that's where I want to be."

He can say the same back home in the "states."

Soon after he returned from Pakistan in 2008, Grostic joined the AmeriCorps, a national agency that places volunteers in community service. He was assigned to work in emergency services at the American Red Cross, serving Muskegon, Oceana and Newaygo counties. He recently left the Red Cross when he was hired as a part-time housing specialist for Every Woman's Place/Webster House.

Through it all, Grostic says, there is "a thread" of consistency -- whether he was living and working out of a tent in Pakistan or living in a hut in Panama or helping the homeless find housing in Muskegon.

Everything he does, he does to advance the goal of "sustainable development" -- a term he defines by quoting the "teach a man to fish" philosophy of self-sufficiency.

"If you can get somebody back on their feet, that's what it's all about," he says.

His overseas' experience gave Grostic "a bigger perspective on life," says Alice Meldrum, director of emergency services at the local Red Cross, who was Grostic's supervisor.

When he was sent to Texas as part of a disaster response team after Hurricane Ike hit in the fall of 2008, Grostic was "in his element," Meldrum says.

Grostic started keeping a journal while in Panama chronicling insights and critiques of his work. He was a dedicated letter writer and sender of e-mails to friends, family and colleagues.

"People kept telling me they should be put in a book, and, yes, I did think I had something to say," he says. "So many people have incorrect assumptions about the Peace Corps."

His correspondence tackled the tough subjects of religion, politics -- and a young man's self-searching. It noted, almost as an aside, that there were two suicide bombings the first week he was in Kabul.

When he was in Pakistan, he was called out of the field, where his job was the rebuilding of 14 schools ruined by an earthquake, when his superiors were worried about security.

Former Pakistan prime minister Benazier Bhutto was assassinated while Grostic was in Pakistan. He also was there during the deadly Red Mosque incident, when dozens of radical Muslims and several military commandos were killed.

In August, Grostic self-published a collection of his writings he calls "Finding Purple: A Walk Down The Path of Sustainable Development." The book title was inspired from the random sighting in the mountains of Afghanistan of a poor girl, dressed in purple, traditionally the color of majesty. The book, he writes, is "about finding the majestic purple within each of us and within our neighbors."

Born in Grand Rapids, Grostic grew up in Muskegon, where his father, the late John Grostic, was pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church. He is also the son of Eileen Grostic of Spring Lake. The middle of three sons, Ben Grostic earned a name for himself at Muskegon High School in the jazz and marching bands, as well as on the competitive tennis courts.

He started his college career at Wittenberg College, a small liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio. Although his early academic interests were in physics and art, he decided in his sophomore year he wanted to be an architect. He transferred to the University of Michigan's architecture program in his junior year -- where, he likes to tell people, the most important thing he learned is that he didn't want to be an architect.

He'd grown up with the stories of his father's service in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone in Africa -- and he was inspired. The summer before his senior year at U-M, Ben Grostic volunteered for Habitat for Humanity for three months in Costa Rica.

It was that service that led him on his path into the nonprofit world, overseas and at home.

Early on, he says, he decided he "wanted to be worthy of imitation" whether he was digging ditches, supervising work crews or teaching English after hours.

"I am a Christian, but I wouldn't say I'm `religious,'" he says. "I believe faith is what you do day to day. It's how you live day to day ... and who you serve."

"Finding Purple: A Walk Down the Path of Sustainability" is available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. It costs $13.95 and was published by OutskirtsPress.com --"This is how, this is where, the world can get better" By Susan Harrison Wolffis, Muskegon Chronicle, September 30, 2009, - Grand Rapids Press, October 6, 2009

About the Author

Ben Grostic studied at Wittenberg University before graduating with a degree in architecture from the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at The University of Michigan. He has worked overseas in the fields of sustainable and international development in the countries of Costa Rica, Panama, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Ben has served in the United States Peace Corps and also in AmeriCorps. He currently works as the Housing Specialist for Every Woman's Place/Webster House Youth Services in Muskegon, Michigan.

Customer Reviews

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As the reader becomes a part of the story, the reader begins to live Ben's life with him.
J. Huff
After reading this book, you will look at the world, your life, and your neighbor in a new light.
BigPG44
This book should be a must for anyone interested in foreign mission work and foreign aid.
Lydia Stark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Rhody on November 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"How we live and go about our lives makes all the difference in the world." -Ben Grostic.

There are many who try and "do their part," who give to charities or go on a week-long service trip. But few are they who feel deep in their souls that they can never do enough; nevertheless, it is their duty to try. It is these God-sent few that the world needs so badly, because only they have the determination to care when the world does not, to fight the battles they know they will lose with the hope that others will pick up where they leave off. They have the strength to endure the weariness, the frustration, and the loneliness that permeates their work, because they believe in what they do.

In the end, the victory does not lie in what they have saved or in what physical manifestations their accomplishments take, but in the fact that they have poured themselves, heart and soul, into a mission. And it is there that they experience life beyond themselves. It is there that they overcome their self-centered nature and see their fellow man through understanding eyes. It is there that they learn what love is.

I had the honor of working with Ben in the Peace Corps. I witnessed his unswerving determination in his work, which he continued to believe in wholeheartedly, even in frustrating times. Finding Purple relates the trials and tribulations along with the victories, large and small, of a man bent on living his life for others.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By cgnost on September 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully told tale of living, working, and growing in the developing world; at the same time, it's a solid first-person study of the opportunities and challenges of sustainable development today. The author's experience in Panama, Afghanistan, and Pakistan allow for important contrasts and insights into flashpoints in the world today. More than that, though, the author's genuineness shines through, and his heart-felt struggles illuminate challenges we all face if we're to take seriously a role in the world today bigger than our self interest.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By BigPG44 on November 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
'Finding Purple' is an amazingly honest and insightful account of one man's experiences in foreign lands while learning about life, culture, and himself. Told in an engaging story/analysis format, this book has something for everyone. The story centers on an intriguing comparison of orginizations, both run by government and private companies. In an extremely focused journey, 'Purple' invites us into the struggles of a man trying to make a difference in the world, refusing to compromise his ideals, while fighting roadblocks, both literally and figuratively, along the way. After reading this book, you will look at the world, your life, and your neighbor in a new light.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lydia Stark on December 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderfully honest account of one man's venture into helping others - what works, what doesn't work. This book should be a must for anyone interested in foreign mission work and foreign aid. An easy read. A challenging message.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Along For The Ride on February 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
The thing I liked about this book was how it made me feel what it was like to live in countries I'd never experienced. When I travel, it tends to be as a tourist, but this book (told in first person) gave me a glimpse of what it's like to live and work among people in developing countries with cultures far different from my own. Not only does it have some great ideas about sustainable development, but it also has some funny stories.
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