Newsletter: August 25 – 29

Dear All,

Greetings from Bangladesh where for the past week I have been witnessing the amazing work of the Rising Voices grantee, Nari Jibon. You can read the latest project updates from Nari Jibon and the other 15 projects by subscribing to our new RSS feed, which includes all of the project blogs.

While the next Rising Voices grant competition is still several months away, there are two other funding opportunities for citizen media projects based around the world that are just now getting started. First is the Journalism Fellows program sponsored by the Knight Foundation and Ashoka. Over the next three years 30 journalism fellows “will receive three-year stipends allowing them to focus full-time on their efforts to provide lasting, visible, systemic change in the way journalism works or the way society sees journalism.” This is an excellent opportunity for individuals in the Rising Voices community who have innovative ideas to improve the quality and sustainability of journalism in their communities and countries. Applicants must be nominated. Those nominations can be sent via email to Keith Hammonds at Before sending anything off, I would recommend having a look at Ashoka's selection criteria.

The other big opportunity, which many of you will remember from last year, is the Knight News Challenge. This is when the Knight Foundation gives US$ 5 million in grants to projects that “improve local online news, deepen community engagement, bring Web 2.0 tools to local neighborhoods, develop publishing platforms and standards to support local conversations or innovate how we visualize, experience or interact with information.” That is a lot of money. And last year's batch of winners shows that the Knight Foundation is committed to funding projects outside of the United States. This year you will be able to receive mentoring and feedback on your proposals by submitting them to the Knight News Challenge Garage. In fact, I have already given some feedback on a project proposal from Malawi that wants to translate and publish content in indigenous languages and encourage discussion around that content. If you upload a proposal to the Knight News Challenge Garage, make sure to let us know. I'm sure that many people in the RV community would be happy to offer their constructive criticism. Final applications for the News Challenge are due by November 1. This year's contest even has its own Twitter page.

I wish you all the best of luck.

Have a great weekend!


Newsletter: 8/11 – 8/15

Hi All,

Every two weeks we highlight some of the latest and greatest from newly trained Rising Voices bloggers. Usually these newsletters take us all over the world, but this week we are going to focus specifically on Dhaka, Bangladesh where a group of ambitious young women are offering us an open window into their lives and the daily life of the city where they live. Here is an opportunity to get to know Bangladesh's capital without purchasing a costly ticket. Special thanks to Romi, Elia, Janine, and Kristen for leaving comments on the posts featured in the last newsletter – your support is very much appreciated.

All nine of this week's posts were featured in a wonderful article published by Rezwan on the Rising Voices website. I highly recommend it as an overview of the Nari Jibon center and the new bloggers it has trained.

Let's start by pointing to two recent posts by Nari Jibon staff members who have led workshops to train the new bloggers. Project Director Rafiq pens an homage to his wife and two children. He says he was convinced he'd forever remain a vagabond until he met Tora, his wife, best friend, and life partner. He also gives us some tips for healthy relationships. Taslima, another Nari Jibon staff member, has probably worked harder than anyone else to train and encourage as many new bloggers from the Nari Jibon project as possible. She has become such an expert on citizen media, in fact, that she was invited to give a presentation on “using blogs to create awareness” at the Youth Human Rights and Journalism Camp in Dhaka last month. In her post she describes her experience and her presentation. Speaking of Taslima, one of her students, Zannat, explains why she appreciates her favorite teacher.

Zannat has also proven to be a skilled photographer. She published some of her work from a recent visit to Lalbagh Fort. Zannat's post explains why the fort was selected as one of UNESCO's World Heritage sites. Poly decided to use her digital camera to take pictures of her garden. We are still not sure if the color coordination was intended or coincidental. Anne, another skilled photographer, gives us a glimpse of Bangladeshis’ favorite seaside town, Cox's Bazar.

Every family is different, but most of us have one special family member who we depend on and share our hopes and fears with. In a brief post, Sufia pays tribute to that special person in her family.

Of all the successful Rising Voices projects, Nari Jibon exemplifies how “slow and study” can lead to real change. Under Rafiq and Taslima's leadership, Nari Jibon began training just a few bloggers how to post on their group blog. More recently, after a vist by Dr. Kathryn Ward and a series of workshops by visiting volunteers, Nari Jibon bloggers have opened their individual blogs where they find creative ways to share their lives with others. They are now individually and collectively a force in the world of citizen journalism.

We should also remember that the Nari Jibon Center is much more than a blogging center. Here women from all around Bangladesh come to learn valuable computer, business, and language skills. Bangladesh is famous for its boom of female textile workers in the 1990's. Most of us probably have at least a few garments that were made by Bangladeshi women. Thanks to the Nari Jibon Center, many more Bangladeshi women are also now working as accountants, professors, marketers, graphic designers, and entrepreneurs.

That's all for this week. Don't forget to visit the Rising Voices website for updates from all 16 projects, links to grants and awards related to citizen media, and new photos and videos.

Have a great weekend!


Newsletter: 7/28 – 8/1

Dear All,

Welcome to August! We are already well into the second half of the year and with each passing month the bloggers from the Rising Voices projects are getting more creative and more comfortable with how they express themselves.

At this year's Global Voices Summit held in Budapest many attendees asked the Rising Voices participants how they could help support their projects. One of the best way to encourage new bloggers to keep sharing stories about their lives and communities is to simply leave comments on the posts they write. And to link to their stories on your own blogs! This week we will highlight six different posts from new bloggers around the world that were either written in or translated into English. They give us insight into communities that we would otherwise know very little or nothing about.

Monsieur Stephane says hello from Madagascar

Let's start with a quick 30 second video posted on Flickr by Stephane of the Foko Madagascar project. Stephane is one of the main coordinators of Foko Madagascar and travels all around the island to teach as many Malagasy people how to blog as possible. As you can see with just a quick glance of their project blog, his dedicated work has been well worth it.

Foko bloggers on Malagasy culture and traditions

Staying in Madagascar, here are four brief translations of how cultural traditions are both surviving and changing as globalization takes hold in Madagascar. Here you will learn why you might see people walking down a street carrying sugarcanes, banana leaves, and a Malagasy flag. Or why in August, September and October you might see families carrying around a body wrapped in silk sheets and a brass hand. If you have any questions about the traditions, like I did, feel free to ask in the comments section and the Foko bloggers will be glad to answer your questions. If you are interested in learning more about Malagasy culture and ritual, I highly encourage you to follow the blogs of Hkambora and Rondro. Joan gives us some more context about their posts.

Freezing Cold

Carolina comes from the Santo Domingo group of bloggers trained by the HiperBarrio group in Medellín, Colombia. Today when you travel to Medellín, everyone will tell you that you should take the metrocable, a suspended gondola-like system of public transportation, up to the hillside community of Santo Domingo. But just ten years ago their advice would have been to stay away from Santo Domingo at all costs. It was one of the most dangerous communities in Colombia. Carolina's bilingual blog reminds us that Santo Domingo is more than just its violent legacy. A recent post describes how the strange forces of distance and proximity affect our friendships. Sometimes the closeness we feel toward friends when we communicate online doesn't match how we interact offline.

In The Sun Island, Titicaca Lake

Cristina Quisbert continues to frequently update both her Spanish-language and English-language blogs. Last week, as a way of celebrating her birthday, she made a last-minute trip to the Isla del Sol, Sun Island, in Lake Titicaca in northern Bolivia. Her description of her trip to the island, and how she met a Swiss girl named Nicole with whom she enjoyed the white sand beach of Challapampa, is absolutely beautiful.

My Teachers of “Nari Jibon” Project

In our posts about the Nari Jibon project, which teaches new skills to women in Dhaka, Bangladesh, we tend to focus on the students and their blogs. Last Friday one of those students, Jannat Fardoush, took the time to write a post in English on her blog about four of her teachers at Nari Jibon, complete with pictures. To learn more about the Nari Jibon project and some of the successes they have achieved, I highly recommend an amazing post by Golam Rabbany Sujon which introduces us to six young Bangladeshi entrepreneurs who were trained at the Nari Jibon center.


That's it for this week's newsletter. Please don't forget to leave comments on as many posts as you can and to link to the Rising Voices bloggers on your own blogs and websites. For more photos, videos, and links about citizen media outreach, including an update from Rezwan about the “Bloggers Since Infants” project in Uruguay, head to the Rising Voices website.