Archive for September, 2008

Newsletter: United Nations Day for Older People

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Dear All,

In less than a year and a half this little mailing list of ours has grown from less than 100 recipients to more than 500. As of two months ago I activated a feature which requires that new subscribers describe their interest in the list and their organizational involvement. It has been fascinating and inspiring to see just how diverse this list is both in terms of geography and the types of organizations which are represented. One thing that remains completely unknown to me, however, is the average age of subscribers. From a glance at the few individuals on the list that I know personally, I would haphazardly guess that the average age might be somewhere in the early to mid-30’s.

This, as it turns out, is also around the average age of most internet users worldwide. If any members of this list are over 65-years-old, please speak up and make yourselves heard. Most elders, unfortunately, have not yet benefited from the advantages and opportunities afforded by citizen media.

This past week, in commemoration of the upcoming United Nations Day for Older Persons (October 1) I helped facilitate a blog training workshop with employees of the Muthande Society, which looks after and advocates for the rights of thousands of elders in the Durban, South Africa area. You can read more about the training workshop on the Rising Voices blog.

Blog Adoptions

Even now that elders in Durban, South Africa have successfully been taught how to blog, an important question remains. If elders are increasingly being ignored offline, who is to say that their voices will be heard online?

I don’t believe that there are any easy answers, but in an effort to honor the words and stories of the five Muthande Society employees who were taught to blog, I have added their blog addresses to our Rising Voices blog adoption spreadsheet. The idea of this spreadsheet is to encourage veteran bloggers to publicly commit to reading and mentoring new and upcoming bloggers from under-represented communities. It is a very easy way to help make an important difference.

In addition to the five new bloggers from the Muthande Society, there are also several bloggers from Madagascar and Bangladesh whose blogs are ‘up for adoption’.

Digital Media and Learning Competition

Don’t forget, the deadline of this year’s Digital Media and Learning Competition is just two weeks away. Make sure to get those proposals in. Deadline: October 15.

This is the second year of the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Competition and this year they are accepting applications from Canada, People’s Republic of China, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The projects themselves can be based elsewhere, but primary applicants must be from the above-mentioned countries. The awards between $30,000-$250,000 support large-scale digital learning projects. There are also the Young Innovator Awards of $5,000 – $30,000 targeting 18-25 year olds.

That’s all for this week. There is lots of great new content on the Rising Voices site including the first Rising Voices blog carnival, a closer look at the Foko project in Madagascar (with video!), and an update from the REPACTED project in Kenya.

I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Best,

David

Hard Word, Creativity, and Sustainabilty

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Dear All,

Another week has passed which means it is once again time for the Rising Voices newsletter.

Greetings from Madagascar where I have been impressed by the enthusiasm and hard work by the bloggers of the Foko Madagascar project despite the prohibitively slow and costly internet connection here. It has been a while since the newsletter has covered the latest accomplishments of the Rising Voices projects. For those of you who haven’t stopped by the website lately, lots of goodies await you.

Let’s start with a couple of posts by our new health editor, Juhie Bhatia, who has introduced two of the newest Rising Voices grantee projects, “Blogging the Dream” in northeastern Romania and the Kwa Mashu Community Advancement Project near Durban, South Africa.

Rezwan, meanwhile, has been keeping us up-to-date on the first ten Rising Voices projects. Nari Jibon continues to train more women how to blog in Dhaka. Voces Bolivianas successfully pulled off this year’s Bloguivianos conference. HiperBarrio, in addition to producing an online collaborative novel, is making a big difference in the life of Don Manuel Pizarro Sierra, formerly known as “filthy Suso”. And the REPACTED project in Nakuru, Kenya is making up for its late start with a flurry of activity and new blogs, as well as a fascinating portrait of magnet theater being performed in Nakuru’s women’s prison.

Finally, we have two special looks into Rising Voices. First was the participation of two Rising Voices bloggers at the Global Interdependence Youth Summit in Brussels. And second, how will Rising Voices projects sustain themselves after the micro-grant funding is used up? Some of the projects have come up with very creative strategies.

But I’d like to hear more ideas from all of you. What do you think are smart strategies for citizen media outreach projects to stay sustainable?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. In the meantime, have a wonderful and restful weekend.

Best,

David

Newsletter: 9/8 – 9/12

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

I hope everyone is having a restful weekend. Whether you are an artist, educator, or passionate communicator, October is a month of opportunities for just about everyone on this list. There are three major grant competitions seeking innovative projects from around the world that use online media and tools in creative ways.

Digital Media and Learning Competition

Deadline: October 15

This is the second year of the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Competition and this year they are accepting applications from Canada, People’s Republic of China, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The projects themselves can be based elsewhere, but primary applicants must be from the above-mentioned countries. The awards between $30,000-$250,000 support large-scale digital learning projects. There are also the Young Innovator Awards of $5,000 – $30,000 targeting 18-25 year olds.

Worldwide Contest Reopens With $5 Million for Digital Media Experiments to Innovate Journalism

Deadline: November 1

This is the third year that the Knight Foundation is awarding $5 million dollars to fund innovative ideas using digital experiments to transform community news and information exchange. In fact, Rising Voices first got its start thanks to a News Challenge award. Several Rising Voices community members and allies like Freedom Fone, Video Volunteers, and Community Radio in India were winners in last year’s competition. Let’s make sure that there is also good global representation amongst this year’s winners. You can submit your proposal on the Knight News Challenge Garage and get paired up with an experienced mentor who can help improve your chances of getting funded.

80 + 1: A Journey Around the World Seeks Digital Art Projects from Around the World

Deadline: October 31

Many of you are probably familiar with Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days in which the character Phileas Fogg sets out to explore the entire world in just 80 days. In the novel, however, Phileas Fogg does little to try to understand and interact with the countries and people he encounters on his journey. The 80+1 Project, which will culminate at next year’s Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria, wants to recreate Phileas Fogg’s journey, but by using digital media to deeply understand issues affecting cities around the world. The initiative gives grants of 10,000 euros to artistic projects that use digital media to creatively express issues taking place in particular cities. Topics and cities include “Neighbourhood and Coexistence in Johannesburg”, “Water in Kisoro”, “Markets in Dhaka”, and “Recycling in Brazil.” A complete list of themes and cities is available on the website. However, the organizers of the event told me that since the deadline is just a few weeks away they are willing to consider project proposals that come from cities and discuss themes other than what is listed on the website.

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So there you have it. No matter if you want to use the internet as a source of innovation in journalism, community building, education, or art, there is funding available for your projects. I wish you all the best of luck. And don’t forget – the next Rising Voices grant competition will take place sometime in December or January. 🙂