When Rising Voices first began over two years ago we wanted to do more than just diversify the conversation that was taking place online – we also wanted to help bring new voices to major international conferences that for too long had been dominated by North American and Western European faces. When participants from other parts of the world were invited to these conferences, it was often to sit and listen rather than take an active part. Fortunately our initial funding from the Knight Foundation included a small amount of money to help cover the travel and visa costs that so frequently inhibit global participation.
With that money we were able to help bring Juliana Rincón from HiperBarrio to Pop!Tech in 2007 and Cristina Quisbert from Voces Bolivianas to We Media in 2008. (Both Juliana and Cristina have become frequent speakers at conferences ever since.) The support from the Knight Foundation also helped us bring Collins Oduduour, Catalina Restrepo, Cristina Quisbert, and Mialy Andriamananjara to the 2008 Global Voices Summit in Budapest. Pati Rakotomalala and Rahool Goswami represented Foko Madagascar and Neighbourhood Diaries respectively at Interdependence Day in Brussels.
Our funding from the Knight Foundation has since run out, but participants and trainers from Rising Voices grantee projects are still invited to come speak at major international conferences because they have proven themselves as experts in particular fields. This past week a number of long time Rising Voices members have spoken at major events.
Eduardo Ávila from Voces Bolivianas and Nadine Tchaptchet-Kouamouo from Abidjan Blog Camps each spoke at the Highway Africa conference in Grahamstown, South Africa. On the same day Pablo Flores from Blogging Since Infancy and Álvaro Ramírez from HiperBarrio spoke at Ars Electronica, a major digital arts festival in Austria.
As always there are lots of new opportunities for citizen media activists and enthusiasts on the Rising Voices Delicious page, but none larger than the annual Knight News Challenge. In fact, Rising Voices got its start in 2007 thanks to a Knight News Challenge grant. Last year they gave away around $2 million to support innovative projects aiming to fill the gap in community journalism. Past grantees include Freedom Fone from Zimbabwe, Sochi Olympics Project from Russia, Video Volunteers from India, Ushahidi from Kenya, and many others.
All the best,