About David Sasaki

Director of Outreach, Global Voices http://globalvoicesonline.org

Please join us for a live chat on December 3rd about AIDS and citizen media

Dear all,

In commemoration of World AIDS Day Rising Voices will be hosting a live chat on Wednesday, December 3rd at the 3 p.m. Nairobi time:

7am (New York, EST)
10am (Buenos Aires)
12pm (London, GMT)
2 pm (Cape Town, Beirut)
3pm (Nairobi, Moscow)
5.30pm (New Delhi)
8pm (Beijing, Manila)
9pm (Tokyo)
11pm (Sydney)

The chat will be facilitated by Serina Kalande and Daudi Were and the discussion will build on a similar chat that Serina and Daudi organized back in April of this year which asked the following question: “how can citizen media be used to supplement and improve the mainstream media's coverage of the AIDS epidemic?

This chat will start out focusing on two Rising Voices grantee projects, REPACTED in Nakuru, Kenya and AIDS Rights Congo based in Brazzaville. We will learn how both organizations have implemented blogging and video outreach programs to spread awareness about their initiatives in AIDS prevention and advocating for the rights of HIV-positive individuals.

Other discussion topics include: What are the factors to weigh when HIV-positive bloggers go public about their status? How can blogging support networks form online? What about online forums? What are other new media tools, such as mapping mashups, that can be used effectively?

If there are other topics that you would like to discuss during the chat, please respond with your ideas. I hope that as many of you as possible can make it.

As a primer to the conversation I encourage you all to take a look at a recent post written by Juliana Rincón on Global Voices about AIDS awareness through video. Especially fascinating is a video podcast produced by QAFBeijing, which interviews South African grand justice Edwin Cameron, the country's only government official who has gone public about his HIV status.

I will be sending out a reminder email on Tuesday with a link to a video of a fascinating conversation had on Friday by members of the Breaking the Silence in Kwa Mashu project about the fear of discussing HIV status in their community.

All the best,


Citizen Media and World AIDS Day

Dear All,

World AIDS Day is just about 10 days away. I have mixed feelings about the day. On the one hand, it can help create the illusion that we only need to think about AIDS one day out of the year and then somehow everything will get better. On the other hand, December 1st can be an attention-grabbing starting point for sustained campaigns that advocate for the rights of HIV-positive individuals, like the AIDS Rights Congo project is doing; spread preventive education with creativity, like the REPACTED project in Kenya does on a regular basis; and amplify the voices of marginalized communities, like the Drop-In Center in Ukraine.

Solana Larsen, the Managing Editor of Global Voices, the citizen media NGO of which Rising Voices is one project, is considering how Global Voices can best cover World AIDS Day and, furthermore, how citizen media can most effectively supplement the coverage of mainstream media in order to empower under-represented communities and strengthen the voices of AIDS-related NGO's and activists.

Those of you who have been on this mailing list for a while will recall that the same question led to an online chat which was organized by Daudi Were and Serina. At the end of that chat a working group came together with the goal of writing a guide titled “Blogging Positively: How to Blog About AIDS.” Unfortunately, the guide itself has yet to materialize. If anyone would like to lead the effort to write the guide, please do contact me off-list.

But, to return to the question at hand, how should Global Voices cover World AIDS Day? One suggestion was to make a Google Map mashup of HIV-positive bloggers around the world to draw more attention to their voices and help create a global sense of community. Our Public Health Editor, Juhie Bhatia, will be searching the blogosphere for the best and most innovative content about World AIDS Day and by HIV-positive bloggers. If you have any suggestions, please do let us know.

Newsletter: 11/10 – 11/14

In the Southern Hemisphere spring flowers are out in full effect and summer is near. Rising Voices citizen media outreach projects – old and new – are hard at work.

First, I am pleased to announce our newest grantee, the Serbian Web Journalism School:

Founded earlier this year in Belgrade by Serbian citizen media enthusiast and veteran blogger, Ljubisa Bojic, the Serbian Web Journalism School gathers local new media experts like Danica Radovanovic and Lidija Kujundzic to teach the fundamentals of citizen media to traditional journalists and everyday Serbians. The support from Rising Voices will allow the Serbian Web Journalism School to focus on “training the trainers.” The majority of participants in the program are journalists and professionals who want to gain new media skills, but as a Rising Voices grant recipient, Ljubisa and his team will now encourage their students to share their new skills with marginalized Serbian communities including the blind and orphaned youth.

In Bolivia the Voces Bolivianas bloggers engaged in some serious citizen journalism as they documented the tens of thousands of peasants, miners, coca-growers, and other supporters of the government of Evo Morales who gathered in La Paz last month.

We also recently heard from one of our newest health-focused citizen media projects in Kiev, Ukraine. In a post translated from Russian by Veronica Khokhlova, Rising Voices grantee Pavel Kutsev describes his experience educating Ukrainian police officers about the objectives and methods of harm reduction centers.

We have seen an increase in the amount of collaboration across Rising Voices projects. The Voces Bolivianas project, for example, has introduced the young women bloggers from Nari Jibon to its Aymara-speaking readers. Similarly, the Foko bloggers in Madagascar have introduced the “Blogging Since Infancy” project, which is training Uruguayan children how to blog from their XO laptops that were distributed throughout the country by the government. And newly trained bloggers from various projects based in Colombia, Kenya, and Bolivia weighed in on Barack Obama's victory in the recent US elections.

There is a lot more to look forward to in the coming week as our Health Editor, Juhie Bhatia, publishes a two-part introduction to the AIDS Rights Congo project based in and around Brazzaville. We will also see some of the first videos published by the Iran Inside Out project, which is teaching video-blogging to up-and-coming filmmakers based in Iran.

Don't forget to check out the website for recently published videos, project updates, photographs, and links to resources and funding opportunities for citizen media training projects, including USAID's Development 2.0 Challenge.

All the best and have a great weekend,


Newsletter: 10/20 – 10/27

Five Days Left for $5 Million

This week's newsletter has been a long time coming. Let's get straight down to business – we are just five days away from the deadline (November 1) for this year's Knight News Challenge. Each year the Knight Foundation gives away $5 million to support innovative uses of technology to help strengthen local communities. Last year's winners include a voicemail citizen media project in Zimbabwe, a cell-phone news gathering initiative in a South African township, and a massive video blogging project in rural India. Clearly the Knight Foundation is committed to funding international projects and this is a wonderful opportunity for the Rising Voices community to extend online participation into communities that have long been ignored.

Make sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions page. You can apply here.

Rising Voices: The World's Best Weblog

Get this: some kind soul nominated Rising Voices as the Best Weblog (in the world!) for this year's BOB's contest. (That stands for Best of Blogs.) I am sure that many of you are aware that there are almost as many blog awards as there are blogs, but the BOBs contest has long been the most recognized internationally. We are tremendously proud to be listed among such fine company as Generación Y and Scienceblogs.de. You can cast your votes here and view the results here.

Social Unrest in Bolivia; New Blogs in Nakuru and Romania

It's no wonder that Rising Voices was nominated with all the great content that has been published recently. Rezwan looks at the recent social unrest in Bolivia as through the eyes of Voces Bolivianas’ bloggers. And get to know the new bloggers in Nakuru, Kenya from the REPACTED project and in Romania from the Blogging the Dream project.

80plus1 Deadline on October 31

Finally, for all you creative minds, the deadline to submit proposals to the 80plus1 project, which will try to connect select sites and themes around the world to Linz, Austria, the 2009 cultural capital of Europe. More information is available on their website.

That's all for this week.

All the best,


Newsletter: 9/29 – 10/3

Dear All,

Deadlines are fast approaching for the October bonanza of funding for citizen media and digital education projects. These are great opportunities for anyone who has applied for Rising Voices grants in the past and for everyone who has a project they want to see carried out.

Project:Report – Deadline Oct. 5

The first video, due by October 5, should be a profile of a person you think the world should know about. The video can run no longer than 3 minutes and must be in English or have English subtitles. ENTRIES MUST BE IN BY OCTOBER 5 TO HAVE A CHANCE AT THE GRAND PRIZE – a $10,000 journalism fellowship with the Pulitzer Center to report on a story abroad.

Digital Media and Learning Competition – Deadline Oct. 15

The 2008 Digital Media and Learning Competition theme is Participatory Learning. Participatory Learning includes the many ways that learners (of any age) use new technologies to participate in virtual communities where they share ideas, comment upon one another's projects, and plan, design, advance, implement, or simply discuss their goals and ideas together.

Google's Project 10 to the 100th – Deadline Oct. 20

Google is committing $10 million to implement five final projects, with the goal of helping as many people as possible. Submissions can be supplemented with 30 second videos.

Knight News Challenge – Deadline Nov. 1

The Knight Foundation is giving away around $5 million this year to support ideas 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.” There are three rules to follow to apply to the 2008-09 Knight News Challenge: 1.) Use or create digital, open-source technology as the code base. 2.) Serve the public interest. 3.) Benefit one or more specific geographic communities.


Meanwhile, the Rising Voices grantees keep pushing on. Head to the Rising Voices website for videos of new bloggers from the South African township of Kwa Mashu, updates from the student and teacher blogs in Uruguay, and one-year reflections from Voces Bolivianas and Neighbourhood Diaries.

And, of course, have a wonderful weekend.



Newsletter: United Nations Day for Older People

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.



Hard Word, Creativity, and Sustainabilty

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.



Newsletter: 9/8 – 9/12

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.


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. 🙂

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 keith.hammonds@gmail.com. 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!