Today we had our first bi-weekly meet-up and it was a success! We recruited new people to he platform, linked people together and discussed your regular activists topics, such as open source data, group funding and organic farming (and yes, registration issues with Edgeryders was unfortunately also a well discussed issue).
Unfortunatly, Elene from Iare Pekhit, @firstname.lastname@example.org from Vake park and @Ninutsa Nanitashvili told us ahead they were unable to join. We also missed @Boris, @anuki mosiashvili, @ericnbarrett and others. Please feel free to join us next time! Below you wil find what happened this meeting.
So, I will shortly explain you what we talked about, what challenges we face, and what kind of help people in this community might need.
What did we talk about?
We saw a lot of new faces, such as @Vano, who runs the DRR Center in Georgia. We also met Richard, who facilitates several different interest groups on facebook, such as the language exchange group and the Georgia Hiking group. And Remi, who has a company which brings foreign IT specialists to Ukraine and Georgia, where they keep on continuing their own work abroad, but at the same time contribute to their new communities sharing their skills and knowledge.
Our talk started discussing the problem of the use of open source software. In Georgia, people mostly illegally download pricey software, only because they do not realize there is open sourced software out there which does exactly the same. Solutions talked about were mostly education based, perhaps we can think of a concrete action plan to make this happen?
A second issue which came up again (and again) was the competitiveness within the NGO world: how can we change this? We haven’t come up with an actual solution, but any ideas are welcome! We understand civil society has become competitive, as all are competing for the same grants; however, people don’t become active because they want money, they become active because they want to change their community! How can we make well established NGOs realize that by co-working with whomever is working in the same field, that the aim and goals they set to achieve, are actually easier to achieve together, rather than excluding everyone out of ‘spite’? This is a well-known issue, raised often, but hard to solve. We need to create an action plan for this, perhaps there are some ‘best-practices’ out there people are willing to share?
Our third topic at the beginning of the meeting regarded the FB group for georgia’s Edgeryders and moving this to Edgeryders completely. Altough the group understood the importance of the edgeryders platform (this post was read and mentioned), the general consensus was to keep the facebook group. I will ask the people posting in the group, friendly but urgently, to repost it in this group (link to it included). As FB is THE main communication channel in georgia, the group was afraid to loose the interaction if it would be completely removed. Uli also mentioned he would not register on Edgeryders, as he spends already too much time online, but he will contribute to the physical meetings as he does believe in the project.
- Remi told us about a girl in Gori (a middle-sized town) who would like to do a project on prejudices of Georgians towards Ossetians. Basically, do research on preceptions between ethnic groups in Georgia (in Gori). She is currently looking for any help she could get in realizing this. Remi told us he will introduce her to Edgeryders, so she could share her story and get feedback. In response, @Khatuna mentioned that at the UN they are changing their research methodologies (please explain in the comments Khatuna!), something which this gril might benefit from.
- @Vano told us about several projects he would like to introduce to us. First of all the several youth groups they have set up in different regions. He was very surprised to see how active they were, organizing flash-mobs, asking funding from local municipalities, etc, to change their local communities. They need a platform where they can share information, Edgeryders could be perfect!
- The second project @Vano mentioned were the Community Access Centers: training centers in IDP settlements. A few years back they started these with USAID/UN funding, and some local people were trained to give IT related workshops. The centers were open to everyone to use. However, in 2011 it was handed over to the local communities, unfortunately the centers were shut down right away. No-one took care of it, neither community nor local municipalities, and the centers were looted and damaged. DRR center asked for ownership again and they got it. They repaired everything and are trying to bring back life to the centers again. They decided to have a local tv group, to show success stories. @Cristina_Maza right away mentioned that Jumpstart is doing a project reporting on initiatives just like this! Another thought that came up: how about creating an unMonastry in one of the communities? Remi, who has a business which brings IT people to Georgia to experience life abroad, might also be able to help out once his project has been running for a while. Also, @Vano said he would share this himself online.
- @Inge took of her Edgeryders community-builder hat for a second to put on her IFLRY hat, asking if anyone would be able to help creating a website and app to instantly monitor election fraud during Georgia's June elections. @Khatuna mentioned that Tamar Zhvania, of the chairperson of ISFED, would probably very willing to help in any election related issues. @Cristina_Maza added that perhaps Jumpstart could help out as well. Richard showed the following app: http://www.free-and-fair.org/. Uli mentioned a project from Germany, which he will share with us soon.
Our bi-weekly meet-up finished after this, as most of the participants wanted to go to Coop.ge’s exhibition on recycling and littering.