The #Futurespotters Expedition: Thoughts, Reflections & Lessons
This has been quite a journey I must say…a worthwhile journey with many new ideas, mindsets, concepts and perceptions learned and exchanged.
It has been amazing to witness firsthand the true passion and drive of individuals that are putting everything they’ve got into making this world a better place, not only for themselves but for everyone else around them.
You hear or read every day about new creative initiatives, or ideas being successfully implemented, and you think to yourself…wow, how can I ever pull something like this off. Well, I’ll let you on a not-so-surprising secret…it’s all about the connections you make. And I don’t mean connection in the sense of ‘my friend’s cousin’s sister-in-law’s father brother knows someone who knows someone’ type of connection…but I mean the real honest let’s help each other out as best we can kind of bond. As I mentioned before here, it’s all about the openness, honesty and trust you allow others to see in you, which will inevitably sow the initial seed that will then grow into something beautiful. Don’t be ashamed to ask others for help because you will find endless support and it’s a guarantee; genuine collaboration will make things happen easily and quickly. Also, accept criticism with grace as it’s important to know where the shortcomings lie precisely in order for you to truly prosper.
So, what kind of ‘things’ am I referring to above? By ‘things’ I mean innovative, pioneering and creative solutions individuals are coming up with in response to the hardships they face. In Egypt for example, campaigns such as ‘Bos 7awalek’ (Look around you) have sprung out of collaboration; ideas such as the development of Bahareya Oasis in Egypt were built on collaboration; solutions for alternative education in Egypt also came out of collaboration; Other great initiatives were highlighted such as Biogas People, Jozour, Reform Studio, Mapture, Educate-me, and Harassmap; only to name a few.
Through participating in Spot the Future initiative, UNDP has been learning the Edgeryders methodology in how they are creating a space where futurebuilders from different backgrounds come together and engage in exchanging knowledge, resources and experiences to achieve the same goal: change. It was amazing to see it happening online and offline, especially at the futurespotters event in Tbilisi, where connections were being made between the change-makers and exchange in different forms were constantly happening. It was very inspirational to hear about the perspectives and wonderful ideas such as innovative data visualization and storytelling by Jumpstart Georgia, Lasindias and market activism, moneyless bartering solutions such as Makerfox, movements such as the occupation of Vake Park, and initiatives such as Viral Academy, Wehelp in Georgia and Carpooling in Armenia…seriously, wow. This is where UNDP needs to, wants to and will be.
This experience has been successful in allowing UNDP to identify unique and exciting initiatives and to connect with individuals outside their network. Moreover, it was interesting to see how the futurespotters community was built by mobilizing people on the platform, engaging and linking people from different backgrounds to support one another. UNDP has the power to solve key challenges built on innovation and creativity by searching for local heroes deep within the well. You know why? Because there are people out there that have solutions so outside the box and are actually willing to share them. Basically, when you are experiencing something challenging first hand, it will serve as inspiration for you to come up with the solution firsthand.
It is just as important to engage those people in meaningful conversations to really understand what they need in terms of support and at the end of the day we are all aiming for the same thing, which is development in all spheres of our societies.
What I have learned from this experience is that first: from a social perspective, organizations should create the space for collaboration to transpire (between individuals and individuals/institutions), by directly engaging citizens. We need to enable the environment for co-creation and collaboration to happen. Second: organizations should involve individuals in the actual design and implementation of programmes (co-creation/bottom-up approach) because there are many local heroes we may not know about yet, and third: trust can be built quickly and can be lost just as quickly, so the notion of ‘following-up’ with whatever you started is very important; expressing mere intentions, no matter how honest they are, is never enough.
These acknowledgements are not easy by the way, it takes time to understand and grasp these ideas and it is easier said than done, and I am still trying to figure out what these concepts mean, and how to make use of them. But taking initiative is important, and this is what UNDP is doing at the moment. By par-taking in initiatives such as Spot the Future, it is certainly a step forward in changing the mindset of the organization and adapting to the new paradigm shift in the world, where individuals are taking charge of their future through Do it Yourself (DIY) approaches, makers movements and relying on one another rather than looking at large institutions for support. We have the know-how, capacities and resources and it’s time to allocate them in the most efficient way possible, because there are some people out there that are truly struggling to build amazing things for the betterment of the community that can definitely benefit from our support.
We need to reach out to people other than those on the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Change will not be achieved in a blink of an eye, you have to keep pushing the boundaries little by little, but you must keep pushing.
In Egypt, we are currently using what we learned and we are putting efforts in engaging with individuals we haven’t reached out to before. We are learning the tools of engagement, and we are trying to take out as much as we can from this experience. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how we can help build this social environment, to empower individuals (those at the very edge) to connect with one another and with organizations to build the best future.
I would like to personally thank @Nadia, @Noemi, @Matthias and @Alberto for your infinite support and for all your efforts in being open to share your approach and advice. Thanks to all the amazing people I’ve connected with throughout this experience, especially our Egyptian futurebuilders that we’ve spotted and all the passionate individuals I’ve met at the futurespotters event. Thanks for the inspiration! Seriously, keep doing what you’re doing, be amazing and i’ll see you on the Edge very soon
Remember 384 unique relationships and interactions were created #futurespotters!!