Day 1 Futurespotters Yerevan: What do you care about and are trying to solve?

Armenian values and mentality

This is an overarching theme that Armenian futurespotters agreed lies at the core of most challenges we’ve identified, independent of specific topics.

  • How can I change hierarchical structures in Armenia into more horizontal structures? (@Vahagn)
  • How to instill values like freedom, responsibility, solidarity in individuals? (@Lurglomond)
  • How to help people get to know their rights and get others to respect them? (@Lili) eg pregnant woman can't be fired due to her pregnancy; right to freedom of speech; -rights of minorities

A sense of agency is a recurring issue: they want a revolution but think someone else will do it. “Getting your hands dirty is hard”: 80 years of communism meant you do whatever you do, not for any other reason. ‘this is not in my contract, you have to ask my boss’. Individual participation is often banned by the fear of responsibility, what if I do it and it fails. The idea that problem-solving is someone else’s responsibility is rooted in education, examples, mentality, opportunities.

The value of work: creating more productivity in rural areas

  • Can we help people in need without government assistance and with fewer resources? Should we? Do they want to be helped? (@karen.harutyunyan)

Immediately the response in the room was: ”What is the meaning of “help? Some people don’t want to work more”. It seems peasants/farmers need money to plant something, so in order to do so they would need to take high-risk, high-interest loans – which are not being granted to them

One question that we’ve been asking is why do young men in rural communities say no when offered construction work that pays? Where do they get the money to live well? Obviously getting to more land being worked has to do with incentives: welfare is 30000 dram per month, not as much as the minimum salary; People are living on transfers (remittances) coming from labor migrants, so if you know if you can travel to Russia and earn more, why would you take lower paying work in your village -> because of this in many rural communities there are only women left, so who should do the work?!

The value of emancipation and self-respect among women

Lack of culture: violence against women in Armenia is reflected in tv soap operas etc.

Dome court cases against abusive husbands do happen, but also many times women refuse to press charges and the authority decides not to put pressure on this -> making the ideal of family a priority that comes before women safety


What are women support centres doing already that we can piggyback on?

@Arpine's project to empower women with disadvantaged background (needs a separate post + link! :))

The value of a healthy lifestyle

  • How to inspire people and promote good habits? (George)

While yoga and cycling are spreading fast in Armenia, other physical activities (eg jogging) not so much. One point that was made is that we need to convince people to take up sports and that they can do so without spending too much money.

The value of culture: art and music for social change

  • How can art help to solve problems, from the personal to the social and global? (@Seg)
  • How can I share music from different countries without money – performing in festivals etc.? (@Tigran)

The need was mentioned to promote classical and alternative culture 


-is there a possibility to set up a community radio that is trendy and cool, yet highly dedicated to educating & creating social change ? Talk to @Heather Y about this, she has experiences with community radios in Africa.

The value of caring for the environment

  • How to make people understand the planet and the nature? 

What initiatives are making step in this direction?

Mashtotz Park movement:

Save Theghut

Make it easier for Armenians to do work they love

  • How can I help inspire people to do work that they care about and live a purposeful and fulfilling life? (Alessandro)

Instead of doing work for salary do it for resonance


in India – SelfHelp groups : 3-12 people, women from rural villages. Each makes voluntary contribution to a collective fund and they vote where money goes.

In Armenia: The Awesome Foundation – finances crazy ideas that can’t get funded

Food production and food for all

  • There's enough food for everyone and yet some people are hungry. How can we learn to calculate our food production and get better at consumption? (George)

Some resources:

In Yerevan: Arpine and her colleagues are creating an orchard/vegetable garden in front of their office

In Germany: project with shops where someone is responsible for agreeing with them and collecting expired food, then distributing it to a list of consumers.

TEDx kids planting seeds in their blocks’ gardens

In Greece: food collecting initiative

The Honey Festival (link?)

Culture does not change – it goes extinct

I can’t resist dropping my two cents here about @Vahagn's wish for flatter power structures.

Hierarchies are self-sustaining. Once you set one up, the people at the top – who enjoy their role very much – use it to perpetuate both hierarchies themselves and their own role. No brainer. It is going to be very difficult to convince them not to oppose flatter structures on efficiency grounds: a less hierarchical world may be more efficient, but it is a worse world from the point of view of those in the upper echelons of the hierarchy. It’s like in science, in the famous Max Planck quotation: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”. Senior professors have both the power and the incentives to block the advancement. More often than not, they will probably honestly believe they are being prudent, reliable, solid. 

So, cultural change does not look life rational debate, at the end of which hierarchs change their minds: it looks like survival of the fittest, with flat, swarm-like organizations outcompeting hierarchies in some areas. What did you think we were doing with Edgeryders? We are so flat and swarm-like that most people think we are crazy :slight_smile:


about scaling up


it’s really nice that u described the situation as "survival for the fittest " and I can c that in edgeryders u r creating a new narrative of non -hierarchical structures that doesn’t fit anymore in the old hierarchical narrative . but I always have this question of scaling up

like in the process of scaling up edgeryders how to make sure that some nodes in the network don’t get bigger and bigger till it change the system back to hierarchy

I came across the term holacracy lately but I am not sure what does it really mean ? :slight_smile: can u may be explain more or give me some links about that ?

Education as key to changes

I beleive that the key to chnages especially the changes in mentality and values is education. There are a lot of things that need to be reviewed and changed in our educational system. And if we can’t make the necessary changes in formal education /because of a number of hindering factors/ then we can try our best in informal education, creating a network of non-formal education ‘cells’ throughout the country  concentrating not only on Yerevan. A network that will connect youth power, energy, enthusiasm and the will of creating a better future for our country. If you’ve ever had similar ideas or are interested in the aforementioned and/or are willing to cooperate and suggest your own solutions let me know. Perhaps, we’ll come across some new exciting ideas, set goals as well as try to find ways in order to fulfil those goals. :slight_smile:

Non-formal education in Armenia

Hello  Amalia Kamalian,

Welcome on board!

Have you heard about this blog that is made by a team of nfe activists?

Check it out and I would highly suggest you to get in touch with them / us (I am a member of this initiative actually) if you are interested in projects related to informal / non formal education.

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