Edgeryders from Belarus: social innovator Mikhail Volchek, a community builder

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#1

Available in: :gb: English / :ru: Russian


:gb: English version

This blog is about an inspiring person in Belarus called Mikhail Volchek, who is 27 years old and already developed several communities around him in Minsk.


While interviewing Mikhail I got the impression that he has a mindset of a real entrepreneur: With this I mean a mindset that is marked by imagination, initiative and the readiness to undertake new projects. Mikhail tries to break with common behavior and therefore creates projects that stand by themselves without any support from any organization or institutions.

Mikhail began about 8 years ago with his first community-building project called ‘Zabej’ (which means literally score in Russian, however Mikhail’s message was more ‘move your ass’). He started this pilot with a team of 2 friends in Minsk, and was set to create an informal football tournament in which a big variety of people would participate. They used the most basic marketing means: 500 leaflets were printed and hung/spread in yards, residence houses, universities and industrial areas – then they waited for applicants.

They engaged more then 1000 people from all kids of spheres, ages, and districts in this project and replicated this model in different regions. Mikhail is proud about this particular project as it’s still ongoing and gives a good example of a ‘new’ approach on how to build communities. Visit the website of Zabej for more info: http://zabej.info








3 years ago Mikhail’s second big community building process started, this time it was all about refreshing the Drupal community. For people who don’t know about Drupal, here is a short introduction: simply put Drupal is used as a tool to create websites. But Drupal can be used for more purposes. According to Mikhail it’s an open source project, a system created to share, distribute, code for everyone, but most importantly it’s a change in behavior. For him the challenge in this particular project lies in getting to know this community and to shift the people involved in this community.

While talking with Mikhail I got to know a new terminology called ‘Copy left ideology’: it is basically an open source that everyone can use and share without feeling guilty about it! As you can imagine this creates great opportunities for the exchange of knowledge, ideas, info and documents. Using this Drupal system is a good way for communities to share knowledge, and in this way develop themselves for mutual good. I don’t know why but I thought immediately about Edgeryders J. Now the activity in Drupal community touches precise projects like open data (nagrady.by), social initiative platform etc. see more: http://falanster.by/en

Mikhail’s focus is on copyright barriers for creativity and e-participation tools for different communities (e.g. cyclists’ or people).

When I asked Mikhail what his biggest motivation is to create these communities and basically to do what he does everyday, he responded that for him, it is all about identity. For him it is interesting to find out whether a person is able to change something in this world for the better. This approach he applies to gather communities together or changing the way existing communities work. I hope Mikhail will join Edgeryders soon, as the Edgeryders platform is built for people like him, people that are doing good and that are willing to share this openly with others and do even better together.


##:ru: Russian version
Этот блог об очень вдохновляющем человеке в Беларуси - Михаиле Волчек. В свои 27 лет он уже создал вокруг себя несколько сообществ в Минске.

Во время интервью с Михаилом у меня сложилось впечатление, что этот человек мыслит как настоящий предприниматель. Под этим я понимаю склад ума, отличащйся воображенем, инициативностью и готовностью браться за новые проекты. Михаил старается создавать проекты, которые могут самостоятельно существовать, не требуя поддержки иных организаций и учреждений.

Около 8 лет назад Михаил начал создание своего первого сообщества, которое сейчас называется ‘Zabej’. (Одно из значений слова - оставить след, добиться результата. Михаил понимает под этим словом призыв “начни действовать”). Этот пилотный проект Михаил начал вместе с двумя своими дузями в Минске. Проект направлен на создание неформального футбольного турнира, в котором могут принимать участие самые разные люди. Команда использовала самые простые маркетинговые методы: напечатали 500 листовок, распространили их во дворах, университетах и промышленных районах. Оставалось только ждать заявок от участников. И они сделали это! Более 1000 человек, занятых в разных сферах, разных возрастов, из разных районов приняли участие в проекте. Проект проходил не только в Минске, но и в других городах. Михаил гордится этим проектом, так как он до сих пор существует и показывакет хороший пример “нового” подхода создания сообществ. Visit the website: http://zabej.info

3 года назад Михаил начал работать над вторым большим проектом - возрождение Drupal сообщества. Михаил хочет узнать это сообщество и дать возможность его участникам перейти на новый уровень. Небольшое введение для тех, кто не знаком с Drupal: сообщество Drupal используется в качестве инструмента для создания веб-сайтов. Но Drupal сообщество может быть использовано и для других целей. По словам Михаила, это источник, система, созданная для обмена, распространения, кодирования для всех, но самое главное - это изменение в поведении.

Во время разговора с Михаилом, я узнала новую терминологию под названием «копировать существующую идеологию». Под этим термином понимается следующее: источник, который каждый может использовать, не чувствуя себя виноватым в этом! Как вы понимаете, такое пространство создает большие возможности для обмена знаниями, идеями, информацией и документами. Использование этой Drupal системы позволяет сообществам легко обмениваться знаниями, и, таким образом, развивать себя для общего блага. Я не знаю, почему, но мне сразу пришла в голову мысль об Edgeryders:). Сейчас деятельность Drupal сообщества направлена на конкретные проекты: открытые данные (nagrady.by), платформа для социальных иннициатив и т.д. Михаил концентрируется на барьерах, вызванных авторскими правами. Эти ограничения не способствуют развитию творчества и применения электронных в работе различных сообществ. (т.е. велосипедистов). http://falanster.by/ru

Когда я спросила Михаила о его мотивации к созданию этих сообществ и тому, что он делает каждый день, он ответил, что ответ лежит в самой личности. Ему интересно узнать, в состоянии ли человек изменить что-то в мире к лучшему. Этот подход он использует для организации сообществ или изменения стиля работы уже существующих сообществ. Я надеюсь, что Михаил присоединится к Edgeryders в ближайшее время, так как эта платформа создана для таких, как он, людей, которые делают добро и готовы поделиться этим с другими и сделать еще лучше вместе.


Citizen experts of Belarus to the rescue: the #UNDPlistens workshop is today
#2

Great guy, great ideas

I too had the pleasure of meeting Mikhail while in Minsk. I think he is building future in at least two respects: one, he promotes a more knowledgeable and user-centered path to ICT. This would be the Drupal Club work, which is dear to my heart especially as even the Edgeryders website is made with Drupal! We could use Mikhail’s ability and experience in LOTE4, we have a hackathon session to do with Drupal.

And two, he is part of the small but important Minsk cycling movement. He is passionate about cycling and cycles everywhere: he told me he feels it is his duty as a cyclist to make a positive contribution to city planning, ensuring that bicycle lanes are well planned for and meet the needs of the cyclists. This is particularly important as the Belarusian economy moves towards being greener, and needs to find non-polluting, energy efficient ways to move about.


#3

Hello Alberto,

This LOT4 i will in another place. But we can accumulate our energy about improving edgeryders.eu in November or December. Please keep me informed about further activities with website.


#4

Hi again, Mikhail

I am glad to see you here :slight_smile:

Wow, would you really want to help with improving the Edgeryders website? We will have a dedicated hackathon, led by the brave @danohu, at LOTE4, but there are always tasks for people to play around with. If you are interested, maybe join the Dev&Testing group.

We use a Drupal-based issue tracker-like system for bug reporting and fixing. We also use the same system for non-development tasks, like organizing conferences or parties. To see all tasks (you can filter the view dynamically) click on “Tasks” in the main menu; to see just Dev tasks, navigate to the Dev and testing group and click on the Tasks button to filter the view by content type “task”.


#5

Thanks Alberto,

The track list has a huge amount of tasks. I’m curious to know hackathon’s result and main trend of the site development.


#6

Welcome, Mikhail

Nice to meet another Drupal hacker on here (I’m currently the webmaster of this site, but only started with Drupal for building this site … so you’re probably more into Drupal that I am …). Getting help with various Drupal tasks on here would be fantastic (since Drupal is quite an effort to work with, and like for you, Drupal is not the only thing I care about …). We can talk more about this in after the LOTE4 conference, and I could give you access to our Github repository.

In any case, your Drupal contributions would be a much appreciated gift, though we’re working on an inter-project collaboration system (see) where contributions can be compensated with help for ones own projects. It’s my favorite idea at the moment and should be a good fit for the Edgeryders community, as people on here are more diverse than in other online spaces. I’m curious: Is there something you’d want help with for your projects, ideally a task that can be worked on online? Maybe we can set up a first exchange :slight_smile:


#7

Hello Matthias,

As i understand you precisely, I focus on frontend development. We can communicate on November about this one in detail.

It is interesting. Do you have any bag tracker for the websites?

UPD

It seems I found this https://edgeryders.eu/taskmanager


#8

Russian translation does not seem to work…

I have translated the blog, but it gives an error when I want to open it. Also the link of the Russian version brings me to the English version… @Matthias do you know whats going on?


#9

Thanks for the heads-up … fixed it

Thanks for noting, @masha_cheriakova. Funny how you experienced a Drupal problem with a blog post praising Drupal laugh I’ve now fixed the issue, and your Russian translation works fine now.

In the process, I also found the missing piece for the multilingual setup a few days ago. it simplifies making the translations: do so just as in the beginning without caring for anything special (means, we don’t need that “language prefixes in manual URL aliases” workaround any more). One can now (finally finally!) choose content and user interface language together in the top-right dropdown, and optionally select a different language for select content when desired with the language buttons below content, not changing the user interface language then.


#10

Rich text editor for Russian works now, too

It loads on page load now as it should, so you don’t have to switch to the plain text editor and back to make it work. This might work on an off in the following days as I am still looking for the best solution, but the good thing is I found the reason for this issue now and it’s easily fixable.


#11

One question, Masha…

i imagine Mikhail isnt the first person to want to build communities, though he seems to have done incredibly well (i know at least 3 people where im from that have tried to do what he has done with soccer, and havent moved more than 20-30 people)!! what do you think has made him successful in doing this?


#12

Hello,

There were many reasons and factors in the deal =) but the most important were your wishes and activity.

As a technological moment we prepared conditions for ineryards meetings. People like communicate and we created the infrastructure.

And we focus on replication moment of the organizational pattern. In order to people could replicate its and continue the process without external infuence.


#13

Thanks for the inspiration Mikhail…

From my own experience, you know you’re building true community:

  • when people want in without any institutional or money incentive.

- when people want to be and work with one another without any external influence as you say, or without chasing them around

- when ideas somehow find their way into projects building our future.

It’s not magic, it’s a lot of invisible work. but the idea that even if you go away the thing will continue to live on, is reassuring.