Georgia Future Makers Meet Up #1 & Futurespotters Meet Up #10

This post will be linked to two groups: Futurespotters Georgia and Global Future Makers. I will add some things which may seem logical to one group, but not to the other, in order to have everyone in the end understand what I am talking about :).

For the people who were not involved last year in the Spot the Future project, it engaged over a 130 participants in Georgia, Armenia and Egypt and brought together people doing groundbreaking work at the edges together in discussion, and contributed to a major strategic change happening at the United Nations. In Georgia, one of the needs of the actors on the ground turned out to be coordination among peers. That is how the Futurespotters meet up’s started. You can see what happened throughout the past year in this group.

What is Future Makers, then? Edgeryders is involved in advising UNDP and UNV towards their strategy towards youth volunteering (read the story here). In Future Makes our primary focus is to build concrete ways for innovators and activists to support one another’s work, peer to peer. We want to hear from you: what do you do to change your community for the better and what obstacles do you face? We want to know to figure out how communities such as Edgeryders, or larger organizations such as UNDP, could support your work in a sustainable way and how can we learn and teach each other by sharing our stories online.

Anyway, we meet up on an irregular basis, but the meetings are always fruitful and interesting (IMHO).

Who were present last Monday?

Besides me and the youngest Futurespotters’ member Leon:

@Uli was there, he is a consultant at the ministry for environment, but works on many interesting issues next to it. He set up a facebook group for green events in Georgia, where cso’s and individuals are encouraged to share their activities BEFORE they happen, instead of reading the notes in a press release afterward.

@ericnbarrett was also present. Eric leads innovative CSO jumpstart, they aim to have organizations/governments/media communicate data more effectively to enhance transparency. Their latest project will launch in about 1 week, and it is VERY exciting! More about that below.

@remi was there as well. Remi set up Tbilisi’s first co-working place Co-Spot, “a community of professionals motivated by the encounters and opportunities of collaborations they can make over the course of their work.” But, Remi is also very emerged in the CSO and grassroots initiatives around Tbilisi.

I had skype on as well, but no-one requested to join. This may be because the event invite wasn’t out on edgeryders yet as I was waiting for someone to edit the Georgian translation. For next Monday: add me on skype (ingesnip) and write me a small chat that you want to join and I’ll start a conference call.

What did we talk about?

Jumpstart is about to launch an amazing tool which they worked very hard on for the past 6 months. I think that especially @Alberto and @Hegazy will be very interested (and I guess @SamarAli, @Inga_Popovaite, @SamMuirhead and @Matthias as well - and I am obviously forgetting people). Although I cant share any links yet, as soon as it is online I will. But basically, as I understood, it is a tool which extracts large data sets  (SPSS or STRATA and others?) and automatically visualizes and summarizes the information for you. It is (of course) open sourced. So, right now they are trying to upload as many data sets to it as possible, so you can search for certain data and it shows the data sets which are available and you can search within those datasets on specific issues as well. However, it will also be possible to upload your own data set to it. You can then choose to have this open or private (if you are still working on it). All visuals can be embedded, so data journalists can use them directly for their own works for example. @ericnbarrett, I hope I explained it well, but when it  is launched it will be much clearer. (we already got a little sneak peak ;).)

By the way, @Alberto, eric will be out of town when you are here, but he will set up a meeting if you like with Nino who is a data journalist at Jumpstart, and another guys whose name I forgot (shame on me!) who is a programmer at Jumpstart.

@remi told us about a Ukrainian (?) guy who is looking for georgian journalists to write about economic issues. As far as I understood he is someone who links interesting projects with the right investors, and has done similar projects elsewhere. Remi had some of his publicatons with him, which were meant for eric, but were accidentally left in my car (@ericnbarrett, when can I give them to you?). Maybe it is better if @remi explains it :).

The rest of the evening was more of a meta discussion on how we can encourage groups to work together, to coordinate better and to support each other. @Uli mentioned that although the green facebook group exists, only very few use it on a regular basis. The efforts of Ertad, a coordination group for public space issues, was also discussed. Which is when it became clear that public space issues are a ‘hot’ thing in Georgia right now. An interesting example are two different walks through the city on cultural heritage, one organized by cultural heritage CSO Tiflis Hamkari (they are a grassroots initiative which emerged a few years ago after city hall wanted to demolish one of Tbilisi’s oldests squares) and another walk by art collective GeoAir and a group of Icelandic walk-activists. Although it is great these initiatives are happening, it would perhaps be wiser to know when who organizes what, as now the walks were exactly the same weekend. A bit of overkill…

Another item which we discussed was who I should try to engage, who I should get to the community calls on Monday and with whom to have individual talks for the Future Makers project. I definitely believe talking interview style with @ericnbarrett would be extremely beneficial to the project. I also would really like to get (this year) the above mentioned Tiflis Hamkari and GeoAir to the platform. Others that I want to engage and am in touch with from last year’s project are @Elene_Margvelashvili from Iare Pekhit, @Nick_Davitashvili from guerrilla gardening. I also briefly talked to the manager of social cafe Rhea’s Squirrels, to see if the owner may be interested to join the discussion as well. Talking to public artist Mariam Natroshvili could be interesting as well. An I am trying to get the contacts of a young guy who created a space for young community members of his village to engage with each other (and discourage them from leaving for the bigger cities, to prevent a local braindrain).

But I am still trying to find other initiatives as well. So if you know anything, please either comment here, or write an interesting post yourself!