Ma'arefa: a cultural attempt in Egypt ( Self-story ) معرفة.. محاولة ثقافية في مصر

Ma’arefa Started in 2010 with 5 knowledge passionate members who was attending the same cultural event, the idea started with them doing an internal privet lectures to each other’s to introduce their own fields which made multi-disciplinary content for them (from nuclear Physics to linguistic engineering to Islamic jurisprudence to Darwin theory). The idea back then was very shallow just space which we can share our knowledge from those founders , just imagine after 4 years Maarefa had more than 11 Governorate branch all over Egypt including small villages and primitive rural areas ,leaded by young francize whom interested for the idea , after words we reached some of followers outside Egypt like In Turkey ,Jordan and Morocco .

I met Ma’arefa in one of their events for " Mareefa Library making " which was a Public library with social Funding and social organization, the place was nearby my home and I went there to look with my bike, and from this day am one of Maarefa Team as Organizer and some time as Team leader for events like " the Memory of Dr. Abdel-wahab al Messeri : one of the social political writers " that held in Journalists Syndicate .

Through the Egyptian revolution there was a huge number of Political and religious ideas floating on the surface and need an organized effort form Specialists to explain it carefully , That helped the Team to grow horizontally and vertically in the same time ,the ritual event =) of opening a new branch was somehow enough for Idea and activities theme delivery to the new crew members in other places, with insisting through discussions that we don’t adapting any political ideas or supporting any ideological parties which was one of the debates later .

After 2 Years of working on ground, Ma’arefa teams developed a spiral open source structure can support their growing and with co -central observation between teams and ability to create new activates freely. Within those years ma’arefa did around weekly 120 public lecture In all Egyptian governorates sometimes the lectures was presented in the same time in parallel in more of 5 places =) , in Cairo the team did lectures in many places like : Syndicate of Journalists and Medical Syndicate and BIT AL SANNARY " historical house in Cairo and al Sultan Hassan Mosque " historical place ".

Many projects come out of Ma’arefa Movement like : ( Mofakroon " thinkers " : online platforms to introduce thinkers ideas , Al-tadarusya " Studying team " : participants study some books like university but discussion based learning )

Now part of the Team still producing public lectures but there is a lot of branches bused their activity including Cairo team because of the general deterioration in the public sphere in Egypt , the Team back to the shadow status again , waiting for chance to renovate new projects in the future in environment , he has place in =)

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فريق معرفة … محاولة ثقافية في مصر …
بدات معرفة في أواخر عام 2010 علي يد مجموعة صغيرة مكونة من 5 أفراد جمعهم صالون ثقافي يقام في مصر الجديدة … بدأت الفكرة بعمل محاضرات بسيطة ما بينهم لتشجيعهم لتبسيط العلوم و نشرها تنوعت المحاضرات بين ( الفيزياء النووية - و الهندسة اللغوية - والفقة -و نظرية التطور ) كانت الفكرة حينها مجرد مجال بسيط للتعرف على مجالات هؤلاء المؤسسون … خلال الأربع سنوات اللاحقة ، كان لمعرفة 11 فرع أو أكثر من بينها فروع في كفور و نجوع يقودها شباب متحمسين لفكرة تبسيط العلوم و نشر المعرفة كان أولها فرع بالأسكندرية و آخرها فيم أعلم فرع بالأقصر وقنا . كانت معرفة في رأيي فكرة ليس لها حدود جغرفية فكثير من المتابعين كانوا من خارج مصر أيضاً سواء من الأردن أو تركيا أو المغرب ،تعرفت على الفريق في أحد مشروعاتهم "مكتبة معرفة " و هي مكتبة عامة بجهود مجتمعية تماماً … كانت تقع في بدروم أحد المنازل القريبة من منزلي و معظم الكتب من تبرعات فردية تدعم المشروع عن بعد أتيت يومها بالعجلة ومن يومها و أنا في الفريق بشكل أو بآخر أدعم أو أشارك في إدارة الأنشطة كان من أولها مشروع تأبين الدكتور عبد الوهاب المسيري عالم الإجتماع و الكاتب السياسي في نقابة الصحفيين …في خضم الثورة المصرية كانت كثير من الأفكار السياسية و الدينية و التقنية تخرج على الساحة و تحتاج إلى من يشرحها من المتخصصين ، تبنى مؤسسوا الفريق نظرية التوسع الأفقي و الرأسي في نفس الوقت كانت طقوس =) افتتاح الفروع تضمن وصول فكرة الفريق بشكل كافي نسبياً و قليل من المناقشات حول أهمية عدم التدخل في الأحداث السياسية ولا تبني أو دعم أي فصيل سياسي على الساحة ، بالطبع كثير من المشكلات كانت تخرج على الساحة بسبب طبيعة عمل الفريق الثقافية حيث كانت الأطروحات الأيدلوجية أحياناً من أسباب الخلاف الداخلي .بعد سنتين … كانت معرفة قد استقرت على هيكل عنقودي الشكل يتحمل تطور المشروع بشكل يسمح بوجود إشراف مركزي مشترك بين الفروع و في نفس الوقت حرية كبيرة في ابداع المشاريع … خلال هذة السنوات قامت معرفة بحوالي 120 محاضرة بواقع محاضرة في كل محافظة أسبوعياً … في القاهرة أقيمت المحاضرات في ما يقرب من 10 أماكن متنوعية ما بين نقابة الصحفيين و نقابة الأطباء و بيت السناري و مسجد السلطان حسن و غيرها . خرج من تحت عباءة معرفة عديد من المشروعات الأخرى مثل ( مفكرون :منصة عرض أفكار عديد من المفكرين على الإنترنت - التدراسية :مدارسة جماعية لكتب علمية على غرار الجامعات لكن بشكل نقاشي ) حالياً لازالت معظم الفرق تقيم محاضراتها الأسبوعية إلا أن كثيراً من الفروع توقف نشاطهم من بينها فرع القاهرة نظراً لظروف التدهور العام في المجال العام في مصر . عاد الفريق إلى حالة الظل في فرع القاهرة يأمل بعديد من المشروعات في المستقبل و يعيد بناء قوته لزمن آخر …له فيه مكان =)
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@hazem @MonicaZacharia @matthias @nadia @noemi

Hello @m_tantawy, nice to meet you, I am an edgeryders member and community manager for many years now, and I can see in my own work how people from different fields of work come together and are able to learn more in diversity.

Myself being online a lot, I found I have a lot to learn about communities and what inspires others to join, by talking to people who run physical spaces like digital fabrication labs or bioengineering labs. I am not sure this is learning across different disciplines but definitely outside your field of work.

What is a spiral open source structure? Does it mean that others can organise Maarefa events without permission from the core group?

Hey @m_tantawy thanks for sharing your story with Ma’arefa.

I wanted to know more from you about the organizational part of this network, how was it managed to have separate teams working in different parts of Egypt, how was the power dynamics, also if you faced any failures with this, did some teams split out and spun off the network, because this part of time Egypt and the Egyptian youth in general were rethinking a lot of ideologies and political stands.

and can you tells us more about where are the core group now, are they still active in the cultural map or not.

and last but not least, how do you imagine reviving such thing as Ma’arefa under the current circumstances
<3 hazem

Dear @noemi and @hazem .
Nice to meet you too Noemi and for your support Hazem =), actually yes this activity was outside my filed of study/work _as an architect _ but this was something very useful also because finally it is a space where I can hear about sociology and politics in other place different than the Formal Educational System in university. This amount of cross cutting fields made me more grounded about Architecture Community issues and adopting common ideas. I knew a lot of architects in the team whom likes HASSAN FATHY work for example and we started to promote this political–urban ideas to students and inside my design projects.
@noemi : yes most of the activities was held without the core team permission, but not to an extreme because there was monitoring for the events anyway.
about our organization Structure :
this was a long story actually =D , begins with a lot of struggle between the core team in Cairo and the other branches, but we mad central council to discuss the covenant structure for this kind of Teams . And it comes to us to use Hyped organizational structure mixed between Flat and pyramid famous structures. this is an image I brought form " the pattern language - Christopher Alexander " that describes the 3 types of structures**.we choose decentralized one in the middle** .

lately, I found an important book for Jacob Morgan with name : future of work network . he made clear analysis for the structures . . you can say that our work structure was very similar to Flatarchies type .

hope to hear form you if u have any comments …

I also used the distributed network comparison with other kinds of organisations, I found it especially useful, but that was a case where people were on a payroll in an organisation.

For networks, it makes even more sense but a lot of work goes into transmitting that knowledge and enabling people to do work - a lot of it unpaid. Are you all volunteers in Ma’arefa or is there funding?

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thanks Noemi for sharing your ideas\questions :slight_smile:
sure , I understand that there is difference between the tow models of ( NGO or Company ) but as i mentioned we were motivated by the revolution we just came up with so a lot of solutions to the organizational problems via just motivating and pressure on our teams …this is not the optimum case but it is the reality somehow.
YEA , We were volunteers, in fact we were paying a monthly partnership fees to save some money for any equipment we need on going : like projector-microphones -camera …
BTW, we faced some problems afterword’s because of the finical visibility for the members and we were and still thinking to upgrade ma’arefa to be a Company or institute or Research center but we are facing problems in the legal papers with our "lovely government " so we are waiting another chance later on>>

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Nice Presentation Mohamed :))

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مبادرة جد رائعة أتمنى أن نتعاون مع بعضنا لكوني عندي تجربة قريبة من تجربتكم يمكن الإطلاع عليها من خلال هذا الرابط

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