Future Makers Nepal is coming close to operating three months in Nepal now. That’s three months of working towards an online community of alternative leaders. But progress is still slow. So what is it that makes building communities or other social movements in Nepal so difficult? Is it difficult in general?
These moments of frustration are valuable because you allow yourself to see things more clearly. I just discussed movement building again with @Natalia_Skoczylas, and we arrived at some interesting observations and hypotheses. Welcome to join our discussion!
Observations and Hypotheses:
- The earthquake was the perfect trigger for creating a movement (and so it did). It could create a movement of volunteer disaster responders because:
- it put all people into a shared context in a very obvious and non-deniable way, so connecting with anyone about this "issue" was very easy and needed no explanations or persuasion
- it instilled a sense of urgency in everyone
- it catered to people's deep instincts for being generous and solidary in times of need
- it catered to people's needs for doing something that is and feels meaningful (the fact that it's adventurous also helped)
- it freed people's time so they could invest themselves into the movement; because daily life was coming to a halt, schools and universities were closed for weeks
- initially everyone including government, army, police and UN struggled to respond meaningfully; this level playing field encouraged the participation of newcomers / volunteers, because they could really make a meaningful contribution
- But even the earthquake could only create a short-term movement. 2.5 months onwards, hardly anyone is volunteering like in the first days. So even the earthquake as a motivator wears off. The same could be true for the constitution-writing process in Nepal. Maybe it had created a movement once, but eight years on, it does not anymore.
- After the movement withered, people will still say that the issues they were in a movement for once are still near and dear to them.
- What makes people drop out of the movement (and in effect, what lets the movement wither) are the requirements of daily life. Needing to earn a living, needing some chillout time to keep healthy, needing to keep up social relations. Especially the "earning a living" part is eating people's time and energy that they would still want to invest into social movements. Instead, people leave the field to paid full-time staff who should care about all the social issues. They're called politicians, but this model usually does not work out that well …
- What would fix all this is an unconditional basic income. It would allow social movements to be sustainable because people will have time to invest for this. But politically, that's some years away though. In Nepal, it's also economically some years away because it needs efficient economies of scale in order to feed and supply for the people who will be freed from immediately productive tasks when introducing basic income.
- Given that we can't have basic income for everyone, then maybe for some at least? There are money-based crowdfunding platforms that try to achieve this in different areas. Like Byline for crowdfunded citizen journalism. Or GratiPay for open source software development and arts patronage. However, donateable money is limited in Nepal, and in the precarious subgroups of societies it's limited everywhere on the world. And these are the ones who need social movements the most.
- However, while money is limited, everyone has some excess time, space and other resources that they would agree to donate for the benefit of social movements. The "public goods" offer type on makerfox.com allows this. It's basically moneyless crowdfunding for the common good, granting some people a compensation for caring about the issues they care for, and thus making their efforts sustainable.
- With such "basic income" for some people some of the time, at each time maybe 10% of a population could invest themselves nearly full-time for social movements and other ways that contribute to the public good. This can include fixing public infrastructure, reclaiming and maintaining public spaces, researching and writing what their supporters want to know about, lobbying for certain political changes etc..
- In countries where it is acceptable and widespread to use locally produced items, supporting social activists via network bartering is easily possible. For example in Nepal, where nearly all running expenses can be covered with local goods (homegrown food, homemade furniture etc.).
So maybe we have a somehow sustainable and active underground movement of Edgeryders in Europe because there is enough excess capacity so we can afford it there? In the sense that living cheaply in Europe leaves a lot of free time to invest in social movements, while living cheaply in Nepal is simply a necessity for a lot of people? If so, then we really need a sustainability mechanism like the one above to support social movements in Nepal!