The not-so-basic plan: the family transition center as a testing ground for appropriate technologies

Based on this discussion, I am seeing a possible opportunity. It works like this:

  • @gracia, @Ndelo_Peter and @Christina_Jordan want to establish this family transition center. They seem to appreciate the kind of cheap "hi-lo tech" popular with edgeryders because it provides relatively simple solutions for Northern Uganda, which does not have high quality infrastructure. 
  • @Marc, @LucasG and many others in the ER community are fascinated by the same tech, but we don't have many opportunities to deploy them, because we do live in areas with high quality infrastructure. 

so, why don’t we repackage the family transition center? It could double up as a testing facilities for cheap, open source tech. We could try a sort of technology transfer (Vinay teaching peoplehow to build hexayurts; Marc, same thing but with solar trackers; Lucas with health care, etc.); at this point you guys would do some sort of serious field test, actually living in hexayurts, actually getting your power off solar trackers etc. We could then document the results of all this testing, and use them to improve the technology.

I think there would be the following advantages:

  1. we change the narrative. Suddenly, this project can be seen under two angles: a more traditional humanitarian one (helping dislocated refugees) and an open innovation one. The ladies using the center are also recast, from violence victims to technology experts. 
  2. and this unlocks a second stream of funding, at least potentially! 

What do you say?

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toward a commitment of intent?

Alberto, I love the idea of expanding the narrative and creating opportunities to host hi-lo technologies. The kind of possibility you point to encapsulates everything that has motivated me to pursue collaborative approaches to development all these years. Thank you for giving your time to thinking about this project’s potential with us.

I would mention that in recent weeks Peter and Grace have been reaching out to their existing network of international allies, who bring strengths in a number of additional areas like child development, agriculture and women’s issues. A specific request in that outreach effort has been to come onboard in the project description (for which we’ll all raise funds) with a commitment of intent to participate in programming at the Family Transition Center over the next 2 years. The strategy here is to get LifeinAfrica’s allies onboard with an impact-vested and social-capital-vested interest in the crowdfunding campaign’s success.

That request has been framed as follows:

As we get ready to now raise start-up funds for constructing the center in time for the next planting season in July, we are reaching out to all of our allies around the world to ask for support on two different levels:
1.    Commitments of intent to plan a visit to the new center in Kitgum sometime in the next 2 years to bring knowledge, services and support activities that can serve our members and the surrounding community. 

Xx would you consider committing to work with us on this Northern Uganda project?  We cannot offer funding for this to happen, but we would be thrilled to host you and to work with you to gather the kind of targeted community that would most benefit from what you have to offer. If you’d like to be a part of the Family Transition Center, we’d love to include a link to [your organization] in the project description on our start-up crowdfunding campaign. 

Those interested in participating at that level have also been invited to join us here in helping to shape the project (we think at least two - Beth and Biplab - may be in the approval/set up process now, and I will reach out to some others again today).

In that broader context, [Alberto], what if we framed the expansion of the narrative that you see Edgeryders potentially bringing in terms of simply getting a commitment of intent from members of the edgeryders community to work with the center in hosting (and finding funding for) hi-lo technology trials over the next 2 years?  That would give us plenty of time to continue work out details, while making sure we get rolling with raising a budget to meet the urgent need of buying land and getting at least 2 buildings up by July.

Can you see the Commitment of Intent formulation working? [Ndelo Peter] & [gracia] does this make sense to you? I, for one, am very excited at the possibility of what could unfold here.

(P.S. the Ci2i Global team has committed to working with the center to have #cocreate16 hosted there)

I had missed this!

Who. @Christina Jordan I was just about to send you an email to ask you whether you had read my post above, it seemed strange that no one would reply! Sorry about that, my bad.

Ok, look. The unMonastery experience tells me that it is reasonable to make that sort of commitment. It is probably easier to do it as a community than for individual edgeryders – many of us travel often, but rural Uganda is a more advanced kind of travel. We can launch a discussion on that; just now we are rolling out a spectacular social media team, and I am sure that [saidhamideh], [Daniel Vaarik] and [Dorotea Mar] will find this sort of stuff quite exciting to communicate.

But I was actually thinking to make a personal phone call. You know how we are working with UNDP. I actually saw some UNDPers retweet this post in the past days. I would be happy to drop a line to the people we work with, asking them if they can connect us with their colleagues in Uganda and see what they think. No promises: it’s not like we have any power, we simply feel it’s OK to ask.

But to do that, I need to know that there is a willingness to engage on the Ugandan side: without @Ndelo Peter and @gracia on board, I am just another crazy white guy to a seasoned development worker in Africa. And honestly, I can’t blame them. We at Edgeryders can probably help with the lo-hi tech part, but we don’t have much to offer with respect to the core of your project – running the family center.  So, if the Uganda office were to say “well, we are listening” it would be mostly you guys form your end running the show, though we are happy to do our part, write documents, participate in conference calls, that sort of things. What do you think?

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Missing notifications?

Hi Alberto - a technical aside which I’m sure belongs somewhere else, but… tagging doesn’t seem to be working, and I also missed that you had replied. Wondering also if my Ugandan friends are receiving dozens of emails from edgeryders per day like I am (I can’t seem to be able to check the opt-out button in my notifications settings, and am not just getting stuff from groups I follow but from everyone - people and groups I don’t know - which makes it very hard to find anything.)  Trying not to complain because I know you guys have a lot on right now but I know what their bandwidth is like in Uganda and worry that all this combined could be serving as insurmountable barriers to their input here.

As for UNDP I think it would be GREAT to connect with them once we’ve actually got the center built. Being an institution and all, I would not want to rely on that kind of relationship for meeting the ladies’ target of having the center constructed by the beginning of the July planting season. There is urgency. As for what happens once the center is built - yes absolutely! UNDP would be a fabulous partner and I think they would be very interested in exploring a support role to this kind of alliance.

Right now there are many moving parts coming together - the Ugandans are working on a video for the fundraising campaign, and we’re also working on campaign text drafts, images, etc. plus there are some other allies who’ve tried but not yet managed to get onto the platform here so we’re also having conversations with them, as well as with startsomegood. All just to say, more is moving than meets the eye :slight_smile: I will reach out to peter and grace to see if they can respond here.

Troubleshooting this

Hello Christina, tagging / mentions do work actually, I just switched the system to @mentions (with auto-suggestions now). Type @ followed by the start of a username and see what happens below the editor area. I adapted Alberto’s post accordingly. Unfortunately, it does not work with usernames with spaces in the – have to fix that the next days.

Re. notifications, try going to your notifications settings and click the 28 “Following” buttons behind all the content listed there that you follow. It completely unfollows you from this content for the time being, so that it does not appear when reloading that list. If that helps to prevent the e-mails, potentially something about the “Send e-mail?” column there is not working. Would have to investigate then.

Note, when posting any content to a group or post, the site currently makes you follow it. So you might have to unfollow again if there’s indeed sth wrong with the “Send e-mail?” feature currently. (It could be, since I did a big software update recently …).

We don’t mean to create problems!

Hello Christina – whatever works. I did not mean to create any extra problems for your project by making it unnecessarily complicated. By all means, you guys do your thing; if you think ER can help we will give it a shot, if not it’s cool!

Not at all!

Didn’t mean to imply that at all Alberto.

The ER involvement as you’ve framed it would be awesome, but it’s all pending that the center actually comes to be.

Please think of it simply as phases, not either/or.

It’s all good :slight_smile:

Christina, we both know that timing is all-important in this stuff. Plus, I was serious! I am not in the least offended, far from it. The least thing I want to do is to slow down people actually trying to make stuff happen. Do you thing, we are not going anywhere. If and when the time comes, we’ll deal with it.

testing new tagging method

@gracia @Ndelo Peter perhaps tagging you will work now (thanks for the tip @Matthias)

Can the two of you reply to @Alberto’s suggestions above please?

The Not- so - Basic Plan


I must begin by saying sorry for not being very active in the past few days, I have had a series of personal problems to deal with, am at least able to be with you people here now. It really was not intended to ignore what you have been suggesting and posting here, far from that!

Going back to the point, I feel that all that you have been coming up with,means a lot to us, we really would be very willing and happy to move this forward. Our only concern here is, so long as we have the center up and running, anything can be done there, after the two huts have been built, we obviously will need a permanent building( bricks with iron sheet tops) to have all these kind of activities take place, this would again call for more funding to have a proper working area for all that we plan to do ourselves and/or with edgeryders and other partners who would like to join us at the New center to help shape the new north! With all this in mind, we are hopeful that we shall all join hands to see all the different stages of development in this project, i know there are many phases but together we can move them all forward. We on our part are now working on the video and contacting our allies to get involved as Christina said before, so if you do not see us so much here , we would be dealing with the obove and occassionally coupled with lack of power(electricity) on our side.So please do bear with us.

Thank you everyone for contributing to this discussion.

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Commitment of intent wiki started here:

This might help you to see where this is headed


I don’t know if it would be better to get commitments from individual edgeryders or develop one from edgeryders community as a whole. Shorter is always better, so the latter option would work best on that level, but there may be other factors to consider. What do you think, [Alberto]?

on drawing board once more

Our campaign @htt:// just ended two days ago, we made a great progress and this shows how committed and keen people are in seeing this happen.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in one way or the other to push it that far.

However the tipping point was not reached. This does not mark the end of our goal.We plan on setting up another campaign immediately, we would like to see our ladies move back swiftly home without being displaced again. 25 years ago, they were made to leave their homes without picking even a cup to drink from  on their journey. They have been living in hardship for all these years, now very soon , they will face the same fate, this time trecking back home to their villages.This has been the sole reason why we have  set up this campaign, they need a landing site from where they will finally trace their cultural land , some of them may not even be having that land anymore , with all the wrangles  that has been going on throughout the region.Others may end up having the transitional village as their final destination.

This therefore calls for a joint force to make this campaign work, very soon another link to the campaign on startsomegood will be communicated here. We can help in different ways, sharing on our facebook pages, twitter and any other social network that we have our friends and allies. Also we shall need some help in the development of this, as we are still quite new in this online campaign and any assistance towards this , will be highly appreciated.

As we have said before, this could in future become a big hub for different activities for different people. So let’s help develop this together.


Push on!

Sorry you missed the tipping point, @gracia, but in the end what matters is the will to push on. Our offer stands, though I appreciate you may have other priorities now.

we shall carry on

Thanks Alberto, we actually still have same goals , though we have set it a bit lower this time, nothing will change , all that has been planned will continue being so, the only difference will be that we intend to go a bit slow and raise funds in smaller bits so that we can have more phases than we had planned before.Maybe just buy land in the first phase and then look for funds to build the huts, maybe this is where we shall already need assistance from you people towards the trial buildings that was talked about earlier here. I do think that with more heads put together, it will not be as difficult as it seems right now. So let’s just begin planning together from this very beginning.

special request


As I have written here before on our new attempt to relaunch our campaign we could not reach our tipping point and I think that we just needed more people to join us in spreading the word . So a mistake once made, becomes apoint from where to start again. We are trying to reach the people who supported us in the last campaign and getting positive results, but we need some more support here for the discussion bit of things, we shall be directing them here for ideas on the development of the center and if we keep the conversation here active,  it will help them understand more about what our plans are and give them a feeling that we do have a great backing here, with people willing to work with us on this cause. thus my humble request to all of you here, please spare 2 mins and drop a note here to help keep our supporters engaged and maybe a tweet or sharing on your facebook wall would create a really huge impact. Thanks for all your support!