UNDEF update

Ok so @nadia this is rough and really just bare bones that are in the process of being more deeply scoped and set up but should do. Thank you so much for gauging with Gina.


I think @alberto has set the context well as a starting point. Additionally / in other words, I see the project responding to democratic opportunities in four areas:

  • environmental and infrastructure management through community led citizen science and biohacking responses
  • the burgeoning fablab/ living labs/ social entrepreneurship/ smart city fields by incubating women practitioners and fostering inclusive workplaces towards a gender equal/ democratized labour market
  • access to knowledge, knowledge production and autonomy in the context of digital neocolonialism, where the development of “Smart Africa” calls for a response from empowered citizens in the face of increasing monopolies driven by Western capitalist interests
  • civil society decision-making and governance models that respond directly to the needs and cultural specificities of each community rather than unsuitable or exclusive “democratic” models


Develop a MENA regional network of female changemakers in the citizen science, livinglabs and smart cities fields that responds to an already male dominated labour market and cultivates opportunities for grassroots governance of local resources

This could look like:

  • Establish a fellowship program for young women leaders in the MENA region that will offer mentoring and resources to coordinate a protoype citizen science initiative

  • 1 - 2 fellows will be chosen from Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, countries where Edgeryders is currently establishing its OpenVillage network and therefore will have resources and local collaborators available

  • Strategic, collaborating and grassroots community partners will guide and support each fellow and their community teams through the following stages:

    • Situational and stakeholder analysis and project co-design
    • Establish grassroots community partners across fablabs, living labs, co-working spaces
    • Data gathering on local environment and infrastructure using citizen science tools
    • Knowledge sharing, community management and coordination of responses on the ER platform
    • Undertake biohacking response projects that address the findings of the data gathering
  • Underpinning these stages will be ongoing:

    • skills development workshops for the fellows
    • analyse of the collective intelligence on the ER platform through Graphryders
    • community consultations across the local civil society networks
  • It is intended that at the end of each initiative, the findings - as an open data - will be presented to local governments and decision-makers by Edgeryders and its local strategic partners, with the intention of fostering an ongoing government supported program

In summary:

Data gathering provides

  • Access to training and skills development
  • Platforms for dialogue, visibility, mutual understanding and social cohesion across the horizontal and vertical axis of the community
  • Data on local community, ecological and infrastructure needs

Data informs

  • Autonomous response projects led by community members
  • Policy makers and other decision-makers

Responses provide

  • Access to training and skills development
  • Opportunities and visibility for women and youth leaders
  • Increasingly inlusive fablabs/ social entrepreneurship/ smart cities labour market
  • Conservation and development of resources
  • Strengthened civil society through community collaboration


Overarching strategic partners

  • MENA and civil society
  • MENA and gender
  • MENA and smart cities/ social entrepreneurship

Collaborating partners

  • Women training and mentorship
  • Citizen science
  • Biohacking

Grassroots partners

  • Fellows
  • Open Village houses
  • Living Labs/ co-working spaces

Current partners being explored

Other potentially relevant stakeholders


Oh and Sample Advisory Board

  • Nanjira Sambuli – researcher, policy analyst, advocacy strategist and Digital Equality Advocacy Manager at the Web Foundation (digital colonialism, gender equality, policy)
  • Cindy Regalado – University College London (citizen science, collaborative network infrastructures)
  • Malika Hamidi – theorist and activist (Muslim gender studies, policy advocacy)
  • Beth Simone Noveck – GovLab (digital governance, public interest)
  • Michel Bauwens - P2P Foundation (open data, commons, peer-to-peer networks)
  • Baram (Ramy) Kim - Open Oakland/Code for America (open data, smart health)
  • Rachel Aronoff - Hackerium (researcher, educator, biohacker)
  • MENA civil society / policy TBD
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Clarification. I am using “partners” in the EU consortium sense. A partner is a legal entity that has formal responsibilities on the project, and the budget to carry them out. In this sense there cannot be more than 3 partners in a project this small, because adding partners adds to the overhead. Even 3 only works if we are firmly in the lead and manage two thirds of the budget.

For the others, we need to get creative (buy a membership? co-opt a person from the entity on our project board?). And selective.

sorry I am so late to see this!
I fully support the idea and hope there will be some way to really participate!!!
I have experience in putting together proposals, participating and managing multi-partner big EU projects, and look forward to helping!

Hi @rachel thanks for piping in. You’re not at all late to this so nothing to worry about! We choose to openly plan our projects but this is still very much in early stages. We had positive feedback from Nadia’s meeting, and Alberto and I will be moving forward on the application (which is due in just over ten days). It’s wonderful to hear you have such depth and breadth of experience and I’ll certainly keep you in the loop - for now your enthusiasm is more than enough, so heartfelt thanks.

I think this is an excellent focus.

It is I who should be apologising, Rachel. You would have received a formal invitation from Anique – this is why I wrote “Rachel” instead of “@rachel”. On the other hand a little clumsiness is the price of the radical openness of planning one’s moves in broad daylight, on an unrestricted web forum, so hopefully you will forgive us.

just one more point: if water quality is really the main goal, we should try to also get some chemistry collaborator(s), in order to look into other elements besides microbes, like lead and arsenic, which are of great concern.
I would love to find a DIY lead detection method!
no need to apologise, Alberto!

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Thanks for your input @rachel, that’s kind of you, and excited about your excitement. Alas water quality is not the main goal no. That is a key example @alberto gave when summarising the latest project idea (I was unavailable to provide the initial summary to Nadia at the time).

While citizen science and biohacking are two key mediums (as will be community dialogue sessions), the main goal is to: [quote=“anique.yael, post:6, topic:7797”]
Develop a MENA regional network of female changemakers in the citizen science, livinglabs and smart cities fields that responds to an already male dominated labour market and cultivates opportunities for grassroots governance of local resources

While the project is evolving in response to UNDEF updated priorities (eg. gender) and deeper research into the context, if you haven’t already feel free to read my initial concept note linked above to get an idea of the overall strategic vision. Appreciate your care and input - feel free to share any other ideas or insights at this time :cherries:

yes, I see… the big research aims are supported by doing real actions (like community water quality monitoring)!

Exactly! :blush:

@natalia_skoczylas Thanks for your reflections and offer of support in terms of merging big picture Edgeryders’ objectives!

So further to your and myconversations elsewhere, we’re at a point now where the concept has been simplified and has had to be locked in. With the grant due in under a week and partnerships still being brokered, as well as vital problematizing of the democratic context in the region, we’ve needed to really hone in on what this project is focusing on.

Which means that we’re not in a position to incorporate OpenVillage Festival 2019 into the UNDEF project proposal specifically (that’s not to say that - as mentioned - OpenVillage as a project isn’t being weaved in). BUT :cherries: incidentally what you’re talking about in terms of storytelling is super aligned with some side conversations and movements of thought around Edgeryders and the dilemma of storytelling and media that I’ve been involved in with @nadia and @unknown_author (yipppeeee). Perhaps we could include this as a talking point in the OpenVillageFest call scheduled for next week (see here) for those interested) and see what strategic maneuvering we can do to get more support (in addition to the potential AdvocateEurope grant idea)…? For example, I’ve been thinking VICE Impact could in fact be an option worth exploring… Whatcha think?

I’ve read the guidelines, tried to access your document (waiting for approval;)) and I think the best idea at this stage is not to duplicate offers - especially because your concept already looks good, but also because for me more important at this point is finding the funds for the next OpenVillage Festival. What I could offer is help with writing the part about the festival in 2019 (as the funds come too late for the festival next year anyway) which we could include in the application - if that would be of interest.

The second thing I could add to this is based on our idea with @alex_levene to experiment a little with the stories we have on the platform (and those we don’t have here yet) - and focus on storytelling and journalistic aspect of edgeryders. If you’d like to see that as an addition to the application, for example, a production of zines, or other visual and/or literary media as a spin-off from the project, I think we could also help working on it. I’d be especially interested in storytelling workshops delivered by women from MENA region to their European friends, finding interesting and suitable modes of preserving and presenting stories.

This way we could offer support based on the projects we would for sure like to concentrate our energy on in the future.
Let me know if it makes sense @anique.yael and @alberto if you find it useful - for now, the application is very brief, but I could assist a bit with the vague idea for the first submission and then join for the second stage as well.

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Edgeryders and the dilemma of storytelling

I’ve moved the conversation that is emerging around Edgeryders and the dilemma of storytelling to campfire here to not get it confused with the UNDEF project and to allow more voices to chime in.

Remind me to show you how topics can be forked on Edgeryders. :slight_smile:

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The UNDEF application has just been submitted!

Supporting local women to champion a citizen science network across the Arab States

This project mobilizes women, community members, social innovators and regional partners to build a citizen science network in the Arab States. Driven by a fellowship program with female practitioners, it provides training and knowledge sharing platforms to engage in credible scientific research, broker partnerships, build awareness and propose solutions. Through independent, peer-to-peer innovation it opens space for an inclusive labor market and collaborative sustainable resource management.

Warm thanks for the background support. Please reach out if you’d like any more details.



@anique.yael Thank you for following up and posting a summary of what was submitted. Sorry, I am so late to this thread. What is the best way to stay in the loop on this, with the aim of providing support where I can (Ie. Feedback on plans/outlines or anything else that comes up)?

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@shajara A pleasure to connect with you here and thanks for your interest and support!

In terms of what’s next - I see two key things:

  1. I’m continuing to foster connections across our networks in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco in the hope that we can move slowly forward with a citizen science network in the region regardless of the outcome of the UNDEF funding. For example, I’m here in Medenine for the Social Innovation Camp and already have one young extraordinary female biological engineer now interested in setting up a biohacking lab in the city after two conversations with @noemi and I!
  2. We wait. The UNDEF process is a slow one and should we get shortlisted we’ll find out in May or June. This will then see us engage in a deeper scoping and project proposal process when I would certainly be looking to people like yourself for your insights, perspective and expertise. If we’re successful we’ll be able to start the first stage of the project September or thereabouts.

So let’s keep in touch?!


@anique.yael Yes, let’s definitely keep in touch!

I will keep this project in mind and connect anyone in who I think would be a good fit in the mean time :slight_smile:

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