We're back! 8th Futurespotters meet-up

So, after a rather long break, we’re back on track. Yesterday we had our 8th futurespotters meet-up. The meet-ups were initiated after the first Spot the Future workshop in Georgia in April 2014. The purpose of that workshop was to connect people doing interesting work in the local social innovation/hacktivism/tech scenes with their peers in Edgeryders, an international community of 1800+ people in 40+ countries.

One of the issues identified at the workshop was the need for civil society groups to work more closely together on common goals. One of the ideas developed was a bi-weekly meet-up where individuals, groups, movements, NGOs, government officials, could share their ideas/projects/plans and ask for input, and other the hand, offer their skills.

After 7 inspiring meet-ups, we had a ‘small’ winter break, but yesterday the first of 2015 was held!

So, what did we discus yesterday?

Mariam Tabatadze was present for the first time, she joined the government’s development innovation team a week ago, and one of her main wishes is to work on their website, to make it accessible for blind people. It would be great to get her in touch with the young guys who are developing an app for blind people, @Ninutsa_Nanitashvili or @Boris, would you have their contacts?

Mariam mentioned IT specialist Beka Goziashvili, who consulted the ministry of interior with their website, and how he would like the media to depict people with disabilities differently.

Mari Rost was also present at the meeting. Mari is an English Language specialist who has been wanting to change the textbooks used by the Georgian government in the school system. According to her, it would be great if there would be English textbooks that 1. have Georgian explanations in them (in order for children with basic to no kknowledge to learn English easier) and 2. which address social issues in society - such as traffic problems, tech/programming, etc. She has been working on the textbooks herself, but really needed some input from other people. Uli and Mariam advised her to first come up with a good ‘business’ plan, to show how these textbooks would be different from what already exists, and after that get in touch with the ministry of education. As Uli said, there have been many great projects, but if a ministry does not feel ownership over a project, it is almost always doomed to fail. If anyone has contacts in the ministry of education ( @Khatuna ?), please share :).

Uli will have busy year because of climate change projects at the Ministry of Environment. Also, there have been public events, but people don’t seem to know about it. In addition, a project he has been working on was green loans (environmental issues) with Kiva and Credo, he didn’t promote it too actively but want to do it soon. He now would like to set up a facebook group, similar to the english movies group, where people can share issues related to environment: movie screenings, protests, anything environment related.

Inge mentioned new plans at pedestrian rights organisation Pekhit to set up a membership based association. Uli is very interested in this, professionally as well. He argues that transformation impact is very important, “we need to get people away from their private cars”. As a small country, Georgia could be laboratory, initiate something and have lessons learned from it. But the plan the gov currently signed, Uli argues, doesnt even mention pedestrians or cyclists. Climate consultants developed this plan, but they left out the pedestrians and cyclists because they don’t have emissions…

Advice Uli had for Iare Pekhit:

  • tbilisi-bristol are twinned look at this! Look at environmental cities, what are they doing for pedestrians. There will be a couple of events in the future, and if civil society is involved, then local people are.
  • Make a best practices booklet, what are other cities doing. If we can get those international people as well, especially germany, it would really help to change their mind.
  • Tbilisi-Saarbrucken partneship will be interesting. Mayor meets Mayor, head of fire brigade meets etc, but also create meeting between civil society groups – partizanebi in touch with guerilla gardening saarbrucken etc. 

Uli wants to get more in touch with tbilisi city hall, because there are all these initiatives (which are not coordinated), dutch-estonian, dublin-tbilisi,

He also argued that there needs to be more coordination also in donor community, but this should be a task of tbilisi city hall. Tbs city hall needs 1 coordinator for environment and 1 for green areas, but the problem is that there are different projects, with different people, and it’s not working. Also there is no person for international coordination, and uli will try to find out more about this.

Inge will ask @Elene_Margvelashvili who her contacts are at City Hall, as this could be good for Uli as well.

Unfortunately, @Khatuna, @HeatherY@Ninutsa_Nanitashvili and @Elene_Margvelashvili had planned to attend the meeting as well, but due to last minute changes and sharp deadlines had to cancel. Hope to see you all, including @Boris, Nika D., and @ericnbarrett, next time!

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Almost there?

So happy to hear from you guys,

I’m intrigued, it seems that with someone like Uli working in the ministry (that was my understanding when we first met, hope I’m not mistaken) and Elene being a well reputed environmental activist, you’d have the main pillars to move forward somehow because you have access to information from the other side, especially what constraints are there for all those working on essentially the same goal… The city hall could use a consultant like Elene or her team :slight_smile:

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though it’s funny that uli asked elene for contacts in city hall, as he had no way in there :)))

Great news, well done!

I am in Ethiopia now, and you can see how walkability is a huge issue. Addis Ababa is… not very walkable, and that makes a large difference in how livable it gets. I do hope you manage to get the issue high in the agenda of Tbilisi policy makers. Good luck!

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I wish i had been there !

Hey there, great to see new wave of Edgeryders arriving to Georgia again! I really wish i could have joined you that day, seems like you discussion has been quite interesting, as usuall. As for the points i could help with:

  • I will definitely connect Mariam to students who are developing Blind Cam prototype, a wearable device that should make usage of smartphones easier for visually impaired. They are doing it voluntarily, with using their own pocket money for prototyping, would be really great if someone could support !
  • In June my article about  "Digital Revolution - Accessible for all"  was published in Georgian tech magazine ZETI, where i discussed several Accessibility projects and  APIs, including Bling Cam. You can see link here. Full article is only in printed version, but i can send electronic if anyone is interested  (Its in Georgian though)
  • It's been several months since I'm teaching one visually impaired girl how to use Facebook and make blog. It's been quite challenging, but very interesting adventure for me, since i never had such knowledge or experience before. Most rewarded feeling is now to see Esma being active on my wall across my Facebook friends... During this time i've learned some about screen-readers, accessibility APIs and supplementary devices, so if anyone is interested I'm more than happy to share. Plus with this and other experiences in the past,  I have been inspired with several project/platform ideas and would also love to discuss those with Mariam and anyone else sharing the same passion ! 

Good luck to all of us in endeavors of 2015 !





For some reason I completely missed your reply! Did you manage to get in touch with Mariam?

Thanks a lot!!


For some reason I completely missed your reply! Did you manage to get in touch with Mariam?

Thanks a lot!!