This text was written on impulse by @gazbee sorour, who works with UNDP Egypt, after the Spot The Future workshop in Cairo of April 26th. It is so beautiful and sincere that we (Edgeryders) decided to feature it as a blog post. Thank you Gazbee!
So instead of preparing and thinking long and hard about what I’m about to write, I decided to just go for it and let the words flow by themselves.
For the workshop in Cairo, I honestly had no idea what to expect or what the outcomes would be. I remember Nadia saying she was purposefully vague about everything so as to let everyone decide for themselves which path the workshop will take. And this notion of ‘minds wide open’ is definitely what led to the success of the two days.
The idea of just opening yourself to others didn’t seem like it could really be achieved in just two days, because it’s very hard to build trust. But it turns out that it’s not that you have to build trust first and then honesty follows, it’s actually the opposite…if you’re honest trust will be built quickly.
In Egypt, (and this is my personal opinion; which was also reflected by others at the workshop), skepticism and individualism are two barriers to collaboration. People tend to value their own work greatly, are generally skeptical of other people’s intentions and are afraid of losing grasp or control of what they’ve been trying to achieve. Therefore, collaboration is very rare, and if it happens it’s usually between people that already know each other very well, even though they may lack a lot of the needed resources, hence slowing the road to success.
But, what I discovered or learned is that why waste time doing things by yourself that you may not be able to handle, and look for others that have the capacities, expertise and resources that you lack and you can feed off one another to build something amazing. If skepticism is removed from the equation, people will really work together well and if you put your ideas out there, the one’s that are trustworthy and truly care for the cause will show interest. So simply, by sharing your ideas without any limits you’ll attract the right people. Collective action is key, and that’s why I chose to quote Nadia in the title for this blogpost because ‘…we have to remind ourselves that we can be giants together’ perfectly sums up everything i’m trying to say.
I think for me, that was the most important outcome from the workshop. To raise the idea of collaboration to truly have an impact on the society that you live in and care about. There should be no skepticism because at the end of the day it’s in the whole community’s best interest that we work together. I was also very surprised as to how all the talented and creative attendees were so open to changing their mindset, were honest, and are truly willing to work together.
It was mentioned more than once by different participants that they have forgotten how to communicate and that they’ve missed that feeling a lot and were happy to meet so many like-minded people. So as a follow up to the workshop, the first step would be communication. Don’t lose interest, don’t lose trust in yourself and others, and don’t wait. What we tend to do, is get so excited during an event, workshop or whatever and then completely forget about it. Trust in the fact that there are some people out there that really want to help, so stop wasting time and go for it. Everyone’s here on the platform for the same reason and intentions, so whatever is on your mind just put it out there and let the magic happen Also, take a look at what other people are doing and you might find something you never knew you’d be interested in and YOU could be of help to them, and you really can create amazing things. Finally, accept criticism because at the end of the day it leads to real improvement and impact.
Secondly, from an institutional perspective, I understand that a lot of people don’t want to work with institutions for their bureaucratic processes, top-down approach, and that they see little impact from implemented projects. But this is not necessarily the way things have to continue, and this is why we are taking part in this. We’re in a new era where citizens are realizing that monetary resources aren’t a necessity, there is no need to rely on big institutions and that we can just do/make things for ourselves with the support and resources of one another…and this is what leads to grassroot communities formulating such as on EdgeRyders.
But the truth is that we really want to help and genuinely care, if we didn’t we wouldn’t be experimenting with this new methodology and wouldn’t be here trying to reach out to you. We want to keep up and we really want to be part of the big changes happening in our societies. We want to work more closely with citizens who have the solutions to their own problems, because we won’t always know the answer. So many people are coming up with really cool and effective solutions for our deepest challenges and frustrations, and we need to put our ‘minds’ together to see how we can support each other. Collaboration doesn’t have to happen at the personal or individual level, but between individuals and institutions. I am certain that we will have resources and capacities that would be of great benefit, and vice versa. Therefore, we have to put our heads together and really think about how we can help each other out. We have to build trust with one another and COMMUNICATE. We believe it’s important for us to reach out to different channels and to those we normally don’t work with so as to widen the possibilities for great things to happen; this is what we’ve been trying to do!
As UNDP, we are open to any suggestions or ideas of what you would like to see happen as the next step, so please feel free to share any thoughts. We already discussed the possibility of replicating these workshops in different governorates throughout Egypt to spread the culture and to see what other ideas people have. But that will be in parallel to seeing how we can move forward with the already-existing participants in STF and finding ways in which we can support each other. If you need any help, know that we want to help you. We are here to learn from you, and we hope that you can also learn something from us.
I think it was more of a conceptual and mental journey for all of us, where we were reminded of things we’ve forgotten and learned about new things that we might have not believed in before or even thought about. We were reminded to dream big, and those dreams can become reality of we collectively dream. We changed our perceptions and mind-set of working individually and being skeptical of others, we learned that there are genuine and like-minded people out there who share the same aspirations, we learned to open our minds and ourselves to one another and that sharing resources, capacities and experiences will lead to faster and greater results. This is just the beginning of our journey TOGETHER, and we are excited to see where we go next! Don’t let the conversation stop!!!
P.s. Thank you Nadia for being passionate about what you do; very inspiring! and thank you everyone for believing in change, and contributing with your hearts and souls. Finally, thanks to Ice Cairo, Ahmed and Hazem for all their efforts in making this happen…awesome job everyone!!!