Tomorrow I hope to overview the many small projects by which we're helping
UK online communities thanks to Mornflake cereal http://www.mornflake.com
and their online video contest http://www.mornflakecompetition.com
I suggest one "electricity" project that would show how our communities
might work closer together thanks to Mornflake's support. And this kind
of project might lead to more support in the future from other sponsors.
I'm thinking in terms of an economy of dreams. We have different pieces
of the puzzle that might fit together. I will infer some of our dreams,
and look forward to interviewing us regarding them, but it would be great
if we might write them ourselves in our letters and posts and we might
organize them at our Worknets wiki pages.
Graham Knight dreams (I think) of people in Africa providing for
themselves and developing their regions by selling useful, simple and
inexpensive technology such as the DIY Solar for recharging mobile phone
batteries. There are social challenges, why won't people start such
Marcin Jakubowski dreams (I think) of villagers being independent of
mass-scale industry and being able to build their own tools and energy
sources for creating everything they need to live and thrive. There are
technological challenges and so much to do!
Vinay Gupta dreams (I'm guessing) of resilient solutions by which
everybody can address their basic needs. There are mindset and heartset
Wendi Loshe Bernadette dreams (I'm guessing) of women being free to shape
their own destiny. There are social challenges and poverty.
Samwel Kongere dreams of a rural life that is attractive and gainful so
that people don't migrate to the city to look for work. He has land and
would like to develop his home as a center for alternative technology.
There are challenges of time, commitments, knowledge and resources.
Franz Nahrada dreams of global villages that are centered around
knowledge, mastering it locally and sharing it globally. There are
challenges of scale, of inspiring people and of showing real progress.
I myself dream of a knowledge of all things that informs a culture that
encourages people to dedicate themselves to their dreams, and especially,
to apply their creativity. I have challenges of how do we all make a
living? and how do we learn to care to include each other and help each
I note two projects that might further our dreams because they address key
1) We've spent a year trying out Graham Knight's DIY Solar for recharging
mobile phone batteries and it seems like a very practical technology. Our
African participants haven't demonstrated the aptitude for selling these
solar panels as a business. I suggest that we practice setting up such
businesses so that we can develop and share business skills. These skills
are essential if we're going to do larger projects together.
2) We need to be able to generate electricity in rural Africa, for
example, to supply ICT centres but also power all manner of machines.
There is a shortage of solutions, but especially, solutions that don't
depend on sophisticated engines that must be purchased and brought in from
afar. Marcin Jakubowski is developing a solution that can make us
technology producers instead of technology consumers. He is exploring how
solar power can heat water to create steam, and steam can then run an
engine that can produce electricity. He is showing that much of this
equipment we can build or adapt ourselves.
If we develop our business skills with 1), then we can invest in each
other and develop our technology skills with 2). Because some small
investment will be needed. But its pointless to invest if we don't care
to develop our business skills.
A major challenge that we have is that we're not skilled at sharing our
opportunities and resources. I'm trying to show that the work that Minciu
Sodas is doing to promote Mornflake and their online video contest, is an
opportunity for us to work together. Mornflake benefits if we open
channels between our projects and our communities, because if they are our
friend, then we might share their messages, too. This makes sense for a
lot of companies and we might find a lot of resources if we are skilled at
working together and reaching out to others.
It would be great if Vinay might meet with Graham, learn of his
technology, embrace that and encourage that in his work with Africans as a
sound first step in working together. I appreciate Graham's persistence
and I believe that the obstacles he notes show that we need to think
broader and learn more about people's situations, that even though they
may be surrounded by hardship, but that doesn't necessarily motivate them
to have business skills. (It is strange to see entrepreneurship as
commonplace in some parts of the world like India, but not in Lithuania or
perhaps Kenya.) I believe that if we value the importance of DIY Solar
for learning business skills, then we can make the investments of time and
resources to work together. But such an investment has much more value
for me if Vinay, Marcin, Franz and others appreciate that and consider
that an important dimension of their dreams so that I can show to others
that indeed they are relevant to each other. Appropriate technology must
go hand-in-hand with appropriate behavior.
With Vinay's (and Marcin's and Franz's and Graham's) encouragement (at
Global Swadeshi and other online venues) I can encourage (and fund, thanks
to Mornflake) such small projects. They can include helping our African
partcipants develop business skills through DIY Solar, and taking first
steps to explore Marcin's electricity solutions.
I conclude with an observation from our Mornflake work. I have sent a lot
of money to Samwel Kongere, Dennis Kimambo, Fred Kayiwa, Josephat
Ndiablema and William Wambura to help as online assistants. They simply
weren't able to help very much because their Internet access is to slow
and unreliable to participate at the forums. Sasha Mrkailo in Serbia,
Masimba Biriwasha in Paris, Thomas Chepaitis in Lithuania, Jeremy Mason in
Missouri were able to do the work because they have broadband access.
It's not very effective for me to pay somebody in the West $20 per hour
for such work. Yet often they can be very helpful with just a few hours.
And my interest is always to build our assets with our resources, so I'm
interested that we have as strong of an internal economy as possible. My
conclusion is that it's very good for us all each time we can trade a
US/WesternEurope person's time as an online expert and an African's time
in on-the-ground projects. And I believe that even small on-the-ground
projects in Africa or elsewhere can add great value to the reality and
attractiveness of Marcin's, Vinay's, Franz's vast projects. So I
therefore also ask for our teamwork because that can justify me sending
more resources to Africa.
Can we find ways to work more closely together? (I think we have this last
month and I thank Mornflake and Leon Benjamin
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