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Social Agriculture, Pioneers Of Change, Cyprus-Israel-Egypt-Turkey

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    I share our Minciu Sodas laboratory s news with our working groups and various individuals who I would like to meet in my travels to Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 23, 2006
      I share our Minciu Sodas laboratory's news with our working groups and
      various individuals who I would like to meet in my travels to Cyprus,
      Israel, Egypt and Turkey. Andrius Kulikauskas, http://www.ms.lt, ms@...

      I am glad to announce three major projects that I and our Minciu Sodas
      laboratory are starting. In each case, we're still working out the
      details, but I ask that we think how we might participate:
      - Greg Wolff is arranging funding for us to bring life to a "wikipedia
      for our food supply chain".
      - The Pioneers of Change http://pioneersofchange.net, a community very
      similar to ours, are paying me and our lab to help with their website.
      - Thanks to Franz Nahrada, I have received European Union funding to
      travel to Cyprus for a meeting of his MIR Learning Partnership, and then
      I plan to travel onward to Israel, Egypt and Turkey.

      I will need our help especially with Greg's very ambitious project and
      opportunity. Here is the social goal:

      "Publicly accessible, factual information regarding the source of
      products, especially a cultural products, benefits everyone. As a
      customer, if I know that chocolate bar X was grown in the Ivory Coast by
      a plantation and employs children and uses pesticides, and I know that
      chocolate bar Y was grown in Ecuador by a community cooperative using
      organic methods in an old-growth rain forest, I am in better position to
      make a choice between X and Y. (Similar arguments apply to other
      players in the supply chain.) Closer to home, Farm X and Farm Y. Both
      farms run a CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture). Customers of
      farm X report that they get fresh produce every week. Customers of farm
      Y report that their produce is spoiled when they receive it. Farm Y
      benefits from getting truthful feedback. Potential customers benefit by
      getting better information."

      We will collect factual information about the actual production
      processes and also personal stories about how the process impacts people.

      He's funding us for 6 months to bring this to life. Our job is to
      achieve critical mass so that it can keep building momentum, and in
      particular, to figure out the economic angles that would help this
      resource grow and thrive. Greg's personal role is to investigate
      "business development for social enterprises, e.g. making connections
      between people and doing the experiments so that everyone can learn what
      business models generate the most (relationship) value for all

      My job is to organize this in a way that would be exciting to all who
      might contribute and invest themselves in this public resource. Steve
      Bosserman has agreed to be our living expert whose value of "social
      justice" , vision of "social agriculture" and experience as agricultural
      knowledge broker will inform everything we do. Please join us at our
      lab's working group Social Agriculture
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/socialagriculture/ where we will
      coordinate our work together.

      Our plan is to start up 6 teams and showcase one each month. Here's how
      I imagine it. Each team will investigate the connection between a
      value, a crop and a technology. They will start with a particular value
      they care about that agriculture might nurture, such as Peace or
      Learning or Helping or Health or Friendship or Sustainability or Faith,
      the list is endless. There mission is to find the crop/food whose
      cultivation/processing is most nurturing of that value. And then to
      show how one or more "global village technologies" can support that
      activity so that the crop and the value thrive together. In this way
      we, each month we can highlight a value, a crop, a technology. This
      will help us decide which farmers we might most want to reach out to so
      that as we invest ourselves we build our profound social network. My
      hypothesis is that we'll find each crop/food plays a special role in our
      society that we might come to appreciate. For example, here in
      Lithuania I think that flax is closely linked to collective work, or
      even romance and song, because of all the stages of manual work to
      process the flax. Or I imagine that we might find a particular crop
      that is especially helpful in pointing out the value of Solaroof or
      timebanks or wifi or video bridges. I think we might bring out the
      story in food so that we get to know our "food mind" just as we are our
      "money mind". In this way we won't think of the foods as "cash crops"
      but as social concepts that connect us to each other, near and far, and
      to nature. I think we will find a special role for foods like
      chocolate, coffee, tea, but let's see how and why they connect us.

      Our budget is $2,000 per month of which I will take half and give half.
      I imagine each team will have:
      - One coordinator responsible overall who will earn a $500 stipend for
      their work.
      - Four field agents who will assist and receive $100 each, much as
      Samwel Kongere has.
      - A small team of evangelists who have related values and/or
      technologies that the team might advance.
      - A larger group of supporters and contributors.
      Each team will strive to exceed the following targets for our online
      - An active community (hosted by one of our working groups).
      - 10 personal stories
      - 300 producer profiles (verified, factual information regarding producers)
      We will receive and share a substantial bonus for each team that meets
      its targets. Also, I will set this up so that we're also maximizing our
      resources by using community currency much as we did last year with the
      Chocolate project.

      Furthermore, we will take this opportunity to look for all manner of
      additional work and funding. For example, Andrea Mills of Italy
      Innovation Lab is very interested that we do such work to help, for
      example, tomato growers in the Piacenza region. Steve Bosserman and
      Greg Wolff will also be exploring business opportunities.

      We're officially starting October 1st. It would be great if each of our
      working groups might host one team. Please speak up at your favorite
      group! and please know that I and our lab have great freedom to shape
      this opportunity so that we might channel into it as much energy as we can.

      I note that social networking - reaching out to "independent thinking"
      farmers, processors, sellers, buyers, enthusiasts - is what I think will
      make this endeavor a "fruitful" investment for us all. So it's
      extremely important that we consider, what are our values that we'd like
      to showcase and organize around? what are the investigatory questions
      that we care to explore? Our human interests are what I believe will
      allow us to collect information in a way that encourages engagement and
      discourages manipulation.

      I will be creating very simple software for collecting and showing such
      information. It will be a questionnaire-driven interface to Helmut
      Leitner's ProWiki software. Our work will be in the Public Domain. As
      we collect information we will think how to make it available in the
      most engaging ways. In particular, we will work with Kevin Jones of
      http://www.xigi.net whose new interface helps social investors discover
      where they would like to invest.

      I look forward to synergy here with our second big project which is
      maintaining and expanding the online world of Pioneers of Change
      http://pioneersofchange.net Nancy White, very possibly the world's
      greatest online facilitator, helped bring us together. Pioneers of
      Change is a global learning network for young professionals who get to
      know each other to make real change in the world. They are especially
      strong at global travel and have a good team in South Africa. I am
      starting by upgrading their Plone content management system with help
      from their system's creator Sean Legassick. Then I think they will set
      their priorities for the functionality they most want, starting with
      member pages that are integrated with member content, and I will work to
      meet that, hopefully with technology that we can also use. We've
      started off well and this may be the beginning of a successful journey
      to create a shared culture with other networks, as Dante-Gabryell Monson
      is suggesting, and as we've written at Back to the Root
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/backtotheroot/ We've spoken about the
      significance of the Public Domain and also the usefulness of a software
      system for helping our networks show our availability for various kinds
      of work. We've also spoken about the possibility of hiring our
      colleagues in Africa and elsewhere to respond to individuals in Pioneers
      of Change when they need help with certain aspects of the system. We
      were excited to learn that Leonard Boniface of Tanzania is in both of
      our networks! Indeed, Maria Agnese Giraudo of Italy recently traveled
      to Tanzania and is helping Leonard Boniface, Helen Mahoo and William
      Wambura of Tanzania work with Samwel Kongere of Kenya to provide web
      design services locally. I see our own need for online assistants and
      so have been thinking in the above two projects how they might work for us.

      Finally, thank you to Franz Nahrada, leader of our "global villages"
      working group http://www.globalvillages.info, for including me and
      Minciu Sodas as a candidate for the MIR Learning partnership
      http://www.dorfwiki.org/wiki.cgi?MIR that links adult education and
      local development. We're delighted that Lithuania's Socrates agency
      which was not friendly to our lab's approach during the ERDE project is
      now supportive and indeed we can participate directly. I will be
      attending their first meeting in Cyprus on October 12-16, most likely
      flying on October 7th and staying for almost two weeks. I will take
      the opportunity to spend perhaps two or three weeks in Israel (and, if
      conditions permit, Palestine and Jordan) and perhaps four weeks in Egypt
      and a week in Istanbul, Turkey on my way home. This presumes that I can
      find good Internet access so that I can do my work, so if not, I will
      return straightaway.
      In Cyprus, thanks to Markus Petz, I look forward to connecting with
      people who seek nonviolent resolution of the split between the southern
      Greek and northern Turkish sides. In Israel, I hope to participate in
      Yehuda Stolov's Interfaith Encounter Association
      http://www.interfaith-encounter.org There, and especially in Egypt, I
      am interested to organize Islamic independent thinkers. I would like to
      find people who are directly interested in God, imagine his perspective,
      listen to him and work together with him. I believe that if we could
      find such people, then we could develop our faiths further and discover
      within them ways to consider and share absolute truth. I have been
      working steadily on my own investigation "to know everything and apply
      that usefully"
      http://www.patternlanguages.info/wiki.cgi?UniversalLanguage/Overview I
      am curious where I could find Islamic thinkers (or Christian or Jewish
      or others for that matter) bold enough to think fresh about all
      matters. I'm finding the Islamic concept of Ijtihad ("independent
      opinion or judgment") very helpful
      http://www.loving-god.info/wiki.cgi?Ijtihad and also the world's oldest
      university Al-Azhar University is a reference point for both the
      orthodox and reformers and those in between
      http://www.loving-god.info/wiki.cgi?AlAzharUniversity I have a Ph.D. in
      mathematics, so perhaps I could be invited as a visiting scholar?

      As I travel, I hope to find members for some of our new working groups:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/socialagriculture/ led by Steve Bosserman
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fightingpeacefully/ led by Eluned Hurn
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lovinggod/ organized to foster God's
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningfromeachother/ led by Pamela McLean
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ethicaldesign/ led by James Ferguson who
      is hosting our work to assemble the pattern language movement and to
      promote author Nikos Salingaros's book "A Theory of Architecture"
      http://www.umbau-verlag.com and we have a special regard for Islamic

      There is so much work to do! So I am glad that it encourages me to ask
      for our help. In particular, I ask our working group leaders, where
      possible, to host a team for our work for Greg Wolff to make our food
      supply options transparent. I am imagining that a good team to start
      would be one on the value of Peace and centered at Eluned Hurn's working
      group Fighting Peacefully
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fightingpeacefully/ Eluned will be
      traveling soon with John Rogers to Sri Lanka for the peace march, much
      needed there, and I will be likewise in the Middle East. So I think the
      connection between Peace and food is a natural place to start. What is
      the food of peace? Hmm, perhaps it's water?

      Thank you to all for "caring about thinking", which is the value we
      share as independent thinkers. Please help us welcome all who join us
      at our Minciu Sodas laboratory for serving and organizing independent


      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      +370 (5) 264 5950
      +370 (699) 30003
      Vilnius, Lithuania
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