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Letter of Support and Two Suggestions

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  • Janet Feldman
    Dear Andrius and All, Fantastic project...huge congrats!!! And wonderful seeing great feedback from Benoit (YES, leadership training and democratic
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 29, 2008
      Dear Andrius and All,
      Fantastic project...huge congrats!!! And wonderful seeing great feedback from Benoit (YES, leadership training and democratic participation do need to extend to both genders!), Peter Ongele, and all who have given it.
      Below is my letter of support, and hope it is helpful. I also have two other things for your consideration, Andrius:
      -Villages crush (sometimes tend to "quiet" independent thinkers), but four or five of them can transform their village. I think "crush", especially as a generalized term, is too harsh. I understand what you mean (ie independent thinking vs group-think), but I would suggest softening that phrase a bit.
      -Lead Social Networker and Research Director ($50,000 per year) prepares our proposal, takes responsibility for our deliverables, travels from hub to hub to get them started and to help them grow, establishes a methodology for investigators, coaches hub leaders to apply this for concrete projects, writes a handbook for investigators, organizes online community, designs an online environment, organizes business opportunities, absorbs any failures.
      Andrius, while I think $50,000 is reasonable for all you are proposing to do, I also think it is too much to ask for in the context of so many micro-grants, for one, and also because donors do NOT like to fund "admin". That seems very counterproductive, because someone has to administer the projects for which donors do like to give grants, but it has been our experience (KAIPPG et al) that many donors only want to fund the projects themselves (which is why we are all largely volunteers! :)))).  I would suggest asking for $30,000-35,000 at the most, and $25,000 would be better, albeit a hardship in some ways for you.
      With greatest thanks and excitement, and blessings to all, Janet

      Letter of Support
      (You do not have to answer all of the questions!)

      Your full name:  Janet Feldman

      City and country where you live:  Barrington, Rhode Island, USA

      Contact information: email, phone or other ways of publicly reaching you:
      kaippg@..., #401-245-5520

      What is your deepest value in life that includes all of your other values?
      I believe in a holistic view of life--encompassing self and other, thought and feeling, contemplation and action, unity and diversity--and in an inclusive and integrative approach based on this outlook.

      What is a question that you don't know the answer to, but wish to answer?
      I would love to create a better quality of life--indeed a better world--for all beings on or of the planet, by which I mean human beings, animals, the natural environment. I hope to devote a good deal of my life to answering even a tiny portion of the questions I have related to how to go about doing that.

      What would you like to achieve in the next three years?
      I would like to learn how to balance caregiving for an aging parent with time spent on my own work. I would like to work individually and in groups of people on creating and implementing projects that make a real impact on people's lives. I would like to work to ensure that women and young people have a fair share in any sustainable-development policies, practices, and outcomes. I would like to work towards greater gender equality, less violence and conflict of all kinds, more practice of peaceful conflict resolution and ways of addressing differences peacefully and creatively. I would like to ensure that women and young people are less vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, violence, trafficking, and all forms of human misery. I hope to be helpful in terms of lessening poverty and hunger, by increasing the ability of people to generate an adequate income and "grow" (figuratively and literally) more food-security for themselves and their communities. I would like to work on projects related to the restoration and preservation of the environment, and I hope to ensure that humans and other species (forms of life) alike can live better and healthier lives, free of abuse and harm. I would like to work on projects related to arts, media, and ICTs, as I believe that creativity and all forms of communication will truly help to save the world, one painting or radio program or email at a time!

      When and how did you learn of Minciu Sodas?
      I learned of Minciu Sodas from a friend, Joy Tang of the oneVillage Foundation (www.onevillagefoundation.org), about five years ago.

      How have you participated in Minciu Sodas and how have you grown and benefited by participating?
      I have been active in writing letters and engaging with members online, and in projects at member locations, for about five years. I moderate one of the forums linked to Minciu Sodas, Holistic Helping, and in that forum we most recently worked on a project related to conflict and peace in Kenya, called the Pyramid of Peace. I have benefitted greatly from being involved with so many dynamic and dedicated members in/from all parts of the world; from our discussions and even divergences of opinion and viewpoints; from our mutual work together as well as the ability to develop as an independent thinker.  Participation has helped me to expand my own skills, capabilities, hopes, and dreams, while at the same time allowing me to be engaged with other people in such a way that I hope I have contributed to their growth, capabilities, hopes, and dreams as well.

      What challenges of agriculture in Africa would you most like to help with?
      I already work on a project in Kenya related to women, agriculture, and technology (connected to my own nonprofit), which I helped to design and also implement and expand. I would like to do further work along these lines, including with young people. The project I work on now--and which I would like to link in some way with the one that is the subject of this grant--uses various and mostly "lower-end" ICTs (radio, mobile phone, film and photography) to help women learn more about agiculture and nutrition, expand their already-activated capabilities, share with one another and unite for greater effectiveness and support, gain access to credit, and support their families (the project is predominately composed of women farmers who are HIV/AIDS-affected in some way, including widowhood).  A similar endeavor with four other nonprofit partners centers around the use of distance-education and ICTs to address poverty, nutrition and food-security, environmental education, health, and education issues.  So my focus would be to expand on this integrative approach, in projects helping women to become better farmers and healthier, happier individuals, the better to create stronger families and communities, and ultimately nations (let alone a better world!).

      Which food stories would you like to collect? and how might you share them
      so they have the biggest impact?
      I would like to assist KAIPPG Kenya (www.kaippg.org) and our related partners and colleagues to collect stories with a focus on women, in particular women who are the breadwinners of their families, and are themselves HIV/AIDS-affected in some way. These stories would be shared as we have done in our existing projects:  via listening groups (radio) and sharing circles (in-person gatherings), photography and film, on websites and in eforums, among our international partners, among individuals and communities in the local areas, and also at the national level. Adjunct ICTs and media trainings could help more women to record their stories, while establishing a series of kiosks in outlying and remote areas would help to bring these stories to people who otherwise might not hear them. Radio would also have this result, as so many people do have radios and listen to them for a variety of purposes, even if they have no other means of communication with the outside world. These food stories could be shared with organizations at all levels that address food-agriculture-nutrition and related issues, and hopefully this would lead to greater visibility of the stories and people behind them, as well as generating support for these individuals and communities, and for the "best practices" these stories often represent.

      How can you help us reach out and include women?
      I have a worldwide social network of women, women's organizations, and nonprofits who focus on women that I can tap into for this project. In addition, I can post to forums of all kinds, and ask my own networks to reach out to their friends and networks, in this way reaching a much larger number of women. It is imperative to reach women in the rural areas who have no Internet connection and indeed zero to little literacy, and this would be one of my primary concerns and goals, including translation of materials into local languages (both print, for those who can read, and audiovisual, for those who cannot).

      In the next three years, how would you like to participate at Minciu Sodas, especially if we win this proposal?
      I would spend a good part of my time doing outreach and networking, hoping to gather food stories and also help women to establish gardens, generate incomes, and learn more about numerous topics, from nutrition to microcredit. I would hope to reach out to all parts of Africa, and ask those I link with to do the same. I would work with the rest of our members to find ways to expand and scale up whatever research projects we choose to concentrate on, and I will be most eager to find ways to integrate research, activities on the ground, and policy-making as well as policies, as numerous conferences and studies on the subject have indicated that current "disconnects" between the three areas make for ineffectual responses to poverty (in agriculturally-based communities) and HIV/AIDS, the twin scourges of rural development in particular. From these studies and meetings, it is clear that the links between poverty, HIV/AIDS, gender, agriculture, nutrition, and food-security are imperative to address. There have been numerous calls for the gathering and dissemination of "best practices" by individuals and development organizations at the grassroots, as no such systematic approach has been taken, whereby those in the field can study what works and what does not, where it works and does not, and what more is needed, or what other approaches might be more effectual. I am hoping that our food-story project might serve such a purpose--to bolster other research, if not carve out its own unique place in this field--and I am eager to help make this happen.

      What are organizations and networks that you would involve and how?
      I would want to involve KAIPPG Kenya (www.kaippg.org), the Kenya-based headquarters of KAIPPG International, my own global nonprofit, and also my international arts coalition, ActALIVE (www.actalive.org),  whose members address subjects ranging from HIV/AIDS to peace to sustainable development. I would also like to see involvement of GRASSUP NOW (Grassroots Underpinnings:  Poverty (alleviation), Nutrition (improvements), ODL/ICTs, Women), a five-party nonprofit coalition in W. Kenya, whose members--including KAIPPG--address the theme areas mentioned, focusing on distance-education and the use of ICTs to address challenges associated with rural development. This coalition is supported by The Commonwealth of Learning (www.col.org), who might be interested in the project currently proposed by Minciu Sodas. I have been involved in organizing two Africa-focused agriculture/nutrition, food-security, HIV/AIDS, and sustainable-development conferences in 2006 and 2007, and I would be interested to speak with--and hopefully enlist--some of the partners with whom I worked, including CTA, Vetaid International, Project Concern International, WARDA/CGIAR, and others.
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