Organizing our teams for www.myfoodstory.com
- Note: I share news from the Minciu Sodas laboratory with our friends at
Solaroof http://groups.yahoo.com/group/solaroof/ Perhaps this is a
chance to work together? Andrius, http://www.ms.lt
Thank you to all for wonderful letters that have gotten our work for
http://www.myfoodstory.com and Greg Wolff's vision off to a great
start! I'm quite energized!
I share my view of the big picture for our work.
This is a fantastic example of paid work that we're doing to serve a
client who is also willing to "meet us halfway" regarding our own
interests. Indeed, my own work is primarily to manage that meeting
halfway. Therefore I've focused on connecting three different angles:
- Crops, which is what the public can connect to, and so our client
- Technologies, which is what our "independent thinkers" care about,
because they represent helpful innovations.
- Values, which is what I care about, because that is how we can hold
together a wide variety of people, and they are our asset.
It's my job to give shape to that connection:
- Make sure that the public can think about the information in terms of
particular crops on their mind, which is also why we're featuring one
team per month.
- Make sure that our "workers" (for free and/or for pay) are able to
think about this in terms of technologies they'd like to introduce,
advance, develop and promote.
- Make sure that I as an organizer am building our lab in terms of
values so that all of our activity has long term significance and
My own personal goal is that our lab's culture might grow stronger while
we double in size (if possible) every year. I think with this project
we have ample resources to do this. In practice, it means that by next
summer, I'd like us to have 200 to 300 writers and 2,000 to 3,000
readers, whatever the venues might be. We've had good success these
last few years organizing discussion groups around leader's key
concepts. We'll probably grow from 15 groups to double or even triple
by next summer. We'll also look for new kinds of venues including
wikis, databases, blogs, chats, conference calls, streaming radio,
podcasts, and more. I also would like us to have strong activity in at
least a few languages so that we are truly multilingual. This all means
that we're not to think in terms of isolated groups but in terms of a
network of interconnected venues, each contributing it's dimension.
I have this in mind as we're putting together our teams (six teams for
six months, but we can think beyond that, too). Each team will have:
* A team leader who is responsible for investigating and presenting the
connection between the crop/technology/value, mentoring their field
agents so they might likewise act as investigators working from their
key concepts, developing some kind of project (such as a wiki, book,
database, network) that they care about which will be relevant beyond
the scope of their work, serving their host and others in the community
who care about that value and have related projects, and synergizing
with other teams. It's definitely hard work and underpaid ($500) - but
there will be bonuses for targets met (up to $500) - and it opens the
way for more work, and potentially, more funding by others for
essentially the same work. People who qualify for this position are
those who have demonstrated that they can be highly active and
constructive at our lab, which is easy to see from the volume of letters
at the pulldown for "thinkers" at http://www.ms.lt : Benoit Couture,
Jeff Buderer, Janet Feldman, Markus Petz, Dante-Gabryell Monson, Samwel
Kongere, Eric Schneider, Joy Tang all come to mind, where I'm listing
out those of us for whom such work might possibly be relevant
financially. Others who would like to are also very welcome, just
please show yourself through your activity!
* A host who leads the venue, the working group, where the work takes
place. This might be the same person as the team leader or not. The
host will be the touchstone for the "value" that we're organizing around
and that links with the crop and the technology. That value will be
their key concept or somehow closely related. The crop will serve as
their "symbol", the metaphor for unlocking the logic of their values.
The host will not be paid, but we'll be building their asset, the
working group, by assembling people there, but in particular, the
enthusiasts for the crop, which we assume will resonate with the value -
so we have to set all this up well so as not to disappoint! The host
will set the tone and think out loud and show what it means to
investigate, to explore, to personally inquire, and thereby lead. The
host may personally care for the "project" that will demonstrate the
vitality of the community, so that it stays in the group, or they may
simply host it until it is strong enough for its own venue. Possible
hosts include our existing working group leaders: Franz Nahrada, Janet
Feldman, John Rogers, Pamela McLean, Jeff Buderer, Eluned Hurn, Lucas
Gonzalez Santa Cruz, Christine Ax, James Ferguson and God. However,
Franz's "Global Villages" and Janet's "Holistic Helping" are doing very
well already and actually may be at their limit in terms of how much
traffic they could bear, in my opinion, and also they are both working
on a higher level (much like Direktorius as I do, linking up different
groups). So it makes a lot more sense for their groups to serve as
"gateways" where we can assimilate people into our culture and route
them to where they might be most productive when that's not clear from
the start. It makes more sense for our resources to help groups that
could use a boost of momentum, in particular John Roger's Cyfranogi,
Pamela McLean's Learning From Each Other, Jeff Buderer's Back To The
Root and Lucas Gonzalez Santa Cruz's Mejores Vias. We might also
conceivably start new groups around Markus Petz, Maria Agnese Giraudo,
Dante-Gabryell Monson, Tom Wayburn, Rick Nelson, Samwel Kongere, Shannon
Clark or others who might rise to the challenge, but especially in other
languages such as Lithuanian, Spanish, German, French.
* Four field agents who will earn $100 each. They will help the team
leader meet the targets and provide a variety of fresh input, especially
from on the ground and from their different perspectives. It's
important to understand their "key concepts" and encourage them to think
in terms of them. So our team leaders can suggest various people but we
should learn about their value, where they are coming from, so that we
could figure out the best teams for them to contribute to. And my goal
is that - as Samwel has - they learn to think in terms of their own
values and investigatory questions so that we could be personally
connected to them and they could also reach out to others and include
them in our culture. This is a relatively low pressured work as they
will receive the money upfront. It's also a chance for us to support
local clusters around the world.
* More people who we will reward with a community currency (probably
based on up to $3,000 worth of bonuses). And also with the help of the
team leaders, hosts, and myself, we will synergize with any project that
someone might bring.
Also, we have a coordinating group - "Social Agriculture" led by Steve
Bosserman - and Steve will guide us with his vision and his experience
will elevate our quality. Greg Wolff and Kevin Jones of
http://www.xigi.net have discussed having three working groups for:
- "technology" - I suggest as an open venue our working group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/workinginparallel/ for which I hope at
some point to find a leader with a related value
- "e-services" - this might be perfect for a group based on
"entrepreneurship" which Shannon Clark might lead
- "human services" - this I suppose can be pursued at Steve Bosserman's
So here's so far the teams that I envisage - and this will change
according to our suggestions:
I expect to have a team led by Jeff Buderer - as both team leader and
host - at his group Back to the Root
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/backtotheroot/ relating "farmed fish" and
"sustainability" and "George Chan's Integrated Farming and Waste
Management". Jeff, please think, what kind of long term project might
be most relevant to you (it would demonstrate the vitality of your
work). Thank you for recommending field agents. Please help learn of
their interest and what their key concepts on and whether they relate
closely to sustainability or they might better work for other teams. And
what month would you like to be featured.
Samwel Kongere will also lead a team, I imagine on "wifi Internet
access" and "willingness to take risks" and probably "coffee" or
"grains". Who might host his work? My first choice is Shannon Clark,
partly because Shannon would be active at our lab again, and mostly
because their values seem to be quite related, I think. Also, if we can
figure this out, we could feature Samwel right away. It's hardest for
me to find somebody for October before it slips away!
Dante Gabryell-Monson is a great networker and is interested in
chocolate. He's convinced me that it could be linked to "community
currency" and I imagine his wider vision of "Reference Mapping" which I
suppose are knowledge tools for nomadic thinkers. His value is
"fostering paradigms of innovation" and he would be building on the work
we have already done for Greg on chocolate. I think this would be great
to pursue at Cyfranogi if John Rogers is willing, and this is another
crop that we could feature in October.
Pamela McLean's key concept is "learning from each other" and she's done
a great job at getting her group going but we want to get more people
involved. There does seem to be a connection between her value and the
technologies that she cares about, which are the online interfaces that
can be customized for high bandwidth and low bandwidth people to work
together (such as Moodle or Tiddly Wiki by Jeremy Ruston who is also
working for Greg Wolff's UnaMesa Association). This all connects with
the work we've done on our proposal in 2003 to consider social
networking toolkits for marginal Internet access. What crop seems
related? Quite possibly chickens because they and their rapid life
cycle reflect the delicate and ever changing line between the human
world and the natural world. That would also open up connections with
preparations for possible pandemic flu if there is a mutation from bird
flu. So chicken farmers might ultimately be the people most interested
and able to know and learn and share the real facts. Then my question
is, Who might be the team leader? So Pamela and I thought of Janet
Feldman - if you might be interested, Janet - because your extremely
competent and it would make a great difference here in terms of building
Janet, if you were to host a team at Holistic Helping - which is a good
thought experiment - then we would want to find a crop that you think
brings out what "holistic helping" is all about (I think of something
like the olive tree, which in the Mediterranean was a foundation for
"civilization" because of it's great usefulness - for oil, soap, olives,
etc. Is there a comparable multipurpose "holistic" crop for nutrition,
medicine, economics, etc. in Africa? Soybean also comes to mind with
it's thousands of food products.) And also a technology that fosters
"holistic helping" (you mention "community radio" which makes a lot of
sense). That would be great! But I think that Samwel's values and
interests are in a different direction. I'm organizing based on values
rather than geography. Our different teams will be able to work
together locally on the ground, but it's important to me that each tune
into a particular value (such as "holistic helping"). Then it will be
more meaningful to look for connections between teams, how they can work
together. Also, you and Samwel are quite possibly our strongest
participants, and I don't think it makes sense to put our strongest
people together. It's better to pair each of you with somebody who you
can help grow stronger, and then have your two teams find ways to work
together. That's my strategy but I appreciate to hear more if you think
otherwise. My thought is that - best for me - would be if you might
work as a team leader for Pamela (if you'd take on this paid work, which
would be good practice for more in the future) - and then if you like we
could also have something close to holistic helping - such as
soybeans/community radio, but take that opportunity to build up a new
working group around a host of your choice, perhaps somebody in Africa.
In that case, you could work instead as team leader for that host rather
than for Pamela. Is my thinking clear? Also, I look forward to your
thoughts on the Chocolate project, what worked or didn't from your point
of view, that's important to consider. But as far as "Holistic Helping"
is concerned, I'm afraid that you're a victim of your own success, I
would be hesitant to put resources into a group that I think is at
maximum traffic (2 letter per day) for a subscribership with marginal
Internet access, when we could be adding a new group and multiplying our
possibilities for leadership and action. All of this to say that I
suppose we should think of your activity on a higher level as a
Direktorius and what that might mean, for example, as your role in
interlinking groups and moving momentum amongst them. That is my
concern - how to shift momentum from our most dynamic groups (like
Holistic Helping and Global Villages) to our less dynamic groups so they
catch on fire, too. Also, I'm interested if you might work for pay
because that might strengthen your situation for our work in the long
term, and also, maybe it's good to challenge you! Thank you for all
your devotion to all of us.
Markus Petz would be a great team leader - please write more about your
interests. I note your value "meaningful inclusion" (perhaps that
relates to "holistic helping"?) I think of you as an all-purpose
supporter. Also, it would be great if you might engage and include our
Benoit, please let us know if you might be interested to lead a team. I
would look to you to engage the French speaking world.
I would like to see a team to help us get going Eluned Hurn's Fighting
Peacefully, and perhaps related to "water". Chris Macrae is very
interested in clean water around the world.
It would be great to have a team that promotes Solaroof
http://www.solaroof.org Rick, what might be a crop that most profoundly
illustrates all the value of Solaroof or is basic to it? This would be
an opportunity for our communities to work closely together and towards
a shared culture of "active sharing". I note your key concept of
"Opening Ourselves to Direct Knowledge".
James Ferguson of our "Ethical Design" group notes the connection
between architecture and trees.
Franz, is there a food that best illustrates the value of video bridges?
I think we'll have a team from Lithuania, too.
On my mind now...
- Find a team for October!
- We have set up our wiki at http://www.myfoodstory.org, thanks to Jeff
for adding so much to it already!
- This coming week, create a simple questionnaire-driven interface for
editing our wiki pages.
- Start collecting data on producers at the wiki, and meanwhile thinking
through the data format that is relevant
- Think through how we might work together with Tiddly Wiki, Xigi and
Thank you to all for making this the great opportunity it is for us!
Janet, I share your letter - sorry for taking my time to respond!
+370 (5) 264 5950
+370 (699) 30003
Janet Feldman wrote:
>Hello Dear Andrius,
> Lots of great stuff happening in all forums, and the Food Story
> project is taking off!
> I'm sending this to you personally, because I have written 2-3 times
> lately abt this project, and Sam, but I see in postings that you have
> not mentioned Sam heading a team at HH yet--as per my
> suggestion--which I have indicated interest in, for several reasons.
> In Kenya, KAIPPG is doing just the kind of things you are talking
> about with kiosks, and we want to do and learn more. I would
> appreciate Sam and others doing this work at HH--or at least
> considering this--which we can apply in Kenya and elsewhere for the
> benefit of us all. I can also be helpful to Sam in this, even while
> not having time to "lead" the effort at this time.
> I do have some experience and linkage with agriculture-nutrition-food
> security (KAIPPG, GenARDIS, GRASSUP)--perhaps more directly than many
> at our forums (ie at the grassroots in a developing country)--and it
> seems like HH would an excellent fit for a team. I have tried to
> outline this is my letters.
> So a question is: Is there a reason why you have not mentioned HH in
> that regard? Besides not mentioning Sam at HH, you also didn't place
> me there when you asked abt me leading a team, so I'm wondering what
> your thinking is abt this. Any feedback would be great, and thanks
> for your thoughts and activities!!
> Blessings and best wishes for a bon voyage and exciting travels, Janet
> Hello Dear Andrius, Sam, Shannon, and All!
> Terrific notes, and thanks for the wonderful feedback on the Paul
> Prueitt posting
> at GV, Andrius, to which I will respond in a day or so. Exciting
> One question for now, and these forums: did you read my postings on this
> subject? I would very much like Sam to consider leading a team at Holistic
> Helping. This is part of what HH is about...I wish I had time myself
> now, but I
> do not. However, if someone else in HH does, then that would be
> wonderful, and a
> relief to me too, to give someone else the primary responsibility for
> a project.
> I'm happy if Shannon and Sam do want to work together, and I invite
> them to do
> so at HH if they like. It's also "OK" if they go elsewhere, esp. given the
> timeframe. I can definitely see where it will be great for Shannon to
> have a
> forum (working group) too!
> I just wanted to make sure I reinforced the idea that I would lik e
> Sam to lead
> the HH team if he so desires, and work through our group if possible
> there are others, like Kennedy-Benter-myself, with agricultural
> Because Kenya is such a close link for me, I think that could be a good
> connection re networking too.
> Thanks much and look forward to figuring out the way ahead on this! Janet