Starting a working group; Pamela McLean for MyFoodStory
- Samwel, Markus, here is a link for how to start your own working group at our
Minciu Sodas laboratory:
Pamela, What a wonderful letter, which I share with Steve Bosserman's working
group Social Agriculture http://groups.yahoo.com/group/socialagriculture/
That's our main group especially for coordinating our teams for MyFoodStory.
You're welcome to join by sending a blank message to
email@example.com and you can set your settings to
get email or not, but at least your own emails will get through, which is
I'm very glad that you will help us include people separated from us by so
many divides: Internet, literacy, language, worldview. It's remarkable, the
kind of content that Samwel Kongere is providing, but it will be likewise
wonderful to get the combinations of photos and captions that you have
suggested. Please also, let's think how we might involve our high-bandwidth
online community around the world. I plan to dedicate 3,000 USD in bonuses
(should we win them) to back a community currency for our efforts. So let's
consider what kind of help might be best. But certainly we need help to
collect directory entries (as we're doing at http://www.myfoodstory.info - I
will work further on our interface this week) and to take some of the content
from on-the-ground (text, captions and/or photo) and make web pages from that
which our friends (including CAWD, KAIPPG, One Village and many others) might
host at their websites.
Greetings from Nablus, Israeli-occupied Palestine, where I think I will have
success in starting up a team (although it may be very good to have an
experienced online organizer such as Markus Petz). Indeed, perhaps
"meaningful inclusion" is relevant here? And I'm making steps forward in
organizing a team in Lithuania. So our teams are:
- Samwel Kongere, soyabean and more at Rusinga Island, wifi Internet
access,willingness to take risks
- Jeff Buderer, farmed fish, integrated farming and waste management,
- Pamela McLean, poultry, multiple-bandwidth web interfaces, learning from
each other, Nigeria
- Markus Petz...
- Lithuania... perhaps homemade cheese
- Palestine? India?
My goal is to flesh out more of our web interface (to show how the Directory
of excerpts leads to a Repository of original material and a Registry of
official websites for presenting our stories). And then to look for new
clients, both for food related work but also for story related work more
generally. For example, I want to write a proposal to Steve Cayzer of
Hewlett-Packard, interested in the semantic web, about how we could variously
organize the tags for our stories (geographically, by human values, by
profession, biologically, technologically,...) and also how we can use (and
reuse!) that subjective content to support all manner of objective
Nablus, Israeli-occupied Palestine
> Send me the information for styrating aworking group.
>Pamela McLean <pam@...> wrote:
>As a result of our recent Skype conversation my understanding of the My
>Food Story project has changed - and I am hoping my present thinking is
>in accord with yours.
>This is how it seems to me : -
># The project is one where product and process are equally important.
># The obvious product is the stories about food.
># The other product, arguably more valuable, is what we learn about the
>process of working together to create the food stories, and the
>structures we develop as a result.
>To me, the attraction of the project lies in exploring the processes and
>improving them. I was not sure if Cawdnet's systems for gathering
>information were robust enough to join in the My Food Stories project -
>but now I see that exploring the process is part of the project I feel
>more confident in saying we will join in. I will do my best to deliver
>stories about poultry - and as we do so we will also be looking at the
>systems we have used to gather, and share, that information. Working
>together will give us a chance to learn together and develop better
>systems for future collaboration. This makes the project very attractive
>to me. I hope the Food Stories that we gather will also prove useful in
>I am not sure how our approach will fit in with the targets you
>described. However if we succeed in meeting targets we get a bonus - so
>I will try to understand and fit in with the structures you have in
>mind. I am not sure how they relate to our limited access to the
>Internet. I was expecting to do grassroots work in gathering local
>stories to share with you. I was not expecting to do any Internet based
>research. I need to clarify my understanding on what is expected in that
>direction. If we fail regarding targets then at least we all learn
>something about the problems related to the process and can aim to
>improve them for next time. I am excited at the prospect of enabling my
>friends in Africa to join in this project and hope it will bring
>benefits all round and lead to long term relationships and better flows
>of information. .
>A shared understanding of the networking system I shall be using may be
>helpful at this stage.
>Things have changed a lot since 2000 when I was first involved with
>development in Oke-Ogun - through my friend the late Peter Adetunji
>Oyawale. In those days communication between his present home in the UK
>and his family and community in rural Nigeria was difficult. There was
>no communication infrastructure "back home" like the infrastructure we
>used in London.- no Internet, no phones, no reliable postal service.
>Our options were limited.
>Peter could phone Mr "Baba" Adetola - a successful business man, who was
>like a father figure - (hence "Baba" - as I understand it ). He has
>since been made a chief. Chief Adetola lives in Ibadan, which is the
>Oyo state capital, but he also belongs in Ago-Are which is Peter's home
>village in Oke-Ogun, in Oyo State. Chief Adetola has a wide ranging
>social and business network, and well established communication
>strategies within it. He was making his network and influence available
>to Peter to build his community project. In the early days of the
>project he was the only person we linked with who had a phone. Phone
>calls from UK to Ibadan were expensive, and were in Yoruba not English.
>Chief Adetola speaks little English. This was no problem to Peter of
>course - but later there was a language barrier challenge to be
>overcome. After Peter's death Chief Adetola and his network formed the
>foundation for my continued involvement in rural Nigeria.
>Back in 2000 we could also send letters (and some small packages) by
>courier. Formal courier services are expensive, but we sometimes had to
>use one to send something urgent.(I don't imagine courier services reach
>out to rural areas - we only send to cities.) Usually we'd send by
>informal couriers. If we heard through the grapevine that a friend of
>a friend had plans to travel home to Nigeria we'd make contact then
>hurry across London to hand over our message or package.. Peter had
>another strategy too. He told me that he would go to Heathrow airport
>to find someone who'd take the message for him. He explained to me how
>the benefit of tribal marks could come in - tribal marks are the
>patterns of scars that some Nigerian have on their cheeks. If you
>recognise tribal marks it is almost as if people are wearing labels on
>their faces saying which area of Nigeria they are likely to be visiting.
>Peter said he could simply find someone with the right tribal marks and
>ask for their help. If he was lucky they would get his letter to the
>right part of the country.- near enough for the next stage of the
>informal courier system. The next stage involves going to the
>motor-park (a kind of bus stop) and asking one of the drivers who is
>headed in the right direction.to take the letter further on. To maintain
>communication between the UK and rural Nigeria we have had to be
>creative in overcoming communication infrastructure problems. Cawdnet
>has always been driven by the need to communicate, so we use whatever
>means are available - the boundaries of the Internet are too restrictive..
>Things have moved on dramatically since 2000. Now there are cyber cafes
>in some of the large towns as well as the cities, and there has been a
>rapid spread of mobile phones. It is even possible to hear ring tones
>out in rural areas, in the darkness around a cooking fire. However there
>are still big challenges. There are huge differences between the
>practicalities of "having a phone" or "having access to the Internet"
>when I am here in the UK and when I am with my friends in Nigeria. I
>hope Cawdnet's involvement in the Food Story project will help more
>people to understand about those differences.
>My personal network has also grown since 2000. I never expected to go
>to Nigeria, but Peter's sudden death changed that. In 2001 I went to
>Nigeria for the first time - to attend his funeral. As a result I got
>more involved with "his" people - which is how the network now known as
>"Cawdnet" began. It is that network which I shall be using for the Food
> Samwel Okech kongere
> Nyamuga primary school
> P.O BOX 191,
> MBITA 040305-KENYA.
> Cell: +254 725 600 439
> FOSS ADMIRER
> Community Development
> UDOGO youth development group-coordinator
>Mortgage rates near historic lows: $150,000 loan as low as $579/mo.
- ms@... wrote:
>I'm very glad that you will help us include people separated from us by soAndrius
>many divides: (snip) it will be likewise
>wonderful to get the combinations of photos and captions that you have
Please be aware that the things we discussed regarding possible methods
of collecting the Food Stories were only ideas I was tossing around -
not firm plans yet.
Various facts prompted my thoughts about photos and captions. The facts
are that many of my contacts are not happy with the written word. David
Mutua for example often reminds me that he and other contacts come from
oral rather than written cultures. Also they do not have English as
their first language. When I collect information in Nigeria my contacts
usually prefer to speak to a video camera rather than do any kind of
writing for me. When David has sent me a few photos with captions, I
have felt better informed than I would have been through a written
report. (It's the old "one picture worth a thousand words" thing.)
However, although I think people would be "more comfortable" just
putting captions to photos things are not that simple. Getting photos
taken and emailed to me is more difficult than getting simple texts sent
by phone or email, or arranging a yahoo chat. Also, it is a matter of
providing equipment. ( I have been advised against my idea of buying a
camera phone for the likely team member who is currently phone-less)
I still hope to include some photos and captions, and I believe that,
culturally, that approach would be easiest for "my team". However we do
not just have culture to consider, we have other issues such as costs,
available equipment and existing skills. It depends exactly who decides
to get involved. Nothing is certain yet about how the stories will be
Given you are interested in the process as well as the product I will
try to keep you updated on these issues.