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Re: [vsojitoleervs] Sunday deadline for our Letters of Support!

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  • Pamela McLean
    Your full name: Pamela McLean City and country where you live: London, UK Contact information: email, phone or other ways of publicly reaching you.
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 30, 2008
      Your full name:
      Pamela McLean

      City and country where you live:
      London, UK

      Contact information: email, phone or other ways of publicly reaching you.

      What is a question that you don't know the answer to, but wish to answer?
      Now that we have the Internet how can we bring effective appropriate new learning opportunities to people, especially people who are badly served by existing systems.

      What would you like to achieve in the next three years?
      • Continue to build on existing practical work at Fantsuam to develop a self-directed local community of learning there (as an integrated part of ongoing community development,which includes the physical development of a new site, which can act as a test-bed and showcase of sustainable development).
      • Participants in the community of learning to be supported in their learning by a team of Learning Leaders (some local and some online), the learning emphasis to be towards relevant knowledge and skill development - not certificates for the sake of certificates.
      • Extend any successful initiatives that we develop at Fantsuam to other local communities of learning (such as the communities lead by members of Minciu Sodas) .
      • Help to increase the two way flow of information into and out of the local communities of learning, through the online community of learning.
      • Enable local expertise (from the local communities of learning)  to be shared through the online community.
      • Enable local experts to contribute to international debates and influence policy making - through free exchange in online forums or as associate consultants in paid projects.

      When and how did you learn of Minciu Sodas?
      I met Andrius Kulikasukus in London in 2006 having previously met him online, possibly thorough Janet Feldman.

      How have you participated in Minciu Sodas and how have you grown and
      benefited by participating?

      As leader of the LearningFromEachOther group and member of various other groups. I have developed my ideas and knowledge related to the Internet and learning opportunities, and have developed additional interests, new  friendships and a wider network. Through Minciu Sodas I have all the benefits that I associate with studying at an excellent traditional university (except for formal accreditation).

      In the next three years, how would you like to participate at Minciu
      Sodas, especially if we win this proposal?

      As an individual I would like to continue learning and sharing information and developing ideas through Minciu Sodas as I have done for over two years. As I am based in London I am interested in the idea of creating a geographical hub for Minciu Sodas in London and will raise that idea with people at The Hive in Brixton. With regard to providing information from Africa (Nigeria in my case) that needs to be done by local people so I could only do that through my role in Dadamac.

      As part of Dadamac I would like to increase links between Fantsuam and Minciu Sodas. I am keen to find appropriate working relationships with Minciu Sodas as a group, and with Andrius and other individuals as individuals,

      What are organizations and networks that you would involve and how? I am not sure now to answer this question because as I understand it Minciu Sodas welcomes relationships with individual independent thinkers rather than with organisations. As an individual I will continue to encourage new individual contacts that I make to join Minciu Sodas, so that they can take whatever role is appropriate.

      Any other comments?

      I don't think I want to seek an individual paid role in this project, because of being based in the UK, and the potential for cultural misunderstandings relating to payment. Money does not go very far in the UK. The cost of living here is much higher than it is in Africa, so any payment made to me would be worth much less, in real terms, than a similar payment made to someone based in Africa. Any money is probably better spent there in terms of the relative value to the recipients.  I am keen to support Andrius and his work, but it may be best if I focus on supporting this project in the ways that I can do without needing payment i.e. as part of my purposeful work, rather than as part of my paid work. .

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

      Your full name:

      City and country where you live:

      Contact information: email, phone or other ways of publicly reaching you.

      What is your deepest value in life that includes all of your other values?

      What is a question that you don't know the answer to, but wish to answer?

      What would you like to achieve in the next three years?

      When and how did you learn of Minciu Sodas?

      How have you participated in Minciu Sodas and how have you grown and
      benefited by participating?

      What challenges of agriculture in Africa would you most like to help with?

      Which food stories would you like to collect? and how might you share them
      so they have the biggest impact?

      How can you help us reach out and include women?

      In the next three years, how would you like to participate at Minciu
      Sodas, especially if we win this proposal?

      What are organizations and networks that you would involve and how?

      Any other comments?

      Proposal: Orchard of Thoughts

      Minciu Sodas is a worldwide community for independent thinkers. Minciu
      Sodas means "orchard of thoughts" in Lithuanian. We would like small
      gardens to be the concrete way that we come together around the world.

      Small gardens are revolutionary. Gardens flourish as activity centers in
      the "food desert" of Chicago ghettoes; commitments to sustainability in
      Silicon Valley; "nutritional resistance" in summer and winter for
      Soviet-occupied Lithuania; a first income for alternative farmers in
      Missouri; a monastic refuge in Austria; a laboratory where women are free
      to experiment to heal HIV/AIDS victims in Africa.

      Samwel Kongere, a Kenyan fisherman, led our Kenyan team for My Food Story
      http://www.myfoodstory.info He organized a Minciu Sodas regional network
      in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. We collected 500 stories on-the-ground with
      the help of participants in Serbia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Israeli-occupied
      Palestine, India, the United States and the European Union. We learned
      that our world's food supply chain makes for concrete stories that link
      innovations and human values. Our friendships moved us to respond to the
      post-election turmoil in Kenya with our Pyramid of Peace
      http://www.pyramidofpeace.net of 100 online activists supporting 100
      peacemakers, 1,000 volunteers on-the-ground engaging gangs, opening roads
      and saving lives. Public Radio International championed our innovative use
      of cellphone minutes for emergency barter. Our creativity embraces
      differences with human pyramids, community theater and peace caravans with

      Samwel now leads a center near Rusinga Island teaching ICT and
      entrepreneurial skills to 3,000 women. Janet Feldman and Pamela McLean
      inspire us to include African women. We want to absorb and apply RNRSS
      innovations which foster independent thinking, self-learning, appraisal,
      awareness, experimentation, conceptualization and investigation such as
      Farmers Learning (CPP07), Information Maps (CPH45), Improving ICT
      (ZC0205), Step Tools (R8402), Easy-to-Use Software (LPP30), Promoting New
      Farming Technologies (CPP34).

      We also want to act concretely. We have many farming interests including
      mushrooms, watermelon, beekeeping, cows and goats, bananas, beans,
      cassava, soybean, artemisia. Small gardens are puzzles of time, space,
      beauty, health, aroma, nutrition, economics, meditation, love and
      friendship. They are personal yet universal. We should experiment with
      Seeds (CPP69), Quality (R7528), Pest Management (R7449), Kale (CPP11),
      Certification (CPP64) and more.

      Villages crush independent thinkers, but four or five of them can
      transform their village. We come together locally as informal hubs of
      projects and guests, working towards "global villages". We want to
      establish our global network of rural and urban hubs by cultivating our

      How will clients benefit?

      We want to work with African women with small gardens in the countryside
      and urban areas. We wish to engage them as independent thinkers and
      together reach out further to include others. We will overcome barriers of
      language, education, poverty and sexism.

      Africans who participate online with us build relationships which lead to
      computers, video cameras, paid work, emergency assistance, and travel to
      conferences in Africa and Europe. Those who write daily about their
      projects grow as writers and thinkers as if they were attending college.

      We believe that women will benefit similarly even if they are offline.
      Imagine: Family and friends celebrate them online with food stories about
      their projects. They work as a team and get more help. They continue to
      experiment with their gardens, diversify their efforts, and discover what
      works best for them. They feed their families better and more reliably.
      They spend, return and manage a microloan. They may learn to write letters
      and emails. They may travel to the city and across the country as part of
      our network. They make international contacts through video bridges and by
      hosting guests. They grow as volunteers, citizens, entrepreneurs and local
      leaders as they stay active.

      How many people will benefit?

      We will grant 1,875 no-interest 50 GBP microloans to women. We will grant
      375 stipends of 100 GBP and no-interest 100 GBP microloans to
      investigators who coach the women. We expect that more than 1,000 people
      will enjoy this support as active participants of Minciu Sodas. Our most
      active participants may receive more than one stipend or microloan during
      the three years. We will also help 2,000 men learn enough about ICT so
      they can each contribute a "food story" about a woman in their family. Our
      projects will typically last six months and benefits of participation will
      be clear within one or two years. We will thus have many active champions
      of our culture.

      We expect 20,000 people in their families to benefit from the women's
      microloan projects and from their garden experiments. We expect 200,000
      people to benefit from services generated by the microloans and from
      produce grown in the gardens. We will inspire 2,000,000 people with the
      women's stories and ideas.

      Our online community in Africa and around the world will grow accordingly.
      We expect in three years to have 2,000 active and 20,000 supportive
      participants, a tenfold increase. We will have eight hubs in Africa and
      eight hubs in the West, each with at least 10 leaders and 100

      Impact and monitoring

      Our greatest impact is our culture of investigation by which we hold
      ourselves accountable. Social entrepreneur Andrius Kulikauskas, Ph.D.,
      founded Minciu Sodas in 1998. He will work on-site with Samwel Kongere,
      our rural hub leader in Rusinga Island and with Kennedy Owino, our urban
      hub leader near the Nairobi slums. Rachel Wambui Kungu will foster women's
      participation and Dennis Kimambo will teach community theater and other
      novel means of sharing innovations and results. We will then coach hub
      leaders in Africa and also in the West so that we link our lands with our
      investigatory culture and many small research projects.

      Each hub leader will coach 5 investigators who will advance their own
      research projects. Each investigator will work with five women who try out
      a relevant innovation, such as an RNRSS innovation. We will reward the
      women with 50 GBP microloans for their own projects so they might better
      their situation.

      We will make our projects and the RNRSS innovations understable as food
      stories. We will record whether the women validate the RNRSS innovations,
      who follows their example, how they use their microloans, and what
      projects our participants fund.

      Overcoming obstacles

      We enjoy success in Africa because we engage our participants as equals.
      We expect them to have a deepest value, an investigatory question, and to
      work for free in the Public Domain on what they wish to achieve. We
      thereby repel the selfish and attract those who care. We are then
      confident to provide them with 50 GBP of paid work even never having met

      We are able to share energy with each other as independent thinkers. Our
      care for their activity motivates them much more than any earnings, gains
      in productivity, or local opinions. Samwel notes that our "knowledge-based
      approach" transforms our minds so that we seek to learn in everything we

      We should reach out to the hard-to-reach, both the very rich and the very
      poor, so that we are all one human chain. We then value every person who
      reaches out further, but also those who hold us together. We plan to
      always have at least one "ambassador" from Africa work from our bases in
      the West, and from the West work in Africa, so that we discover a global
      context for each other's food stories, weave relationships and impress
      upon us our global relevance.

      Indicate risks

      High risk: Our leaders may care about money and not our culture. We will
      therefore involve those who have their own research interests. We will
      invite those already familiar with RNRSS. We will promote RNRSS
      innovations as catalysts for all manner of African innovations.

      Medium risk: Women often suffer domestic violence when they try to improve
      their conditions. We will ask men in their families to stand up for them
      and present their accomplishments with food stories that help us all
      engage them.

      Medium risk: Women may default on the microloans more often than we
      expect. We will reward each team that completes its projects and repays
      its loans with 50 GBP for their own fund to loan to each other.

      Low risk: We may have trouble moving content back and forth between local
      languages and English. We will make sure that our local coordinators have
      a good understanding of our investigatory culture. We will work with them
      to structure our activities so that we can share globally what is most

      Low risk: Our centers may not find work to sustain themselves. Yet we are
      tenacious, creative and thoughtful investors. We value the human capital
      that our centers and gardens yield.

      Exit strategy

      Our goal is a growing worldwide network of self-reliant rural and urban
      bases for independent thinkers. We will start with Kenya and Lithuania and
      within three years we expect to have rural and urban bases in Uganda,
      Nigeria, Ghana and Missouri, Chicago, California and Austria. Each base
      will be led by a team and evolve into a physical center for co-working,
      which means a space for working-for-free on one's own projects such as
      education, arts, sports and also working-for-pay on projects such as
      ecotourism, knowledge work, agricultural sales to make a living and
      provide revenue for the center. Each center will provide Internet access,
      Skype and video bridge services. Our local network of gardens and thinkers
      will affordably accomodate those traveling from the countryside to the
      city or vice versa and those visiting from other countries. Our worldwide
      community will encourage research projects at each base and foster a
      culture of leadership through investigations. We will encourage
      individuals from the West to support microresearch and microloan projects
      with a website much like Kiva http://www.kiva.com except that we share our
      food stories, we work in the Public Domain, and we invite all to engage
      our participants.

      Budget and Team

      Please think about participating. Below are the ways that I am budgeting
      for, but I also encourage us to write about our ideal roles for ourselves.
      I am trying to design the roles so that we make the most of the money, we
      include as many people as we can, we have as much flexibility as possible
      to do our jobs, and our basic needs are met. I am equating 1 GBP = 2 USD
      for now and will be more exact later. Please know that this is just a
      "concept note" and we will submit a formal proposal only later, if they
      like our concept note.

      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.

      Food Story Ambassador (travel expenses, living expenses, health expenses,
      and $150 per month extra) travels from Africa to the West, or from the
      West to Africa, to learn about local projects, express them as food
      stories, promote them in a global context, and encourage the local hub as
      an investigatory center for a global village. Typically, these are Hub
      Leaders who travel to make connections for their hubs and themselves. They
      will typically travel for half a year, or any length of time for people
      who can pay for their own travel.

      Hub Leader in Africa ($2,000 per year) organizes an informal rural or
      urban hub, takes responsibility for the hub's deliverables, coaches
      investigators, resolves any local disputes, organizes video bridge
      capability, works towards establishing a physical center, seeks business
      opportunities for themselves and their hub. Takes care of guests (will
      receive about $500 per month to provide a Food Story Ambassador with
      accomodation, food, Internet, local travel).

      Hub Leader in the West ($2,000 per year) organizes an informal rural or
      urban hub, organizes video bridge capability, organizes local meetings
      every month or two, encourages online participation and investigation,
      pursues a local project they are personally interested in, builds links
      with other hubs, works towards a physical center, seeks business
      opportunities for themselves and their hub. Takes care of guests (will
      receive about $1,000 or more per month to provide a Food Story Ambassador
      with accomodation, food, Internet, local travel) and helps them develop

      Investigator Coach ($2,000 per year) provides special guidance to
      Investigators in specific areas such as inclusion of women, preventing
      domestic violence, bridging tribal divisions, reaching out to the
      disadvantaged, organizing businesses, applying the arts, teaching ICT
      skills, attracting media attention. Helps the hub leaders and ambassadors.
      Takes charge of difficult cases as requested.

      Investigator ($200 and a $200 no-interest microloan). Designs and leads a
      research project, works with 5 women to try out an idea in their gardens,
      supervises the microloans to them so that they work together to use them
      wisely and are able to return them, coaches men in their families so they
      write and post food stories about the women, takes action so this all
      happens. Typically this is part-time work for half a year.

      Experimenter ($100 no-interest microloan). A woman who works on a team and
      with an investigator to try out an idea in her garden. Encourages men in
      her family to contribute food stories about her work. Working with her
      team, takes responsibility to spend and recover a microloan. Helps
      document this all.

      Online Community Developer ($10,000 per year) develops a vision for our
      online venues, adapts and maintains the relevant software, takes
      responsibility for online chores, encourages online activity.

      Software Developers ($2,000 per year) develop or adapt software as needed.

      Online Community Organizers ($200 for part-time work for half a year) are
      available at our chat room, teach people how to use our wiki and other
      venues, greet people and help them participate effectively.

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