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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.