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Asking the EU for flexiblity

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    I wrote this letter to ask for flexibility for our arrival and departure dates for London. I assumed such flexibility when I signed our network agreement, but
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 26, 2009
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      I wrote this letter to ask for flexibility for our arrival and departure
      dates for London. I assumed such flexibility when I signed our network
      agreement, but the European Union auditors seemed unhappy that COMMUNIA
      was allowing that and wanted us to split the costs. So I wrote this
      letter to COMMUNIA, as they suggested, asking for this flexibility. Andrius
      --------------------------------------

      February 27, 2009

      Dear COMMUNIA,

      Thank you for providing funds to my company, Minciu Sodas, so that I and
      our participants can participate at the London meeting of COMMUNIA on
      March 26-27, 2009.

      Minciu Sodas is a business which serves and organizes independent
      thinkers. We provide free services to those who work for free on their
      projects in the Public Domain. We get to know each other by helping each
      other with our projects and are then ready to organize as global teams
      for paid work. We are social entrepreneurs who cherish a culture of
      sharing, in general, and the Public Domain, in particular, as essential
      for our work. We are practitioners of the Public Domain and our voices
      are important for thoughtful European Union policy. We therefore were
      invited to join COMMUNIA and agreed to participate.

      We support the European Union in the spirit of meeting each other
      halfway and making the most of our resources to help each other. We
      excel at including others and fostering organic activity.

      We are making a special effort, with the help of the London organizers,
      to invite our participants who do not typically attend such events or
      travel outside their country. They are also making an effort to
      understand that the Public Domain, COMMUNIA and the European Union truly
      matter. And surely they do if they support our dignity, our efforts to
      make the most of our lives.

      I ask for your flexibility so that we might make the most of this travel
      which would not happen without COMMUNIA's support. I provide several
      examples.

      Rachel Wambui Kungu of Kenya is a leader of the Pyramid of Peace,
      www.pyramidofpeace.net, one of the most spectacular endeavors ever
      undertaken in the Public Domain, whereby 100 peaceamakers on-the-ground
      were coordinated by 100 online assistants who wrote thousands of
      letters, chat lines, wiki edits, all in the Public Domain. She already
      has a visa to London from a previous visit this year. I have purchased a
      round-trip ticket for her for about 470 EUR. Whereas the cheapest ticket
      available, departing March 25 and returning March 28, would be 1205 EUR
      on the discount website www.travelocity.com and 750 EUR at British Airways.

      Similarly, I have purchased 4 round-trip tickets for our Lithuanian
      participates at about 160 EUR each. Whereas the cheapest ticket
      available, departing March 25 and returning March 28, would be 260 EUR
      on travelocity.com We are also finding homes in London where our
      participants can stay, which is not easy, but saves a lot of money.

      Our efforts to make the most of the travel money means that we can
      include more participants for the COMMUNIA meetings. For the London
      meeting we will have Zenonas Anusauskas, Irena Buinickaite, Tomas
      Cepaitis and myself from Lithuania, and Franz Nahrada of Austria, all
      active in video bridging, streaming, archiving that generates content in
      the Public Domain; Zdenka Mrkailo and Ana Ilic Lagundzin of Serbia,
      creators of Public Domain Fashion; Samwel Kongere and Rachel Wambui
      Kungu of Kenya, interested in collection of public data for malaria
      prevention and Public Domain handbooks for peacemaking, respectively. We
      are also linking up with our participants in London, such as Pamela
      McLean of Learning by Doing, Graham Knight of open source hardware DIY
      Solar, and architect Claudia Czerkauer. We will take the opportunity to
      connect with COMMUNIA members, but also with each other, and with people
      from other networks, especially at the Open Knowledge Foundation
      workshop and Oekonux conferences which take place around the same time.

      I ask COMMUNIA to grant us flexibility to arrive and depart so that we
      might make the most of these travel funds. We have purchased the
      following tickets: * March 19 to 31: Andrius Kulikauskas * March 20 to
      April 1: Rachel Wambui Kungu * March 24 to 31: Zenonas Anusauskas, Tomas
      Cepaitis, Irena Buinickaite * March 24 to 27: Franz Nahrada And I intend
      to also purchase the following tickets: * March 24 to 30: Zdenka
      Mrkailo, Ana Ilic Lagundzin * March 24 to 31: Samwel Kongere

      We would not make these trips to London without COMMUNIA's support. We
      do extend our stays so that we might strengthen the informal networks
      which are the basis for participation in formal networks, like COMMUNIA
      and the European Union. I am concerned that the European Union
      appreciate the primacy of our informal networks which are the reason
      that we participate, and without which formal networks lack spirit.
      Unfortunately, this may not be obvious to people so dependent on
      institutions such as universities, NGOs, corporations, governments, and
      the European Union itself, that they might fear to acknowledge that our
      primary interest to travel may not be (and I think, should not be) the
      formal networks such as COMMUNIA. Yet I believe that COMMUNIA was
      expressly created to catalyze our informal networks, as I and others are
      doing. My primary interest is to support the growth of each and every
      individual, as compatible with the generous support of COMMUNIA, as
      funded and authorized by the citizens of Europe, who surely understand me.

      Ana Ilic Lagundin and Zdenka Mrkailo of Serbia are a wonderful example.
      Sasha Mrkailo has worked for Minciu Sodas as a virtual assistant for two
      years on My Food Story (he collected more than 1,000 stories), Global
      Utopias (video bridges), Pyramid of Peace and other projects in the
      Public Domain. Thanks to COMMUNIA's travel funds and Maria Agnese
      Giraudo's invitation, we were able to invite him to a COMMUNIA meeting
      in Torino. This was our first chance to meet! He and I then stayed for
      one week in Italy with Agnese working on projects. Sasha is an
      underemployed Serbian for whom this first trip to the European Union
      opened up his life. In 2008, I taught math in Bosnia and spent New
      Year's Eve with his family in the small town of Sombor, Serbia. I
      encouraged his wife, Zdenka, to pursue her talents as a fashion
      designer. I gave Sasha 200 USD to open up Public Domain business
      opportunities for our lab, starting with his wife. We engaged the owner
      of their favorite cafe, who introduced us to Ana Ilic Lagundzin, an
      accomplished artist and fashion designer. They were very excited at the
      prospects of Public Domain Fashion, which has a lot of potential. Ana
      has created a blanket game “baby tumbler”. The London COMMUNIA meeting
      is an opportunity to present their ideas and make contacts. But even
      more so, their travel to London is a chance to be with us and together
      explore a world center of fashion and business, and simply put, an
      unexpected chance to see the world. The value of COMMUNIA is obviously
      multiplied by these extra, informal activities, which go beyond the
      lecture hall and into the real world. COMMUNIA and the theme of the
      Public Domain is a catalyst for many such people to find each other and
      reach out to ever more people.

      I am a social entrepreneur. I do not have the resources to support such
      activity except by leveraging the resources that I can apply. I have a
      deep interest in the Public Domain, but I can participate and encourage
      others likewise, only because of the travel resources that I might
      leverage as above. Such resources allow me to encourage participants so
      they might personally benefit, but also support the commons. This is the
      logic of the Public Domain, and also I hope, the logic of COMMUNIA,
      indeed I know it is from my experience with COMMUNIA's leadership. I
      signed the network agreement with the understanding that we would have
      such flexibility, and I have enjoyed such flexibility. I am therefore
      concerned that the European Commission's auditors appreciate the logic
      of my participation, with generosity and love rather than inhumanity.

      I ask for your flexibility so that we might arrive and depart on the
      dates as above. I will make the most of our time together. We will
      organize “work walks” (March 24, 25, 29, 30) where we spend all day
      talking about our projects and each other as we walk through the city,
      through London's great parks and museums. We will attend the Open
      Knowledge Foundation's workshop (March 28) and Franz Nahrada will attend
      the Oekonux (March 27-29) conference.

      I appreciate that COMMUNIA should and must use its funds for its stated
      purpose. Should our extra activity ever cause any extra expense, I will
      make this clear and cover the difference from Minciu Sodas's own funds.
      I think that we are using the travel funds well, but do compare our
      expenses with the typical expenses, and please ask us any questions you
      may have.

      Thank you for your kindness and flexibility!

      Andrius

      Andrius Kulikauskas Minciu Sodas http://www.ms.lt
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