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Knight News Challenge proposal: People of the Light

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    This evening I submitted a proposal for the Knight News Challenge which supports the future of journalism in local communities. I live in Lithuania so I
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 14, 2009
      This evening I submitted a proposal for the Knight News Challenge which
      supports the future of journalism in local communities. I live in
      Lithuania so I propose to do a project here.

      My proposal is called "Sviesuoliai" which is the Lithuanian word for
      "People of the Light", which is how I talk about "independent thinkers"
      here. I propose to organize many small events around them as original
      sources of news about our potential future. I invite your thoughts here
      and also if you go here:
      you'll be redirected and can vote and comment at the Knight News
      Challenge website. Thank you!

      The deadline is Tuesday, December 15, if you'd like to apply at

      I earlier submitted a "help room proposal" and I'm thinking of editing
      that so that it would be a local project, perhaps in East Africa.

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


      Project Title: Sviesuoliai (People of the Light)

      Requested amount from Knight News Challenge: 135,000 USD

      Expected amount of time to complete project: 2 years

      Total cost of project including all sources of funding: 180,000 USD

      Describe your project:

      Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are small Baltic republics which freed
      themselves from Soviet occupation in 1991, joined the European Union in
      2004 and are now considering a variety of visions for the future thanks
      to grassroots "national idea movements". Lithuania has a tradition from
      the 19th century of "sviesuoliai" ("people of the light") who organize
      schools, champion new ideas, publish, share and even smuggle newspapers.
      Minciu Sodas ("Orchard of Thoughts"), founded by Andrius Kulikauskas in
      1998, and headquartered in the village of Dukiskes, Lithuania, serves
      and organizes such "independent thinkers". Our project is to acknowledge
      people as "sviesuoliai" and promote them as original sources of news
      about our potential future. We'll promote anybody who is willing to
      share in their Public Domain their values, questions, endeavors,
      dreams-in-life and work with others to make them come true. We'll
      present their life dream as an online portfolio along with an RSS feed.
      We'll organize small public events where we film their thoughts and
      deeds and publish them as online videos. We'll present their life dreams
      with a variety of creative arts and integrate them in an "economy of
      dreams" where they come true. We'll discover people in media to voice
      their ideas and people in politics to pursue them. Our project will
      shift our values from "spreading the news" to "gathering the news", from
      "getting attention" to "discovering sources", from "explaining what we
      know" to "exploring what we don't know", from "causing a stir" to
      "addressing an issue". Our goal is to give a voice to people who
      actually have something to say, to link them together through dialogue,
      and to "spread the news" to the widest variety of people who might "make
      the news".

      How will your project improve the way news and information are delivered
      to geographic communities?

      We're organizing a network of 10 or more cultural hubs in Vilnius and
      nearby villages where thinkers can work together at small public events.
      At each hub we'll build a "global village" team with two or more
      prolific thinkers; an event organizer; a video maker; an online liaison
      (possibly a younger person helping older thinkers); as well as artists,
      activists, entrepreneurs, academics, journalists and politicians. For
      each hub, we'll set up an Internet video channel and online blog, list
      questions that journalists and others might help explore, and foster a
      non-monetary "economy of dreams" to encourage those who do. We'll
      organize 500 events for such investigations where thinkers present,
      activists respond and journalists catalyze.

      How is your idea innovative? (new or different from what already exists)

      We're rethinking journalism as "Who needs to know?" (the ones who help!)
      rather than "Who wants to know?" Those who help need to know "What don't
      we know?" We're illustrating that with visual thinking, conceptual maps,
      text-audio-video interviews and discussion, chat transcripts,
      glossaries, artistic visions and to-do lists. Listeners can
      think-out-loud alongside us at any part of the process. We'll embrace
      journalists as "independent thinkers" so that their investigations might
      build on our investigations. We'll include them as catalysts,
      facilitators, moderators, matchmakers, problem solvers, and as a last
      resort, broadcasters. As we slow down our news, we'll clarify what
      challenges are truly newsworthy for all to hear and listen.

      What experience do you or your organization have to successfully develop
      this project?

      Andrius Kulikauskas is a 2008 Knight News Challenge award winner for The
      Includer, an idea for a hardware device for African participants of
      Minciu Sodas with marginal Internet access. Minciu Sodas's outstanding
      achievement was the Pyramid of Peace http://www.pyramidofpeace.net : we
      organized 100 independent peacemakers and 100 online assistants in 2008
      for two months to avert genocide in Kenya. We effectively integrate
      email, wiki, chat, RSS, photos, Skype, video and face-to-face meetings.
      One quarter of Minciu Sodas's activity is in Lithuania: 4 email groups
      with 40 active writers and 700 readers, a total of 7,500 letters since
      1999. We meet frequently and as a team have organized the Global Utopias
      video bridge project, the EU COMMUNIA workshop "Ethical Public Domain:
      Debate of Questionable Practices", a tour by Nafsi Afrika Acrobats from
      Kenya, visits with independent thinkers in London, and an art show and
      open studio at the Uzhupis Galera. Zenonas Anusauskas is founder of an
      Internet television http://www.internetinetv.lt with 120 videos of local
      significance. He's active in organizing TEDxx idea presentations for
      Lithuania's national idea movement As Lietuvai. Tomas Cepaitis is
      Foreign Minister of the Uzhupis Republic, an artist neighborhood of
      Vilnius, and has a network of 200 ambassadors. Andrius Kulikauskas is
      collecting, drawing and integrating people's dreams-in-life for Human
      Rights Month with support from UNESCO at the Gedimino 9 shopping
      center's co-working hub. Minciu Sodas readers include journalists and
      members of parliament.


      Some remarks that didn't fit because of size constraints:

      Lithuania has many different newspapers, magazines and online news
      portals. However, much content is "news for news's sake": celebrity
      news, political squabbles, needless controversy and titillation. Many
      papers are aligned with political party cliques. Too often, articles are
      "commissioned" by political or economic interests.

      We're trying out Jesus's idea of journalism as "winning back your
      brother". (If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault
      between you and him alone... But if he doesn't listen, take one or two
      more with you ... If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the

      We're appreciating thinkers as newsworthy because like Jesus their
      original thinking goes beyond the news of the day. We've neglected them,
      but we'd like them to win us over. We want to listen, not simply hear.
      We want to understand so that we can address and expand on their
      concerns. We don't need to "capture" an entire "segment" of people. We
      need a variety of people. We organize hubs, teams, events as genuine
      centers of constructive activity.
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