Knight News Challenge proposal: People of the Light
- 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
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
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.