The Includer gives way to the Help Room. The more intensely we work offline, the more intensely we engage each other online. I share my proposal to the Knight News Challenge. The deadline is November 1. I ask for $180,000 for this three-year project.
We wish to staff our chat room around-the-clock as a central venue to:
- organize a worldwide culture of independent thinkers
- live as family, help each other, welcome all, care and share
- think out loud and grow as independent thinkers
- learn to participate in online venues such as wikis, discussion groups, blogs
- help each other tutor, research, counsel, shop, learn IT, translate, advise, spread news, make contacts and find work
- support ongoing projects and personal endeavors
- respond to emergencies.
In three years we wish to run our chat room as a sustainable business. We will develop independent income streams to support:
- 1 full-time business developer
- 1 part-time software developer
- 3 full-time organizers who attract participants in different time zones
- 16 part-time chat coaches who engage and help all who come
- 64 volunteer hosts who lead regular chats to advance team projects and related business proposals
We will staff our 24-hour chat room in:
- Africa and Europe
- the Americas
- Asia and Australia
We will do outreach in the United States, Latin America, India and China. We will chat in English but also other languages, including Lithuanian, Kiswahili, Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian, Spanish and Chinese.
We work publicly, in the Public Domain.
Our chat room will be the central hub of a social network of 10,000 online participants who actively help each other to help 1,000,000 people on-the-ground.
How will your project improve the way news and information are delivered to geographic communities?
In 2008, Minciu Sodas was the online world's most responsive network for helping Kenyans during the post-election turmoil. At our chat room, we coordinated the flow of news from SMS and Skype and letters to wiki to Ushahidi and blogs and reporters. We organized response.
Our chat room is an entryway where we greet people. We ask them what they value, investigate, wish to achieve? We embrace people with marginal Internet skills and access. We sign them up for discussion groups and our Ning social network. We teach them to use wikis. We help every person be newsworthy.
We wish to help everybody who wants global response, whether to a personal concern or a regional emergency.
How is your idea innovative?
We propose to organize around our chat room as the center of our social networking world.
We live in a world that is 90% business and 10% charity. Instead, we seek a world where 90% is helping each other for free and 10% is extra paid work.
Our chat room is all purpose for all people. We engage each person as an independent thinker of universal interest. We foster a culture of sharing, inclusion, Public Domain, working for free alongside working for pay.
Our culture attracts helpful thinkers in Africa and Eastern Europe who staff our chat room for modest stipends from sponsors (such as churches) and business opportunities (such as translation). Our chat room organizers offer global teams for emergencies and strategic projects.
What experience do you or your organization have to successfully develop this project?
In 1998, Andrius Kulikauskas founded Minciu Sodas as an online network for independent thinkers. We have 200 active and 2,000 supportive participants. We have written 30,000 letters in 30 working groups, and 4,000 wiki pages, in the Public Domain.
In April 2007, we finished work on My Food Story for Unamesa Association. For $24,000, we organized 100 workers in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, Palestine, Lithuania, Latvia, Serbia, India and the USA to collect 2,000 food stories.
Every first Thursday, Pamela McLean leads a chat to link poor-bandwidth Africans and rich-bandwidth Westerners so that we learn from each other. We chat to build teams, engage groups, welcome newcomers and coach activists. We chat as we work online.
In 2008, we organized the Pyramid of Peace of 100 helpers online and 100 peacemakers on-the-ground to avert genocide in Kenya. We coordinated our leaders to overcome tribal anger, engage gangs and open roads for food, medicine, fuel and refugees. We contributed and distributed $25,000 to about 1,000 volunteers who helped about 10,000 people directly and 100,000 people indirectly. We shared mobile phone credits as an emergency community currency. We saved lives.
We can embed our organizers from East Africa and Eastern Europe in other time zones such as inner city Chicago, rural Missouri, Silicon Valley and Oaxaca, Mexico. We have contacts in India and China. Andrius can organize in Spanish and Chinese.
We have a vibrant gift economy. St.Benedict the African parish choir in Chicago is sponsoring Fred Kayiwa of Uganda to staff our chat room on Saturday mornings, 10:00 am Chicago time, 4:00 pm London, 6:00 pm Nairobi.
Thank you for your comments!