Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

April 10 2011

12:56

Cd. Juárez, MEX –CRONICAS DE HEROES– OTRA CARA, OTRA HISTORIA…

A partir de los 90’s Cd. Juárez empezó a formar parte constante del vocabulario global, principalmente como resultado del libre comercio y del establecimiento de cientos de maquiladoras en la ciudad. Muchos cambios se han suscitado en las últimas décadas, incremento acelerado de la población, cambios en mano de obra, altos niveles de contaminación, etc. pero también se ha visto un incremento en crimen, ejemplo de ello son los Femicidios y una ola de violencia en los últimos años los cuales han contribuido a la difusión negativa de Cd. Juárez. A través de diferentes Medios de comunicación los foráneos nos enteramos de esa Ciudad Juárez, esa que muestra o da la imagen de una ciudad brutal. Sin embargo este blog no intenta hablar de esa historia la cual forma parte de la noticia diaria, este blog por lo contrario desea hablar de esa OTRA CARA, de esa OTRA HISTORIA que también existe en la ciudad en la cual más de un millón de individuos continúan con su vida cotidiana de una manera pacífica y responsable.

En los últimos cuatro meses el Centro de Medios ha asesorado en Cd. Juárez una campaña de positivismo –CRONICAS DE HEROES– la cual reporta el valor ciudadano actual, como un ejemplo de colaboración positiva de la sociedad civil. El proyecto se enfoca en pequeñas acciones notorias (actos de amabilidad, de respeto, honestidad, etc.) y las hace públicas, ya que estas pasan por desapercibido, pero en realidad también son parte de bienestar ciudadano.

El centro de Medios creo la página web para Crónicas de Héroes como una herramienta en la que individuos puedan hacer públicos estos actos. Al principio se intento hacer contacto con diferentes instituciones en Juárez vía telefónica o por medio del internet, pero no hubo una gran respuesta. Yesica la Representante Diplomática Cultural y Directora del proyecto decidió que sería importante ir personalmente a Juárez y presentar la propuesta. Ella dio varias pláticas en la ciudad a diferentes A.C.s, ONG’s, Instituciones Educativas, hospitales, etc. En esas primeras pláticas se descubrió que la gente tenía deseos de participar, que aceptaban la propuesta y que estaban listos para ser parte de un cambio. Así pues fue interesante descubrir que el contacto personal por lo menos en esta instancia sigue siendo la herramienta principal para establecer relaciones estrechas y duraderas. En su visita a Juárez, Yesica capacitó a Brenda Guerra y a Marco Betancour para dar seguimiento a la propuesta, ellos fueron nombrados como Representante Local-Brenda y Promotor oficial-Marco.

Después de las primeras charlas informativas otras invitaciones hacia el equipo de Crónicas para hablar acerca del proyecto en diferentes foros se suscitaron. Hubo un momento en que los representantes locales dieron hasta tres talleres por semana, lo cual fue muy grato, pues indicaba que proyectos de este tipo son necesarios y que la ciudadanía los acepta. En estos talleres la gente nos contaba sus historias de esos héroes cotidianos de buena voluntad, ellos nos narraban su crónica en tarjetas postales diseñadas especialmente para la campaña. Igualmente para promover CRONICAS DE HEROES se colocaron espectaculares, así mismo se instalaron posters y se repartieron calcomanías en diferentes áreas en Cd. Juárez.

A mediados de Diciembre 2010 se anunció oficialmente esta campaña a los medios de comunicación. Desde ese día este proyecto ha tenido el privilegio de aparecer en varias redes informativas locales e internacionales entre ellas CNN y BBC. Actualmente se colabora con diferentes medios locales; en varias estaciones de radio se leen estas historias positivas, así mismo periódicos en la ciudad publican semanalmente crónicas existentes en nuestra página web la cual en este momento cuenta con 789 historias positivas. Estas historias han sido leídas por individuos que han entrado a nuestra página desde rincones lejanos del mundo como Japón, Brasil, Colombia, Alemania, Argentina, Francia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Reino Unido, Tailandia, etc.

Últimamente hemos tenido un gran interés por individuos en participar en actividades públicas. El grupo de artistas urbanos – UNION– nos contactó para ser parte de nuestra iniciativa, ellos donaron diferentes espacios en la ciudad y su talento para hacer murales inspirados en estos reportes positivos. Hace tres semanas hubo una pinta pública en el Parque Borunda, en esta hubo varios voluntarios que ayudaron a nuestro equipo en la organización del evento. Después de esta pinta hemos sido invitados a participar en otros eventos públicos como la Feria del la Mujer y un festejo a nivel ciudad por el Día del Niño.

Ha sido muy interesante para el equipo de Crónicas ver como este proyecto el cual originalmente fuera solo una página de internet se ha convertido en una mezcla de mecanismos, en el que los contactos sociales y acciones activas se han visto reflejadas tanto en línea como en participación cotidiana. Es genial ver que proyectos de este tipo pueden conducir a un cambio positivamente constructivo.

La evolución efectiva de esta campaña no hubiera sido posible sin la participación de la población y diferentes organizaciones e instituciones las cuales nos han apoyado, la colaboración es esencial para crear un cambio y más importante aun que ese cambio se inicie desde las raíces –los ciudadanos.

Cotidianamente existen héroes entre todos nosotros y estos no se quedan sentados a esperar tiempos mejores; sigamos su ejemplo, crezcamos juntos como sociedad para un mejor presente…esto es Cd. Juárez, su otra CARA, su otra HISTORIA…

March 29 2011

19:04

Reflections on fostering civic pride in Juarez

Crónicas de Héroes, the Juárez Mexico deployment of Hero Reports, rolled out late last year with incredible success at the local level. Since November more than 700 accounts of generosity, kindness, and empathy have been reported by the Juarenes. Today cronicas are being read over the airwaves by local radio stations and printed in local newspapers. Media from Juárez’s sister city of El Paso and Mexico City have covered the campaign. And the site has attracted visitors from Japan, Brazil, Argentina, France, Venezuela, Thailand, Portugal, Jamaica, and Ecuador. Recently, Alyssa Wright, founder of Hero Reports, and Yesica Guerra, Manager of Crónicas de Héroes Juárez, were invited to speak about the project at TED.

The success of the campaign has been measured by the fact that with these contributions, residents have reclaimed and reauthored the narrative coming out of Juárez. While the news media will continue to print stories about violence, chaos and fear, Cronicas has shown that those incidences are not the whole story. Juárez remains a place where businesses thrive, families raise new generations, and where neighbors take care of one another.

Hoping to bottle some of the success of Juárez, we’ve spent time trying to tease out what worked and to understand how those strategies could be refined and redeployed in Monterrey and Tijuana.

Passion and Personal Connections – Much of the success of Crónicas de Héroes Juárez is attributable to Yesica and her counterparts on the ground in Juárez, local representatives Brenda Guerra and Marco Betancourt. Their shared enthusiasm and dedication to the project coupled with their intimate knowledge of the community and savvy outreach approach undoubtedly opened doors. Early on Yesica realized that her efforts to push an MIT research project via email and phone calls would only get her so far. Using a tag team approach, Yesica would have Brenda and Marco follow-up with her contacts in person to further pitch the campaign, arrange interviews, and deliver postcards in order to maintain momentum, solidify relationships, and reinforce the grassroots legitimacy of the campaign. Yesica and her team also scheduled pre-launch workshops in a variety of businesses, schools, and civic institutions. With Brenda and Marco’s help, Yesica had the manpower she needed to outreach to big tent of users – from school children and college students to nurses and doctors to elderly members of the community. Every workshop attendant filled out a postcard with a report of a kind and generous act, which was then uploaded on the site.

Hyper-local branding – Before Crónicas de Héroes officially launched, we covered the City of Juárez in billboards, posters, and postcards with images reminiscent of iconic pop-culture figures El Santo and Tin Tan. El Santo, the masked wrestler, is a legend and a symbol of justice for the common man with heroic abilities to fight and defend the vulnerable. With a career than spanned nearly five decades, El Santo resonates with multiple generations. Yesica’s poster design includes a masked wrestler from the golden age of wrestling, when fighters were folk heroes, inspired by the image of El Santo. Tin Tan was actor, singer and comedian that began his career in Juárez; the local hero starred in more than 50 movies during his 30-year career. Images of these compelling cultural superheroes asking for stories about positive and kind neighborly acts spoke to the emotions and imagination of a wide array of Juarenes who responded with reports about every day instances of heroism.

Anonymity – Like any good superhero, the campaign was intentionally cloaked in mystery. Crónicas de Héroes Juárez tried to minimize and downplay its true identity as a research project from MIT. Because the focus of the project centered on the general Juarenes community and did not align or closely associate itself with anyone particular group, the campaign could belong to the entire City. The Center felt strongly that this strategy was necessary for the long-term sustainability and viability of the campaign.

Going forward our community outreach efforts are dedicated to sustaining a culture of reporting through community activities that keep the spirit of Crónicas de Héroes alive, foster pride and enthusiasm, and transcend cynicism. Recently the Juarez team was approached by UNION a local group of street artists interested in painting murals to promote and celebrate Crónicas. They wrote, “"To paint these murals inspired on Cronicas proves that there are good things happening in this city, guns and death is not the only things that occur in Juarez." Using donated materials including some paint and brushes, UNION and more than 20 citizens came together for a mural painting in Park Borunda last weekend. At this event, Brenda along with five volunteers collected more than 75 Cronicas from participants and passersby. Two more murals are planned and this summer Yesica, Marco and Brenda will be promoting the site through a public art competition and at festivals and celebrations. We hope that these activities will cultivate a loyalty and commitment to Cronicas that will inspire new reports and keep the site vibrant and relevant.

March 28 2011

12:06

Civic Tools Video: "Hero Reports / Crónicas de Héroes"

Lorrie LeJeune describes Hero Reports/Crónicas de Héroes, a project currently deployed in Juárez, Mexico, to help residents report and map incidents of heroism, large and small.

Download!

read more

March 25 2011

18:22

CoLab Project Spotlight: Recycling Cooperatives in South and Central America

The MIT Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) is a center for planning and development within MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. CoLab works with low-income communities in putting their assets to work to help improve livelihoods and strengthen civic life and use the market as an arena for achieving social justice.

This blog will periodically feature CoLab project spotlights in an effort to increase idea exchange and collaboration on these projects.

CoLab’s Libby McDonald and MIT students work with local recycling experts on Corn Island in Nicaragua to do a waste sort as part of data collection for determining how to reform Corn Island’s trash collection route.

"I went to a meeting of business owners and government officials in Sao Paulo," says CoLab’s Libby McDonald, "and the businesses were saying, 'We can’t really figure out how to work with the wastepicking cooperatives. How do we ensure that they do regular pick ups? How do we know if they'll even come when they say they will?' And then right after, I went to a meeting with the Sao Paulo Union of Catadores (Wastepickers), and they said, "How are we going to handle the additional tonnage coming from these companies?'"

Brazil recently passed a law mandating that businesses recycle a certain percentage of their waste. The government strongly encouraged businesses to hire informal recycling cooperatives to get the job done.

McDonald coordinates the Green Grease project in Brazil and a similar project in Nicaragua with these informal recycling cooperatives. Working in partnership with them, she assembles teams of students from various MIT departments to research the issues in question and then brings the students to Brazil and Nicaragua to work on-site developing waste management plans.

The key question that these projects seek to answer is: How can informal cooperatives scale up and develop a business model that allows them to work directly with private sector companies and local governments?

McDonald identifies a few important challenges in answering that question:

  • Local governments don’t always recognize informal recycling cooperatives, which provide a legitimate public service. The cooperatives want to be recognized for the services they provide.
  • There is a capacity challenge. The same people who corner the market on local recycling knowledge may not know how to read and write; nonetheless, we need to figure out together how to best manage these businesses.
  • From the MIT end, it is difficult to raise money to cover costs associated with these projects.
  • It’s no simple challenge to figure out how to establish waste-to-energy and recycling businesses. The problem incorporates social issues, class issues, environmental issues, and a business challenge.

A key element, McDonald has discovered, is trust. In Sao Paulo, local recycling cooperatives are agile and timely in collecting household waste and processing it. But when it comes to working with hotels and other private companies, there is a disconnect. The relationships aren’t there, and although the cooperative is capable of doing the work, they are almost never hired to do it.

March 13 2011

18:03

VoIP Drupal Kicks Off at Drupalcon

Last week I wrote about another project that's come to a boil at the Center for Future Civic Media: VoIP Drupal.

Here is a brief video of Leo Burd lecturing at DrupalCon 2011 on the release of Voip Drupal, a plugin that allow full interaction between Drupal CMS and phones.



VoIP Drupal is a project of the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, with key contributions from Civic Actions.

March 04 2011

19:01

Voip Drupal

C4 has done a variety of breakthrough civic systems with phones, from Leo Burd's What's Up platform to the Call4Action class and its cool student projects.

We love these projects, but working with phones has always been a bear. A lot of custom programming is necessary, and in many cases people start with the phone and end up building custom systems that begin to represent a CMS. Projects like Ushahidi or our earlier txtMob are really just simple CMSs with a few custom features for texting inputs. So Leo Burd has been working on making Drupal more friendly for the billions of people around the world who only have access to basic telephony rather than smart phones and the web.

Leo is launching the first release of the VoIP Drupal platform at DrupalCon next week.

VoIP Drupal is an innovative framework that brings the power of voice and Internet-telephony to Drupal sites. It can be used to build hybrid applications combining regular touchtone phones, web, SMS, Twitter, IM and other communication tools in a variety of ways, including:

* Voice- and SMS-based Get Out The Vote campaigns
* 2-1-1 and 3-1-1 lines (information hotlines)
* Phone-based community surveys
* PTA or any meeting reminder calls
* Story recording / playback
* Group voicemail
* Geo-based call-blasts aimed at specific streets or locations
* And much more!

As Leo writes:

Technically speaking, the goal of VoIP Drupal is to provide a common API and scripting system that interoperate with popular Internet-telephony servers (Asterisk, FreeSwitch, Tropo, Twilio, etc) dramatically reducing the learning and development costs associated with the construction of communication systems that combine voice and text technologies together.

The following VoIP servers are currently supported:

* Tropo, through the voiptropo.module (available soon)
* Twilio, through the voiptwilio.module

This project is under continuous development. If you would like to get involved in the project, or ask questions discussion is taking place on the VoIP Drupal Group. You can find more information in the VoIP Drupal Handbook.

The VoIP Drupal platform has originally been conceived and implemented by the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, with major contributions from Civic Actions.

February 22 2011

16:17

Lost in Boston Finds a New Partner in Hope House

Lost in Boston Real Time turns bookstores and burrito joints into bus stops by delivering the MBTA’s live bus and T data to these value add locations via LED signs. The first few deployments of the project validated the hypothesis: indeed knowing that the CT2 is still ten minutes away is much more valuable while sitting at Anna’s Taqueria with friends than standing alone at the bus stop.

LIB Real Time may be of limited value to all of us with smartphones and bus apps. But imagine you’re not sitting at Anna’s with the bean juice running down your arm as you check your smart phone app; instead you’re a client living at a residential treatment program for drug and alcohol addiction.

Say today is the first day of a new job and you need to find your way there on the bus. You don’t have a bus schedule, never mind a smart phone. You leave for the bus stop hoping that today the cards aren’t stacked against you and the bus is running on time.

This is a reality for many of the 102 individuals living at Hope House in Boston’s South End. When residents are faced with the inevitable delays that come with their daily commutes via public transit, it creates an additional stress in an already challenging time in their lives.

Hope House understands that support and empowerment for their comprehensive community-based treatment program can come from many sources. So when Development Director Susan Bradley heard about Lost In Boston Real Time, she knew it would be a perfect fit for the residents of Hope House. She contacted creator Rick Borovoy last summer:

Dear Lost in Boston team:
Would we be eligible to host a Real Time bus sign? Hope House is a
 non-profit residential rehab center for homeless men. We are located at the
 corner of Melnea Cass Blvd and Hampden Street. We have 102 residents, most of whom depend on public transportation. The #1 bus route is the one we
 would be interested in monitoring.

It turns out that Lost in Boston Real Time is uniquely positioned to support the residents of Hope House. And since partnering with Hope House, they have proven to be an ideal community collaborator: unwearied, bold and candid.

Unwearied: Hope House appreciates that Lost in Boston is a pilot project and is working out some kinks in its initial deployments. Hope House patiently and graciously waited until early November while a more reliable version of the software was developed before the signage and hardware were installed.

Bold: Hope House brings humor and a practical sensibility to the Lost in Boston project. Always willing to roll-up their sleeves, grab a ladder, and push a few buttons on the net book, Hope House takes sign administration in stride.

Candid: Straightforward, honest and direct, Hope House didn’t hesitate to let us know that the residents loved the sign and… when things weren’t working. Hope House also invited us to meet directly with residents -the end-users – facilitating an authentic and valuable feedback loop for the project.

Encouraged by the successful deployment of Lost In Boston Real Time at Hope House, the project is exploring new community partnerships. Upping the ante, this time around we’ll be seeking to build a system of signs within a community that combines real time event and public transportation information. Interested? Please contact Rick Borovoy at borovoy@media.mit.edu or Regan St. Pierre at reganstp@mit.edu here at the Center for Future Civic Media.

14:02

Civic Media Session Explores Data in Cities

(Cross-posted at MediaShift Idea Lab)

With a redoubled focus on the community in the civic media community, the Center for Future Civic Media has launched a new speaker series. These relaxed, informal conversations about civic media featured ground-level practitioners, activists, hackers, and local leaders.

The first session, "Bustling with Information: Cities, Code, and Civics," brought good friends Nick Grossman, Nigel Jacob, and Max Ogden to our Cambridge campus. As you can see from the video clips below, these sessions are unique opportunities to talk about the amazing work that goes on in this sphere, intriguingly out of earshot of the debates on the future of journalism.

We think this is a great niche for us: Highlighting the do-it-yourself ethic that's always existed in civic media (not to mention at MIT), separate from concerns about paper vs. iPad, MBA-honed business models, etc. Sessions planned for this spring include discussions of intellectual property collaboration, the implications of check-in/location-sharing technology, how local stories spread worldwide, civic media for vulnerable populations, and civic disobedience.

So stay tuned to Idea Lab and civic.mit.edu for updates and scheduling information.

Meanwhile, check out these clips from last week's civic media session, moderated by Center director Chris Csikszentmihályi, for a taste. And, in the comment section below, let us know what other civic media topics warrant more exploration.


MIT Tech TV
Nick Grossman of OpenPlans, Nigel Jacob of the City of Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, and Max Ogden of Code for America respond to questions about how civic tools do (or need to) vary from city to city.


MIT Tech TV
Max Ogden of Code for America discusses taking "treasure troves" of government data sets to bring citizens and friends together, describing it as "enhanced serendipity."

February 17 2011

18:50

Video: From Cities, Code, and Civics: "Enhanced serendipity"

Max Ogden of Code for America discusses taking "treasure troves" of government datasets to bring citizens and friends together.

From "Cities, Code, and Civics", a Civic Media Session of the MIT Center for Future Civic Media.

Download!

read more

18:47

Video: From Cities, Code, and Civics, "Customizing tools from city to city?"

Nick Grossman of OpenPlans, Nigel Jacob of the City of Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, and Max Ogden of Code for America respond to questions about how civic tools do (or need to) vary from city to city.

From "Cities, Code, and Civics", a Civic Media Session of the MIT Center for Future Civic Media.

Download!

read more

18:40

Video: Civic Media Session, "Bustling with Information: Cities, Code, and Civics"

Nick Grossman, Nigel Jacob, and Max Ogden

Moderator: Center director Chris Csikszentmihályi

Cities are vibrant, complicated organisms. A still-working 200 year old water pipe might rest underground next to a brand new fiber optic cable, and citizens blithely ignore both if they are working well. Cities are constantly rewriting themselves, redeveloping neighborhoods and replacing infrastructure, but deliberative structures like school boards and city council meetings continue to run much the way they have for generations. In what ways can information systems rewrite our understanding of civics, governance, and communication, to solve old problems and create new opportunities in our communities?

Nick Grossman is Director of Civic Works at OpenPlans. He oversees development of new products around smart transportation, open municipal IT infrastructure, participatory planning, and local civic engagement.

Nigel Jacob serves as the Co-Chair of the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, a group within City Hall focused on delivering transformative services to Boston's residents. Nigel also serves as Mayor Menino's advisor on emerging technologies. In both of these roles Nigel works to develop new models of innovation for cities in the 21st century.

Max Ogden is a fellow at Code for America and develops mapping tools and social software aimed at improving civic participation and communication. This year Max is working with Nigel and the Office of New Urban Mechanics to create technologies that better enable education in Boston's Public Schools.

Civic Media Sessions
Hosted by the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, these open sessions highlight cutting-edge media research and tools for community and political engagement.

Download!

read more

14:29

Sourcemap'd: Grain Drain in the Rocky Mountain West

(This is part of what we hope will be a larger series; a more comprehensive look at the communities using Sourcemap and those interesting uses they have developed.)

The University of Montana's School of Journalism collaborated with us over the past term by using Sourcemap as part of a class on online news. Our collaborator, Lee Banville, wanted to connect journalism students in his class with tools and technologies that construct perspectives and develop narrative frameworks for the web. In practice, this ranged from ideas on crowd-sourced feedback and commentary to devices like web mapping that drive new presentations of stories.

The students focused on local food issues. Montana suffers from "grain drain." Despite the heavy production of raw ingredients, there isn't any food processing done in the state. This has created a reliance on the import of grain and beef products from other sources, sometimes in a cyclical supply chain. In order to understand this problem, students used two different technologies and drew on the communities around them. They used Sourcemap to map products that touch on local food production and consumption—products that are sourced or consumed within the state. They also used the American Public Media's Public Insight Network, a community developed to find diverse news sources and increase the range of available perspectives in reporting. By partnering with tens and thousands of experts and members of the public who have agreed to support news coverage, they are able to construct stories with richer detail and dialogue.

The efforts of these student journalists were recently covered by New West, running stories that describe the local food movement and agricultural shifts shaping the region. This series (linked below) was written and edited by students. These articles represent only a piece of the cross cutting investigation into the story of food production and consumption in Montana and the American Rocky Mountains.

This project underscores our interest in a transparent approach to understanding the geography of production. What we eat and where it comes from can have profound effects on our communities. It also furthers our interest (and the interests of the Center) in "fragile" communities that are (perceptually at least) more geographically isolated. While Sourcemap can contribute to the research process for this kind of work, we need continued collaboration with journalists and investigators who can appropriately contextualize these supply chains—to tell us how "where things come from" changes how we live.

As part of their investigation, students researched sourcemaps of diverse products and their impact in Montana:

Student Sourcemaps

-
Matthew is the Cofounder and Director of Sourcemap.org.

January 10 2011

18:31

Q&A: CoLab, the MIT Community Innovators Lab

The MIT Community Innovators Lab is a center for planning and development within MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. CoLab works with low-income communities in putting their assets to work to help strengthen civic life and use the market as an arena for achieving social justice. Its vision is for domestic and international communities to be democratically governed, provide the means for residents to generate decent livelihoods, and be clean, healthy, and environmentally sound. CoLab Radio describes how that vision happens step-by-step, story by story, in communities.

1.) What does it mean to do this kind of work at MIT? Are there unique opportunities and challenges in this setting?

Dayna Cunningham (Executive Director): First, it means engaging a set of students with a particular set of ideas that we’ve defined around the intersection of three things: urban sustainability, civic engagement, and shared-wealth generation. Second, it means working with those students to help support the relationships we have with community organizations. All of that requires a particular set of skills and a set of values that we work hard to sustain and support. It means working with both our student colleagues and community colleagues around learning through this ongoing process.

2.) Who’s work at CoLab has surprised you the most?

Alexa Mills (Community Media Specialist): Program Manager Carlos Espinoza-Toro’s work has surprised me the most over the years because it’s been fascinating to watch his versatility unfold. Carlos and I graduated from the Masters in City Planning program together in 2008, so I have known him since 2006. In that time, I have seen him move from a ‘recovering architect’, as our co-worker Amy Stitely says, to someone who could organize a 30-student trip to Peru. At CoLab, Carlos started by leading a team of fifteen people in graphing the path of U.S. Stimulus Funds from the government to communities. Even their unfinished product was so powerful that a U.S. Congressman actually stole it off the wall of our community partner’s office in North Carolina. He moved on to manage the Mel King Community Fellows Program, and now is in a process to green America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. His versatility is incredible.

3.) On a scale of 9.9 to 10, how awesome is Mel King? How did the Mel King Community Fellows Program come about and what has it been up to?

Cunningham: Um, 12 and ½. No! 18.25. Mel King is extremely awesome. Mel King is in his mid 80’s. He runs a technology center in the South End, where he has lived his whole life, and this center engages young people in understanding the latest technology. So here is this man in his mid-80s who understands technology at least as well, if not better, than most young people. On top of that, this guy ran for mayor. In his life, he led a whole movement in the city of Boston around neighborhood revitalization and community participation. He’s a beloved hero, and here he is in a basement in a brownstone in the South End just pulling kids off the street to teach them about technology. It’s extraordinary.

Mel was on a plane going to D.C. and he ran into the then-president of MIT and they put together the vision for the Community Fellows Program in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. He ran the program for 30 years. The whole idea of the Community Fellows Program was to bring activists to the campus to give them a chance to reflect, to refresh, to be thoughtful about the work of social change, to work with MIT faculty, and to provide MIT with a window into change processes social change in marginalized communities - out in the world.

The current Mel King Community Fellows Program builds on that but in a different way. The original program which was structured as a year spent on the campus. In the current program, we don’t want to take community activists away from their work in their communities, we just want to bring them together for short periods of time over a year.

Espinoza-Toro: Over the past year, the Fellows have been having meaningful discussion the current political environment in the United States. They’ve been reflecting on their work in the communities where they operate. In order to broaden our vision, we took a trip to Cleveland to witness a cooperative development. In our next meeting, we’re planning to co-design the upcoming fellowship year with the current fellows.

- - - - - -

This post is part of a Q&A triangle between three offices at MIT: the IDEAS Competition and MIT Global Challenge, the Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM), and the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab). Each office asked three questions of the other two offices, generating six blog posts. Check out the other posts, which will be published between January 6th and 11th, if you’re interested:

• CoLab interviews C4FCM • C4FCM interviews IDEAS • IDEAS interviews CoLab
CoLab interviews IDEASIDEAS interviews C4FCMC4FCM interviews CoLab

January 07 2011

14:26

Q&A: The MIT Global Challenge

The Center for Future Civic Media has established some great relationships across groups at MIT with overlapping interests. In fact, those groups are wonderful presences at our regular Thursday meetings, teasing us with well-timed eye-rolls when our researchers' geek out five minutes too long about, say, Django libraries or KML data.

Two of these groups--the Community Innovators Lab and the MIT Global Challenge--have helped put together a "Q&A triangle", featuring Alexa Mills of CoLab and Kate Mytty of the IDEAS Competition and the MIT Global Challenge, to help our blogs' readers understand civic and community work through the perspective of our own groups.

First up is Kate. The IDEAS Competition and MIT Global Challenge are an annual invention and entrepreneurship competition that support and encourage innovation in overcoming barriers to well-being in communities around the world. They are powered by the MIT Public Service Center to spur innovation as public service. Teams work in a variety of areas -- water, sanitation, disaster relief, access to health care, education, energy and much more.

1.) What are you most surprised that works well in the Global Challenge? And what are you most surprised doesn’t work as well as you’d think?

Through the MIT Global Challenge site, what suprises me most are the connections that are possible. We’re just in the beginning and a lot of people are offering their and asking for help. That shows the potential of the community. When any platform is started to connect people around a shared purpose you hope and anticipate people will benefit from that platform. Seeing it in practice -- and I was here for very little of the development process -- is powerful.

We’re still in the learning phase and there’s a lot to be gained in the next year by watching how people use the site to push forward their ideas, connect and discover opportunites. The one space I’m hoping takes off more is a lot of community partners (NGOs, MIT alumni and much more) have spent a lot of time defining the gaps they see in their communities -- problems to be solved . I’d love to see a time come when “problems” and “solvers” will meet with more speed and urgency.

2.) What circumstances are conducive to good competitions?

Ask me again in a year and I’ll be better prepared to answer (I’ve been doing this for six months now). My gut response says, at least for our competition, a shared purpose, a sense of urgency, a community of support and development for the teams entering the competition, enough money to make it worth their while, and probably an ethos of celebration. There are a lot of incredible ideas out there -- in any competition -- and sometimes, by the nature a competition, those ideas are lost and the winners are celebrated. I see it as important to celebrate the work that goes into entering the competition and then join together as a community to support furthering the efforts of ongoing teams and projects.

3.) How would you describe the process of getting sponsorship and the ongoing role of sponsors?

Great question. We have a set of sponsors -- organizations and individuals -- that are passionate about innovation, entpreneuership, and public service. Two of the key sponsors I point out are Monster Worldwide and the Yunus Challenge supported by supported by MIT alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel (who also supports J-PAL and IDI ). With their sponsorship, they support innovation in certain areas -- for Monster this year, it’s around information technologies for empowering migrant workers and the Yunus Challenge, it’s innovation in agricultural processes. Giles Phillips, the MIT alum, we work with through Monster is involved every step of the way and is every bit as invested as we are. That’s a key strength and there’s room for other sponsors to come on board and support innovation in other broad areas -- whether mobiles, disaster relief, entrepreneurship or what have you.

- - - - - -

This post is part of a Q&A triangle between three offices at MIT: the IDEAS Competition and MIT Global Challenge, the Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM), and the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab). Each office asked three questions of the other two offices, generating six blog posts. Check out the other posts, which will be published between January 6th and 11th, if you’re interested:

• CoLab interviews C4FCM • C4FCM interviews IDEAS • IDEAS interviews CoLab
CoLab interviews IDEASIDEAS interviews C4FCM • C4FCM interviews CoLab

September 27 2010

17:41

Patchwork Approach

What's wrong with this picture:

Mainstream media lays off reporters (and others) left and right, because New Media appeals to a large segment of news consumers.

New Media realizes local news draws more audience, so numerous hyper-local approaches are tried. Most national attempts fail, because they don't have reporters.

AOL's wholly-owned subsidiary, Patch, thinks it can fill the local gap by hiring local journalists who generally are good at aggregating (see story on London lecture by former Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie on news aggregators, such as the Huffington Post who he says are “parasites living off journalism produced by others”.)

Now the Patch Media Corporation has gone one step further, developing a concept called PatchU, whereby it will collaborate with journalism schools to provide students with internships that will accrue course credits.

read more

17:41

Patchwork Approach

What's wrong with this picture:

Mainstream media lays off reporters (and others) left and right, because New Media appeals to a large segment of news consumers.

New Media realizes local news draws more audience, so numerous hyper-local approaches are tried. Most national attempts fail, because they don't have reporters.

AOL's wholly-owned subsidiary, Patch, thinks it can fill the local gap by hiring local journalists who generally are good at aggregating (see story on London lecture by former Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie on news aggregators, such as the Huffington Post who he says are “parasites living off journalism produced by others”.)

Now the Patch Media Corporation has gone one step further, developing a concept called PatchU, whereby it will collaborate with journalism schools to provide students with internships that will accrue course credits.

read more

June 25 2010

18:21

FNCM conference plenary videos now available

Please to enjoy the visual fruits of last week's Future of News and Civic Media conference plenaries. Below--available for viewing, downloading, and reusing--are the three plenary videos...

Announcement of the 2010 Knight News Challenge winners


Available for download at MIT TechTV.



"Crowd Building" with Gabriella Coleman and Karim Lakhani


Available for download at MIT TechTV.


"Data into Action" with Nick Grossman, Ellen Miller, and Laurel Ruma


Available for download at MIT TechTV.


C4FCM demo videos will be available early next week.

June 17 2010

10:58

May 17 2010

20:49

Wanna Come Out and Play? Community Engagement & Technology Development

When my old friend and collaborator Leo Burd returned to MIT as a research scientist for Center for Future Civic Media's (C4FCM), we started to gather some like-minded folks to discuss how media and mapping tools and youth civic engagement can intersect in the world of the Media Lab. Both of us have often been called a bridges or a translators between technology developers and underserved community members.  We see a value in equalizing the power that comes from self construction, blurring the role of creator and user.

At first, we just wanted to be part of multi-directional conversations and find creative ways to document the ideas exchanged.  Across what seemed like a very disparate set of projects, we found a common value in finding or making new technologies that are appropriate for youth use directly reflect on and affect change in their everyday worlds.   Our individual place-based approaches didn't hinder us from talking about replicability across complexities of culture, politics, and context, in places like Rio, Lima, Gaza, and Roxbury.  These conversations and ideas became a new kind of renewable fuel for further development of new or more appropriate technology tools for youth in underserved situations.

At heart, we wanted to create processes of development where innovation happens iteratively with community educators, activists and youth as collaborators not end users. Many of us come from the Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten (LLK) school of constructivism, project and personal interest-based hands-on learning.  In a world of imagination and play, invention is without limits and most importantly FUN.  New half-baked technologies, like new toys, lets us be kids again.  Through a collaborative process of software development, tinkering can equalize the role of inventor and user and harken us back to a space where imagination and creativity can win you the power of attention and solidarity.

You could make an argument that play is just play, but many child development researchers would argue that play is an essential part of children developing into social and productive human beings.  Linking play, and the innovation it can produce, with tangible utility and action in a certain place is an exciting opportunity.  So when we reviewed Kate Balug's class project proposing a new city department focused on youth mapping their own safe play spots in their own neighborhoods, the Department of Play moniker and a vision was born.

Belfast Computer Clubhouse, Ireland 200

Playing games in a public space are more fun with different kinds of players and if they keep happening over time.  Early on, we prioritized outreach and relationship building as an essential building block of our community engagement approach at the Department of Play.  This approach is essentially the next generation of LLK and Computer Clubhouse Green Table.  At each Clubhouse and later at the Media Lab at monthly meetings of coordinators and MIT students, the Green Table was both a literal and symbolic "village green," a space for open assembly and participation.   This spring, the core members of the Dept. of Play facilitated conversations and new relationships, sparked in weekly researcher meetings across fields and department and in a monthly meetups where we invited local Boston community organizers and educators into the mix.  Then we started to reach out to other theoretical thinkers or experts in the fields of children's rights, international development, and community based change.

Time and time again, we told our own personal stories of creating tools for change in a place, with the idea that mutually beneficial relationships can yield the best cycles for feedback and development.  We centered conversations about functionality and use around everyday issues, not because we wanted to just observe or validate our own ideas and tools.  We want to build a community of creators who will take to play with innovations that worked in one place and vision if they could apply in other contexts.

My City, My FutureA perfect example is a new curriculum we're developing, aimed at bringing Jeff Warren's grassroots participatory and activist mapping techniques to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro via the MIT IDEAS Competition winning My City, My Future project and behind the walls of Gaza and the West Bank via Voices Beyond Walls new Re-Imagining Project.  In all these places, we'll be taking lessons and technologies developed in action-based research and asking new groups of youth and adult mentors to add their own new ideas to developing tools for storytelling and visualization.  These three collaborators will work with youth on the ground to help us develop a neighborhood mapping tool on top of Jeff's Cartagen framework, then we'll bring this software to the youth here in Boston to try to adapt it to the context of their community centers and affordable housing developments.

Beyond finding resources to support projects and software development, the most challenging aspect of this approach is the TIME and effort it takes to build relationships and trust.  Groups like C4FCM are formed to take MIT innovations beyond ideation to sustainable civically-minded implementation.   At the Department of Play, we take it step further, trying to put that action in the hands of the youth with a spirit of purpose, curiosity and the joy of learning that adults too quickly grow out of unfortunately.

So Leo, mysef and the rest of the DoP team will keep purposely playing on the two teams of MIT and the youth community.  Come join us! http://departmentofplay.org

April 08 2010

15:46

Introducing the Department of Play

[This post originally appeared on the MIT CoLab Radio blog, in Danielle Martin's Media Mindfulness column.]

The Department of Play (DoP) is a working group of researchers, developers, and community practitioners at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM) bonded by a common value: the design of new technologies and methodologies to support youth as active participants in their local urban neighborhoods.

We might glance at the teen sitting next to us on the bus with a smart-phone and think: “Wow, the digital divide is shrinking.”  My first thought goes to all the youth who don’t have access to mobile phones, who also have things to say.  But I do see the divide diminishing when I see the wide smile of a Peruvian youth playing around with a big red balloon with a makeshift camera rig he made himself, to make his own map of his favela neighborhood.

While higher broadband speeds and affordability recommended by the FCC’s recent national broadband plan should increase access to internet tools in under-served communities, we still need to consider the increased digital literacy and local facilitation necessary to use fully tap the power of these tools. While access is important, much more is needed to make sure technology can be used to empower young people.

GrassrootsMapping in Peru

read more

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl