It feels good to be back on Dadamac after a long time. The other day, you asked me about my views on the latest First Thursday, in which I tried to participate but could not do much. And I wrote the reason for that in a recent blog comment. Here goes:
"For one, I was having a problem with the Net connection on the First Thursday. And also, to be frank, I just could not connect with the agenda. I felt like a total stranger, groping in the dark.
This is not to belittle the thought and efforts behind First Thursday, but I would ideally like to participate in a lively interaction and exchange of ideas, where I get enriched by the knowledge flow and (try to) enlighten somebody else with whatever little I know.
This time, I felt things were getting quite listless. And I hope I am wrong. For the next chat, can we talk on a couple of topics or more, so that there are enough talking points.
A lot of time gets wasted on pleasantries--and before one gets to focus on the topic, the discussion veers off in some other direction. So as an anchor, you might have to take the tough line, and make participants tow the line.
Let me think up more about First Thursday, and then get back to you in a day or two." --End of comment
Now, I have given it some thought, and feel that you definitely need to energise First Thursday to make it a more lively exchange of ideas and solutions.
For starters, it would be good to have First Thursday every Thursday and call it Thursday Talk or Thursday Meet, or title it First Thursday/Second Thursday (if it is going to be a fortnightly affair).
Each of these Meets could be around one hour of duration and focus on very micro-issues pertaining to FF or rural Nigeria. The aim would be anything from brainstorming to bringing solutions to help the project coordinators/team. Or, it can be something as basic as talking to rural women in a Dadamac village about maternity care or child health. Maybe, these women can assemble somewhere near a Net kiosk and voice their problems to a coordinator who posts them on the chat box.
In a situation like that, people like you and others in the Dadamac team along with domain experts could provide them advice, help, leads, contacts and seek/arrange funds. Most importanly, you could probably listen to their problems (which is a big thing, because every development agency today seems to have readymade recipes to thrust down people's throats, without caring to find out what these people want).
I hope this is a good starting point for you and others to think about where First Thursday should be moving towards and what it should aim to be.