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Collaboration, Education, Livelihoods and Development in a Changing World

Pamela's blog

Open letter to Matthew Partovi #ResponsiveOrg

The Responsive Organization is a movement of people who want to help their organizations become more responsive to a world that is very different to that of the Industrial Age. Together, we can support and influence each other to make this change happen faster.

Hi Matthew

As you know I appreciated attending the #ResponsiveOrg - London unconference (and I appreciated your encouragement to attend in the first place because I don't belong in a 'normal organisation' so I wasn't confident that I should be there).

This post is rather long for an email (or even for a blog) so I've inserted numbered headings:

After AD3 with AFFORD

I was at AFFORD's Annual event AD3 (Africa Diaspora and Development Day) which took the theme "Africa's Population Growth and Youth Unemployment" (AFFORD is the African Foundation for Development). During a conversation afterwards I was asked for more information about Dadamac and our related interests, which I share below:

Dadamac connects people to each other and helps them to communicate and collaborate. It started with some friendships. Thanks to the Internet it's possible for friendships, and practical collaborations, to be sustained at a distance. Dadamac emerged through a combination of UK-Africa connections - personal connections and Internet-enabled ones.

My personal involvement with Nigeria came about through the late Peter Adetunji Oyawale. Then I met John Dada (a Nigerian who, like Peter, lived in the UK for several years, but John moved back to Nigeria.) John Dada is director of Fantsuam Foundation and he helped David Mutua and me as we tried to continue aspects of Peter's work. In 2004 I was able to help John (by doing Teachers Talking for him) and Dadamac began to emerge. It continues to develop, grow and change shape.

Examples of online collaboration for Dave Pollard

On the Deep Time Walk we learned some impressive lessons about fungi and co-operative relationships going on under the ground. Fellow "Deep Time Walker" Dave Pollard tells me we were learning about mycorrhizae and mycelia. (More about the Deep Time Walk in Returning from Schumacher College and Dark Mountain)

Online collaborative experiences

As part of our ongoing email conversation Dave has asked me to write up one or two of my best online collaborative experiences. It's hard to choose because all of my involvement with people and projects in Africa has had a strong online element. How else could I have stayed in touch with my contacts over the years in between my working holidays?

To begin at the beginning

It may help to give a little history. Back in the early days of helping Peter Oyawale there was only one person in Peter's entire network in Nigeria who had a phone, and that was Mr (now Chief) Adetola who lived in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State. Peter's networking from London to "back home" in Oke-Ogun, a large rural area of Oyo State, was done largely by phone, through Chief Adetola's amazingly effective, on-the-ground, person-to-person networks, which stretched right out into the rural areas where Peter had spent his childhood.

Dave Pollard - Through the Dark Mountain: A Harvest of Myths

Dave Pollard, like me, was at Dark Mountain last week. He's written about it - Through the Dark Mountain: A Harvest of Myths":

I spent last week at a Dark Mountain retreat at Schumacher College in Dartington just outside Totnes, UK..... (we) explored our shared worldview of the coming collapse of civilization, the myths of our culture and the possibility of creating new stories that might be of better service to us in the challenging decades ahead.....

A myth is a story that many people believe to be true. It may or may not be true.

The danger with myths is that if people live their lives as if a myth is true, when it is not, they can destroy their lives, the happiness of everyone they know and care about, the world, everything. For a photo and the full text see Through the Dark Mountain: A Harvest of Myths" 

Before First Thursday July 2014

The First Thursday Group has been meeting online on the First Thursday of the month for years (too long to remember when it started).

It's very simple. I go online at the same time each month. If any of my friends or contacts want to join me they can. I know a rich variety of people with a wide range of overlapping interests. Usually the common thread is the fact that I know everyone - although sometimes a friend will invite others, and they are equally welcome.

Sometimes only one or two people will join me, sometimes almost too many to handle. What happens depends on who turns up - and how well people know each other.  

We don't have an agenda because it's just a conversation, but sometimes I think ahead to what we might be talking about, depending on what I know we are currently concerned about.

Possible topics for today

If Chief Gbade Adejumo and John Dada are able to join us then I know conflict resolution would be a pressing issue. John is doing some practical work about that locally, regarding conflict over grazing rights (for more details see Grazing rights) and Gbade has just finished his research on the same issue, with a focus on the situation in Ago-Are.

Returning from Schumacher Collage and Dark Mountain

Last week I was at Schumacher Collage for a short course led by Dougald Hine and Paul Kingsnorth of Dark Mountain. This quick blog is simply to pull some links together for ease of reference later.

Deep Time Walk

I joined others on a Deep Time walk, as described below:

In this time of ecological crisis, we need practical, experiential ways of reconnecting with our Earth as a great living being so that we can begin to treat our planet with the deep respect she deserves. At Schumacher College, Stephan Harding has shared his Deep Time Walk with hundreds of people from all over the world. It never fails to propel people into a deeply felt, bodily experience of the immense age of our Earth and of the severity and recentness of our impact.

The Walk takes place over 4.6 kilometres, representing 4,600 million years: the age of the Earth. On this scale, each meter represents a million years, and each millimetre one thousand years. Each footstep is about half a million years.

First Thursday Meeting Updates

Updated monthly

First Thursday meetings

On the First Thursday of each month I try to be online for an hour. It's a chance for friends and contacts, old and new, to drop in for a chat (a typed chat). It's very informal. People drop in as it suits them, so we don't have a set agenda. It's usually a small gathering. Usually it's people I know well, who are from varied place and backgrounds, and might not have any other opportunity to meet each other,  We share what we've been doing, introduce people to each other, explore areas of overlapping interest and so on. Sometimes we settle on a specific topic to explore in detail - it all depends on who turns up. (More about First Thursdays, which have been running each month since 2007.)

How it usually works

There is no pre-registration, but the software does limit how many people can attend. So far there has always been room for everyone. If you have any problems accessing First Thursday please let me know

Pattern Language and Dadamac

I celebrate the work of John Dada and his team at Fantsuam Foundation (FF) both for its own sake and for its wider relevance. I often struggle to explain that wider relevance, and it seems that pattern language ideas could help me when I try to share some of the insights that come out of Dadamac.

I don't know enough to attempt to explain pattern language, so I'll simply offer you pointers to find out more through the work of two people who have influenced me. I was also helped by Helmut Leitner who gave me a series of weekly "online tutorials" early in my explorations.

Looking for answers and finding Doug Schuler

I first came across pattern language ideas through the work of Doug Schuler.

I was doing my usual thing of looking on the Internet for "the right people" i.e. the ones whose work (theoretical or practical) would give me insights into the UK-Africa initiatives I was working on. I hoped to learn how to reduce the gradient of my learning curve, so that I would achieve more and struggle less.

Working towards Dadamac Glocal

We (Nikki Fishman and I) are working towards an event on January 10th 2015, which is provisionally called Dadamac Glocal. It's a bit of a challenge to know the best way to describe it, other than it's going to be a great way to start the new year. Details will be shared nearer the time.

An invitation to join us

We're excited about what we've done in the past linking the UK and Africa. We've been on a steep learning curve, and that made it hard for us to explain exactly what we were doing and why it matters. Now we've taken time to reflect about what has been most valuable. We're ready to tell our story and to invite other people to get involved with us in 2015 (and in the preparations beforehand).

We've helped one changemaker, now we're ready to do more

For years we've been helping John and his team at Fantsuam Foundation (FF) to tell the unfolding stories of their work and the communities they serve. By raising the visibility of John's work we've supported him in making funding bids, in reporting back to donors and in having greater influence.

We've also been learning about patterns of change, how local initiatives fit into the global picture, and how knowledge from one local initiative can accelerate the progress of another. 

Week by week, through our online UK-Nigeria Dadamac meetings we've shared the opportunities and challenges of the work at FF.

Andrius - Links ref collaborating, communicating, rubbing minds.

I shared these links in a recent Skype call to Andrius Kulikauskas. He's my informal studies supervisor. He's interested in what I'm thinking related to what I'm doing. We try to meet online about once a week. It'll be useful to have these links easily to hand here for my own reference and to share with others.

The links all relate to my interests in collaboration, learning-by-doing, and people learning from each other (especially from different perspectives). They are things I'm actively involved in which have taken some of my time over the last few weeks.