The latest channel for UK-Africa communication that I've set up is the International Development (Africa) group at Impact Hub Westminster in London (a group limited to HubW members).
Reasons for setting up this group:
I became an unintentional UK-Africa social innovator in 2000, through my friend the late Peter Adetunji Oyawale and his untimely death.
Following that tragic introduction, I got deeply involved and came to feel at home in two locations in Nigeria (Ago-Are in Oyo State, and Bayan Loco, Kafanchan, in Kaduna State). I've worked closely with John Dada, often under the name "Dadamac". I've also developed friendships with people from other parts of Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.
I've been shocked by the differences between what I often "learn" through development websites etc and the rural realities I've experienced.
I've set up various channels of communication to reduce this reality gap. I try to improve opportunities for learning-from-each-other and for collaboration. I have a vision for development in the 21st century which builds on "the best of both cultures" (as I first explained in Pam, we want street lights! and more recently in "For want of a nail" - Why a stronger Dadamac is urgently needed).
Recently Matt Denham, of the HubW team, who has helped me arrange events there suggested starting this HubW International Development (Africa) group.
Dadamac, GlobalNet21 and Impact Hub Westminster
Dadamac, GlobalNet21 (GN21) and Impact Hub Westminster (HubW) are increasingly closely connected. Dadamac Day 2013 was the launch event of the GN21 and Africa Group and was celebrated at HubW. The January meeting Doing & Learning and the February planning meeting, we're also at HubW and next comes the Speakers' Corner event in March.
Hub Westminster, community building and Yammer
I first connected with Impact Hub Westminster (HubW) through the event Universities: Past & Future, An Unconference (read more at The University Project) in October 2011. In the following months I attended some of Vinay Gupta's "Truth and Beauty" and "Beauty and Truth" sessions, and other unconference style events at HubW which taught me a lot and extended my networks.
I finally became a HubW member because I wanted to keep connecting with others who I'd met there, rather than because I needed the working space. It was the opportunity for collaboration and learning from each other that attracted me. However, as a member, I've come to appreciate other benefits as well. I've also been intrigued by some of the elements of community development in such a space. It might seem that a physical space would win over a virtual one any day for community building, but "it ain't necessarily so".
Now HubW is introducing Yammer, which brings online community building into the HubW space, and will later enable HubW to reach out to members who want the connections (but not the work space) of HubW. I'm glad to be one of the early adopters helping to build the initial content and connections in HubW's Yammer.
Other aspects of Online and Face-to-Face
Most of my UK-Africa initiatives have combined face-to-face collaboration and online collaboration. This means I've been exploring the interconnection between face-to-face and online aspects of community building since the turn of the century, some in real time (see Online collaboration - the blessings of low bandwidth) and some not.
It's appropriate to acknowledge how much my online group work has been influenced by the innovative work of Andrius Kulikauskas and his Minciu Sodas "Orchard of Thoughts" laboratory. Andrius did great work cross-pollinating different groups (or "trees") in his orchard. I'll try to copy his example as I flit between related groups, especially:
- International Development (Africa) group at Impact Hub Westminster
- The GlobalNet21 and Africa group - within GlobalNet21 meetups
- The First Thursday Group - an online group within the Dadamac Community
- The Dadamac Foundation Strategy and Planning Group (meeting monthly at HubW - evidence of our work will become visible later in the year)
- The Dadamac UK-Nigeria team meetings
If you have any kind of interest in the realities of community development related to UK and Africa please join me.
If you are in London see GlobalNet21 meetups and come along to our meetings (By the way, no-one is likely to insist on membership money for your first GN21 meeting - but you are expected to join if you come regularly.)
If you have a relevant story you want to tell then sign up as a 5 minute speaker for our March event - Speakers Corner
If you want to be part of the online Dadamac Community check out details of The First Thursday Group and join me next time I'm "at home" online.
If you belong to HubW then look for the International Development (Africa) group when you get onto Yammer.
Let's join together to reduce the "reality gaps", to increase communication and to enable collaboration, learning and integrated development.