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Archive for January, 2009

It’s been a bit of a crazy month, spent doing some budget scenarios for different projects. For this year it looks like we’ll be doing YETAM in Kenya (April) and Cameroon (July). I’ve been working with the countries on getting our reports from last year in as well as our forward planning for 2009. We have the project point persons selected now for Kenya and Cameroon. They are both really excited about the project. We’ll continue to seek funds for Mozambique and Ghana.

My next big challenge will be to put together a training pack for the new countries. We weren’t able to include a face-to-face meeting in the budget for the YETAM coordinators, so I’ll plan to arrive in each country a little ahead of time to work with the staff and partners, and we’ll do as much by email and skype as possible.

The past month I’ve been trying to get a feel for Twitter and how it could be useful to us. It seems to be a great tool for sharing ideas and learning, sharing links and initiatives. Hopefully I can keep it to a manageable level so that I can keep up with all the stuff being shared! The ‘follow me on twitter’ function on blogger is nice too.

So it’s been a pretty cool and exciting month learning and tech wise. I’ll meet with Plan’s Innovations Manager in Amsterdam next week, and then all the regional communications people and some from headquarters will be in Bamako (Mali) for the meeting starting Tuesday. I’ll get a chance to visit the YETAM Mali project on Sunday and another one on Monday before we start the meeting on Tuesday…. looking forward to this year. :-)

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So back to work for a whole week. Someone told me about Techcrunch. How did I not know about that before?!

Yesterday I met with a very very old friend — Renato — whom I worked with in El Salvador. I pretty much cut my teeth on children’s media work with Renato so it was really cool to meet back up with him. He’s now working as Plan’s Latin American coordinator for Child Media projects. We shared visions and seem to be on the same track even though we haven’t worked together for almost 10 years.

We agreed that he’d put some of the stuff they are doing into the same framework (Global Youth Engagement framework) that we are using so that we can begin to harmonize. They can feed into the YETAM project easily since they are also doing a lot of video in 12 countries there.

The interesting point though, and where I see the field changing and evolving, is on this question: Whose Media? When I upload something to YouTube, do I title it “Plan” i.e. Plan Rwanda Videos, or is it media that belongs to the community where we supported the project and should be titled Gatsibo, Rwanda Videos. Something I struggle with. I’m struggling a bit with this concept of ownership of the media. Is it the organization or funder’s media or are they the community’s videos? Are we mainly supporting kids with access to ICTs and media tools, or is our main goal for them to engage around certain topics and create videos to promote behavior change around those topics? I hope with time that we can look more at this and unpack it a little as social media becomes more widespread.

With Renato we talked about that issue. We talked about how he can incorporate more social media and mobile technology into the Latin American work. I shared with him about Frontline SMS and Ushahidi and Citizen Journalism and all the things we covered in the SM4SC workshop and he was super excited about building that in and having a similar approach in Latin America to what we’ve been exploring in African countries. Many organizations keep saying that children don’t have a space in media, but I was thinking, space in Which Media? If you look at internet, isn’t it more that since participation in traditional media is owned by corporations/governments and closed off to kids and most adults as well, that kids and young people have pretty much taken over new media? So basically if they have access to the tools (mobiles, internet, etc.), they DO have space in media, just not television, radio, newspapers. So how do we support that access then. Of course that isn’t everywhere, there are huge access issues, but at some point maybe it will be….

And also as regards Which Media — how, based on the goals we are trying to achieve, do we select the best form of media? Sometimes organizations make the mistake of starting a project from the point of view of which media form — . Let’s do a children’s radio project. Let’s start a video project. Let’s use social media. Let’s train them on theater. Etc. But more and more it’s clear that organizations could start with a broader framework. Such as our Global Youth Engagement (GYE) framework, which we pulled out from consultations with youth who told us that they are basically working in 4 areas and reaching out/trying to influence 4 populations: other organized youth, their families and communities, decision makers, and Plan itself. And they want to do it at the local-district-national-regional-and global levels. So for each group that they want to influence, we could start from the point of which media is the most appropriate based on the audience (other youth, families/ communities, etc.) and also based on whether it’s local, national, global, etc. So that could become a way for the youth media programs to evolve. Maybe the best media for local/families is theater. Maybe for youth/national influence it’s cartoons or large events, maybe for global it’s internet, etc.

And then we talked also about the other main question for me: Media for What? I first started thinking about that after I heard this amazing child media guru (pardon the word) guy from India named Shonu Chandra talking at a child media conference. “So kids can make media. So What!? It’s what they DO with that media that matters.” So then with all the media being done in our projects, the next step is that. What social change are we able to support kids to create with their media. There are some great examples of this. I hope we can also be really strong on this with YETAM as it continues.

So that leads us back to the idea of Social Media for Social Change. I know this has all been thought about before, but it’s becoming more clear each time I think it through.

Renato and I agreed that we’d follow up on 3 main points. 1) We’d try to have a small meeting of the minds to develop out some of these ideas somewhere. We’d use open space technology to make the agenda upon arrival. 2) he will see if they have funds to do a SM4SC workshop in Latin America 3) We will see how to collaborate on the YETAM idea across regions.

Now the one thing we forgot to do was get the standard photo of him and me so that I could post it into this blog!!

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