The Practical Radical

Who do Mama Grizzlies vote for?

August 27, 2010
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Obviously Mama Grizzly bears vote for Sarah Palin. Why? Because Sarah comes from Alaska, and so do grizzly bears and their mamas. Alaska is also close to Russia, which is called the “great bear”, and Sarah stares them down when she wakes up in the morning. She is fearless. She knows.

So … she can speak on behalf of grizzly bears.

Democrats don’t know grizzly bears. They probably have only seen them in the zoo. They haven’t lived in Alaska, and probably have NEVER seen Russia. But, Democrats have lefty friends in Hollywood who have deep pockets like that Star Wars guy who can make mean videos about our Mama Grizzly. They can get free wookie or ewok suits, which kinda look like grizzly bears.

So, vote for Sarah Palin, one angry Mama Bear.


Steps into Mapping the Unmapped – via Mapping: No Big Deal

August 25, 2010
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No big deal?? Yeah right! This is an excellent and detailed step-by-step process on how to do mapping in remote areas, and for a great purpose as well (the successful referendum held in Kenya. Check out my blog post Transparency + Accountability = Democracy, Kenya Style to see how mapping was used there).

Here are the steps in quick preview (go to the main article to see the details):

1. Season planning.

2. Try to acquire existing maps or make people create them from memory.

3. Get contacts in the area prior to your arrival.

4. Meet community leaders.

5. Find a guide who knows the area and the people.

6. Go to a local bar and have a beer. ** key to any successful mapping process! – DR

7. Go for it. Map!

8. Write a working diary.

9. Present the results to the community.

10.  Finish your work.

11.  Stay in touch.

Keep up the good work and keep us posted!

Doug

STEPS INTO MAPPING THE UNMAPPED (RURAL FOCUS) – MAPPING ON MOUNT ELGON

Mapping hardly accessible, rural areas, is always a challenge. Each area differs so you have to tackle it in its own special way. Yet some basic steps are always the same. I have written some of them down. In July, Mildred and I went mapping on Mount Elgon as contractors for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on behalf of Map Kibera.

They needed information regarding polling stations in the area for their work on election monitoring. The information included geographic location, accessibility – both physical accessibility and the availability of cell phone service, information related to infrastructure of these stations, and speed of travel to each individual station.

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The coming of the “Ice” Tea Party

August 23, 2010
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"Do not Resuscitate"

I very much dislike citycaucas.com, a well-read blog focused on the civic politics of Vancouver. It’s not that they don’t have well researched information, it is the outright partisan pettiness of the blog that bugs me. Their latest missive on the (possible) revival of the long-thought-dead conservative Non-Partisan Association (NPA) is one example of this (the picture above is from that blog – the caption is mine.)

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What it means to “get it” – Mikel Maron on Building Digital Technology for Our Planet

August 18, 2010
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I am going to go out on a limb here and state that I think Mikel Maron and his crew of openstreetmap people are some of the leading experts globally in understanding how technology – specifically spatial technology – can be used in the developing world.

Why you ask? Why them? Well, because they aren’t at 10,000 feet, nor 5,000 feet, or even 500 feet — they are at ground zero. Yes, they passionately believes in technology, Mikel is a self-described techno nerd, but he, like many of the others involved in openstreetmaps movement, are on the ground seeing how technology ACTUALLY works, not how we would love it to, or how we report it to our funders to get more money, or how it works for just enough time for our research to be done (read about the hole-in-the-wall project in his blog post).

I wrote a management-nerdy blog post a while back on one of the projects they were involved in — mapkibera — and if you get past all the graphs my main message was that the people in the project were asking the right questions — basically — how can this project be sustainable past the initial “wow” phase. The answer to this question is quite simple, and one not often followed by aid agencies — the answer is “LIVE THERE”. Yup, be there, not in a hotel, or the UN compound, or the ex-pat enclave, but actually in the place you are working at. Find out where all the gnarly bits are, and then maybe it will be successful — or at least have a better chance. Parallel and just as important is WORK with the people that live there. Seems self explanatory … but something that is not always done.

And, that is what Mikel and his crew have done with mapkibera. They came for 6 months, and have stayed for a year+. They engaged the community in an asset based approach – a la John Mcknight’s Asset Based Community Development – and had the people map their community — and community which heretofore had no community accessible maps. The mapping was done on a platform developed in Kenya after the post-election violence  of a couple years ago called Usahidi (you can as well read my yet unpublished blog post on this).

So, this all being said, the following blog outlines the questions he and they are asking, the possibilities and the possible pitfalls. I’ll shut up and let him speak … (but read my bolded bits to see where I think he nails it bang on) .. ok .. i will really shut up now. Promise …

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Guest Blog: What happened in South Africa shouldn’t just stay in South Africa

August 18, 2010
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The following is (my first!!) guest blog from two quite cool people – Kevina Power and Ron Harris (aka Os12). I will leave it at that and let them explain the rest …

Guest Blogger: Kevina Power

It was late fall 2005 when we left Kenya for South Africa to host 2 World Urban Cafes (WUCs); one during the 1st African Hip Hop Summit, and one during the monthly Black Sunday event in Soweto. As I write this lots of memories are flooding back… WUCs, Hip Hop, Friends, Soweto… it all feels like a dream, a damn good dream.

First let me explain some background; how did we end up in Kenya? South Africa?  To many other places far far away? Well, back then, when I was considering working with Doug on the World Urban Forum project of the Environmental Youth Alliance, I remember him trying to explain his vision to me… it was on a napkin I think, sitting in some cafeteria in downtown Vancouver. If you know Doug, you know he speaks from a place where he calls ‘the bleeding edge’ and indeed this World Urban Café plan of his was certainly that. You see, UN Habitat, the UN agency charged with ‘improving the lives of slum dwellers’ was going to host their 3rd Session of the World Urban Forum in our city, VanCity, the next year.

When Doug asked to meet with me, I thought it would be just another long lunch with Doug, talking about our lives, our city, our vision for the future. Little did I know that this lunch would change me forever. Jumping forward, about 8 months later, here I am, living in Nairobi, Kenya, a place I had not even knew existed a year before, working with UN Habitat and the Environmental Youth Alliance on the World Urban Forum, specifically implementing this WUC Concept in the lead up to the 2006 Conference in Vancouver.

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From Kodak to the Mobile Phone: Urban Data and the Scientific Life

August 17, 2010
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Mobile Power

This is a repost from the Polis blog with my comments (my comments first, polis blog From Kodak to the Mobile Phone below):

Thank you for this post. I think that the mobile generation with their ever more powerful mobile technologies are changing how we view, analyze and plan our cities. I work with youth in East Africa, and i have found that through the use of mobile phones, which are now prolific throughout the region, we have been able to not only capture images, both still and in video, but use these images to tell the rarely heard story of some of the poorest of the poor. (An example of such a project is http://mobilemovement.tv/)

I have as well found that “photovoice” is an excellent way to allow people to “map” their communities. I have used this technique with youth in North America, through the Growing up in Cities project , and more recently through work with UN-HABITAT on their community mapping project (you can check out a story a wrote for them titled Bridging the Digital Divide .

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UN-HABITAT awards 51 global youth empowerment projects

August 12, 2010
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Youth Partnership for Peace and Development from Sierra Leone (2009 recipient)

UN-HABITAT has awarded grants from its Urban Youth Fund to 51 projects proposed by young people from around the world.

The beneficiaries were drawn from a pool of 1,563 applicants from 85 countries. India, Kenya and Zimbabwe generated the greatest number of successful applicants under the programme which awards grants worth in total close to USD one million annually.

The 51 winning projects from 31 countries will be announced globally on International Youth Day on 12 August. The projects showcase innovative ideas aimed at alleviating poverty, improving employment prospects for young people and increasing the participation of young people in democratic processes.

“My congratulations go to these youth groups for their outstanding projects,” said Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT. “The winning applications contain innovative ideas that will truly contribute towards sustainable urbanization and I wish them every success in their projects and their future.”

Among the recipients are a Sierra Leonean association providing vocational training for disabled youth, a Zimbabwean youth network empowering young slum dwellers to advocate for secure land tenure; a Palestinian youth forum setting up youth councils to influence the local government, a Haitian organization establishing an ICT training center for youth and an Indian youth group seeking to hold the local government accountable through young citizens media.

The UN-HABITAT Urban Youth Fund awards eligible organizations grants of between USD 5,000 and USD 25,000. The groups that qualify have to meet strict UN criteria and are required to report on results and effectiveness.

Of some one billion slum dwellers in the world today, it is estimated that more than 70 percent are under the age of 30. These young people have few resources available to improve their own living environments.

Click here for a complete list of this year’s grant recipients.


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One night (and a bit) in Istanbul

August 10, 2010
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Hagia Sophia at Night

Istanbul, August 11, 2010

This is our “great night” that follows our “lazy day” Istanbul. This involved water pipes, ancient mosques, messengers of truth and Turkish delights with friends (oh, and shopping).

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Obama to Young African Leaders: ‘Yes, Youth Can’

August 8, 2010
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I think it is important after successes such as the constitutional referendum in Kenya for the international community and especially the US to get behind African youth. They need the support of the international community both in word and action to affect the positive change they desire. Please go to the USAID Yes! Youth Can initiative to learn more about how the US is supporting Kenyan youth.

Click to read the transcript from Obama’s address.

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A lazy day in Istanbul

August 8, 2010
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Reflecting in a Funky café I

Istanbul, August 8, 2010

Lee-Anne and I were both lucky enough to get a few hours of wandering around Istanbul, Turkey before we began working on the conference we were invited to speak at. Though we were on about 4 hours sleep, we had a great, yet slow, time. Here are some photos.

Reflecting in a Funky Café II

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