This spring NetSquared Wellington will be hosting a day-long unconference for changemakers, people working in their grassroots communities and communicators in NGOs. We will offer a day for people to learn from each other about putting technology to good use.
There is a team of stellar organisers working on details at the moment, with a notice about a date coming out soon.
In the meantime, we’ve got a programme of lunchtime learning events. These are free, fun and great for networking as well as learning.
If you know of anyone that you think might be interested in attending, you could suggest they look at the NetSquared Wellington meet-up page, or you could give or send them a brochure. Digital versions attached here, or I can post out a hardcopy if this you reckon this will be more convincing.
I had hosting arranged with Crazy Domains, and checked they had WordPress ready to install at the push of a button. I’d already paid $14.95 for the net2welly.org.nz domain.
The plan was to work in small groups on different aspects of website development. I envisages people working at three or four tables covering: installation and set-up; graphic design; structure and content; and testing/ launch.
With only half of the 12 people who RSVP’d actually in the room — poor turnouts being one of the drawbacks of the informal meetup format — these plans quickly changed. It made sense to work as single group.
And we didn’t go anywhere near the control panel, DNS set-up or plugin directories. Instead, we arrived at the end of our hour long workshop with a plan.
Skipping the talking part of the process and essentially doing things on the fly would most likely have a led to a train web wreck. Maybe not fatal, but highly likely a site heading off the rails. Discussion what will be valuable our community and narrowing the focus are fundamental starting points.
As we started Alan Royal shared Rudyard Kipling’s timeless advice: “I keep six honest serving men (they taught me all i knew); Theirs names are What and Why and When And How And Where and Who.”
And that’s exactly what we covered: our goals, linkages with the big picture NetSquared vision, how would the website sit alongside other community IT initiatives in Wellington, who is the audience, what content could we easily co-create as volunteers, how will people interact, and what will it take to ensure the website is accessible to all.
Ultimately, we had to decide whether a website will be a valuable addition to communities in Wellington. After a round where everyone had their say, the answer was yes. Our goal is offer a virtual extension of our regular NetSquared Wellington meetings: part learning, part networking, part social.
As well as meetup and other event notices, we plan to share short posts about stuff we learn about using technology for social change. Maybe this is from a workshop or webinar network members attend. Or perhaps brave experiments with coding or online communication.
Anyone willing to abide by some simple community guidelines will be able to create and add a blog post. Brave stuff in a world where everyone constantly pleads they’re “busy, busy, busy”. Busy, schmbusy: we’ll give it ago.
Other ideas we’ll explore include:
a project space that could connect people with IT needs with those with skills to offer
a page with resources or sign-posts about essential, useful online tools and ways of doing stuff
sharing the good words and connecting people via a popular social network (or two).
First we have to build the website, something we’re due to begin together on Tuesday 12 August. Come along, all fingers and devices at the ready.
Even though we didn’t actually build the #net2welly website in the allocated hour, we’re off to a great start.
The trophy pictured here is more than what it seems.
It shows the potential for us as global citizens to share good ideas and practical tools to make the world a better place. Anyone with a 3-D printer and crafty fingers can print off and construct the trophy.
While I’ve heard stories about printing prosthetics, pumps and plastic parts, it wasn’t until I unzipped the 900KB folder and saw the actual files for the trophy that I realised how easily technology could be transferred.
Now code alone isn’t enough. Knowhow and confidence are crucial. A framework like Creative Commons to ensure intellectual property is respected is helpful. But without trust and a sense of affinity between people, nothing will be freely offered to others.
That’s why international movements such as NetSquared are so important: they foster sharing, both locally and globally. When we get together with others a lot is possible: we can learn about what is possible, inspire and support one another, and share what we know.
The 50 #net2 active groups are meeting all the time (see “Together we’re strong”). For those of us in Aotearoa, there are some upcoming opportunities to participate.
NetSquared Wellington is coming up to it’s second birthday, 18 meetups down the track. In June we are talking: Advocacy – how can using a digital soap box work for you?
The Auckland Net2 meetup group will resume meeting again on Tuesday 8 July, with Vivian Chandra and Stuart Young taking co-leadership. The title of the upcoming meetup asks it all “#net2aklREVIVE : So what is #tech4good anyway?”
For anyone interested in setting up a NetSquared group in Christchurch or Dunedin, you’re welcome to join a conversation with me and others next month:
There is nothing better than sitting down, face-to-face to enthuse with other community organisers about things like nonprofit technology, running dynamic meetups and the state of the world.
Add to this a beach vista, ocean breeze and warm temperatures. Then throw in Australia’s largest nonprofit technology conference.
This is what NetSquared co-organisers in Australia and New Zealand will be doing next week.
Fresh air and walking workshops are the order of the day as co-organisers meet to learn from each other about how to run thriving NetSquared networks in their respective cities.
We’re meeting at the northern end of the 57 kilometre beach which runs past the Gold Coast in Queensland. We’ll join over 300 participants at the annual Connecting Up conference.
A highlight of the two day event is a keynote by former #net2 Portland (OR), London, and NYC organiser, and now CEO of NTEN.org, Amy Sample Ward.
Attending the conference will be an opportunity to tell many people about what NetSquared is all about. As well as promoting participation in the active networks, another aim is to encourage co-organises in other cities to step forward.
That’s the ballpark estimate for how much of the climate changing carbon that will be emitted on my behalf, for my flights to the Nonprofit Technology Conference.
It’s a long way to Washington DC for me. It’s over 14,000 kilometres from my home on the west coast of Te Ika a Maui, New Zealand’s northern island.
Living close to the sea with a coastline threatened by rising sea levels is another reason for my concern. If we don’t reduce (or limit) the level of carbon in the atmosphere, I’ll likely suffer. As will my children. And their children too.
Some of my South Pacific neighbours are already finding sea water rising perilously close to their homes.
Knowing that my flights, in whatever small way on a global scale, contribute to climate change isn’t something I can truthfully ignore. It’d be easy to brush my insignificant contribution under a handy carpet. After all, my flight is hardly unusual. Why should I do anything about it?
My first response was to consider planting a small forest on our section. Then call it Washington DC forest as reminder of my obligation to the planet.
Before looking into this in any detail, my sister – who is an environmental planner – dissuaded me. Any trees not planted in certified scheme won’t guarantee carbon is locked away she said.
Giving $100-120 dollars to a certified carbon sequestration scheme would be easy. A one-off payment and my carbon problem is wiped.
It was only after talking with my friend and mentor Andrew Mahar, that I’ve decided how to discharge my climate responsibility.
As an inspirational leader Andrew never shies away from tackling difficult social and environmental challenges. Currently he is supporting a multi-faceted social enterprise in Timor Leste (the recently liberated nation in the Western Pacific). Prior to this he set up and led Infoxchange, a highly successful Australian nptech social business.
The WithOneSeed initiative supports subsistence farmers in East Timor to reafforest their land. Donations from people living in industrialised countries to pay for trees and other essential support. Incomes rise and carbon is locked away. Knowledge transfer is occurring alongside this through education and technology programmes.
As soon I talked to Andrew, he laid down a challenge: Don’t limit the carbon you offset to what you’re generating through a single trip: what about the carbon emitted to support your everyday computing habits?
Much as I’d rather not think about this, it’s true. Immense quantities of pollution are caused by coal-fired power stations that feed the data centres owned by Microsoft, Facebook, nameless cloud providers and others. When we watch YouTube videos, listen to music and live our digital lives, we are contributing to global warming.
WithOneSeed have a handy App that can help anyone interested to determine how much carbon is emitted by their digital media habits (on phones and tablets at least).
The personal story from Andrew, and a better understanding of my daily data usage in context, has allowed me to zero in on a global issue all too easy to ignore.
So, I’ll donate to WithOneSeed to offset the carbon. Not just for my flight, but for my daily computing too.
As I get ready to travel back home to New Zealand, I’m thinking not only of what I’ll take back the communities I work in, but also about the unseen impacts of my personal technology choices. I guess that is what individual social responsibility is all about.
Do you know what impact your technology is having?
Acknowledgement: my trip to Washington DC is only possible with support from NetSquared/ TechSoup, @goodresearch, @nzdrug, and my fab partner Roz. My evolving storify is at: http://sfy.co/rPzq
Making choices about what to attend is a lot harder when attending in person, than it is when joining online.
A major obstacle when ‘attending’ the online version of the huge three day conference is not so much choice of sessions, but the timing. As the annual techfest is hosted in one large US city or another, it means the morning sessions start at a ridiculously, early hour.
Nevertheless I managed to catch some sessions when I’ve registered in the past. These have been both relevant and irreverent.
Skip ahead two years, my involvement in the NetSquared community is taking me to Washington DC.
The #14ntc conference (13-15 March) is secondary to the main reason I’ll be in town. Either side of the conference I’ll be workshopping, learning, chatting and plotting with fellow NetSquared ambassadors, other NetSquared co-organisers from across North America, and some of the TechSoup team.
After many conference calls, FB updates and online sessions, I’m really excited at the prospect of swapping notes with my fellow regional ambassadors Maria, Excel and Mel. We’ve lots to share about how tech/ web is being used by communities in West Africa, Central America, and Europe.
As well seeing the monumental sites in Washington DC, I’ll spend a few days in San Francisco on my way home. I’m particularly looking forward to chatting with the irrepressible Beth Kanter, on her home turf.
My trip is only possible because my wonderful partner Roz will tend to the home fires. I’m chuffed at sponsorship from @TechSoup, and support from my bosses at @goodresearch and @nzdrug.
If you want to see which of the 100- plus sessions I end up joining in, I’ll share a few pics and notes about what I do, see and hear. See my storify story or follow #SBinDC.