What happens when instead of asking people about the problems they are facing, you focus on looking at what is already being done to address them?
This is what we’re doing with the ‘Spot the Future’ initiative – instead of waiting for the Post-2015 world to come to us, we’re looking to find people who are creating the future they want today
So who are these future-makers and what are they up to?
In Georgia, the online discussion explored new ways of collaboration between smart citizens and the government, specifically looking at what it means to be a citizen of a modern state.
From a team of female hacktivists bringing women into the hacking-for-social good realm, to guerrilla gardening activists promoting volunteerism in the protection of green zones, to three guys who created an online service to crowdfund medical services for the most vulnerable citizens - the range of civic innovators from the edge that came out of the ‘woodworks’ was staggering!
“I very much recognize that very typical Edgeryder flavor there: smart, generous people, generally young, typically very far from wielding any serious power, doing their best to improve the world for everyone.”
In Egypt, the community swarmed around the question looking at initiatives aiming to build commons in their city, as well as tackling unemployment, poverty and environment.
We also heard about some pretty outside-the-box collaborations bringing value to the communities:
Take Hazem. He told us a story about building a wiki-city by rallying the people to build several unplanned but much-needed exits from a ring road in their community. From sourcing funding to mobilizing bulldozers and engineers – the community self-organized to solve its problems and local authorities followed.
Meanwhile in Armenia, we talked about getting people to work:
Over half of young Armenians (18-35) don’t have a job and two thirds have never had one. Among youth unemployment, access to wealth, and environmental issues, it seems that the toughest questions involved exploring the links between finding jobs and leading meaningful, fulfilling lives.
We learned about:
- The Garni community – a group looking for the ways of creating an independent, self-sustaining community to support rural employment;
- a founder of Carpool Armenia group advocating for better access to public transport and healthy lifestyle;
- as well as some young adults interested in replicating the UNMonastary concept in their country.
A shift in our focus has linked us up to some extraordinary citizens and opened up a new universe of solutions and ideas.
Communities often already have the ideas and solutions. Instead of bypassing them and going straight to the problems, we’re trying to identify and strengthen what’s been there the whole time.
Stay tuned for the next update where we’re going to see what happens when you put all these future-makers together in the same room!