Global Villages Network

local community - global networking

June 2010 letter to the Globalvillages Community

This post goes -identically - to the members of the NING Group 'Global Villages Network' and to the members of the yahoogroup 'globalvillages'.

This is going to be a rather lengthy letter with many messages overdue - and therefore it makes sense to start right away with a table of contents:

thank you for the effort to read this!

Franz

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Top News
1. State of Global Villages Network, NING and Yahoogroup
2. A look back @ Joint Workshop with Clear Village Foundation in May 2010
3. A new attempt to spell out the vision and mission of a Global Villages Network

Other News
4. Videobridge Workshops in January and June
5. Letter from Russian Administration regretting problems with Videobridging
6. interesting network building processes
6.1 Locals forum on edemocracy
6.2 Intelligent Communities association


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1. State of Global Villages Network, NING and Yahoogroup

I just subscribed the 125th member of the NING social network (globalvillages.ning.com), and I probably rejected at least the triple numbers of spammers in these recent months. From what I can see from the profiles we do have a fantastic group assembled here, it is really a good self-selection/selection of likeminded people. People like these are "thin on the ground". And there are many that I know in person as groundbreaking visionaries. It was not even easy to get them into a social network.

In the last months I could really not do much more for this forum than passively collect, but interest has not ceased in creating this worldwide network of advocates of new village development.

Now all this is in jeopardy, from various sides. Not only from my personal lack of capacity.

Even before we have begun to intensify our communication and to draw the benefits from this "collecting activity", the announcement that NING that hosts our social network will become a purely commercial paysite appeared. This in fact forces me and all of us to rethink the significance, purpose and resilience of the GlobalVillages endavour.

The whole NING-based thing seemed to be an easy job, allowing the evolutionary and gradual collection of likeminded friends - sort of "on-the-side" - community building. Now it will become much bit harder, either more energy and dedication has to go into this network building effort --- or this valuable collection and potential will again collapse and be extinguished.

One may argue and rant about the brusque style of NING turning arould 180%.
(In fact NING is most likely destroying at least tens of thousands networking activities that it helped to build in the forst place. They would have had much better choices to keep their reputation alive. At least we still have some time to move or to decide to stay if we can raise 240 dollars a year.)
But all this requires from us to be creative and dedicated if we want this networking to continue. Its a wake up call.

If that was not enough, Andrius Kulikauskas, who spent tons of energy in collecting independent minds and who helped building the globalvillages mailing list, also is significanly reducing his efforts on online community building. He relocated from Vilnius to Chicago a few days ago and will work there one year as a tutor. So he will also stop to maintain the globalvillages list and leave it up to me how this list will proceed. It seems to me there is less and less sense for him investing in an infrastructure for independent thinkers when the evolving social networking world allows people to connect in so many ways (maybe not the ways he had in mind) and many of his ideas were taken up by others. The online collaboration protocols are growing endless, as is the also energy you have to put in them to be competitive.

So here we are. The globalvillages yahoogroup has 310 members, by its open subscription process there might be some spammers and lurkers, but I also know much effort has been spent mostly by Andrius in bringing these people together and basically its a great list, too. Add this to the 125 NING people who went through a little more effort of self - selection: and you will get a lot of social capital and potential.

In times of information overflow this social capital only survives if people are actively engaging in relations and have a really good reason to participate in and maintain this flow of information. It only survives if it turns out to be "intelligent design", really fulfilling a purpose for participants. So many things are competing for our attention that you cant even afford to read this mail.

I dont know the complete answer how we are going to maintain this online community but I would regret it if we failed. Its a time to ask for good ideas, and definitely a time to pool resources and to cluster. If any of you could help in making this whole thing sustainable in offering qualified online facilitation or technical help it will be greatly appreciated. I am working with Ralf Schlatterbeck to build up a server infrastructure where we can host applications facilitating communication between globalvillagers in many ways - from spontaneous chats to forums and discussion groups to serious coauthoring or project management. We want this community to build on Open Source tools and really own its own content at the end of the day. But this is costly.

You want to help help? Great! Here is a five point list of how you could do it:

* Find research projects that can nourish and vitalize our community relations.
* Find commercial projects that help in a fair way to nourish and vitalize our community and are in tune with our values
* Help us to get resourceful supporters in politics, business, education, science.
* Dedicate some free time of yourself and coworkers to take part in our editorial board or in our technical support group.
* Organize regional or national chapters or simply local groups of Global Villages Network and start to explore and observe the change towards "revillagiatura" with us. (See further below for a new short purpose statement).

If you wish to respond, send me an email to f.nahrada@reflex.at and I publish all responses grouped by theme in a neutral wiki space that will survive and will be accessible to all. You all will get notified about the result.


2. Joint Workshop with Clear Village Foundation in May

I reported having been invited to Barcelona last November to the first lab of the Clear Village foundation. (See short film if you scroll down at http://www.clear-village.org/). It was a fabulous time, because for the first time I saw the full range of my - and hopefully our - joint aspirations manifested in a gathering of dedicated people with extraordinary capacities. This was not about preserving remnants of the past, this was about designing and building a powerful future of villages ! Thomas Ugo Ermacora and his people were really targeting at a creative process that works. The idea is integrating major technological and social changes together with old wisdom into a human framework that makes it possible for us to work for a better future together. They speak out daringly what supposedly everybody of us knows and stands for: the village is the optimum form of human development, and if the village currently is in crisis then we have to reinvent it!

I stayed in touch with Thomas and offered to work for an integration of our works.

So recently Thomas sent two of his collaborators, Chris Garvin and Karsten Stampa to Vienna where I had spotted an opportunity to have our message heard in a spatial planners conference named CORP (an acronym that points to computers and spatial planning). Not to our worst luck this conference was also connected to a major real estate developers trade show, the REAL Vienna. We did a workshop together and also visited many of the exhibitors and confronted them with the new ideas of participatory village development. So in many respects, this was like a test run for possible cooperations, in theory and in practise.

I must say the echo was not bad at all. At the workshop, we had quite a lively discussion with planners about the antithesis to sprawl and suburbia that we are suggesting. At the show floor, we found some tendencies towards village development, but also quite a lot of interest among other exhibitors. The bunch of Eastern European regions exhibiting there seemed a bit frustrated by the trade show, there was definitely no short supply of great ideas and projects, but a shortage of investors and money. So they were - at least sometimes - very open and eager to dicuss with us - and there was some acceptance of our provoquative points that there must be an alternative to traditional industrial developments, both in form of the process as well as in content, shape and size.

We might see this as an opportunity to build fruitful collaboration in future, offering support to planning departments, real estate developers, local communities, politicians and others who seek a way out of the current unsustainable ways of living.

Also, the complementing nature and slight difference of the "Global Villages" and "Clear Village" approaches has shown in practical intervention as a beacon: While GIVE (as the Vienna research center and initiator of the Global Villages network) puts a lot of emphasis on the structural - technical, spatial, institutional, psychological, social - requirements of the village building process including the geopolitical, geographical and cultural "birds eye view", Clear Village is open and sensitive to the best opportunities to launch participatory design processes around a given real estate project - to create and implement local community power already in the phase of design.

Its almost like attacking from two sides, and its more than just doubling the energy, its a mutial multiplication that can work even better because each side has its own tactical stands of arguments and points.

So we are discussing a deepening of collaboration. Maybe we can establish a worldwide working research structure as the operational rationale of the Global Villages Network. I do not know how much of you really support that, but it is clear that we have to strengthen our base in research institutions and think about joining in working groups with thematic areas. And we have to team up with those who seek to practically implement.

3. A new attempt to spell out the vision and mission of a Global Villages Network

After and through the workshop with Clear Village, it has become even more obvious to me that the Global Villages Network makes a lot of sense. If you want to boil its meaning down to one sentence, and you have to explain it to somebody in less than 20 words, you could use the phrase:

"These are the people that seriously are going to debunk the 2050 myth".

You all know that in the official predictions 2050 is the year where not only half, but 75 % of the worlds population are predicted to live in cities.

This prediction sounds to me like if some observers would say in 2050 a comet will hit earth. It seems like inevitable fate that we simply have to adapt to. Whilst in terms of our manifold social crisis/es at least there is pretension of action, here there is a widespread acceptance of this strange fact that 75% of the global population would cluster together in 2% of the planets surface! Official UN position, scientific consensus, dot!

Why does almost no one dare to say that this is in itself another horrible prediction and forecast ruining the most essentials achievements of humanity? That this is a deep crisis and loss of landscape and humane environment? Why does no one point out that we have to introduce a set of measures of very complex dimensions to prevent this destruction of grown cultured landscape including existing and future man - nature relations, but this is by all means possible, considering our achievements in science, technology, culture and creativity?

This is basically what the Global Villages Network should stand for. At least it is created to network NOW all these brilliant people that know we cannot change the future by mere politics, but we have to combine politics with design. This design is complex, it has many dimensions. It is physical design of spaces, it is design of communication possibilities, of applications, of technologies, even and by far not least, it is social design. And the most important thing is: all these partial designs play into each other, they build on each other. Design is not possible without experiment, without local action. So we are not a networks of mere academics, we are scientist-artists.

Thats why we are here, thats why we seek to cluster. We have an important cause together, and its far beyond simply "preserving villages and rural areas". In fact you cannot preserve them without deeply change them, make them "competitive" (not what *they* think that means!) in terms of attraction and liveability with urban areas and their amenities. We want villages for everyone, not just for the diehards!

So the idea of this community is to create subdivisions for design and policy and arts and whatsoever - but be united in this important goal, being able to speak with one voice and no less than contribute the best it can to the ongoing efforts to change the path of civilisation. It is like a game with an almost impossible challenge - but with many many potential co-players.

We have to learn to play together and see that we have a lot of strength on our side if we have the right point at the right time made, by people that focus on them - but need to be in touch and recognize each other. I want this to be a network of excellence where people challenge each other on their fields of excellence - and I hope we will get there despite all the technical troubles (and personal time scarcity) that we are facing right now.

Again - we will not survive without strongholds and strong centers. So far, many people have expressed their enthusiasm, but no single chapter or organisation besides GIVE / Globally Integrated Village Environment Vienna exists. That is definitely too little. Please come up with nice surprises.

Other News

4. Videobridge Workshops in January and June

One of the main reason I could not devote much time to the globalvillages list and network in the last months was the fact that we focussed on a workshop in January around the issue of VideoBridging. I think this is a theme custom - tailored for the "point of view" of globalvillagers. In a nutshell: Videobridging means the connection of learning groups that are focussed LOCALLY, involved in LOCAL face2face-interaction, by a hybrid of videoconferencing and TV transmission, using the capturing of local atmosphere to spark and catalyze the local learning circles everywhere. We did it for 5 years, it worked.

See the Grundtvig Workshop pages here, including subpages for outcomes and country pages for activities:

http://www.dorfwiki.org/wiki.cgi?VideoBridge/GrundtvigWorkshop
http://www.dorfwiki.org/wiki.cgi?VideoBridge/GrundtvigWorkshop/Outc...
http://www.dorfwiki.org/wiki.cgi?VideoBridge/CountryPages

In fact Videobridging is what I would call an example of essential subgrouping of a Global Villages Network. At the core of any successful village there will be a place that allows people to create global connections as a learning and working group. We see the emergence of these places and the fact that they develop entirely new methods of communication.

If you want to have a taste of it, browse to http://www.dialoguecafe.org/ and see what they just now started in Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro!!! This is the place that we want to see in villages.

VideoBridge is most likely one of the preferred formats to enable knowledge sharing and cooperation of villages. It is custom - tailored because it puts the local agenda in front and in focus. That is why I spent (and still spend) a lot of effort to build this community - but I stretched my potential for some time too far. I hoped for some local support here in Vienna to maintain this community, but it did not quite work out. Also, in the January workshop we decided to leave the future of this network up to the completion of some homework. Unfortunately what hapened until now was not enough to justify our coming together in August in Greece as we envisioned. Problem.

But there is a new hope arising.

The exciting news that I want to share with all of you is that we are at least well on track with our Austrian homework (We are not the only ones, see http://www.dorfwiki.org/wiki.cgi?VideoBridge/CountryPages). We will hold a new workshop this month with participants from about 8 Austrian regions ("Broadband Content in Rural regions"). The venue will be the village of St. Martin in northwestern Waldviertel, where they have created a dream infrastructure in terms of existing and operating fiberoptic networks to about 1500 houses of the remote rural microregion. This was a strategic plan that worked on the base of combination with sewage system building. They are already offering Internet, High Definition TV and telephone. They can provide each house with bandwidth up to 1 GB/sec!!!

Now this infrastructure is there and as ambitious the microregion (actually 3 communities with about 20 small villages took part in that buildup) acted on infrastructure, it also wants to act on content. We have been commissioned to bring our experience and guidance into this content-seeking process. This will hopefully help us to create a "Virtual Academy of the Regions" with p2p lectures shared between places of excellence. We also seek to establish a training program for "Community Media Operators" in the participating regions. All these efforts may well be duplicated to the Europea level, but it is my strong conviction that a European program makes sense only when there is a certain reality and experience and strength on the national ground.

It seems that we are well on track in Austria to create that. A very nice postscript to this workshop is that we will do a second workshop on building a new settlement in the village of St, Martin - living within nature and living well-connected within cyberspace at the same time. I will keep you posted.

5. Letter from Russian Administration regretting problems with Videobridging

Recently our friend Gleb Tyurin organized a high level meeting on innovative ways in rural development in the Region of Vologda (between Moscow and Archangelsk). A group of experts and local and federal policy makers awaited dialogue with external participants via videobridge. To my bad surprise, Gleb seemed to be very nervous in the morning when the conference started. We could only connect shortly and he said there were going to be troubles and cut the line. I witnessed fervid arguments in the room. Then I heard nothing any more. I went and collected Professor Gerlind Weber, one of Austrias leading experts on spatial planning, from her lecture in a nearby multipurpose cinema and lecture theatre. We sat before the black screen and there was no way to connect. Equally a number of members of our network in various parts of the world that we had alerted to this occasion also found no way to connect.

It turned out that the local administration was afraid not to violate a law that forbids public foreign connections that are not reported to the foreign ministery in Russia - especially if an event has official governmental status. No comment on that.

Later there was a sign of hope. The local government apologized for the whole situation. The attached letter at the NING page below is in English and has official character.

http://globalvillages.ning.com/profiles/blogs/message-from-russia

I found it necessary and appropriate in this situation to also add some clarifications - please also read this one:

http://globalvillages.ning.com/profiles/blogs/a-clarification-espec...

Well, I hope very much that somewhere in this world a strong dedicated nation understands that the way to finally win is to share and to transform according to the principles of sharing. It might be Russia, you never know. They have already surprised the world several times.


6. interesting network building processes

I think this current time is utterly important because of the almost evolutionary struggles of networking memes to define the future we are heading to. Whilst the political class and the economic system is in a crisis globally, the struggle for the most convinving alternative has just begun. In my personal view, the alternative that will arise from this struggle is the one that encompasses the most solutions to the needs of people and manages to present them in a workeable, compelling way. I think of GlobalVillages not only as a limited scheme of village development, but as a integrative metaphor that gives sense to social changes and delivers a unifying metaphor and goal for the whole world. Lets outgrow the urban monetary economy and reduce it to 20% again, turn the centers of commerce and economy and science to vast "mothercities" of a web of lively and largely self-supporting regions around the world where people would dwell in local cycles of material and energy optimized by global knowledge!

In this process, we are part of an enormous stream of parallel visions and developments (as Andrius expressed it, the seeds of a new culture) and is hard not to get overwhelmed by the new and serious networking processes that arise almost daily from some corners of this world. We will see the fusion and resonance of hudreds of networks before we know the final outcome. Beside the Dialogue Cafés above (http://www.dialoguecafe.org/) let me point your attention to two remarkeable networking developments of the last weeks:

6.1. "Locals" forum on e-democracy.org

The first is an iniative by Steven Clift of e-democracy fame (http://forums.e-democracy.org/p/stevenclift1/) who introduced new fora for community builders and the managers of local community networks:

http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/locals

"We do local. We connect our neighbors. We are fundamentally two-way because we are building real community where we live."

Locals will lead to another community called "community builders" which will then talk about global cooperation of local-foicused community builders. I think this is very close to what Global Villages network wants to achieve: and in fact only this connectedness in general will enable us to also rediscover and reclaim the beauty of rural areas which is the "bonus" that we contribute.

6.2. Intelligent Communities association

I learned about another exciting association from a post from the community informatics list:

http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=D029E56C-1A64-67EA-E42DACEE2A7A9219

NEW YORK -- The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) has named Suwon, South
Korea, as the 2010 Intelligent Community of the Year. Suwon has built the
world's fastest, large municipal network, improving connection speeds from
an already impressive 32M to 1Gbps. The infrastructure is being used to
enhance education, library development, and e-government.

The theme of this year's annual conference, held at NYU Poly in Brooklyn,
was "The Education Last-Mile: Closing the Gap from School to Work."
The conference also announced the formation of the "Intelligent
Communities Association," a league of 86 cities and regions worldwide
to foster communities moving forward in the broadband economy.
Its first chair will be Waterloo, Canada Mayor Brenda Halloran.
Waterloo won "Intelligent Community of the Year" in 2007.

I think that we need to learn about the potential of broadband infrastructures even though many villages of the world are still far away from it. We should aspire nothing less than to really be able to convey all the tacit and resonant information that comes with good audiovisual conections to each other.

So I hope I will be able to report about good progress in Austria this month and I will gladly enjoy to hear from you. Please write your response to: f.nahrada@reflex.at

in the meanwhile: happy summer to you all!

Franz Nahrada
GIVE
Jedleseer Strasse 75
1210 Wien
skype: globalvillagesinfo

Views: 54

Comment by Eugene Evdokimenko on June 28, 2010 at 1:59am
Say please, how officially to open the separation of our motion in Ukraine?
Thank you.
Comment by Franz Nahrada on June 28, 2010 at 7:20am
In response to the comment below:

Eugene,

I dont know if I even understand what you are asking but I assume yout talk about GVN.

The GVN is in its infancy phase. We have convened once in 1997 and then never again. I keep the network alive through electronic media and its a network of interested people listening passively. This is in sharp contrast to the great poltical and economical and social potential of the idea. The whole idea of a network that supports everyones independence instead of hidden political goals is new.
* I think currently everyone has to do their homework at the national level. The problem is that NO ONE really is pursuing that path yet.
* You COULD try the following steps:
* start with an organisation that is set up for research and learning. put common learning at the center, but focus it around a clear goal: to strengthen the self-governance and the total abilities of local and regional communities and at the same time promote their cooperation - initially through knowledge and competence sharing.
* do it at your national level with the perspective of later international recognition. The other way round (to impress politicians) is tempting but not honest. You dont need official recognition to start learning networks. The only thing you need to do is create succesful pilot cases: learning, prosperous villages and microregions with a strong learning center. They can create networks and I and some friends in the GVN will help with connections. Connect to places like SEKEM and see what they have created!
* help me to gather such organisations in a global network and have them intervene with much more dedication in pilot cases to demonstrate to the world the validity of our peace-building principle of local abundance and cyclic sustainable economies.

does that answer your question?
Comment by Eugene Evdokimenko on June 28, 2010 at 8:50am
I will be one all right, Siberians are strong guys!
Comment by Franz Nahrada on June 28, 2010 at 9:02am
In response to the comment below:

I believe that. But we are now part of one Earth, and if we want to heal it, healing has to spread like in a body. The healing cannot come through money, but through resilient local communities that thrive even when the money breaks.

If we can convince the elites to lay just 10% of their eggs into our basket, and enable and protect us against the greed of moneymakers, show them how we build resilience and Global Villages EVERYWHERE from Siberia to Sahara, then we have won. And they might have won in the long term, too.
Comment by Eugene Evdokimenko on June 28, 2010 at 9:23am
I am very strange to hear that you lean against an elite!!!
Business that not nearly in money, our force in an association, only together we will be able to build the enormous network of the countries and when our organization will have in every city in entire countries, then we are able
to do without an elite and her money!

P.S. when suggested to do a branch in Ukraine, then I did not ask money from you!!!
Comment by Franz Nahrada on June 29, 2010 at 7:05am
I agree with you that "doing without the elite" which is just another word for "doing without accumulated power and money" is one of the ultimate goals of the network of villages. But there are several things to be put into consideration:
*) we can only achieve this goal of we are not in war with the powers to be, but actively tolerated. We must be able to spend all our energy in peaceful solutions
*) We must achieve the shere fact that they let us do what we want because they feel it is helpful. Global Villages are solving many issues, like keeping local infrastructure intact, mitigating the horrible effects of poverty (Crime, disease, insecurity, agression, ...) This should give us resources and the room to move without being attacked.
*) Businesses can be very helpful in delivering the tools that we want. While consumption nowadays is reduced to a parasitic elite that lives on increasing debts and therefore is luxury goods, we enable another form of productive mass consumption, keeping a whole industrial sector alive - like photovoltaics, automation etc.. We will build more and more tools ourselves, create even factories: but we can shape also alliances and help a minority of the elite to make it with us into the 22nd century.

Our force is an association, but never forget that this association only works if it is voluntarily formed at any time! So we must design it well for people to feel safe in it.
Comment by Eugene Evdokimenko on June 29, 2010 at 7:38am
I understood you Franz!
Thank you for a help, know that in Ukraine there are people which will come to you and will support in any
peaceful undertaking!

Eugene.
Comment by Franz Nahrada on June 29, 2010 at 7:45am
Thank you Eugene. I have been "political" long time ago, just learning that its useless and illusionary. We must lead by design and by example, and I dont see a reason why we should not be able to win a lot of "political" people over. We must have centers, where we can join forces. We must actively promote that villages allow us to stand all cultural differences of the world (because they can be different) and we can work together even across and between cultures. So my old dream was to include "opponents" villages like a permaculture farm in Palestine and a Kibbuzz in Israel - and have them share technical expertise on Gardening, Building etc. - we now have the communication media to do that, its a natural marriage. Every little spot can be turned into paradise, and there is enough land for 5 times mankind if we build sustainable Habitat. Ukraine and Russia are places that could really thrive on that....
Comment by Eugene Evdokimenko on June 29, 2010 at 7:53am
And I am sure that it is necessary for the increase of our motion to have many branches in the whole world, then we will be the joined collective!
Comment by Franz Nahrada on June 29, 2010 at 8:00am
Yes. But we need enough energy to have a really good physical come together.... I was hoping that my letter to the governor in Archangelsk would open up a field of focus..so we can focus on trial areas and then later also come together to really found our movement f2f.. But instead we had this paranoid Wologda experience where communication is even blocked. We have tons of opportunities, but currently too much is on my shoulders. I am doing this on the side of a stressy hotel job and I am often getting sick. But at least I created the idea, that we combine deep ecology village building with high technology and global open cooperation. The idea will not die any more, and will eventually change the world. We must start with small steps that make us more sustainable and durable. We must create physical bases in Villages around the world and a network of trust and friendship. Maybe we also will one day build a demonstration Peace Village to bring all elements and building blocks together....

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