Camps: Setting the stage for 2011

Amy Sample Ward
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Earlier this week, we shared some of the lessons we learned from running the 2010 Camps Pilot. Not only did we learn a lot, we also got pretty darn excited for all that this network of changemakers can do! I’m writing today to share some of our ideas with you, ask for your feedback, and hear what you think about Camps 2011.

Cultivating the bottom-up

Communities have been solving their own problems for millenia. The networked nature of the web provides us with ways to harness new resources towards local issues, and our web-based platform provides us with a relatively easy way to surface and curate project success stories to our global audience. Together, harnessing human capital on the web, coupled with a networked approach to cultivating and supporting action networks offline creates an environment where there are entry-points for actors at both the local and global level. Funders, technology companies and volunteers are able to plug-in wherever most appropriate, based on their own capacities, interests and aspirations.

The Camps program is designed to provide both a space for people to share and learn, but also to develop new solutions. At the organizational level, we see our role as the ‘context providers’ -- whereby, we create a framework for community organizing while providing some of the tools, resources and support in order to increase the likelihood of success of all participants. By design, we recognize that the energy, ideas and innovations come not from us, but from the bottom-up, and it’s the activities happening at the local level that can change the world. As regional events play out, our job is to curate the stories that emerge from the network, and to work with our partners to harness resources where there is need.

More breadth and depth

The 2010 Pilot saw events in 6 cities, in 4 countries (with over 500 engaged participants). We think the resources and lessons can scale further and have set new goals for 2011. Specifically, we’re aiming to mobilize at least 1000 people this year at regional events in as many as 10 countries around the globe.

You can check out the previous post in this series which included highlights of what we learned in the 2010 Pilot. What’s important to note here? We learned a lot, and will be bringing those lessons with us as we co-develop the Camps program this year with participating organizers. We’re committed to bolstering more resources towards the effort with our technology partners and sponsors, while addressing some of the barriers to collaboration we identified last year (including translation issues). As usual, we’ll be addressing these issues with the organizers, partners and participants, but if you have ideas or other examples we can learn from, please drop us a line any time!

From Local To Global: Surfacing Local Success Stories via NetSquared Challenges

Part of the NetSquared platform for the last 5 years has been the open innovation “Challenges” that open up a call for ideas to the world of innovators working at the intersection of technology and social change. Projects like Ushahidi, See-Click-Fix, and Frontline SMS: Medic received some of their initial funding through participation in the NetSquared Challenges and we are excited about the idea of combining the Challenge process with Camps taking place in local communities around the world.

Here’s the idea in a nutshell: Each Camp could administer a local NetSquared Challenge to surface great ideas for new tools, mashups, or strategies that local organizations are developing to extend the reach and impact of their work.

We are hopeful that by surfacing innovative Projects, mobilizing participation at the local and global level, and providing various entry-points for local participation, we can best leverage our position as a global social enterprise to harness resources on behalf of these projects. We’re excited about the potential of a community-driven approach, as it provides the communities we serve with the means to design social-benefit projects that address contextually appropriate solutions, while leveraging the knowledge, passion and interests of NetSquared’s mission-driven global network.

We are looking for your feedback to help shape the Camps 2011 plan! If you have thoughts on including Challenges or anything else, just leave a comment to let us know!