Community Action Day

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Session Title

Community Action Day


Carl Jackson (Institute of Development Studies)


Charles Dhewra, Reza Salim; Nancy White, Sophie Treinen, Allison Hewlitt, Jess Stansfeld

Discussion Points

Introduction Carl had been wondering if the KM4Dev community could make a difference to development and raise its profile through members taking local actions which the community would record and share? A local action could be talking to an influential person in your workplace about the value of knowledge management for development, sharing a favourite KM tool with a colleague or taking the time to describe and share an interesting knowledge management example from a development context. We could record each action by taking a photo, capturing a quote, or writing one paragraph and then adding these to the KM4dev Wiki. The collection of actions captured in the Wiki could be shared through the KM4Dev list and into other networks as a tangible example of the relevance of knowledge management for development and the strength of the KM4Dev community. To make the individual actions link we could have a month each year during which members would have their action days and we could brand the effort “KM4Dev Community Action Day”. That was the idea, but how did it strike others?

Suggestions for Community Actions The discussions began around ideas of the kinds of actions that could happen locally. Nancy thought it would be possible to convene a mini-gathering in Seattle where she lived as there were some interesting organisations there how might get the knowledge management for development idea... To get community members together a shout out a week before via the KM4Dev list would find out who was going to be in Seattle on the day (either because it was their usual location or they were visiting for work or pleasure). Reza said that he already convened a group each year in Dhaka to discuss knowledge management for development issues with a guest speaker. This year the group will meet on 13-14 August. Alison said these mini-gathering ideas sounded like the “Stamisch” that the Open Space community organised and would be great for surfacing and building KM4Dev connections in each location. Sophie said that a Rome Knowledge Day was planned between the UN agencies for January 2009 and that she could imagine having a KM4Dev action as part of this. Charles said that knowledge management for development could be discussed with farmers at the Agricultural Shows he took part in. If there was a logo for the Community Action Day he imagined it would be possible to get t-shirts sponsored to promote it. Jess was relocating to Rio de Janeiro and an action could be to find out who was active in the community there.

Ideas for Enablers of KM4Dev Community Action Day The discussion of ideas for actions had already begun to surface ideas for resources or processes that would enable the community to take local actions, capture and share the stories. Sophie’s suggestion was that knowing where community members were based would be a great start for connecting up to act. We could co-create a map with individuals details Geo Tagged to their location (like we had begun in Flickr). Building on this we thought we could have a flashing marker on the map to indicate where a Action Day was due to take place. This could lead to a high bandwidth service though, and so we thought we should build whatever enablers for the Community Action Day on a low bandwidth foundation, with step ups to more flashy applications for those who had good connectivity (rather than having step downs for low bandwidth community members). This would help keep the community together and not divided by technology (maybe a point for the Technical Group discussions). Nancy imagined that a Google calendar would be great for enabling members to put in details of their forthcoming Action Days so the rest of the community could see and join in if they were in the area. Carl had mentioned that the Institute of Development Studies 40th Anniversary international round tables (simple meetings on the future of development research lead by IDS Alumni and friends in 40 countries over a month) had been an inspiration for the Action Day idea. Nancy suggested he share any write up of the process with the community. She also suggested that having some pre-planning of maybe five Community actions would help to model the idea of the Action Day when a shout out for participation was made to the KM4Dev list. We also thought it would be helpful to produce a community action day Cookbook that would be available to members with tips on planning an action. It would be helpful to also include simple criteria on topics like accepting local sponsorship, use of the KM4Dev Community Action Day logo, etc and then leave it up to members to take decisions arising from their application. As the community action day would be a new initiative we felt it would be good to refer to the first round as an experiment or lab so that expectations were not set to high before we had experience of how successfully it might work. Thinking about the Network Mapping Session on Day O we thought that related networks and communities could help members to connect locally in their actions.

Building Blocks to Take Us Forward There was a great buzz coming out of our discussion and so we projected forward to imagine the kinds of things help get the initiative started. A one pager setting out the idea, the suggested process and some examples of possible actions would help get discussion and engagement by the wider community, someone to be identified to initiate writing the one pager. We would need to identify someone to begin authoring the Cook Book and another to design the Community Action Day logo. We would need someone to review and help implement ideas for software tools (calendar, map). Someone to start a wiki page for the initiative that would be a planning space. Another to develop a wiki space that could aggregate the actions captured (photo’s, quotes, etc). Someone to follow-up with community action day activists to get captured materials feedback to the wiki. We would need to choose which month to set for the actions, not too soon. January 2009 was suggested and could be tested with the KM4Dev list before finally choosing,

The idea that the KM4Dev Community Action Day in aggregate should be shared widely to market the value and impact of the community was not clear to everyone. What would the benefit be and who are the target audience. This needed more discussion but we ran out of time so perhaps this can be addressed once the wiki space is set up.

Closing the Space There was a lot of energy just from this first discussion. It was important not to loose this momentum and so we should invite further participation in developing this idea immediately after the workshop.