• Dakar extended

last modified March 12, 2011 by jnardi

Dakar Extended : A step forward  in the development of Social Forum EXtended practices

Started in belem in 2009 ( 5 rooms with internet, 30 distance encounters) ,  sfex = social forum extended initiative, is one of the shared project backed up by IC comcom : http://openfsm.net/projects/sfexintercom

It has been accumulating experience throughout 2010 year ( especially in southern brasil ( santa maria and dunas) , in mexico (10 encounters in may) and in Palestine (20 encounters in October), using  as a tool the website openfsm.net,  and the event site when it was friendly to extension ( as in Palestine)    http://openfsm.net/projects/sfexintercom/sfex-2010-event-list

5 main basic challenges for Dakar , inserted in a mid-term development plan  for social forum extended were :

  • 1 - Set up a worldwide facilitating  team/ scheme around Dakar and with a continuity after it – some positive outcomes
  • 2 - Integrate better Dakar extended in the communication and in the logistics of the wsf2011 event than in previous events :  !!
  • 3 - Develop awareness proactiveness of IC members regarding social forum extended- : some outcomes
  • 4 - Develop the formula of “event  activities enlarged on internet”, complementary with  “distance encounters” formula established In  Belem – some  outcomes
  • 5 -  Test ways to handle a greater number of extended activities in number and in type during an event –reasonable outcomes, given the circumstances


1-Set up a worldwide  participation and facilitating scheme for social forum extended :

  • 1 a  Have a local team promoting Dakar extended in western Africa and beyond, and 
  • 1 b  Promote participatory practices based on active  early use of mailing list  , editing page,  chat room and preliminary distance encounters in order to include interested groups in a more permanent frame
  • 1 c Articulate local team action with several “facilitating teams by linguistic  zones”  not basically connected to a specific event , and  liable to be acting on a more permanent basis through a “sfex facilit” group

This has progressed

1 a - A  dakar extended subcommission was created late October inside Senegalese OC communication commissionhttp://openfsm.net/projects/dakar-etendu/equipe-team  The team has done a significant promotion job in Dakar and Senegal  and along some caravan route : http://openfsm.net/projects/dakar-etendu/rencontres-preparatoires

 It has found by itself a headquarter in Dakar university and which was the only stable place Dakar extended had et 20 computers– and trained a team of motivated volunteers  - This team of volunteers intends to continue after wsf2011 to support distance intercommunication inside wsf process at large 

1 b As a general participation scheme, reference was  the unifying scheme of self declaration of activities in a wsf event website, An invitation was circulated proposing to interested local groups or enlarged activity organizers, to announce their participation,  http://openfsm.net/projects/dakar-etendu/invit2  Then  effort was made to interact with them through a  mailing list  and a chat room specific for each of them, and a web page manually edited by facilitation or if local groups wanted to do it , by local groups themselves, ( all this manually in absence of a sfex friendly wsf event website, see point 2 )..

Inasmuch they received this invitation ( see point 2) , Local actors acted/reacted  each according to their own vision and   experience  of intercommunication and the info they received form their organization facilitators on what an extended social forum is

It appears that training /interaction in mailing lists and in chat rooms with distant participants allows to establish links between local group and event/ facilitators   and contributed in several cases to boost local groups dynamics - Participating in wsf extended is not a last minute impulse , it is  build along the same anticipation/preparation  cycle as for those coming  physically to the event 

After this wsf it will be possible to propose to the 100+ groups involved to self organize some distance encounters independently of a big event.  Local social forums and local organizations may be proactive elements in this

1c – facilitating groups have emerged or are  still in the making , in FR EN ES PT zones  : http://openfsm.net/projects/dakar-etendu/espace-daket  - Facilitation work  towards 20 activities in  ES zone has been instructed  from the Mexican expanded experience in may 2010 and Mexican participation in Palestine forum, http://openfsm.net/projects/wefpalestina-mexico/programa-completo-de-actividades-mexicanas  Facilitation has also been effective  in DE zone, while  PT, EN, AR and RU zones were without local facilitation. This could change as a community of experienced participants emerges in each of them  around 20 groups  altogether

Case of francophone linguistic zone ( 80 activities ) needs to be singled out, since Dakar extended was backed up by two IC members CRID ( a group of French NGOs)  and ATTAC , and local social forum facilitators network. http://openfsm.net/projects/facili-tation-de-fsl/english 
This allowed to put in contact various visions  and forms of  involvement  of networks and organizations in communicating and implementing   social forum extended  to/with  their members.

150 activities held in 80  locations  took place related to French actors of Dakar extended alone. This is a positive result for a first experience at country level - One consensual observation is that the “France facilitation team” started too late i-e in November after Dakar IC , and this did not give time to produce a consensed view on the content of facilitation work, and on the participation frame, but as it was , it helped create momentum, agglutinate local initiatives that otherwise might have been ignoring each other, and have  significant  results  : http://openfsm.net/projects/fsm-etendu/prog-fr


2 - Integrate better Dakar extended in the communication and in the logistics of the wsf2011 event , progressing from belem experience.

 This would be done principally :

  • 2a through the website, along the idea that distance participants/extended activities would be included  as those coming to  taking place in Dakar,  with  consequences regarding communication and program logistics
  • 2b through logistics : giving Dakar extended activities good rooms and internet and visibility in the forum ( maps, signs, paper program etc)

Awareness and acceptance have raised  compared to Belem , but paradoxically there was regression from Palestine( website, communication program logistics ), and from Belem (material logistics). 

  • 2a regarding event wsf website :

In Palestine website from june to October 2010 , visibility of extended activities as soon as they registered on the website, along with event activities , possibility to write to their organizers through the website, allowed to have a satisfactory participatory combination mixing  Palestine site– http://wef-palestine.org/soa-list  -  and openfsm http://openfsm.net/projects/wef-in-palestine-process 

It has not been  possible to have this in Dakar  The impact of wsf2011 web site on the agglutination during wsf2011 can be assessed elsewhere, the impact of this site on Dakar extended activity and participants inclusion has been negative

All 100 distance encounters have had to be registered  and documented manually  on openfsm outside the event site. A visible and interactive self registration in the website  would have been a much better solution of course (e-g creating a page for each registered activity visible from the day of registration and allowing to contact their organizers).

Also, On january 17th when the list of activities was finally  released (nothing was released before this date) ,  100 activities having simply ticked “extended” (no  more qualitification was possible )  were “discovered”, too late for any training /organizing/communication to be established with their organizers ….and thus excluded from dakar extended 

Reasons for this stalled situation developed in three steps – First in april 2010 decision of LOC to develop a totally new site for wsf2011 with Sao Paulo office, rather than  adapting sites already developed and tested on real event situations,  with support of comcom as a body – Second  in and after  july 2010 meeting, absence of inclusion of comcom experience in the design of this new sitehttp://openfsm.net/projects/sfexintercom/on-objectives-of-registration-system  and, finally, since november,  absence of effective inclusion  of  a few clarifying questions  about extended activities in activity registration form., although this had been agreed during november IC meeting .

Profile  given to Dakar extended in wsf communication was low key during  November December .WSF newsletters gave dakar extended a  “sub–outline” status, not very visible and  advertized it as a technical variant,  rather than as a participation opportunity  (the daket invitation as such ( see 1b) was not circulated  through this channel ) ,   and a mention of Dakar extended with links appeared on the right side of  site home page ….on  February 6th!  http://fsm2011.org/  Much too late to stimulate mobilization

  • 2b Regarding event logistics :

 A positive decision was that Dakar extended distance encounters would not have to pay as Dakar activities , 
Otherwise- Dakar extended has not been granted from LOC  the 15 rooms agreed with proper internet,  and  its program of 100 encounter activities has not been published in  february  7th  paper program 
Dakar extended was not taken into account in signs and banners , nor on the forum map  which did not exist in the first days–   
Resulting invisibility and logistical constraint  amount to the general state of disorganization in wsf2011,  and also probably insufficient articulation /lobbying  from the “daket  scomcom” inside LOC 

All this  will be, at least, concrete experience to share with event  organizing committees in 2011 and 2012.  As  done throughout 2010,  each 2011-12 event committee will be approached  by Sfex facilit group long enough in advance to  transmit experience.  This is starting already with Bangladesh SASF organizers (next november) who have organized extended activities and encounters during dakar http://openfsm.net/projects/bangladesh-wsf/daket-en8


3 - Develop awareness proactiveness International Council regarding social forum extended 

There  has been some progress :  An explicit invitation was made in july  and a poll was made during  IC meeting in dakar with rather positive outcomes http://openfsm.net/projects/wsf-extended/icletter Two mails were sent in French and English . France  ( CRID  ATTAC ), Zambia(FEMNET) / Senegal ( ICAE/LOC) showed explicit interest support.  Some contact was established “bottom up” with Via Campesina communication group , and may concretize later.


4 - Develop the formula of “event  activities enlarged on internet”, as a complement to the formula of distance encounters

Since wsf website did not provide support for that ( eg it was materially impossible to send a mail to all dakar event activity organizers and informing about enlargement possibilities )  , outreach was only manual  and  about  40  activities announced their interest manually (through  French and Senegal  facilitation ) ,  logistical confusion and uncertainty about availability of rooms and internet were drawbacks.

Finally  around 10 distance participation  experience have taken place despite logistical disruptions and yielded encouraging results . Some occasions were missed for want of internet 3G keys for activities in tents or rooms without internet  - This is collective experience being built.  http://openfsm.net/projects/daketvideos/daket-stream-par-groupe  see here  alsohttp://openfsm.net/projects/daketvideos/activites-elargies-traces-tchat

Potential of activities enlarged on internet  is high for including more people into deliberative situations, key to social forum process , without sophisticated tools , and without being intrusive to face to face meeting dynamics


5-Find ways to handle a greater volume of activities in number and in quantity during an event –

Indeed the interest for extension has been significant  and varied :  
-Numerous local activities (80 in france alone) 
-100 intentions of distance encounters( 77 concretized although in restrictive material conditions and with no informed wsf public , which was obviously detrimental to their quality  )   
Around 100 interest for enlarged activities ( if we add the 40 collected manually  and the 50 to 100 discovered late January in the site ) and 25 concretized somehow , with 10 collective distance participation situation  - 
See the daket program http://openfsm.net/projects/dakar-etendu/prog-v2-date  (lines 1 to 150 of the table –)

These growing numbers mean that extended activities  are not any more “minor exceptions”  and 2011-12  social forum event organizers need to include them upfront in their program communication and website design

The formula tested for the operation was to create 8 volunteers groups with linguistic  abilities :  Arabic , English, Spanish , Portuguese,  and responsible for supporting a series of extended activities  and at the same time  responsible for supporting one or two “rooms” hosting primarily their activities – Due to Dakar "logistical hurricane",  this has been only partly implemented since we had no rooms and no internet ! – Also the use of 3G keys has given flexibility and its use will further  be developed ( but keys wil stay  less performing than a good dedicated line  )  http://openfsm.net/projects/dakar-etendu/photosdaket-en