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Dakar Extended experience report to IC comcom - Sfex initiative
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 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 commission http://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
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 site http://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
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 also http://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
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