Monday, October 15, 2012

The last post spoke a lot about the idea of community development. In order for development in rural communities to be effective, consent from the most affected is crucial. It is also important that the researchers genuinely understand the communities they wish to help. Today’s post will discuss one of the five key components of communities and how social media can be used to explore them.

Many communities have existing institutions that can be very effective in development. Often times, these institutions are required in development efforts. One great example of integral institutions is schools. Education is required for development efforts to be sustained. Education is also necessary when using social media. Schools can have the ability to educate students on social media even in some of the most remote areas of the world. Social media can be used to connect students and educators across borders. Distance becomes less of an obstacle with the technology we have available today. There are some obstacles in spreading technology and those will be discussed in a later post, but overall social media can provide opportunities previous generations did not have.

Institutions need an avenue of communication. That platform can be provided through Project Global Collective. Later, I will post more on the different components of communities — expect post on physical aspects, local economy, associations, and most importantly individuals in the community. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Community development is an overarching term that can be used to describe a lot of different work throughout the world. Developing a community can include a lot of different aspects, ranging from personal community relationship to development of infrastructure.

The has enforced the theory that communities should be responsible for guiding their own community development. That is not to say that communities around the world should work independently. However, these communities must define the issues they face, prioritize and then communicate their needs to outside parties that can assist them.

Communities must also play a large role in finding the solution to these issues. Groups inside the communities will be responsible for sustaining these development strategies for years. For a development strategy to be effective, communities must approve of the plan. It is a teamwork approach, giving a large voice to those that are affected most.

This can be done well through social media. Project Global Collective has the technology to connect community groups to researchers and outside parties that can help. Discussions can take place. A free exchange of ideas and research is relatively easy when using social media. Project Global Collective can be used as a collaborative problem-solving generator.

Through some additional research, I have come up with an inverted pyramid theory. As depicted in the graphic, the traditional approach to community development gives a small group of investors a lot of say. The idea that money buys power can be seen in this situation. The research is guided by the interests of the investors, and at the bottom, the largest and most affected group has the least amount of say.

Through the use of social media platforms like Project Global Collective, this can be turned upside down. This will give the largest group, heavily affected by development plans, the largest say. They guide the research, and approve of every step in the plan. Investors are simply there to financially support development and offer their expertise — not guide the discussion.

Social media can be used more than just to connect with friends and family. It can be used to solve the most pressing issues facing any community around the world. It can give those groups that are most affected by the decisions of the elite a voice. It is a powerful tool, that when used correctly can change the world around us. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

What can you buy for $300?

I spent 4 days in Denver earlier this summer and spent more than $300 — not including gas for my car or 3 nights in a hotel. $300 is only slightly more than an Apple iPod touch. It is the equivalent of 2 iPod nanos, 6 shuffles and multiple sizes of HD TVs.

$300 in Uganda is the difference between a child attending school or remaining uneducated. To go to a primary boarding school in Masaka, Uganda, a family must pay $300 for each child. This $300 covers the cost of tuition, meals, medical fees, uniforms, a holiday package and field trip fees.

By setting aside $10 each week, you could save $300 in 30 weeks. That is a relatively small contribution each week for about 6 months. In that small savings, a child in Uganda could have the opportunity to attend school.

It’s hard to imagine living in a country where 35 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Uganda doesn’t keep records of unemployment because it is not developed enough for accurate numbers. Uganda has a literacy rate of 66 percent. The United States has a literacy rate of 99 percent. These figures are according to the .

Imagine the difference in conversations happening in Uganda compared to the U.S. During an election year where political campaigns are running rampant, we hear topics like, cutting the deficit, healthcare and education reform, and a weak economy among other topics. In Uganda, they are trying to cover basic needs — increased infrastructure, more access to education, and functioning hospitals in all districts.

The issues in the U.S. are, of course, very important and require carefully thought out decisions. For much of the U.S. population, these issues of unemployment and healthcare access are important to their wellbeing. In no way, are the issues of one country more important than the issues in another.

I don’t want to compare the U.S. and Uganda because that is simply not fair. The topics of discussion are very different and the situations are completely different.

However, it is important to keep everything in perspective — realizing that we have domestic issues to solve while being mindful of those searching for basic necessities. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

I think at this point, it would be good to show everyone some statistics and facts about Uganda. This is a bit of practical information about Uganda. There seems to be an abundance of questions that arise when mentioning Uganda. I hope this brief overview of the country helps with that. I did this research as part of a project/research proposal recently turned in. The facts and statistics come from the CIA and the U.S. Department of State.

Ugandan Politics
Uganda gained independence from the British in 1962. After gaining independence, the citizens were terrorized by the dictatorial regime of Idi Amin until 1985. During these years nearly 400,000 were killed.

Uganda is currently under the rule of President Yoweri Museveni, who took power in 1986. He has been attributed to relative political stability and economic growth. In the 1990s, they officially recognized multiple political parties.  In 2005, the constitution was amended to remove term limits. This paved the way for President Museveni to stay in power.

The recent viral video titled Kony2012, created by Invisible Children, shed light on the 26 years of violence and terror in Uganda from the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is led by Joseph Kony and has now moved into areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Uganda may no longer be witness to the direct violence of the LRA, but the citizens still are dealing with rebuilding communities devastated by years of instability. According to the CIA, Joseph Kony and the LRA are still considered a political pressure group in Uganda.

A Bit of Gegraphy
Uganda is landlocked, but has access to lakes and rives. The two rainy seasons make it possible for agriculture to be successful in most areas of Uganda. The Ugandan economy relies heavily on natural resources. Including: fertile soil, abundant rainfall, copper, gold and minerals. Oil deposits have recently been discovered. Nearly 80 percent of the Ugandan workforce is in agriculture. Their biggest export is coffee. The government has been working on economic reforms in order to halt inflation. They have reformed the currency; raised producer prices on export crops, raised petroleum production prices and increased civil service wages. During the 1990s, the government invested in infrastructure and domestic security. However, even with increased infrastructure there are only 5 airports with paved runways, and only 24 percent of roadways are paved. Uganda has entered a time where fair trade is necessary to take the next steps for development. Without outside help, through buying exports, Uganda will simply stop development.

Friday, July 27, 2012

At the end of March, I had the privilege of attending the 's annual conference. This year, it was held on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. It was an incredible experience that words can’t even begin to describe. (Although on Monday, I will attempt to describe it.)

One of the distinguished speakers during the opening plenary was author . He said a small sentence, consisting of only four words, which has stuck with me since that night. He said, “start before you’re ready.”

This small quote is very true. If every project leader waited until they were ready, most projects wouldn’t be able to start in a timely fashion. If I waited to apply to the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), I would not have had the privilege of going this year. Perhaps, I wouldn’t have been able to go next year either. I’ll be the first to admit that I was extremely nervous committing to something with the potential magnitude of Project Global Collective. The pressure at the time seemed overwhelming.

I was nervous when I sent the first email to my contact in Uganda, Jude. I was even more anxious talking on the phone with about Project Global Collective. But none of this progress would be possible if I waited until I was completely ready.

Now I am happy to report that Project Global Collective has a new blog, and Twitter account — a primary contact in Uganda with Jude, a budding secondary educational connection in Uganda through , the verbal support and enthusiasm of Julius Achon, the support of faculty, staff and President, and a small shipment of handmade Ugandan goods in transit to the United States.

This progress has only taken three months. I can only imagine what we will be able to report on after the next three months or year. I do know, that as long as everyone involved with Project Global Collective pushes forward continuously, the results will be incredible. With the help of all our supporters, we have a chance to make a difference. As long as one person is better off when we finish than when we started, Project Global Collective will be labeled a success. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Since the launch of Project Global Collective in March, I have been bombarded with one major question — why Uganda? My response has evolved from the snarky “why not?” to something more formal with research and personal testimonies from Ugandans and other groups trying to make a difference in the region.

An acquaintance of mine, Helen Allen, once said, “our very worst day of poverty here is nothing like their everyday living, every sick, rotten day.” Yet from my interactions with contacts from Uganda, they try not to let this hardship show.

They are innovators, motivated individuals looking for solutions. Jude Muleke — who I’ll be introducing later — is a Ugandan working tirelessly for increased educational opportunities in the Central Region of Uganda. Nothing seems to slow him down. He has battled Malaria, Internet outages, the birth of his baby and still continued his work in education.

There are numerous NGOs and other volunteer organizations working in Africa, but this is a continent that needs a lot of support. Resources that we take for granted are often times scarce in Uganda.

80 percent of the Ugandan workforce is still in agriculture. In some areas, access to technology is very limited. At best they have old equipment with unpredictable Internet access.

Many are nervous when I mention traveling to Uganda. Automatically people think of the dictatorial regime of Idi Amin decades ago. This repressive government killed nearly 400,000 of its own citizens. In the past decade, Uganda has shown signs of a limited democracy — although they have had the same president since 1986.

The recent KONY2012 video has also caused concerns. Once residing in Uganda, Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) caused years of destruction. The LRA has since then moved into neighboring countries like South Sudan and the DR Congo. Although relatively safe from the LRA, Uganda is still recovering from years of attacks showing yet another need for increased aid.

Uganda is a great place to help. Ugandans lack many necessary resources but remain motivated. From my experience, they are warm and welcoming with the desire to make changes for themselves and the rest of their villages. Children and education have been placed at the forefront of concern. With that, many believe better living conditions will follow.

That is my answer. Uganda is a good place to start, and we can't afford to leave them behind. There is the need for an initiative like Project Global Collective in Uganda. We feel that Project Global Collective will thrive in Ugandan conditions.

The people I have connected with in Uganda have made me realize that we don’t realize how lucky we are, even in our worst time. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

I am happy to announce that after months of preparation Project Global Collective is ready to post the first online update/blog on our new website.

For this post I would like to introduce Project Global Collective.

Project Global Collective began and remains a commitment to action accepted to the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU). Devin Lynn, the project leader, traveled to the annual CGIU conference. This year CGIU took place at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Project Global Collective was created and will be sustained by motivated students at Black Hills State University. We work to create and sustain a social media network connecting entrepreneurs, students, professionals and others in Uganda with similar groups in the United States. These will be mutually beneficial relationships that cover a wide variety of topics.

First and foremost, fair trade and educational connections will be made. This will help create mutually beneficial business relationships, break social and cultural barriers and enhance the worldview of everyone involved.

For some more information about Project Global Collective see the About Us tab.

Be sure to “follow us” on Twitter () and “like” us on Facebook ().

Check in throughout the week for more updates. Our goal is to have three blog posts each week — published Monday, Wednesday and Friday.