Posted by & filed under Continuing Conversations.

This post continues conversations that began at  Good Women x Impact Hub Westminster – network and drinks event and the RSA Fellows’ Reinventing Work Network Event

Everyone who gave me contact details wanted some of the information below, so rather than sending individual emails I’ve gathered it all together here, with a numbered contents list, for people to dip into.

Contents

1 – Ongoing mini-meetups at Hub Westminster

2 – Previous Dadamac events

3 – The start of an interest in telling the stories

4 – We need more “information agents”

5 – Websites

6 – Long term vision

7 – Something about me

1 – Ongoing mini-meetups at Hub Westminster

The next UK-Africa meeting is on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 – details. It is an open conversation with Elfneh Bariso of AHEAD. The previous one was a conversation with Julliet Makhapela on The overlap between projects in the Rift Valley Kenya and Dadamac

These mini-meetups at Hub Westminster are something I arrange about once a month. They aren’t “events”. They are simply open conversations that involve a few people. Usually they are conversations with someone I know well who is connected with Dadamac. Instead of meeting privately we make the conversation open. If other people want to listen, or join in, they are welcome. At most it’s just a handful of us, sitting round a table, having a cuppa, catching up with what’s going on regarding various projects, planning next steps and learning from each other. It’s a good way for people (new or old to the group) to find out what’s happening and consider how they might get involved.

2 – Previous Dadamac events

Last year Nikki Fishman and I organised two Dadamac events thanks to the generosity of Westminster Hub.

In January we looked at traditional top-down International Development and the need for new approaches. John Dada (more about him later) was a contributor at the event.

Professor Tim Unwin was our keynote speaker – this is what he said:

In November we organised a follow-up event with three more of our changemakers (Joyce Elemson, Elfneh Bariso and Julliet Makapela) and two professional story-tellers from the Academy of Oratory. We heard more from the changemakers and learned together about effective telling of their ongoing stories.

3 – The start of an interest in telling the stories.

My interest in telling the stories of changemakers began during working holidays to help John Dada and his Fantsuam Foundation (FF) team in Kaduna State, Nigeria.

John was a friend and my background in teaching and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) was useful to him.

I was always amazed at how much was going on at FF  – and how little of it was visible to anyone outside of Kaduna State. I realised that John and his team were too busy to share their unfolding stories on the Internet, but I wasn’t the person to do it for them.

4 – We need more “information agents”

We need “Information agents” to help changemakers to tell their stories. Nikki Fishman helps John Dada by writing blogs about the work at Fantsuam – see Nikki’s blogs on Dadamac.net  and Dadamac.org. The blogs serve John when he needs information for funders and for many other reasons. His feedback about Nikki’s support has taught us how to be useful to his work at a distance. Even though Nikki has never visited Africa, she is able to play a key role in supporting work on the ground and being closely involved.

Other changemakers want the kind of help Nikki gives to John. Julliet Makapela is looking for someone to help tell the ongoing stories of her projects in Kenya. Elfneh Bariso would appreciate help with the stories of his work in Ethiopia (to share on the AHEAD website, and through Dadamac’s website). Julliet and Elfneh are both based in London, so they can share their ongoing stories with people in London face-to-face, or by phone. These changemakers need “Information agent” buddies who will contact them regularly, get familiar with the projects, collect ongoing fragments of everything that is going on, and pull those fragments together into updates and coherant ongoing stories. I need help too, so I’d welcome anyone who wants to explore the role of information agent by practicing on me.

We know where to find more changemakers that we want to support but first we need more volunteer “information agents” prepared to help.

5 – Websites

The first Dadamac website was at www.dadamac.net  It was an experiment in information gathering and still has many gems of information if you know where to look. We replaced it with two separate websites, reflecting the two distinct threads that were emerging:

  • The practical UK-Africa collaborative work – now at www.dadamac.org (currently being redesigned).
  • Ideas connected to the practical work but concerned with patterns, systemic change, and the implications of living in a “local/global” connected world – here at www.DadamacConnect.london

6 – Long term vision

My long term vision takes the UK-Africa work to date as evidence and inspiration and it then takes several leaps forward.

To achieve these leaps we need volunteers who have vision, skills and are able to self-manage. For now there are no paid jobs, but if any of the volunteers mange to organise income streams then there can be paid people as well.

The steps are all possible and nothing is suggested that has not already been demonstrated in some way. This is what needs to be done:

  • Increase the number of changemakers buddied by information agents who tell their ongoing stories.
  • Improve the ways we present the stories – better visuals, more videos etc.
  • Create effective ways to store, analyse and retrieve the information that is in the unfolding stories.
  • Present it as an “information commons” of what does and doesn’t work, and why, so anyone can access this information freely when planning projects, small-scale or large-scale.
  • Grow the information commons so that it becomes evident that it is more effective and efficient to spend money enabling changemakers rather than doing traditional top-down interventions.
  • When resources start to come in don’t “go to scale” – go viral.
  • Provide the support to enable the acquired wisdom and solutions in the information commons to be adopted and adapted according to local challenges and opportunities.
  • There will be an increasingly rapid take-up of what works, plus new collaborations leading to more idea development, testing and take-up of what works.
  • This will cause an ongoing significant difference to how people and the planet flourish

All it needs is more people with the vision to join in and make it happen.

7 – Something about me

My connection with Africa and International Development is unconventional so I’ll explain my situation.

I’m not employed by an NGO or anything like that.

I’m unpaid, so I’ve had to balance day jobs with my African involvement, but I’m not a typical ‘volunteer”. I’m an independent innovator, and have been since 2001 regarding UK-Africa collaboration.

I never intended to have any connection with Africa or International Development. I got involved through a friend and her Nigerian husband who was setting up a community project “back home”. His name was Peter Adetunji Oyawale. I was supporting the work from the UK (making connections for him and helping people to understand his vision). Things changed with Peter’s tragic, untimely death – see Peter Adetunji Oyawale. That led me into an extended role in his project and my continuing practical learning journey about Africa, and how the Internet enables innovative collaborations to happen.

John Dada, of Fantsuam Foundation, has been a huge influence. When, in my attempts to support Peter’s project, I was searching for support and advice online John Dada was the person who provided help and took our little project under his wing. As  a result I started to act on behalf of John’s work as well as Peter’s.

The name Dadamac began as an abbreviation for John Dada and Pamela McLean, but came to have a wider meaning related to collaborations and connections.

My learning journey has brought me to my present unconventional involvement, my unusual expertise and, most importantly, my wide circle of contacts and friends in Africa and elsewhere with their varied perspectives on change and development.

I’m interested in the lessons I’ve learned and their relevance not just in UK-Africa collaboration but beyond.

Currently I’m most interested in:

  • The Internet, as a disruptive technology – especially in International Development and in Learning and Earning
  • Organisational change and development
  • Supporting Dadamac as it goes to its next stage of development
  • The relevance of Teal organisations and the work of Frederick Laloux.
  • The relevance of U.Lab
  • The relevance of Holacracy
  • Sharing what I know
  • Helping others to get involved

Please use the contact form If you want to volunteer or if you have any questions