Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been involved in some new projects and had the good fortune to visit a great unconference in Halifax in April. As an update, here’s an outline of what’s been happening lately. I’ve also been putting together a colouring book, details to follow.
CAPS (Community Awareness Platform for Sustainability)
I was introduced to the project by James Stevens, a local digital disruptor and engineer of the Open Wireless Network (OWN) in Deptford, a wifi mesh networking project across Deptford for 8 years or so. CAPS has funding from the EU, with partners including INURA, Open University and other academic bodies, including my favourite; the interestingly named Unmonastery.
My role in the project so far has been social engagement, talking to local organisations and individuals about the potentials for DIY offline networking. Those words on their own have enough meaning in a variety of ways, and put together make for a scenario hard to imagine for many – its taken me a while in a number of conversations to work out what this stuff is.
DIY is ‘Do It Yourself’, a worthy attitude which can provide a sense of pride in doing something when most things if not all can be bought. Offline networking tends to get a lot of people confused when told, but the term is relatively simple. If you didn’t know, the Internet is shortened from Inter-networks, a collection of networks connected together. A computer network is a bunch of computers talking to one another, so the internet is many networks linking up. So, being online is being connected to these networks providing information from any point. Still with me? Not sure if I should have given you that explanation, but now you can understand what offline is – exactly the opposite. These days we are increasingly becoming very casual in our relationships with a connected world and information gets shared all over the place and can be appropriated by all sorts of people, businesses, organisations and governments. Some information doesn’t need to travel through a few thousand miles of copper/fibre to come back to you, passing through various places on the way – local places can be represented directly to a phone or other device through other means.
Stepping back again, I should also explain what Mazi and CAPS mean, after all you’ve stuck this far.
As the heading indicates, the project is about engaging communities (in this case, the organisations and people along Deptford Creek) and engaging with them to have their own points of presence and to be aware of each other. The Mazi toolkit is a bunch of things which are being built to enable this goal. Mazi is a Greek word meaning ‘together’ and the toolkit comprises of various ‘tools’ both technological and social to engage and support local communities. The project started in January 2016, and will be going on till 2019, with the project going through a variety of non technical and technical stages. at the moment, we are talking, meeting, greeting and generally bringing ideas together in Mazi Monday afternoons – this could be nearby nature, pollution levels, if its happy hour in the Bird’s Nest or when the bridge at the mouth of the Creek raises. Those are some of my ideas so far, and I am looking forward to hearing what other people can make of it.
A non profit social enterprise, Read Together aims to provide facilitators for reading to groups for therapeutic purposes. I found the company advertising for volunteer facilitators on the streetlife website and jumped at the chance, as the premise fits well with my own work, the training would help build my own story telling capabilities. There are many good reasons for reading to people in groups, and I am looking forward to completing my training, which has been started with reading poetry, a real challenge for me – especially iambic pentameter.
As a pleasant surprise, I was later asked to apply for the role of materials coordinator for RT, and succeeded in possibly the best interview I ever have attended. I’ve been working with the management team in developing the best practices and workflow for the building of the online library of documents, and steadily building a working relationship which is extending itself now into a potential rebuild of their website.