Open question: How can we keep our Team motivated?

Connecting can be like exercising or healthy eating: we enjoy doing it and see the benefits, but it can be hard to maintain motivation and stay on track. How can we make staying active as Connectors easier for each other? Here are some ideas from Teams who are tackling this issue already.

Connector Kieve from Austin, Texas writes on her Team’s page that they’ll try a standing weekly meetup:

To keep us more productive and accountable to each other, we thought it was good to meet on a weekly basis. It’s too easy to have personal things crop up and forget something. There was a request for another day besides Saturday. So, we’re going to shoot for Monday nights at the Dog & Duck Pub at 5:30pm. They’ve got wifi and some good grub and beers if that’s your thing. If you can’t make it that early, no problem. We’ll plan to be there for a couple hours. As meetings evolve, they may become shorter or start later. We’ll see how it goes.

For the Bucharest, Romania Team, Connector Diana posits that staying in regular touch will be key to keeping her spread-out Team together:

Until now, we have had 2 online meetings and we plan to continue to organize weekly online meetings (every Monday). [Also,] we are planning to organize monthly meetings with the Team, having the objective to share lessons learned, as well as resources (people, ideas, materials).

We have agreed that it is very important to hold our Connectors team kernel together, because this will be the real support to build trust, encouragement and move things forward at our local level.

Nick in Atlanta, Georgia is not only a Connector—he’s also an Idealist Community Manager, helping to maintain our Atlanta Local Page. On the Atlanta Team page, he recently offered a couple of options for staying in the loop:

I have been hosting a very informal networking get-together on Mondays (except the last Monday of the month) from 6pm to whenever you want to leave… [And] I wanted to just throw this out there:

I will be at Dancing Goats Coffee Dancing Goats Coffee Bar tomorrow (Saturday, 3/22) at 2pm if anyone feels like meeting. There is no agenda. I will be wearing and Idealist.org t-shirt and am planting myself there for at-least 1 hr (longer if people show up) so we can get to know one another… I would love to meet the wonderful Connectors of Atlanta.

Has your Team started a weekly beer or coffee meet-up, or a regular online base-touch? We’d love to hear how you’re staying on track and motivated—please share in the comments below!

Tags: ,



Idea File: No internet? Just call Question Box

A stripped down version of the internet (read: no Facebook or YouTube) is now available in some developing areas.

Idea

What causes rotting of cassava roots? Why are my tomato leaves turning white? Can a mother with HIV pass it on to her baby? How can we control soil erosion in our village?

These questions and more can now be easily answered in Uganda through Question Box, a project of the nonprofit Open Mind that aims to make Internet access in developing countries as common as soccer.

featured

In Pune, the team recently created a Question Box with solar panels. They're also about to launch a box that can reach multiple information lines (e.g. the hospital, government, etc.). Photo via blogger Paul Smith (bitter wallet).

Here’s how it works: the curious call a given number. At the receiving end, operators search online and answer the caller’s question in one of Uganda’s 14 national languages or regional dialects. If the internet or power is out, operators can browse an offline repository of local knowledge to pass on the needed information.

In Pune, India where Question Box is currently being piloted, this idea of a box is taken in the most literal sense. All locals need to do is push a green button on a metal box hanging somewhere in the streets, and are connected to an operator faster than you can say namaste.

Both the Indian and Uganda models are all about ease: “Any solution must require the person to take no more than one step from what they already know.”

Why we’re adding it to the Idea File

  • Circumvents the limitations of the web. If you’re like me and speak one of the top ten languages on the internet, then you probably take for granted that we have access to an incredible wealth of information with just one click. But the world has 1,000+ languages, and Google is available in “nearly 40″ of them.
  • Gives most everyone access. Reaches people on the margins: the illiterate, women who are excluded from communication, the visually impaired, and those who are too poor to even have a mobile phone.
  • Provides employment. Operators have the opportunity to use their language skills, and make some money while they’re at it.
  • Utilizes local knowledge. In many villages, knowledge is passed down from generation to generation, or neighbor to neighbor. Question Box not only places values on its importance, but helps capture it for future use.

How you can replicate it

Luckily for you, the folks at Question Box want you to take their idea and run with it. Here’s how:

  • Organizations, government or companies: If you want to set up your own, on their website right now is a friendly invitation for you to partner with them. They’ll adapt the hotline to your needs, and help you get it going.
  • Community organizations: Indigo Trust recently gave Question Box a grant to complete development of Open Question, an initiative that combines open source tools and how-to manuals so that anyone anywhere can set a hotline up themselves. They’re currently looking for testers.

Could you see Question Box working in your community or another you’ve adopted? Why or why not?

Tags: , , , , , , ,