Informal twinning to share resources across the global divide
If you put together, at random, two communities - one from the global north and one from the global south - to form a conceptual unit (or Mutuality) of one million people, you can potentially bring together a pool of people who really want to do something to improve the world we live in. Those in the global north may be individuals who would be happy to share more of their personal resources, if they knew it would result in a fairer and more sustainable world. Those in the global south may be individuals with the personal qualities and intellectual resources to create sustainable solutions to improve the lives of themselves, their families and their communities but who lack the material resources to enable them to follow this path. Or, more likely, they may already be making an important contribution in their community, but with access to even small amounts of investment, the impact of their contribution could be so much more.
In a Mutuality of a million people, there will always be hundreds - possibly thousands - who meet these criteria and would welcome the chance to work together using their combined resources to bring about social improvement. The problem at present is how to bring these people together so that they can make contact, share their personal stories, discover areas of mutual concern and interest. Then, through dialogue as equal partners, they may well embark on collaborations to make good things happen. Such collaborations bring joy to the givers and receivers in equal measure.
I am involved in a Mutuality of this kind, formed of people from England and Zambia in a randomly-twinned partnership that has been working successfully for the last eight years. We want to replicate this success by getting people in other randomly-linked places to connect and collaborate in a similar fashion. Just imagine if there were a hundred - or a thousand - such partnerships.
I beilieve there could be a thousand such partnerships. All it takes is to know how to establish the contacts to help create these partnerships. Such is the fear and suspicion that exists in the world, that it is hard to find places where ordinary people at the grassroots of society can get together and talk about this.
How can this be done? Do you have any good ideas?
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Reasons for working in this topic, project or business:
When I retired in 2006, I was determined to explore an idea that had lived with me since I was 14 years old and was told there was no effective way to address the problem of world poverty since it was simply too big a problem. I had argued that no matter how big it was, it was finite. Therefore it could be broken into smaller portions and world resources could be shared more fairly. No one agreed with me. Over the years I worked in the field of criminal justice where complete solutions seemed even more remote and in the end I began to waiver in my belief that one day a solution to world poverty would ever be found. Shortly before I retired I bought my first PC and discovered the wonderful Omidyar.net community where a remarkable group of individuals were working on a range of projects to make good things happen in the world. With the encouragement of that community (which sadly was closed down in 2007) I embarked on the construction of a World Wide Connection project that randomly paired portions of the global north with portions of the global south. The idea was that within each pair of partnered areas there would be not only a sufficiency of shared resources, but enough goodwill and sense of purpose, coupled with transparency and direct feedback between individuals in the north and south, that a significant impact could be made through the support of local CBOs to supplement the impact of NGOs and government interventions.
Increasingly I've come to believe that it is only through intervention at the grassroots that the vested self-interests of those in positions of power can be tempered, through the democratic process. When enough voters start to care about the most disadvantaged in the world because they know from first-hand experience that spending resources in the global south can actually be directed where their impact will be best felt then there will be a shift in politics away from the defensiveness of building walls (to keep the have-nots out and to protect the wealth of the haves) to a more consensual approach to problem-solving at a global level.
Start small and keep building.
Root causes of the problems in this field and main barriers:
The root cause is the Walled World we live in. Until the advantages of those living in the global north are scaled down to a level where people can move freely around the world and huge sums are no longer spent on the arms industry (to ensure that the inevitable conflicts all along the borders of the global north will be controlled, no matter the cost), the world will continue to be run for the excessive benefit of the richest communities instead of for the direct benefit and support of people living in poverty.
The root problem that threatens the approach I am advocating for providing self-governing grassroots support to the poorest communities is much the same. The skewed coverage of world news and the excessive influence that entrenched business interests exerts over political decisions are part of the same system of social controls. There is pressure to consume and conform within narrowly prescribed social limits. The barriers raised against a supposed threat from the outside world make it difficult to establish contacts across those barriers, just as it prevents almost everyone from that same outside world from gaining access to privileged lifestyles within the global north. The answer is to become a truly open global village where untrammelled dialogue can take place. This will mean a shift in the rules governing trade, and a fairer share of the burden of world costs being borne by the richest countries.
Social platforms where those changes can be championed and supported will be a prerequisite of the actual change required if the root problems are ever to be tackled.
What is needed to overcome barriers to implement solutions:
Awareness of the new approach provided by the World Wide Connection Project (WWCP) requires a much higher-level of visibility than it has at present.
It is hard to see what rewards it would offer most marketing strategists, IT designers, PR specialists etc. It might be of more interest to film makers and TV producers but interesting them would itself constitute a considerable additional barrier to be overcome.
What is most needed is for some participants in this dialogue to commit themselves to exploring one of their own allocated WWC partnerships. The more discussion there is of the realities of being involved in an active WWCP partnership, the more likely it is that more active partnerships will be formed.
For those living in such countries as Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Russia, Turkey, most of the western side of India and the whole of China, there is no allocated WWC partner area since these are countries that do not belong in either the highest or the lowest quintile of economical development. Many of those living in such countries, that are neither rich enough nor poor enough to merit inclusion in the WWCP in their own right, might like to consider taking on roles in publicising the project directly or in making a hands-on contribution to the maintenance of the WWCP website or finding other ways to support or monitoring activities within higher profile WWCP partnerships.
Specific needs and/or support requests:
They may wish to channel their support into the kinds of role set out in the previous section including:
Those from countries in the global north or south:
(a) Contacting people in their designated partner areas and publicising day-to-day issues as they arise
(b) Supporting people in other partnerships by engaging in constructive dialogue and the exchange of ideas
(c) Assisting in the formation of new partnerships
Those with contacts or skills in design, marketing, or expertise in PR and media production or management:
(d) Strategies for raising the profile of the WWCP
(e) Advice in the making of videos or promotional films
Those living anywhere, but including countries whose level of economic development falls outside the top or bottom quintiles:
(f) publicising the WWCP through their blogs or other online activities
(g) using their networking contacts to engage the services of those with specialist communication and publicity skills
(h) adopting and supporting WWCP partnerships of their own choosing
(i) helping to maintain and developing the WWCP website
(j) overseeing and developing the “Contacts for making good things happen” map at https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1HtdJm_4Ssrb42fQ7pmQq6ob5sYA&ll=11.339658953196206%2C17.57627965000006&z=2
(k) forming an international governance committee to oversee developmental issues or resolve internal disputes
(l) help by offering constructive criticism in discussions within this dialogue
Suggested best local solution for this topic:
Increased participation and much more publicity will be required for the idea of non-civic random twinning of rich-poor communities to capture the public's imagination.
The solutions are those that encourage more participation and those that best publicise the impact that such participation can bring about. This will require something of a cultural shift - even perhaps a revolution in the way that people - especially in the global north - see themselves. Out-advertising the opposition, securing the largest grants and looking to intervene high up in the supply chain are not the approaches that will work best.
Winning hearts is the way forward, by attracting media attention and putting the spotlight on the real heroes in the world, rather than on commercial celebrities. And shifting cultural norms by getting young people, for example, to aspire to take part in a Big Brother or Apprentice-type show that set challenges in the first half of the series on how to connect with people in deprived overseas communities and require hands-on experience in the second half of the series visiting those same communities to work with local changemakers in implementing shared ideas for change.
The power of actual participation in grassroots twinning to inspire others will itself generate support and emulation, but the pace of this change needs to accelerate if a permanent impact is to be made. It is like a plane on the runway: a critical speed will need to be reached for take-off and powered flight to become possible.
Probably nothing specific.
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