Meeting your neighborhood friends, activists and makers – open:fora at r0g Agency

Together with Open Source Ecology Germany e.V., and with the support of the Guerrilla Foundation and GIGgers in Berlin we from r0g Agency held our first open:fora ‘street meet’ … a rather spontaneous artistic and cultural action intended to complement the week of re:publica.

At a time where we felt that cultural activism and open culture is being subverted by a growing political rejection of societal freedoms we ran a series of thematic events and cocktails bringing our friends and colleagues from the open tech and culture communities, artists and social activists together to zoom in on specific projects and stories we are working on.

It was a great opportunity to meet new and old friends and get their feedback on new initiatives, such as the Migrant Media Network (MMN). Based on our #defyhatenow initiative in South Sudan, MMN, conceived by our colleague Thomas G. Kalunga, focuses on social media as a peacebuilding and migrant information system. Piloting with Ghanaian residents of Berlin, MMN will help train a team to return as trainers to Ghana.

We’ve also partnered up on this with the GIGgers from Kumasi Hive to develop an USSD system for use in Ghana to help promote creative social media use contributing to social and economic development. Linking into the open:fora MMN session, an African Feminist Cafe initiated by Blen Desta also had the pleasure to host Kudzai Mubaiwa back in Berlin again from Harare and Mugethi who skyped in from Nairobi. These sessions also introduced us to Gambian Terre des Femmes anti-FGM activist Binta Fatty and anti Human Trafficking activist Kate Imasuren, both of whom are part of Berlin’s activist cultural diaspora!

A central on-going workshop within open:fora introduced this year’s #ASKnet initiative which helps support the development of 6 emergent hubs in South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya … all of whom have been developing their innovation agenda around open tech, media training, access to information and maker culture using #ASKotec. The sessions were able to gain excellent insight and get feedback from visiting GIGgers Susan from Field Ready, Salih from Mosul MakerSpace, Jorge and Harry from Kumasi Hive among a number of local specialists. We were also introduced to Josh and Evans from HyracTech, based partly in the USA, partly in Kenya, with whom we are now partnering with using their HyracBox Offline Server to supercharge #ASKotec!

Together with them and ASKnet hub colleagues in Nakuru we’ll be able to put together and co-host DOTS in this great spot just North of Nairobi in early December! Other contributors to open:fora included Jo Havemann explaining the rationale for the AfricArxiv open science repository, Pedro Affonso discussing what open urbanism is about, Susanne Bellinghausen and Jaiksana Soro introducing the #KIFAYA sound art initiative in Uganda, Ivan March rocking the art of protest and Vicy Wenzelmann tackling the evils of strategic grants writing!

As we move towards DOTS later this year, we look forward to connecting up with more of the GIG network on these and even more new open culture infused initiatives that are brewing!

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