Biofuel Content Initiative

Jatropha seeds are a source of oil. (Source)
Jatropha

One of the practical outcome of the MovementCamp, which finished a few hours ago, formed during the post-camp online discussions. Jason Smithson (who works hard on Appropedia tech) and Darren Hill (years of experience with biofuels) agreed to join forces (cue theme music of Battle of the Planets) and work on a Biofuel Content Initiative, the first of our Content Initiatives. Darren’s been working for some time on this, but is now bringing his work and his knowledge to Appropedia.

There’s a lot of work to be done, but it will result in an extremely useful resource on biofuels – the good news, the bad news, the little known but important facts – and their relevance for tackling climate change and for international development.

If this interests you, check out that Content Initiative page – or leave a note and tell us what area you’d be interested in helping to build.

Appropedia’s Travel Intern Program Initiative: Dock to doc

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the organizations that are working to reduce poverty and help us live both richly and sustainably had the resources to share their best ideas and practices? Of course! (Okay, maybe that was too easy. )

(Port of Callao, Peru by Jim O'Hagan, via Mediawiki Commons)

But we know that most of these organizations are already overcommitted and that thoroughly documenting a project is a big job. Meanwhile, there are lots of folks that want to help make the world a better place, and are quite willing to travel as part of the effort.  But very often the willing traveler is no more knowledgeable than local workers, and so it is hard to justify traveling in-country to lend a hand.

Aha moment.

Juxtaposing these tensions provides a nice little epiphany. Traveling interns can make excellent documenters.  Documenting great projects at Appropedia helps all parties.  The traveling intern learns a ton.  The host project gets some deserved recognition and awareness.  The broader community gets to see well-written, in-depth information that will, ultimately, get categorized, linked and translated for greatest usefulness.

To this end, Appropedia has begun prototyping our Travel Internship program.  Appropedia’s first travel intern, Isabell (Liz) Kimbrough, is already in-country in Peru. She has already coordinated with some partners, but still has room in her itinerary to visit (and document) other projects in Peru (June), Ecuador (July), Colombia (July)  and Panama (August).  And so, we hereby launch the Travel Intern Initiative to invite everyone to help make Isabell’s trip better.  We also want to prepare for broader participation in (and promotion of) our Travel Intern program later this year, so that you can head for the dock, and get your documentation thing on.

Please take a look at these pages to learn more about the program, and find ways you can help it have the most impact:

  • See Isabell’s itinerary to learn where she’s going, or add a potential project or partner for her or a future Travel Intern.
  • Would you (or a friend)  like to be a Travel Intern? Practice writing articles and show your stuff! And check out the application process.
  • How can we make the Travel Intern program better?  Leave a note on this page, or a leave a comment on this blog post!
  • Visit the Travel Intern Initiative launch page for more details.

Please help us spread the word about this program.  Use Twitter, Facebook or your blog to share it with potential interns or partners.  If you’re as excited as we are about this program, and have an hour a week to help out, consider a stint stewarding this Initiative!

Appropedia takes the Initiative!

Appropedia has grown rapidly in multiple dimensions since our early days, and especially in the past several months.   Both the volume and range of activity at Appropedia.org is up significantly.  We have content translation activity, content porting activity, partnership activity and site technology development activity all expanding in parallel. Twitter and Facebook communities have grown dramatically as well.

In addition to all the active participants, we have a lot of eager supporters that haven’t yet identified the best way to engage. We get notes like “I love what you’re doing!  What can I do to help?”  And for every explicit offer, we know there are many more unspoken.  To make better use of all this pent up energy and goodwill, we are beginning a new program for engaging volunteers, both new and veteran.

And so, without further ado, allow us to introduce <drum roll> Appropedia Initiatives!

The Appropedia Initiatives program is an open-ended series of specific activities that will benefit a lot from community engagement.  Each Initiative will be designed to attract a critical mass of contributions and enthusiasm, in order to build momentum on a particular topic or practice.  We know that our community of supportive people has a great variety of skills, and we envision a broad variety of Initiatives to engage as many people as we can.  Some Initiatives will be focused on the Appropedia.org site (either content or technology), and others will be more community oriented.  Essentially, Initiatives are ordinary Appropedia activities that are likely to have some broad interest. Like most things at Appropedia, users input and ideas will define the path for the Initiatives program.  To get things started we have about three Initiatives lined up, and a bunch of loose concepts semi-identified.

Our first Initiative is very timely.  We quietly began prototyping a “Travel Intern” program a few weeks ago, and there are several ways that the Appropedia community can help.  We will launch that Initiative very shortly and a few weeks later we will launch Number 2.  Each new Initiative will be highlighted on the Appropedia main page, and we will do community outreach in the form of blog posts and tweets to make sure that every gets a chance to see it.  Naturally, we welcome your help in passing the word, and identifying people, partners and resources appropriate for each Initiative.

The goal is for each Initiative to take on a life of its own and to continue for months beyond its initial moment in the spotlight.  To make sure that fledgling Initiatives have a good chance, we’re asking that each Initiative should have some semi-committed support in the form of a “Initiative steward” who will shepherd the activity for at least 3 months.  Through the magic of open collaboration and search-engine-optimization, an Initiative that gets off to a solid start will stand a good chance of gathering other support.  Check out the provisional guidelines for Appropedia Initiatives and see whether your favorite topic or project might be a good candidate for an Initiative.  If so, create a launch page and add your Initiative to the list!

Thank you all in advance for your help and support!