What can we learn from the Maker Movement?

The underlying culture of the maker community, means that they are always looking to do better. Despite how good things are today, what is coming up that could make it even better. What are the opportunities and tools out there, allowing our members and our community more chance of engagement and support?

As an NGO with 61 years under our belt, it can be all too easy to sit back and operate business as usual. But we can see that the world is very different today, and we know that unless we keep up with contemporary thinking, behavior and modern practices – we can easily become obsolete. As many business gurus have said “if you aren’t growing you’re dying” – and we have not grown our membership in a long time.

Sustain: It is important for us to reform the way we are administered. Ever since we became a legal entity in Europe, we have been operating with several layers of bureaucracy. Having a permanent administrative board, does call into question the need for other roles that are part of the current EEC. Equally the workload has changed significantly, and much more is done in the Brussels office because they are close to our legal reporting entity.

There is an opportunity to take a look at what we really need, and to ensure that our bylaws, represent the requirement from January 2018.

Disrupt: Nothing can be more disruptive than the power technology has, to impact communications and relationships. Whilst many people like to get their hands on printed material, it is no longer practical, cost-effective, or friendly to our planet to do this. It applies equally to printed material given out at workshops or conferences.

We need to move to a process of placing materials in the online document library, where people can take a look, download to a local computer, and if they still wish to have a hardcopy – that would be a personal choice. We also need to make better use of technology to provide regular updates, news and information to our community. The onus is on the individual therefore, to read and respond to emails and look at the news and information channels on our website.

Regenerate: The networks, friendships and successes of the past are an important base to build from. Our rich history has shown us what can be achieved when a thoughtful group of people, connect in many places around the world. It is also important to be mindful of modern times, current opportunities that are accessible to many, and think about how we can best provide an offering that remains exciting to our members.

We must find ways to engage all generations of our membership, no matter how challenging this may appear. The youth are keen to exchange ideas, learn from each other and grow networks. The adult membership seeks opportunities to gather, experience new things, see unusual places and absorb culture. Both groups are looking for us to find cost effective ways to deliver excellent opportunities. Cost effective being key.

These issues will be discussed as part of the Council meeting, at this year’s European Conference taking place this September in Armenia. We would also like to hear from our chapter presidents and members. Please do send us your thoughts, ideas or observations.

Make Manifesto

Being a member of PTPI is a major way that I demonstrate my belief in the value of friendship, and a recognition for what can be done when the forces of people come together for good. It is more important now, to ensure that we express ourselves through our actions, so that our words bring to life what is already in our soul.

There is something unique about delivering useful things, activities and gatherings. Our actions are the pieces of us that embody the needs of humanity in the world as we encounter it today.

The Manifesto below, belongs to the Maker Community. I believe that many elements are a force that runs through much of what we do in PTPI. My intention in sharing this with you, is to reignite your passion for delivering local relevance to your communities.

Chalks Corriette, Chapter President, Brussels, Belgium

Make Manifesto

Sustain: recycle, upcycle, reuse; repair and repurpose; make, mend and learn. Because once is never enough.

Value: Treasure people, their time and skills. Learn and share; teach and be taught. Support your community to support itself; be self-sufficient, independent and inspired.

Disrupt: Challenge conventions and disrupt the way things are made, done and disposed of. Combine high-tech and traditional. Experiment; create; make.

Connect: Build a vibe and an ethos, as well as things. Share your skills, ideas and support. Be independent, together; be a community. Get to know your neighbours.

Regenerate: Make; manufacture. Save old skills and try new ones. Know your neighbourhood. Relish the old; seek the new.

Include: Cherish your differences; talk to each other and try things; learn and share skills. Together. Mix old and new. Collaborate.

Make: Draw, cut, sew, photograph, weld, try, test, tweak. Be curious; be creative. Join us.

Cause neutral fund development

I spend vast amounts of my time, investigating ways, means and avenues available to obtain funding for youth centered projects. By far the greatest challenge is competing with the many other noble causes that are out there. No one organization has the ability to prioritize what they are doing, above that of another organization. And, it would seem that on the international stage, there is no one organization with the mandate to set priorities for the world to follow. Don’t get me wrong, there are of course hot spots, development goals, studies and opinions.

Individuals are seeing record numbers of calls for their funding and support. And, most people will naturally lean towards an issue which has affected them personally, or touched a family member or close friend. There have been some calls for sources of funding that are cause neutral. This is to allow for obscure yet important social matters to obtain support, despite the initial appearance of the cause, which may not seem at all popular.

For those of us working with both disadvantaged and exceptional youth, our challenges are many. Every corner of most communities will have a project for disadvantaged young people. And, very few people see the benefits of helping exceptional youth to develop further. Unfortunately, both groups suffer from the same core issue. A shortage in support networks of passionate, dedicated and experienced adults able to guide them through the many tunnels and diversions that life throws at them.

The case for supporting a cause that is popular, will far out way the instinct to give to a cause neutral fund, at least today. So, people like me must be more direct in asking for financial support. The issues of youth are far and wide. We at People to People International Europe, focus our energies on giving youth a diverse set of experiences, supporting their personal and emotional development and orchestrating numerus possibilities to bring youth together for peer support.

We have been established in Belgium since 1970. And, operating as the European HQ for our Region since 2015. The PTPI European 2016 annual report can be found at this link.

Your contributions to People to People International-Europe, help make a lasting impact and empower our network, to be an active force in creating and sustaining a more peaceful world. Your donations go a long way to supporting the development of our young people.

Thank you
Chalks Corriette
President – European Executive Committee
Regional Chair, Europe

A glass of diverse cultures, abilities and sexualities in a Brussels pub

By: Angel Dimitrievski – Skopje, Macedonia, Community Chapter

Following an EEC Youth meeting in Brussels with Chalks Corriette, I spent some time exploring the melting pot of cultures, that make up Brussels.

It’s Sunday evening. I am reading a book in a pub in the heart of Brussels and the waiter turns off the radio. The ladies next to me take a small drum out of their bag, a few papers dripped with coffee and they start to sing. A melody that makes me stop doing everything at that moment, and I just listen to them. One girl had traveled from Brazil to visit her friends in Brussels, and learn new singing techniques from another lady who is retired, and has been singing her whole life. While they entertain the pub, guests from Zambia arrive and sit at the next table. One of the new arrivals joins the musicians and now they are synchronized as if they had sung together for years.

A girl in a wheelchair enters the pub a few minutes later. There are no obstacles stopping her from reaching the table where her friends wait for her. She talks about her work, and how she hates that the new working week starts tomorrow, Monday. Even though I have experienced the world of disability, quite deeply, it is astonishing for me how this girl has an exciting life, even though she is disabled. I know, it is nothing to be surprised at, and as an advocate and activist for the disabled community, I often say that this way of life should be the norm and not an exceptional situation. But, I just do not see this happen on a regular basis. It made me feel very good.

On the next table, two boys are drinking wine and speak about something in French, holding hands and celebrate their love. Maybe it’s an anniversary. In the country where I come from, probably this would be met with public humiliation or in the worst case, a beating. I just can’t imagine how someone would make that beautiful voice next to me, stop singing Brazilian songs, or forbidding these boys to show that they love each other.

But I could not get out of my mind, comparisons of my home country, where this was a problem and not a usual atmosphere on a Sunday evening. I finished my orange juice, congratulated the pub musicians on their performance and ate one last Belgian waffle before flying home. The waffle was small and extremely sweet, as was this weekend I spent in Brussels.

Youth Leadership Academy video – March 2017 in Macedonia

Dear PTPI Membership:
From: Angel Dimitrievski, Skopje Macedonia, Youth Coordinator Europe

Let me tell you some beautiful news that you will want to hear. As many of you probably saw on social media, last week (March 7 – 12) we organised the PTPI Europe Youth Leadership Academy, in Skopje Macedonia. This was for sure one of the best projects I have implemented since I started serving as Youth Coordinator for the European Region.

This Academy equipped 17 high school and university students about how to become future community leaders, and how to spread the mission of PTPI. And this energy is something that must be felt, and spread across countries and nations. The Academy brought Emil from Plovdiv to be homestayed at Georgino’s home in Skopje. They became brothers in five days. And at the bus station getting ready to head home Emil told me, that he is so connected to this family that he did not want to leave Macedonia.

There was a girl from Varna called Illyana that could not find the words to explain this experience. She wrote me a letter the evening before departure and handed to me at the bus station. There is a boy called Vlad from Romania who enjoyed a combination of Macedonian traditional kafana and good rock music. 

These amazing students attended the program that we had carefully prepared in the previous three months. The students were working on improving their team competences and shaping the ideal community leader. They participated in panel discussions about leadership topics, attended workshops on intercultural communication with Toni from Bulgaria, and project management with Emi from Plovdiv. And, most importantly they promised to deliver five wonderful projects, back in their home countries, making use of the skills they learned from the Academy. For me, this was confirmation that the event must run annually. It engages our youth in spreading the PTPI mission and confirms our commitment to the development of future leaders.

I want to send a big thank you to my Skopje team who supported me in implementing this idea. To Chalks, and PTPI Europe that supported us financially and with without whom this Academy, would not have happened and all. Also, the amazing students that participated, their adult support leaders and our workshop leaders.

Please take three minutes to watch this video. You can experience all that we covered in Skopje. (The video is only available to view on a computer).

Please always believe in the energy of our PTPI Youth membership, it is truly Magical.
Yours in Peace
Angel Dimitrievski

President, PTPI Skopje-Macedonia
Youth Coordinator, Europe region 

Note from Chalks: It has always been clear to me that we have a duty to deliver experiences, that will enrich the lives of our future leaders. Our youth make a commitment to PTPI, rather than spend their time on other stuff that young people often prefer to do! This whole event involved 22 people and cost less than 2000 euro – meals, travel, accommodation, materials, faculty: not a bad effort for a group of passionate and dedicated volunteers. I urge us all to do more, contribute more and believe in great outcomes for our collective future.

what does the European chair do these days?

The voluntary role of the PTPI European regional chair, looks quite different these days.  Now that there is no longer an operational office in Berlin, Germany, the European executive committee (EEC) team, take their guidance from the regional chair. This individual is also known as the president of the EEC.  To a certain extent there is no immediate pressure to deliver very much. The annual European conference is probably the biggest mandatory activity requiring attention.  Much of the effort for this event does fall to the hosting chapter. But there is still much to do centrally.  Developing webpages with all the necessary content, agreeing the agenda for the conference, confirming process for registration and money transfers, together with the event communications requires central leadership.

What I have noticed is that without a social entrepreneur driving things, it is all too easy for any region to aspire to achieving the bear minimum. The EEC must ensure that our accounts are in order, minutes from our meetings are circulated, our youth program is supported and that our communication channels show a sign-of-life.  To this end it is difficult to do the minimum because the chapters are in constant need of information. There is also some effort required in meeting World headquarters reporting needs.

It is down to us in the EEC to ensure that the European website is accurate and complete. The chapters require us to publish their news, both on our website and social media. Our weekly European newsletter must provide our chapters with a summary of what is taking place within the region. The newsletter is also the way in which we share information with our chapter presidents, and our nonmembers that may not know much about our projects and activities. We provide a process of continuous improvement, so that we are always learning. Feedback about our communications has been positive for the past three years.

Fund development is another aspect of our responsibility within the EEC.  This is a complex area because no one wants to give money away.  And yet everyone is happy to help in the delivery of great projects, that improve quality-of-life for as many people as possible. At People to People International we have always believed in replacing cultural barriers with cultural understanding.  We have also always been active in many communities through our humanitarian outreach.  We do need to improve transparency in everything that we do, so that potential donors will be more comfortable in supporting our projects.

The regional chair is instrumental in keeping the region on track.  That individual is also responsible for our legal representation in Belgium. There is never a dull moment in any day of the life of the regional chair.  Each day brings with it new challenges, new joys and an opportunity to add value to our people operations at PTPI Europe.

The road ahead requires a lot of collaboration, dialogue and negotiation.  The world is changing faster than any of us could ever have imagined. The issues posed by the migration of people no matter the reason, the constant speed at which technology is moving, and the demands placed on us via our 24-hour society will certainly keep us on our toes. Staying relevant to as many people as possible during these turbulent times, is by far the main thing that I must deal with as regional chair. Unless we remain relevant where ever we operate people will feel no need to pay for membership.  As chapters and members form the backbone of our organisation, it is important to ensure that we focus on what is important to them.

As a voluntary position the role of regional chair is quite challenging.  You can easily fill your whole week with projects and activities that would benefit many communities. So, you find you must balance the time that you have, with the other activities that occupy your life, such as family and probably work. Being a self-starter and entrepreneur, provides me with the understanding of the energy and motivation needed to be successful as an NGO. I’m looking forward to providing the opportunity for the younger PTPI members to take the leadership role.  It is important that we allow all kinds of minds, a wide range of skills and age groups to contribute to our NGO.

Chalks Corriette, PTPI Europe – EMIT sprl

Chalks –  is a social entrepreneur, European president of PTPI Europe and the managing director of EMIT (extraordinary moments in time).  His time is spent assisting businesses and communities to find common ground to work together. His collaborative and creative skills have proven an asset in making things happen. Chalks is particularly strong in marketing and communications, people operational matters and logistics.

where has all the funding gone?

Anyone involved in a local club, charity or trying to bring together friends to run the 20K, for a worthy cause, no doubt has come up against the fact that there really is not much money around these days. This may or may not be true – it is in fact quite difficult to tell. Many institutions claim that they have an abundance of funding that remains in their accounts. The issue here of course is the bureaucracy of forms and processes that one must navigate, to obtain the smallest amount of funding. These processes also tend to be lengthy, only for you to find out just before your project goes live, that you are without funding.

In the past few weeks I have attended a number of receptions, aimed at people working with Youth. We, the other participants and invited guests are advised about the many opportunities, and types of projects that are eagerly waiting to be supported financially. When I have spoken up to say that there is no shortage of knowledge and expertise, at a local level to work on the issues of youth, it is clear that our hosts are really only interested in the projects they want to offer, even if the local youth do not need, or want these projects. Institutional funding is truly becoming more difficult to get your hands on. They require a very narrow definition of a particular subject, and the post project reporting needs are often also steep. Therefore, the small high impact very local Youth projects stand little chance of benefiting.

This is probably why many small initiatives do what they can to raise money within their community. One big challenge here is that many of these community pools are just too small. Numerous events that I attend, and many of the calls for assistance that I receive, tend to involve the same group of enthusiastic wonderful people. These wonderful people only have pockets that are so deep. At some point they will run out of enthusiasm and potentially money, then what? It is extremely important that we as a modern society, think about how local grassroots activities can be better supported by the whole community.

If a company operates a CSR (corporate social responsibility) policy, this tends to focus on issues that are linked to core products and services. Unless a company’s CSR policy, has a strong local community element ensuring that they engage actively with the local community, sadly local projects received no support. Many CSR policies are geared towards offering the company’s core competence as a service to the community. The challenge here is that if you have no need for an engineer, printer cartridges or free transport for example, there is little you can gain from a company’s core competence.

What local grassroots initiatives need is hard cash. These days finding volunteers and offers of goods, is a little easier. However, it is important to be aware that there are somethings that no local initiative can do without. The costs of running a central administration system, insurance coverage and specific items that projects often need, that you just cannot get donated must be paid for. Equally for big projects skilled project managers are essential. Whilst many project managers will donate some of their time, there also comes a point when people must pay their living costs.
There are a few companies out there prepared to help. For example, the employees of Toyota Motor Europe, run several internal activities that generate cash directly from the employees. Employee lead yoga sessions, bake sales, family portrait photography opportunities, games, parties and tombola’s; have generated close
to €30,000 cash in just one year. To be clear this cash does not come from the company. This community engagement program, is complimentary to the companies CSR policy and activities.

So please spare a moment for those of us that operate, support, encourage and cheerlead for local grassroots Youth projects. Do consider our demands for cash donations as genuine and humble requests to support young people in need. Many of us have been in the game for a long time, and we are aware of the number of requests for your money. Small amounts donated regularly are a very good way to help us be sustainable. There is nothing worse than working with a local orphanage and finding that you cannot complete a project, because promised funding did not arrive or we were unable to connect to people with deeper pockets!

We the NGO leaders do understand that there is a role for us to play as well. The issues of transparency and understanding how money is used, will probably forever be front of mind for many people. I would never want to shy away from the fact that there has been some misuse of money, by a few organizations. And yet, by far the biggest majority of projects led by a committed group of young people, are successful and deliver amazing results.

So, the next time you see a “call to action” for a local charity and great course, spare a thought for the effort that these committed people put in week after week. Chasing after ever dwindling sources of funding is a thankless task. One day we may discover the rock under which all the funding is hidden. And that day cannot come soon enough.

Chalks Corriette, PTPI Europe – EMIT sprl

Chalks – is a social entrepreneur, European president of PTPI and the managing director of EMIT. His time is spent helping businesses and communities to find common ground to work together. His collaborative and creative skills have proven an asset in making things happen.

Globalization has left people behind. This is what we should do about it

Written by – Diane Coyle
Professor of Economics, University of Manchester

t’s recently become fashionable to worry that the fabric of democracy is being undermined as people feel left behind by globalization and automation. I think these fears are to some extent well founded. But this isn’t a new problem: it goes back at least as far as the 1980s. Our failure to recognize it then, and act on it since, is why it has now reached crisis proportions.

Are there lessons we could learn from those decades-long failures of policy? Yes. Will we learn them? Perhaps not, although there are a few promising signs.

The most fundamental lesson is that to address a problem, you first need to notice it. One of the striking features of the Brexit vote, and the response in some other places to various manifestations of rising populism, has been the surprise of many voters in wealthy, cosmopolitan cities at discovering how differently some of their fellow citizens are thinking.

These tend to be people living in towns and smaller cities where traditional jobs began to disappear a generation ago and have never been adequately replaced. Whole communities have experienced their real incomes stagnating or falling since well before the financial crisis.

A decade ago, Benjamin Friedman made the case in The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth that democracy requires a growing economy to lubricate the necessary give and take. When people see their own lives improving, they tend to be sanguine about others’ lives improving more quickly. However, when their own living standards have declined, and they expect their children’s to be even worse, resentment against others who are doing better is inevitable.

For at least three decades, since automation and globalization started radically changing industry, whole swathes of geography have been struggling even as economies have grown overall. For the most part, this has barely registered on policy-makers’ radars.

Statistics existed that could have alerted us to the brewing crisis – but nobody was looking. It took Thomas Piketty, in his 2014 work Capital, to put in the huge amount of effort necessary to make the data clearly tell the story of how many workers were being left behind.

But all Piketty has done is start the conversation: we still need to develop a serious policy response. It’s not too late to start doing what we should have been doing since the 1980s – essentially, taking regional policy much more seriously. I see three main elements to this:

Infrastructure

Large cities will always be the best incubators of economic growth, because the more people you have in one place, the easier it is for their knowledge to spread to each other. But we can narrow the natural disadvantage of smaller cities and towns by improving the infrastructure that connects them to each other.

This recommendation implies making fast broadband universal, but it also points to the need for better transport, like high-speed rail, because virtual and physical communication are complements, not substitutes.

Education

I claim no expertise in how we should be educating our children for the technological state of the world they will face when they graduate, but I am fairly certain we’re currently getting it wrong. Most schools still resemble factories for turning children into expensive and not very good computers.

One obvious and much discussed improvement would be teaching more coding – something we struggle with, partly because we don’t have enough teachers with the necessary skills. Another improvement would be to help children develop the human skills that machines seem furthest away from mastering, such as creativity in problem solving.

Devolved power

Every region is different in terms of what jobs it could create, and the kind of education it needs, which brings me to the final priority: giving local levels of government more power. If education policy is being set by a bureaucrat in a distant city, it can’t reasonably be expected to equip students with the appropriate skills for the local economy.

The same is true of other policy areas. One clear lesson of last year’s electoral shocks is how many people felt a lack of agency. They see decisions that shape their lives being taken by people who aren’t like them, in places that feel far away, whether in central banks, multinational boardrooms or booming capital cities, and seem disconnected from their hinterlands. During the UK referendum campaign the slogan that resonated most was the promise to “take back control”.

If part of what’s undermining democracy is people feeling disconnected from power, part of the answer must be looking for ways to return power closer to people.

Public sector investment and political will

All of this is easier said than done. It would require a very serious redirection of resources to create opportunities in the regions or towns that have been left behind – high quality education and infrastructure do not come cheap. In addition, the initiative needs to come from the public sector, because public capital is the only kind of capital people in left-behind regions can access.

Some may see this as unrealistic given current fiscal challenges, but the problem is less about resources than political will. Get serious about ending tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals and the money for investment could be found.

Technological change also presents opportunities to ameliorate the societal disruptions it is creating. The Fourth Industrial Revolution can improve everyone’s lives, if we govern it wisely.

There are some, tentative signs – in the UK, at least – that politicians may be starting to understand. It is encouraging to hear the phrase “industrial policy” being mentioned again. A new acronym is gaining currency, the “JAMs”, describing people who are “just about managing”. It may sound inelegant, but at least it helps to name the problem.

History shows that when a significant proportion of people feel pessimistic about the future, crises that might otherwise be manageable can quickly spiral out of control. We can’t afford to take several more decades to get policy right.

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