GEMSI's 3D printing workshop in Baghdad with TEDxBaghdad
GEMSI works to develop engagement, service and entrepreneurship by fostering and uniting communities of makers around the world, running workshops about accessible technology, and promoting storytelling. Currently, our focus is on the Middle East and North Africa. This fall, we are starting new initiatives in Baghdad, Beirut, and Cairo.
Imagine you are a young Iraqi student, just graduating college. Opportunities to work in the country are few, and working outside Iraq is difficult due to strict visa requirements. Your country still experiences violence weekly, while also facing many technical challenges characteristic of a developing country. You want to build the country, you want to share - but you feel isolated. You hear about a group of people who have an open space near the center of town where you can build almost anything. One day you decide to see what it's about. There, you find others like you looking at the world around them and thinking about how they can start creating solutions. They are creating open source medical devices, filling potholes in the city, creating clean street initiatives, or making alternative energy products to fix the intermittent power issues of Baghdad. These are people taking initiative. They are looking to take ownership of their cities and build the change they want to see - serving their communities on the most direct level. At this open space, you have finally found a home to put your talents and energy to work. You've found a group of people you can trust, who are courageous, curious, and want to help you create a better future.
We are eager to see the attitudes of initiative and hope proliferate through creativity, problem solving and service. To make this happen, we are running a three stage program this Fall/Winter:
Stage I Rawaya wa Badaya - Stories and Beginnings
Rawaya wa Badaya is a program to help us draw out stories of engagement and courage. We will use the TEDx and GEMSI networks to gather stories (video and/or text via Facebook) and showcase the creative talent of community members as they come across challenges in their neighborhoods and cities. The top stories will be showcased to hackerspaces around the world during a GEMSI hosted live-streamed discussion. In addition, the top stories will be illustrated by a professional comic artist with plans for future publication!
Stage II 'Amal wa Amal - Work and Hope
We're looking to collaborate with the story tellers from Rawaya wa Badaya to run a two-day hackerspace just before TEDxBaghdad, which takes place October 20. Workshops will be conducted based on the stories and projects proposed during stage one. We will invite local artists to run workshops on their crafts. The hackerspaces of Beirut and Cairo will assist in the organization and development of this event and will host their own workshops to share ideas and engage in the community.
Stage III Al Badaya fil Ibda'a – The start in innovation.
Stage three is tentatively planned for mid 2013 and will be a maker faire style event where the communities we've been working with for the previous two years will bring forth projects to share and connect. We hope this will coalesce the maker culture of the Middle East and connect all the new hackerspaces of the region, paving a way forward for productive creative development that starts from the bottom up.
Thank you for reading! Please share your thoughts with us and help spread the inspiring idea of our incredible ability to overcome great challenges when we get together in supportive community.
See you in Baghdad.
The GEMSI Team.
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