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[liberationtech] OccupyBoston distance learning project seeks help

Shava Nerad shava23 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 19 13:18:15 PDT 2011


I'm working with three wonderful women on a project out of OccupyBoston on
the FreeSchoolUniversity.org (rudimentary site up now, but not really open
to the public or in any usable form).

Our goal is to take all the videos and materials produced by the OccupyUSA
movement, and likely the movement internationally, and create a repository
of lectures and instructional materials, as well as a resource for those
seeking self-directed learning or pointers to online learning in areas
important to 21st century citizenship.

The site is built on Drupal, using Harvard's OpenScholar framework, so each
site can have it's own "department".  We are fussing over tags and
taxonomies and other traditional areas to fuss over.  We're figuring we'll
be pulling in areas for tutorials, faqs, curricula, courseware, free
universities, and so on.

We already have our sites on the usual suspects (pointing folks to
tacticaltech, open courseware,...).

What we would love are:

Volunteers knowledgeable in Drupal and *particularly* in OpenScholar (those
folks at Harvard are cranky coders...)

Volunteers willing to help us comb the web for good repositories, or where
good repositories do not exist, to build good repositories for the modern
Jeffersonian citizen's education
(we're pretty unabashedly US-oriented here, but  happy if this benefits
others)  This might include subject matter experts in econ/polisci/media
crit/media production/history/social sciences/geography/stats/...  We are
also interested in people who would like to build repositories of Story
Corps/folk arts/WPA/... multimedia representations.  We have an offer from
archive.org to work with us on the project, so we are very happy about this
relieving us of worries about storage/bandwidth!

Some volunteers might be more gophers, and some might be more
librarian/curation types.  We haven't settled on this yet, and we expect
this to be fluid.  We're very young.

We have a lot of hope that this project will also prove to be a showcase to
the MSM and the world what rich civics labs the Occupy movement is -- that
this is much more of a new Chautauqua for the 21st century than the
Hoovervilles that some have tried to portray it as.  At least in Boston, it
has been an amazing thing to see persons of every walk of life (although
often displaced, currently), every level of education, every income level,
come together and talk about what this mess is or might be, how we might
have gotten here, and what we might be able to do to wedge out.

There are no demands out of OccupyBoston, at least, because it's a mature
thing to demand nothing until a problem is adequately defined, and the
process of definition has engaged a group of disparate people who might
never have met one another in any civic context -- or any context of
conversation at all -- before this fall.  For more information on
OccupyBoston at least -- I understand all the camps are different cultures
in some ways -- check out my extensive writing on the topic on Google Plus.

To me this is the brightest hope of this movement.  I have watched America
barely grumble in her sleep for decades, and now some of her children are
blinking and looking around, asking, "Wait, what happened?"  There are a lot
of us on the ground and on the net working to the neglect of our work and
families -- juggling things -- to keep this hoop moving peacefully.  I hope
you will help this project.

We are also seeking a fiscal sponsor and funding, if we can find someone who
will please not put a lot of overhead for paperwork and a large cut on
this.  I have a development director position for my day job and a bunch of
other freelance bits I'm doing, and I can't afford to put a lot into
starting this up, if you can make it gentle for us, I can promise to put an
experienced hand to the liaison until we get a little off the ground -- but
it seems getting this deployed could be a critical piece of this very
interesting puzzle (and if someone else in the Boston area wants to jump in
and take my load, please talk to me!  I'm not attached, just doing what's in
front of me!).

If you can help in any of these ways, please contact me off list!

Thanks!
Shava Nerad
shava23 at gmail.com
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