Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Tips to grow your garden from the ComPart South workshop

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”

No disrespect to Mary Queen of Scots or her English counterpart (as the historical explanations for the popular nursery rhyme goes), but if you really want your web 2.0 garden to grow, according to participants at the ComPart South workshop currently underway in Utrecht, here are two tips to help you do this:

Tip 1: Work from where the garden is; and not where you think it should be (consider the context, particular concerns and respond to these. The appropriateness of the tools is important) . 

A lesson from Compart South partners relates to the different contexts in which organisations operate – limited connectivity, varying skills and resource levels, different interests and needs etc. One thing though that we shared about our experiences is that often organisations buy into new tools and approaches when they see the relevance for their local context. So, rather than introducing new tools in isolation or emphasising tools that have little relevance or for practical reasons can't be adopted, it is useful to start from what organisations express as a need, ‘what can we help you do better?’

This gardening tip is also known as: Why you shouldn’t try to grow a water lily in the desert.

During our walk this morning, Margarita Salas, from Sula Batsu in Costa Rica shared her experiences working with poor connectivity:

Christophe Hien, from Burkina Faso also shared his work introducing web2.0 with teachers in West Africa.

Tip 2: Encourage cross pollination (sharing what you are doing and reshaping existing resources helps build rather than replicate and can lead to innovation and creative problem solving). 

Another lesson shared today was that while we may imagine that the challenges we experience are unique to our organisations or programmes, when we meet with others, we see many commonalities. We also share solutions – building on what others have done and in that way, deepen our knowledge and find innovative ways to solve problems. Using wiki’s and some of the other ComPart tools are useful in this process.

This gardening tip is also known as: why birds and bees that have the most fun, and help in creating new species of exotic flowers, are those who stray out of their regular gardens.

“Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells ... and wiki’s, blogs and photos
(not so) neatly all in a row”

Jan Moolman
SANGONeT, South Africa

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