I´ll share and detail a suggestion I´d made to MEPEACE organizers about the dynamics of our organization (BTW, that´s one type of contribution i feel comfortable with, because that´s my professional background).
The driver was the observation of low attendance to the biweekly chat of the volunteers group, in which I had the chance of participating.
My guess is that we can develop a number of small and tightly-knit subnetworks in which people evolve stronger ties based on their shared interest in some project(s) and/or topic(s).
The strategy would be:
Thanks for this Sergio. Anything is worth a go. The challenges are:
1. Despite the sales pitch mepeace has only a very small group of active members (at times you can count them on one hand).
2. There is an extremely high turn over of new members.
3. The question is how to ensure the commitment of people in a hostile environment. That is discussions are public and often get personal. There is a spectrum of members. Mepeace discussions are not as bad as youtube commentators where explicit offensive language is used at one another, but certainly discussions are frequently not based in a mutual feeling of constructive dialogue.
4. Discussions take an enormous amount of time to be done well - eg research, editing and drafting text.
At one level I would suggest if we want to have more constructive dialogue then there be more strict membership rules and limit it to persons actively engaged in humanizing the plight of Palestinians, Jewish-Israelis and Palestinian-Israelis. My response against stricter membership rules is: I know I personally learn a lot from engaging with persons who read the conflict differently. The response to this is: such divergence in views may cut off new members to the site, who may initially join thinking there will be a more constructive and respectful dialogue. I have seen a lot of new people come and go. Would they have stayed if they felt there voice would be shown greater respect, rather than being demonised by the other?
In terms of a taxonomy of discussion things that interest me are:
1. Sources of hope
2. Sources of conflict
3. Ways forward
Specific topics that interest me are:
1. History - understanding the origins of the conflict
- Ottoman rule, British rule (1917-1948), Israeli - Egyptian - Jordanian rule
- The role of the international community: League of Nations, United Nations, Arab League, World Zionist Congress
2. Current events - understanding obstacles to the conflict at present (and sources of hope)
Permanent Status issues: refugees, Jerusalem, borders, security, Israeli settlements
Other issues: Gaza blockade, human rights abuses, water, status of women, status of LGBT community, religious fundamentalism, autocratic governments
3. Conflict resolution, Peace theory and the Nonviolence movement
What can be learnt from Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Johan Galtung, Gene Sharp, Aung Sun Suu Kyi and the like? What can be learnt from civil society (eg ICRC, Amnesty International, World Social Forum and the like)?
I see it is as unavoidable (and necessary) for disagreement to occur in discussions. It is only through such disagreement that we will all move (hopefully) to a better place in understanding. The challenge to find people who are willing to devote time to achieve an outcome that seeks to build a better life for the people of Israel and Palestine.
Also Sergio regarding 'Groups':
One reason 'Groups' are not as useful for me is the ning set up does not allow for editing of comments made (apart from deleting the whole comment). In contrast 'Discussion' sites (because of the editing option) allows greater flexibility.
I am much more cautious using a function if I don't have the option to delete it or amend it.
Thanks a lot for your comments.
I´ll advocate the use of Groups, using your own argument: it allows for discussions within the group.
So the advantages of discussions will not be lost, and at the same time we´ll be able to segregate discussion topics so that they don´t overload with emails the members who are not enlisted in a specific issue.
About the remainder of your points, I am in full agreement, and we may have each theme you suggested in the taxonomy in a different topic in the forum for those which may be related with a World Social Forum project.
I´ll get into more detail in the coming days.
Bye and thank you again.