Yesterday afternoon I was with Dil Green - which is how I happen to be writing my first post here, on the new website. Dil was showing me around the new website that he has been working on with Nikki Fishman. They’ve been working with Raising IT - a company that specialises in helping charities do websites, and how that came about is a separate story.

Nikki and Dil do their DadaMac work as what my Granny would have called “a labour of love”. They do the work because they’re committed to the idea of what it can achieve. They find the time to do it as and when they can, given their “day-jobs” and family responsibilities and “life in the real world”. I haven’t got “a day job” at the moment, but I do have competing pressures on my time, so my situation is similar. The three of us make up the “core team” of DadaMac Foundation here in London.

Goof Proofing

Yesterday afternoon Dil and I met in a cafe for some general catching up, and some DadaMac work. It included me doing the “critical friend” bit, also known as “Goof Proofing”.  You may have done something similar on this or other new websites. It’s where a new user tries to find information, and fails to see the route that the providers thought was totally obvious, or goes looking for the one thing the providers never thought anyone would want etc.

Obviously it’s a great help to the provider to see how a genuine new user behaves. Dil had introduced the website to me as a “work in progress”, which he had plans to tweak. We know each other well, so it was a creative, honest and productive session which will influence how the site shapes up over the next few weeks and beyond. If you feel like sending feedback about your own use of the website, please use the contact form to do so. It would be much appreciated.

Topic for the post

Around lunch time today a friend dropped by. As we chatted I realised that the last 24 hours would be a good a topic for my first DadaMac post. You already know about yesterday afternoon so now for something about today, Thursday.

Dadamac UK-Africa Skype meetings

Usually on a Thursday Nikki sets up a Skype meeting for John Dada and me and maybe some others. There are posts elsewhere about these meetings, and for introducing John. Given we do typed Skype (not spoken meetings) it’s easy for people who’ve been invited to the meeting to dip in and out and read the archives for anything they miss.

As the new website develops you’ll find more and more of the history of John and Fantusam Foundation, written up by Nikki in previous years., WhatsApp and Kickstarter

For the past few weeks the focus of the UK-Africa meetings has increasingly been For that topic we need to shift our meeting over to WhatsApp with David Bovill. I won’t explain about now because all the information will be up on the website soon.

I wrote something about the UK-Africa side of things here - Introducing FEAST and based on my initial understanding. It’s accurate enough to give you a taster while you wait for the website.

I didn’t cover something extra that has emerged since we all started working together. We’ll  need money for it and so we’re planning a Kickstarter campaign. Nina will be making the Kickstarter video, so I invited her to join the meeting this morning.

Practicalities of this collaboration

We were in luck today because John was in the federal capital Abuja.This meant better connectivity than he usually gets out at Fantsuam or Kafanchan. John, David and Nina were able to get into the practical details of preparing the Kickstarter video. Given David and Nina’s sketchy idea of John’s reality, and John’s sketchy idea of their project it is an interesting challenge. Given I did the original introduction, it is my responsibility to help them to connect as an effective team working at a distance.

Nina needs about one minute of video from John. Usually, because of infrastructure challenges, John and I limit our communications to text and some photos. Today, as a small step in the direction of sharing audio and video files, and because John was in Abuja, he was able to send a small sound file to Nina. Progress was made in understanding the challenges from both sides. Nina, David and John explored possible approaches to solving the technical problems. Deciding on what content is needed for the one minute video is another challenge which we’re addressing together.

It is worth noting that John is a busy man, so this must be fitted in alongside his other work at Fantsuam (where his contribution is also “a labour of love”).

Curfews and twitter

Other news John shared today was that life is easier at Fantsuam now because there is a 12 hour curfew (previously it was 24 hour). Last week his news was that it was 5 days since they had heard gun-shots.

He tweeted some news of the violence while it was happening. You can follow him on twitter @fantsuam.

Workshops at Fantsuam

Johns’ news today was “We are planning for a training for women to learn improved local poultry breeding as our celebration of the International Women's Day. The training will be next week”. I asked if he had any funding to support this training or if, as I guessed, it was “running on fumes”. I’d guessed right.

The previous training he did, about a fortnight ago, was for youths and community leaders. It addressed issues relating to best responses to the violence. See photos below.

There was no funding for this workshop. It was simply a response to need by John and his team. John has been asked to run more.

A Schumacher College Skype call

The rest of the morning went on a Skype video call with my friend Katie Dick who is on a Masters course at Schumacher College Her current assignment is something about “Development”.

Katie had emailed me a couple of days ago asking if I could give her some information on the topic from a personal perspective and regarding Dadamac. We had a wide ranging conversation today, based on some questions she’d prepared. Then we and agreed the next steps.

She’ll email me with about three questions based on what she learned today. Now she has a better general idea of Dadamac she can ask more precise questions.  I’ll put in half an hour or so responding to her questions. I don’t have to explain carefully, just bullet points and first thoughts. Then we’ll have another Skype call to make sense of it.

Our current thinking is that after the next Skype call Katie will write something. It will have the facts she’ll want to use for her assignment. It will also be a useful perspective on Dadamac that I can give to Dil and Nikki for the website.

We all benefit.

Looking ahead

I’m excited at what will become possible through DadaMac Foundation as the new website gets populated with content that reflects its past history, present vision, and emerging future.

I’ve been happily on the sidelines while Nikki and Dil have been doing the groundwork for DadaMac’s new online identity. When I explored the site with Dil yesterday and started to see more of its potential, I found myself getting drawn further in. Hence the extra time given to Dadamac today to write this post.

I’m not a “Development professional’. I’m just someone who “got involved with this stuff” in my own time. It has happened because of my African friends and their interests in contributing to the wellbeing of their communities. As time has gone by I’ve discovered what I can do with them that makes a useful contribution to their work. In my case it’s mostly about being a communication channel, plus some ‘“demand-led teaching”, and my personal interests in digital technology and systemic change.  I see so much else that could usefully be done if more people brought their unique mixes of skills and interests, and discovered their potential roles here.
My life has been so much richer and more interesting as a result of this involvement. My dream is that we will craft the new website site in a way that will draw others in too, in a similar way, to the benefit of all.