I Witnessed the Power of We
In this post I will showcase three of my favorite projects which I think demonstrate the “Power of We”.
This blog hasn’t been updated for a while but I thought Blog Action Day 2012 was a good reason to write a few lines on what I had done and where in the past couple of years.
The below presented projects are very important to me, I have done a lot of work in all of them and would love to see them up and working in the following years. If you have any questions about them please, send them in a comment.
The latest one: Jarokelo.hu
The website Jarokelo.hu (the name means “Pedestrian” in Hungarian) was launched last Friday, a service which aims to boost communication between municipalities and citizens. Citizens submit a complaint with a photo about problems they observe on the street, Jarokelo.hu sends it to the responsible municipality, the complaint is also published on the website for other citizens to comment. At the moment only the Hungarian capital Budapest’s districts are covered in the project. A couple of years ago inspired by the UK Fix My Street a website was developed by the Slovak Governance Institute, SGI runs Odkazprestarostu.sk (“Letter to the Mayor” in Slovak) in Slovakia and their system was implemented in Hungary.
This is quite a new project I have started working on in February 2012 together with the Slovak Governance Institute from Bratislava, Slovakia. The launch was sponsored from a Visegrad Fund grant. Michal Simonfy, the developer and designer of Odkazprestarostu.sk helped me and my colleagues a lot with launching the Hungarian version of the site.
At the moment three people are working with Jarokelo.hu. Since it has been launched recently, our main goal is to spread the news about the site and have more and more citizens to use it. We’re glad to see the new users registering on the website, clicking on the Like Button on Facebook, we think this project is very important to increase digital citizen participation in Hungary. Obviously, Budapest is the best place to start with in Hungary.
As with many projects set up by NGOs, this one also needs immense social support and needs a plan for sustainability. We are looking for ways to make it sustainable. (At the moment we can only accept wire transfer donations, contact us at sajto-at-jarokelo.hu)
Where’s the Power of We?
The project was started with the expectation that transparency and citizen participation would speed up the way municipalities work for the people who live in their districts. With the help of Jarokelo.hu the citizens not only can send letters to their municipalities but they can talk to each other, they can discuss the problems reported and can even suggest solutions to the local officials. Crowdsourced solutions can help the local government perform better.
An audacious one: Atlatszo.hu
Atlatszo.hu (the name means “transparent” in Hungarian) was started by Tamás Bodoky, a Hungarian investigative journalist, on his team are lawyers, ITC experts and of course journalists who are convinced that there’s a demand for free and independent media in Hungary. As you might have guessed by now, I am also on that team. I am calling this project audacious because of the topics it is dealing with (corruption, accountability) and because it is indeed independent, in a country where there isn’t any media which is not sponsored by some politician or wealthy businessman (oligarch) to serve his interests.
A year ago I had a post published on Global Voices Advocacy in English telling the story of Atlatszo.hu, touching upon the problems with the then new media law of Hungary and the challenges for Mr. Bodoky to run the website. At that time he said if the fundraising problems were not solved, he would have to continue running the crowdsource investigative journalism project as a spare time blog.
A year later it’s obvious that citizens and donors also realized the importance of the project (about the donations received read more here, pdf), actually this is the first start-up in Hungary which campaigned by telling people that small donations made via Flattr or PayPal can make a difference in Hungary. Many of the stories covered first by Atlatszo.hu made it to other nationwide read or broadcasted media, the site became very influential and our efforts were honored by an award this summer. I am very proud that I had an important role in that, since the requirement of the nomination was a Global Voices Online volunteer included in the project which I am for about 3 years now, but more on that later… The Breaking Borders Award is something we are all extremely proud of at Atlatszo.hu.
Sustainability is a key question here as well. I see the big donors attention was caught and it has to be kept there all the time, but in addition to that I’d love to see more private donors, citizens who are tired of reading partial news and are willing to give eg. a thousand Hungarian Forints (1000 HUF is ca. 4,6 USD) to support the good cause.
Where’s the Power of We?
The Power of We appears in the strong belief that fair and impartial media can exist in Hungary, this creed connects us to each other and to our readers.
Forever love: Global Voices Online
Global Voices Online is a network of blogger(s and) volunteers who work for spreading unheard voices all over the world in different languages. We write about stories mainstream media missed, collect the comments of bloggers from all over the world, highlight issues that need support.
The project was started in 2005 by Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca MacKinnon (more about this here) and evolved into a whole network, a network of projects promoting free speech online and a community of people who work, volunteer or support these projects. I joined Global Voices Online in 2008 after attending their summit in Budapest as a journalist. I immediately fell in love with the whole idea and never stopped writing posts since then.
About 2 years ago now the Hungarian version of Global Voices Online was launched. Szabolcs Panyi of the Hungarian Véleményvezér blog and I fulfill the task of editing, gladly, we experienced an increase in the number of volunteers who translate the English Global Voices articles into Hungarian this summer, also some of the translated stories made it into mainstream news sites.
I have been writing English posts since 2009, now I am responsible for the production of the before mentioned Atlatszo.hu’s posts for GV in the framework of a content exchange between the two. (I actually know Mr. Bodoky because in 2010 I wrote a post on him for Global Voices Online and he contacted me after that.)
We are always happy to have new volunteers joining our cause. If you are reading my blog because you know Hungarian and English as well, why not join us? Apply here for Global Voices in Hungarian, apply here for English or other languages.
Where’s the Power of We?
In an international community of people who want to protect free speech online and they work for it for free. Because they believe in it. Isn’t that just super cool?
Filed under: Budapest reports, Hungary reports, Media, Society | 5 Comments
Tags: #BAD12, #powerofwe, Atlatszo.hu, Blog Action Day, Breaking Borders Award, free press, Global Voices Online, Jarokelo.hu, journalism, Odkazprestarostu.sk, Power of We, Véleményvezér