The weekend was fun - we've pretty much got the site sorted - Andrew is trying to find time to make some changes we all discussed over the weekend at the Good for Nothing event. Things are changing on a daily basis - so I thought it might be good to provide an update.
Here's a quick summary of how we got here:
Good for Nothing asked us to help them to raise some money by making stuff. There is a HUGE need: the UN has declared a famine in East Africa and it's massive:
- A child is dying every six minutes
- 12 million people are seriously at risk
- It's the worst famine anywhere in the world for 60 years
- The scale of this is utterly frightening: five times more people are at risk than died in all the recent tsunamis and earthquakes put together (Indonesia, Haiti, Pakistan, Japan) - but less than 20% of the money needed
- No-one is talking about it - partly because there are few images (it's a part of the world that's already seriously fucked up and v dangerous), and partly because we're preoccupied with our own economic woes, the tea party, the riots etc etc. Boston.com published some pretty intense images from inside the famine zone yesterday, but there really isn't a lot out there yet.
So... crisis in summary: much bigger need than ever/much smaller response than normal, huge and urgent man-made catastrophe about to unfold. If we do nothing we're all going to be watching millions and millions of people dying live on TV and the Internet
It's so sad to reflect that this catastrophe is totally avoidable - and that, counter-intuitively, this has the effect of making a person feel in some ways less empowered. We know it's happening and we still can't seem to do anything. But this got us thinking about the direct power of citizens and like-minded folk using networks to come together and fix things. We've seen some amazing stuff in the past week - real people, citizens, have come together to support each other and take the lead with some direct intervention
- A guy in London used a fake Twitter account to raise £25k in a week or so for Somalia
- BBHLabs raised £35k in 12 hours to mend this old guy's barbershop that got wrecked in the London riots
- Over the course of the London riots, the use of Twitter in particular as the preferred way for citizens to reach out and support each other, and to organise direct interventions and connect to bypass traditional institutions and to make things happen has been remarkable. The 'field of brooms' clear-up photos are really striking, but so is Peckham's Wall of Love
These examples prove that it can be done. We are trying to harness the same goodness to raise money to save the people of East Africa.
We realise it's a bit insane to take this on. The received wisdom says we can't possibly succeed, that we can't make a difference. The scale of the problem is too huge.
And we know there are rules and protocols and systems and blah, and everyone is busy - yes, but we're still going to try because if people don't start being extreme and taking risks we're all going to stand by and watch millions die...
We've been working on it for a week and a bit and it's evolved as a plan, changing every day. Here's what we've done:
- We've built a very lightweight, very thin, distributed fund-raising platform called 50:50
- This is a front page and 50 project pages for a loose coalition of 50 projects - probably weighted towards making, but also embracing people/companies hacking a project together from existing platforms like Twitter, Instagram and FB
- We want to try and get 50 projects raising money - the platform has an API that hooks into payment third party systems and also tracks money and supporters across the platform. Mint Digital have been making the Ruby Gem that will handle the payments
- We're now contacting NGOs, charities, brands, agencies, individuals to try and persuade them to 'make, hack or do a project' to save lives.
- We want to raise somewhere between £1m and £50m
- We launch on Sat 27th August, with perhaps 10 projects, and 50 days later on Sunday 16 October (World Food Day) we'll have 50 projects and will have started raising millions
- We are thinking about making all the code available for NGOs and NFPs, so that the whole thing has an onward value
- GFN have been meeting with UNICEF, Oxfam, Virgin and lots of other NGOs, charities and other NFP organisations to see how we can tie in to what they're doing
Here is a sneaky preview of the way it's starting to look. I hope we can share a link to the live site soon.
We need teams of makers, hackers and players to get involved. Please be in touch.