April 2009 Archives

IJB Podcast.

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Innovating as always, IJB is exploring new methods of communication, and has just published their newsletter "IJB Thinks" as a podcast.

Listen for yourself.

Besides being a technical masterpiece (Maru, how the hell did you compile all this?), it's really nice to hear the voices of people involved in IJB around the world.

Personally, I prefer reading information, because I can determine the speed of "consumption" by myself, and not the speed of the speaker (Some of them are quite rapid actually...especially John Lennon).

No profit from hosting an AIM?

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Just a few days ago at the ETG (European Trustee Gathering) it was decided to push forward CISV France as the host for the AIM (Annual International Meeting) in 2012. So if the trustees at the AIM in Guatemala agree, it will be "Je t'AIMe"...

Why do countries want to host an AIM? Some ideas have previously been discussed here at FTB when I presented the countries that hosted in the past. As one popular motivator for NAs was mentioned, that they hope to recruit lost CISVers, and boost the activities of their volunteers.

Now that I compiled the hosting and sending numbers into a spreadsheet and a wonderful graph, I though I could use these numbers to answer whether this "boost" rally happens. Lacking other ways of measuring the success of an NA, I took the number of hosted international activities to see, if NAs do host more following the year of the AIM. Now, here I present the results of the AIMs between 1999 and 2004:

I "indexed" the number of hosted activities as 1 in the year the NA hosted the AIM and plotted the 5 years prior and after the AIM relative to that. A few things are worth noting:

  • NAs don't seem to cancel out other camps in the year hosting an AIM. That's good.
  • Israel's numbers should probably be removed, simply because the amount of hosted programmes pretty much also depends on the safety situation.
  • Austria seems to be the only country that significantly hosted more after AIM - all other countries stayed the same or even hosted less (like Costa Rica).
Of course there are a few things to criticize about this graph: Motivation of volunteers can't only be measured in hosted camps. Also maybe 5 years is not long enough to see any effect. But altogether, I think NAs hosting an AIM should not expect too much of a boost to their activities. I do hope that we will find AIM hosts in the future, nonetheless.
Suddenly FTB is famous...? The Facebook group now has 81 members (from 18 a week ago), and the last two days 150 visitors stopped by (usually just 10/day). Great.

AIM logo retrospective.

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Just yesterday we finished developing the logo for AIM 2010 in Germany - Breaking Down Walls. But before I show you the new logo, let's revisit some logos from previous AIMs:

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This mug I found at a friends appartment.

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A very friendly logo for IBM 1994 in the Netherlands. Not sure why the umbrella?

IBMs 1995-1997, I couldn't find anything.

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IBM in Denmark 1998 with a Swan - my first IBM.

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I remember the logo for the IBM 1999 in Brazil also existed in a color version. The palm trees remind me that the site was located at the beach - fantastic.

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Austria 2000: Not my cup of tea.

USA 2001, the anniversary IBM, had a simple logo, but I can't exactly remember.


IBM Finland 2002 had washing instructions as part of their logo.

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This shirt was originally printed with "IBM 2003" printed on it. When the name changed, Alvaro (CRC) auctioned off the last IBM shirts as collectors items.


AIM 2004 in Israel - abstract palm tree, sun and lake.

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A kite was used as the logo for the AIM in Thailand 2005 - this AIM also had a mascot, a little frog, drawn by Jiro (THA).

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AIM 2006 in Sweden with a smart tagline. One of my favourites.

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AIM 2007 in Colombia, cohosted by Canada , hence the logo with a maple leaf and hat.


AIM  2008 took place in dowtown Florence, symbolized in the logo, including il duomo.

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This year's AIM in Guatemala has a Mayan pyramid, a Quetzal and volcanos integrated.

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And here it is: The color, black and white and monochrome version of the AIM 2010 in Berlin next. year. I posted some more stuff on the development process over at my showcase blog Picknick Productions.

(I'm still missing logos from before 1993 and a few between 1995 and 2005 - if you happen to have one on a shirt, a cup, whatever, I'd be grateful, if you could send me a picture at ftb@absolutpicknick.de.)

CISV Hacks: Dropbox.

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Next to NGOYSK (NGOs you should know) this is a new section here at CISV From The Balcony, where I'll be presenting software, websites or web applications that I think could be useful for working for CISV.

Just a few weeks ago I discovered Dropbox and started loving it: I know those of you who work in official international CISV committees have access to Microsoft Sharepoint (more on Sharepoint covered over here), but others maybe working within CISV in not so official roles - Now, what is Dropbox: It's basically a software and a service that lets you share documents in fodlers with your friends or co-workers. The nice thing is that it installs itself as an application, that keeps quite in the background, and you don't even notice while it's syncing and backuping everything with the web, and even keeping older versions available through the website itself.
So next to CISV it may also be quite useful for your master thesis...?

Go check it out: www.getdropbox.com


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Here's an interesting speech by Rick Stevens, a travel writer, who explored Iran recently. In his introduction he says:

 "You should know people - before you bomb them."

He continues with something that is basically the core of the CISV philosophy: Once you know people from certain countries you get a different picture and reduce prejudgices. It reminds me that the CISV concept is still up-to-date. And there are different methods, too: Besides doing camps you can give presentations and show pictures, like this guy does, to achieve a similar goal. All in all, I don't agree with everything he says, but the whole speech is quite interesting and entertaining, yet a bit long (1h 20min):

So, when are we going to have our first CISV chapter in Iran?

The Regions revisited.

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Regions have been a topic ever since I'e been active in CISV International. In fact I was a member of a JB taskforce that created a first regional model as well as the position "ReCo" (Regional Co-ordinator). The regions have caused a lot of turmoil because some people considered regional meetings, conferences or trainings as exclusive for those regions. The IJRs created a long document called iGoRC a while ago, to settle the issue at least a bit.

While updating data into the bubble statistics, I recently updated the regions to comply with the new model suggested by the ODC (Organizational Development Committee): Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe-North, Europe-Central and Europe-South.


At first these regions seem a bit strange because they don't seem to fit into the geographic continents, but after looking at them for a while they make perfect sense: They solve the problem that Europe has so many CISV NAs by splitting the continent. They get a good mix of strong and weak NAs into every region. They solve the dilemma of the Middle East NAs by grouping them with a whole bunch of European countries. It should be mentioned that some people have suggested grouping all three Europes together (links to Devils with excellent discussion!), but this system creates regions of similar sizes, too.

Because I like these regions so much, I think CISV consider how to strengthen these regional networks and adopt this system into other areas of the organisation:

1) Regional JB conferences should be held for every new region. In fact, this means EJBM should be split up into three seperate conferences, with three seperate regional co-ordinators. ARM and JASPARC would of course stay the same.

2) AIM hosting should rotate through the 5 regions according to a certain system, i.e: Europe North, Americas, Europe South, Asia-Pacific, Europe Central. This would shift the system once suggested by COD (a taskforce that doesn't exist any more, that suggested having AIMs alternate between Europe and Asia-Pacific/Americas, more towards Europe - which makes sense if you look at the cost of travelling. Having two AIMs in Latin America within 3 years (Colombia 2007, Guatemala 2009) is quite unconvenient for everybody NOT from that region.

3) It has been suggested for Youth Meetings to become a regional programme. Why not make a football pool, where invitations go to countries from the same region only.

4) Buddy countries should be arranged within one region.

I thought this way in 1998 and still do today: Regions in CISV should become self-sustaining structures in CISV in order to strengthen the overall organisation and save costs.

Editorial note: 100 days.

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Every American president is granted a first 100 days to prove himself - but then his performance is rated in the most critical way.

CISV from the Balcony officially started January 1st 2009, so today it's time to look how well the blog has performed - I'm using American school marks from A+ down to D to grade different areas. The grading is 100% subjective, of course.

Technology B+

I installed Movable Type, a blogging software on my server - it's the first time I'm using it to this extent, being somewhat of a Blogger addict. So far I'm content, yet not overwhelmed. Basically it's doing mostly everything I wanted it to do. Just...that I don't really like the design template so much, but can't be bothered to change it - for now.

Reception B


Google Analytics tells met that there's an average of more than 100 people visiting per week. That is not bad, given that I only promoted the website through the Devil's, the T-shirt page and Facebook. I still don't want to promote it anyway, except by hoping that people are interested in reading the articles, because the quality is good. I do have to admit that I guess there aren't that many people around interested in this stuff.

Effort vs. Fun A-

I never thought I'd be the kind of guy, but apparently writing posts is fun. I enjoy doing it, even if I know that the audience is small. So unless I lose interest, I'm going to keep doing this.

Topics A+

I think I've covered a wide variety of topics in and around CISV, so that anybody with a deeper interest in the organization should find some interesting stuff. It's a bit cocky to award myself with an A+, but I retrospectively, I didn't think that there would have been so many interesting things to write about.


Discussion C+

Hmm. As with CISV Devils the CISV community just isn't made for online discussion. I'm happy though, for Hani, Teo, Nano and Marcos et al. who keep giving feedback -  thanks. Maybe people will feel more comfortable to share their views online in the future.


All in all CISV from the Balcony is a project that I do at least 50% for my own pleasure: To dig into CISV's history, structure and philosophy, come up with interesting statistics - and take the freedom of commenting on it. In that view, I'm more than happy. FTB will be around for another while. Any feedback, comments, wishes, please leave a comment.

Mid Way Meeting 2009.

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Every year the bosses of CISV (IEC=International Executive Committee) meet with the International Office staff  in Linden Hall, Newcastle for a mid-way-meeting. Rumours say, that men are required to wear ties in that location...anyway, the minutes have recently be published, so I'd like to highlight some of the stuff discussed there:

- the IEC doesn't see any evidence of CISV being hit by the global financial crisis. That's good, but we'll have to see if this may change.
- Hosting numbers in 2007 and 2008 are stable. Is that good? I think they should be growing! Yet, the global hosting plan - invented a few years ago - which gives the regions responsibility to stabilizing numbers seems to be showing some effect.
- I find it interesting that a whole bunch of NAs owe CISV International money, all in all more than 100.000 GBP. The debts of Slovakia, however, that hasn't participated since 2005 were abated.
- The new strategic plan, running from 2010 to 1012 will be presented and discussed during AIM. In the agenda you can find two sessions reserved for "Open Space" - which will give anybody participating at the AIM a chance to give input. I really enjoyed the Open Spaces during the AIM in 2004, that generated the current Strategic Goals.

Region's favourite camps

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Bebe sent me some statistics the other day on hosting trends in the past 5 years, so I started digging into them, because I was wondering, whether all regions like to host the same kind of porgamms.
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In this graph you can see, which programmes were hosted by the respective regions in 2008. percentage-wise. I should also add the absolute numbers of camps hosted to give a better picture:

Americas: 97
Europe North: 77
Europe Central: 40
Europe South: 100
Asia-Pacific: 26

A few things are interesting:

- Youth Meeting remains pretty  much a "European thing".
- Asia-Pacific is very weak in Interchanges. This is sad, because I can see a huge potential for a cultural experience here.
- Mosaics seem to have caught on in the Asia-Pacific region pretty well. However, I think the Mosaic information distorts this graph a bit - simply by size and effort, I'm not sure they can be compared with the other programmes.
- In percent, Europe South hosts the least amount of villages but runs the most interchanges.

NGOYSK: Border Crossers

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A new episode in NGOs You Should Know:


Sachi is a CISVer I met during the IBM in Denmark in 1998, who is from New York. In her home town she created her own NGO, called Border Crossers. The concept is quite simple, and related to CISV: Bring kids from different parts of the (segregated) city together, so that they can reduce pejudices.

CISV frustrates me sometimes, because it's so expensive to fly 48 kids from around the globe together for a village - enter Border Crossers: An organization that has obviously become very successfull in a short period of time, by creating a multi-ethnic get-together within a single country, no city!

Then again the founder is a CISVer, so - yeah - CISV might have paid off after all.

Read more about Border Crossers on their website.

Sachi also wrote an aricle in the Local Work Magazine 2005 (p11) about Border Crossers.

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