July 2010 Archives

Other Motions.

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks
Unfortunately CISV's motions are still quite a bit of a read, but since we still haven't made it to motions in SMS format, as suggested by Nic/GBR ("'CISV GB MVS 2 CUT PPR W8'), I worked myself through the rest of the bunch:

Mtn05-AIM10 IJB


I have nothing to add to the IJRs rationale, it just all makes more sense this way.

Mtn02-AIM10-BRA Travel Insurance


This really depends on what other NAs are experiencing. In any case, I would always prefer more constructive motions. Here, it would have been great, if Brazil had researched into and presented alternatives instead of delegating this to the IRMC.

Mtn06-AIM10 IEC Restructure of ERC
Mtn08-AIM10-IEC Restructure of ODC


Even if I agree with these motions, I'm having a hangover concerning restructuring projects. So much depends on the specific projects being carried out, the transitional needs and of course personal, I'm tired of an ongoing process of restructuring the committees into subcommittees and now departments. Does all this resorting and rebranding really make a difference? I doubt it. More than ever at this point in time, we are in need for great leaders, that are inspirational, real hockey players and good communicators, as the latest wave of resignations shows quite clearly. New structures won't solve this problem.

Mtn07-AIM10 IEC Insurance Company


The idea of self-insurance has been around for more than 10 years, and I'm so very glad people have finally walked the talk and things are happening. Thanks to Brett/USA seems to have worked the lion's share, from my (limited) view.

Mtn11-AIM10 COL Development Policy


In 2002 I myself got a motion approved that made the IEC analyse reasons for programme growth and decline. The results were interesting, but in the end underwhelming. As much as I try to do statistically valid research into CISV, I just don't believe the results of such a retrospective analysis will yield and useful results. CISV is a complicated beast and its developments are mostly chaotic. Still, I think the rationale behind this motion is that our development policies have mostly failed, or better: We don't even know what we are doing. But once again, I would prefer a more constructive motion that suggests more specific measures on what to do instead of delegating a problem to a new working group.

Mtn12-AIM10 COL Interchange Junior Leader


Compared to any other CISV programme Interchange has the worst leader per participant ratio. Even if families are involved, it is a necessary step in the right direction to improve the educational content of one of our weaker programmes.

Mtn13-AIM10-ODC-IEC Annual Revision of C-15


I've just always been wondering if any NAs ever get downgraded (from A). Also I'd love to see a color-coded chart some day, of all current category A NAs, I'm sure there'd be a lot of red areas...

Online content.

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

For the most time of internet history CISV has mostly used the world wide web for administration: Downloadable legal forms, CISV friends as a member database, NA pages listing invitations and chapter contacts.

Now recently I've been observing a new trend: CISV is using the web to discuss content (like the Year of Diversity campaign) and connect to projects and other NGOs, like carrotmob.org - here in this Mosaic Tweet.

Great! Let's have more of it...

Not the sAIM 2.0.

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
3 ideas to make the AIM a better meeting.

In 2006 I presented a report to the EEC that included a suggestion to host the AIM in a "square" format, where everybody arrives and leaves on the same day. The biggest focus was to reduce cost but after some detailed calculations it turned out that a square AIM wasn't any cheaper. The idea was then dropped even before being presented to the board.

These days Laura/GBR and others are yet again working on ideas to improve the Annual International Meeting, but as usual I can't keep my mouth shut and present a few ideas on the side that I've been having lately, while involved in the planning process of our AIM in Berlin starting next week.

Give the host the chance of creating thematic sessions

In order to give the rotational scheme a better purpose, I think more room should be reserved for the hosting NA: I'm not talking about traditional dances or tourist trips, but presentations by local NGOs, success stories by the host NA or any regional projects in the area of peace education. The host NA could give the AIM a theme, and arrange sessions that fit in. These sessions could be conducted in an open fashion, i.e. anybody interested could participate. Both the openness and a theme would have the nice side effect of making it more attractive for sponsors.

Present the Circle of Nations as in TED

Some people have suggested getting rid of the circle of nations altogether, but it has a long tradition, and some NAs even feel disrespected, when they don't get the chance of presenting their success stories and challenges of the previous year. Here's an idea, that Joao gave me, after he attended the TEDX conference in Lisbon: Why not present the circle of nations in a TED-like format? It will take forever, you may say - but maybe it's worth it? Let's offer NAs either a 4-minute or 8-minute timeframe to present whatever they think was worthwhile in the past year. To save time in the agenda, people could be divided into split sessions, or the Circle of Nations could be saved for the evenings, and take place over the course of 4 days. The goal would be to challenge the NAs for the most entertaining, inspiring and interesting presentation - if this doesn't happen by itself, prizes could be awarded.

Less board is more AIM.

Limit the pure board sessions to the minimum and increase the number of split sessions wherever possible. Create committee time slots throughout the AIM, that also serve as sessions where ad-hoc working groups could meet. All this would lead to more collaboration and communication between all participants, whether they are trustees, committee members or observers.

All three suggestions represent a different understanding of AIM itself: It moves the focus from  the decision making process that takes place in the board meeting, to an inclusive, open, inspiring meeting that focuses on the exchange of ideas. CISV devils was so popular, because it resembled the process of creativity and discussion that usually takes place over a few beers late at night during AIMs. Why not make this the overall purpose of the meeting? Having it in a square format, where all participants attend for the same days, no matter what role they fulfill would then be a logical consequence.

Sex in the CISV.

| 11 Comments | No TrackBacks
An international, independent, non-political, non-profit dating service.

How many people you know have met their girl-friend/boy-friend wife/husband in CISV? How many people join CISV activities, because the enjoy the safe setting to engage in a romance? How many people take part in CISV programmes because they think they can easily get laid? How many people do you know, have had their first sexual experiences during a CISV camp? Isn't intimacy between members of the leadership group part of every CISV camp? Is sex possibly one of the strongest motivators for volunteers to take leadership positions in CISV activities over and over again?

These questions have never been officially dealt with, for obvious reasons. The only official document dealing with the theme is R7 and maybe some programme guides, disallowing intimacy between adults and minors. But precisely because it's such a culturally sensitive issue, this topic deserves more attention.

Don't forget: You can always comment anonymously! Oh...and I hope the spam-bots don't jump at this one.

CISV vs. The Environment.

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Mtn09-AIM10 USA Environmental Taskforce


This is by far, the most inspiring motion on the table to date. It's not about restructurung, changing policies or guideliens, nor about approving personal, but about about giving our organization new momentum.

Sustainability has become one of our 4 educational pilars, and this should be reflected not only in what we preach, but also how we work. In an excellent recent issue of IJB Thinks, this issue is discussed in various ways, and the more you think about it, the more it becomes clear, that flying people around the world for something they could also learn in a local setting contradicts our princip
The carbon footprint as it is understood by pe...

Image via Wikipedia


However, I'm not without doubt, that giving the environment a bigger place in our philosophy is all good: It is already really difficult to explain CISV to others: The concepts of "peace education", "non-formal education", "experiential learning", "active citizenship" and "peace through friendship" are already a jigsaw-puzzle that is hard to convene. How more difficult would it be, if "working towards a sustainable environment" became part of it all. And also, aren't there already enough other organizations out there doing just that?

I'm also worried about the fact that this motion is so unspecific: A new taskforce would need at least year to find volunteers and define it's exact tasks. Furthermore it will be difficult to mark the point, when all tasks of this "taskforce" are fulfilled and the team  consequently dissolved. In fact, I see a more ongoing thing here.

Also, I see a great opportunity here for a co-operation with an NGO, that specializes in this area. Although not exactly an NGO, CISV Germany already now is running a co-operation for AIM in the exact sense of this motion. From the Infopack 3:

We proudly present the first carbon neutral AIM. Our sponsor Entega (a company, which produces electrical power, is on the way to be the largest producer of renewable energy in Germany, www.entega.de) will reforest as much as is needed to absorb all our carbon emissions during AIM. They will also neutral the carbon footprint due to travel emissions of all juniors to the IJBC. We are really happy that we will have a big international meeting without negative effect on our environment. In order to help to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible we ask you to put your notebooks in stand-by mode whenever you don't need it.

OVerall, I think this motion is more about the fact that the question of environmental impact should enjoy a higher priority in the work of an "active global citizen" (something I've discussed here before), and thus, in CISV. And this notion should be welcomed and the motion approved.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Candidates' Wordle.

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
The latest issue of IJBThinks! (login:ijb.guest, password: cisv4all) contains articles from all candidates for IEC and IJR - a fantastic collections of inspirational thoughts and stories that also give an interesting impression, where on the political landscape of CISV these people should be positioned (Doris, Village, children vs. IPP, Mosaic, Mosquito tactics) Anyway, I ran the whole issue through Wordle, and got a nice picture of what our future leaders think CISV is (or should be) about:


So, if in search for a new taglline, maybe you'll get lucky by selecting words from this collection...

Profiting from Non-Profits.

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
The Economist has an interesting story on how non-profit organizations re sometimes more profitable than the for-profit-ones. But it starts with an example of a non-profit trying to emulate profitable corporations:

The American branch of the Young Men's Christian Association, known to arm-waving disco mavens as the YMCA, announced on July 12th that it would become plain "The Y". This is part of what the outfit describes as a "major brand revitalisation" intended to make it seem warmer and more welcoming.

"The Y"??? How insane is that... should we become "The C" then? Anyway, the article warms up to non-profits and gives a few interesting examples:

Non-profits do plenty of other things to motivate their workers that for-profits could imitate. They often have a flat management structure. Non-profit bosses tend to muck in with volunteers when the heat is on (you'll find them, for example, helping to stuff goody bags for fund-raising events). New employees are quickly given real responsibility, even if they are young.

You can read the whole article here.

Oh well, Newcastle.

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Mtn10-AIM10 COL International Office Location: REJECT.

I've been a long fan of relocating the IO and it has all been discussed on the Devil's website as well. I see huge opportunities of other locations, such as: Better chances for governmental support (Stockholm?), lower wages (Sao Paulo?), more attractive for volunteers and interns (Berlin?), proximity to other NGOs (Bruxelles?) or simply in a country with a more dynamic NA than GB these days (Lisbon?)

But as much as I see myself as a progressive person, I just can't find any joy in the idea of doing a SWAT analysis of the IO location at this point of time. In the past  few years, Gaby has done a remarkable job in reorganizing the office, and has found a number of incredible employees (Kiran and Bebbe are the ones that I find most impressive) that have shifted the focus from being an administrative service center to a core professional structure, pushing forward all kinds of issues from developing our educational goals, through implementing new communication structures to improving our public profile. With all this great stuff happening, I believe that questioning the location would act as a troublesome disruptor.

Already in 1998 a similar motion was discussed but never lead to action. At that time the infamous Joe B. was heading an IO, that was everything but innovative.  It would have been a great moment to move the IO, replace the secretary general and give the IO a whole new setup. We might have missed an opportunityat that point in time.

But today as well as 10 years ago there existedl more reasons to reject this motion:
- CISV would have to go through a complicated process of fixing legal and financial issues when relocating.
- We may lose a whole lot of employees on the way.
- Furthermore, in my eyes, the physical location is likely to  play a decreasing role in the future with more and better means of electronic communication.

And since there is no location that is sooooo obviously better than Newcastle, so that all these problems are were balanced, I think we should be pragmatic and just stay there. Even is Newcastle surely is not the very first place that comes to mind, if we had to chose today.
...and a new editor as well.


Blogger.com is a blogging tool that many of you know and use and has been a core part of the setup to the CISV shirt archive. Unfortunately Blogger decided to discontinue their FTP-support, which is a script that used to beam the new posts over from Blogger to the CISV-server. However, this support has ended on May 1st, so since then it's impossible to post new shirts to the archive.

Now, I've been thinking about passing this project on for a long time, but couldn't be bothered much, because the setup never really required much attention. But now that it does, I think this is a great chance to leave it up to a new editor to set things up the way he or she likes it.

Interested? Here an FAQ:

What's so great  about the CISV shirts archive?
There are almost 500 CISV shirts on the website
There's still about 400 visitors to the site every month
The Facebook page has more than 800 fans!

What are the areas of improvement?
Only a few pictures have been added within the last year.
The page design deserves a facelift.

What needs to be done right now?
There exists several ways of making the CISV shirts archive work past again that may or may not require much work. This mostly depends on what the new editor wants the website to be. If it's just a blog, its easy. If you want to continue the voting ("I love this shirt") and the "hot-or-not" functionality, that will need some more effort. At any rate, I'm more than happy to do this work, if somebody takes the editor job from there.

As an editor, how much work will I have during the year?
As I said above, it's mostly keeping an eye on the pictures and comments being and encouraging people to contribute pictures. Everything else will work by itself. If technical problems occur, I'm there.

What about expanding the functionality?
I've had ideas in the past, about making the archive more like a gallery: Adding info to every shirt like the year it was printed, the chapter, the designer. Then I'd like visitors to be able to search by specific data, like all Chattanooga shirts from the 80s. Also, you could as curators to select a set of shirts on a specific theme, like: "Ugly as hell" or "CISV and flowers". All this would require a lot of work and technical knowledge, but it could be done and would be fantastic. However, this is nothing I am ready to provide. If somebody would like to expand the CISV shirts archive in that or any other way, I can help, but won't be able to take the lion's share of the work.
More easier to implement would be something like a Twitter integration, that would announce new shirts through Tweets and increasing the audience that way.
Feedburner is a service I recently added to FTB, which allows e-mail subscription - another interesting way of including even bigger audiences.
Other options include moving the blog to another service (like Wordpress). You could also migrate the shirts into JBpedia. Or get rid of the blog and have a facebook group only (all with its advantages and disadvantages).

Why do you want to give it away at all?
It's been a great time, it's been a great project. But it's too far down on my priority list, and it just needs some fresh motivation and spirit - none of which I can provide right now. I've tried to get support for the CISV shirts project in the past, with little success, so I'm a bit pessimistic about this as well, but anyway...I truly hope somebody will continue this great collection.

Please contact me via e-mail (ftb@absolutpicknick.de) and I'l also bearound  during AIM (in case you're there) for any further questions you may have.


| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

After getting rid of the 13y-old Summer Camps, the committee (ISU) now moves to limit the number of delegates to 4 and get rid of the 6x6 camps (6 delegations of 6 kids).

I've long bin a fan of standardizing our programmes, because with our volunteer structure it is the only way we can really improve the quality of our camps: People need to "know" what they are talking about, when referring to Summer Camps. Having such big differences in the setup is basically having two different kinds of Summer Camps, where it's impossible to transfer lessons learned in one kind to another. Furthermore, having a specific gives everybody involved (staff, leaders, chapters, trainers) a kind of scaffolding for orientation. IPPs and Mosaics suffer, in my opinion, from the fact that they are so flexible and undefined. With so much freedom, people just don't know where to start.

The other arguments given in the motion (better leaders-to-participants ratio, the fact that the 6x6 camps barely exist, hospitality-point-simplicity) are also valid, although the last one's quite weak.

Just one sad point: ISU is currently searching for a new name for Summer Camp and 6x6-camp would have been a great alternative - 9x4-camp on the other hand sounds a bit nerdy.

New research on CISV.

| 5 Comments | No TrackBacks
ds_4_hb.pngTwelve CISV camps provide the research material for 'Dialogue in Intercultural Communities', a book on communication and active participation in education systems in intercultural settings. The book is a collection of essays, edited by Claudio Baraldi of University of Modena e Reggio Emilia."This volume offers a unique perspective on a unique international educational organisation. The insights provided by the detailed analysis will inspire many researchers in different fields in their future work on intercultural communication and education. The studies also have wide-ranging implications for policy and practice concerning young people in a global context." Zhu Hua, University of London.

(via CISV GB's new and good looking but not yet (if ever) launched website.)

Board of Micromanagers.

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

CISV Brazil moves to get more detailed information from the international committees on their budget items.

This is, in my eyes, a typical example of the international board of trustees taking themselves too seriously. Of course, as a democratic organization, we need a board of trustees that approves motions, personal and a budget. But the true hard-working people in the international level are in the committees, I believe. Trustees merely meet once a year for 5 days to take a peak through the key-hole on what's been happening around the CISV world. So, please, show a bit more humility.

What CISV Brazil wants is called micromanagement. Why not instead move into the opposite direction, and grant every committee a fixed amount of money and give them the trust and flexibility to spend it well. Spending should be monitored by, lets say an IEC liason, but flexibility is the key: Things change so fast in CISV, and I've often been annoyed, how difficult it was to re-allocate funds in the approved budget during the year.

The one true point that this motion has, that the budget session takes so long, would also be solved with my suggestion.

Oh, and since I've started ranting about the trustees - CISV would benefit even more, if less time at AIM was spent on board sessions. What a waste of time any money. If only the board of trustees could see their limited efficiency.

Disclaimer: I've spent 6 years on the IPP taskforce, and never been a trustee myself. So there may be some bias in this post. But, what did you expect?

Editorial Note.

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
It's only a few weeks until AIM, and I'm it will be the first one I'll participate in since 2005. To get myself and everybody else in the mood, I'll be pacing up a little bit here at FTB after weeks of world cup and vacation: We'll be looking at the motions submitted so far, and I'll also try and finish a bunch of posts that I've only begun drafting when the idea came to mind.

For those of you following at Facebook only, please keep in mind, that for some reason, there is a lag of several days, before the posts appear there.

Anyway, keep tuned!

They're redundant, let's get rid of them.

A few weeks ago a new Mosaic website was launched. It has the look and feel of a modern website, has tons of updated news items and integrates with the social networks Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly, the title of the site is not "Mosaic Committee Website" but "Mosaic Stories".

For a long time international CISV committees have felt the need of a flexible communication tool to reach out to national committees, participants and leaders. Committee websites have had various levels of fanciness, but most offered a collection of necessary documents including the guide, a newsletter and a list of people involved in the committee.

Meanwhile most documents can easily be found on the Resources website, and the CISV International website has been extended to include more and updated information on the programmes, while some committee websites look desperately in need for an update.

Moving forward doesn't always mean coming up with new things, it also means to consolidate and remove things that are not necessary any more. In fact, we're also talking about freeing resources that could be used elsewhere. In this case, I think we should review the need for individual committee pages.

Of course some efforts need to be made to make sure, important information is still available online:
- We would need a new website that lists our committee chairs, members and contact information
- Committee should adopt full responsibility for the programme description, additional information and any programme related news(letters) offered on cisv.org
- Overview pages on Resources should help access all necessary documents that relate to any specific programme.

Getting rid of general committee pages, of course, doesn't mean there shouldn't be room for interesting programme-related web projects: The new Mosaic Website is a great example.

(Courtesy to the Website Review Group for bringing up this idea.)

Building Global Citizens.

| 13 Comments | No TrackBacks

After a huge effort to profile our own organization, CISV International decided in 2006 to update our logo, drop the long version of our name, and add the tagline "Building Global Friendship". The logo update caused an uproar, of which the most hilarious one was an e-mail list of opponents of the new logo started by a 1951 delegate. Meanwhile most people I know like the new logo, and perceive the old one as "out-dated". Getting rid of "Children's International Summer Villages" on our websites and public documents followed a general trend, but none that I ever really liked: Anybody confronted with an acronym will automatically be curious on what it stands for. I think it would have made more sense to come up with a new name altogether, but I guess no majority would have ever agreed to that.

Now, among the AIM 2010 documents is a motion brought forward by Argentina, Brazil and Italy to change the tagline "CISV Building Global Friendship" into "CISV Active Global Citizenship".

This is interesting, because wheras there's a lot of "Doris Allen" and "Village" in the global friendship notion, I can see "Mosaic" and "CISV Passport" in the suggested one.
I very much the rational behind this motion, but in the end, I would reject it. Here's why:

A tagline is a tagline is a tagline. It's not our educational content summarized in three words. It must be flashy and not intellectualized. And even if I wish this were different, hosting international programme is still 90% of what we do. A tagline can only reflect who we are, and not be the spearhead of a new trend. If someday, we do all agree that "Active Global Citizenship" is what we are, then we should go the full way of getting rid of our silly acronym "CISV" as well, and find a new name that is both flashy and reflecting our educational core.

Finally an anecdote, that is a bit cheesy, but illustrated why our current tagline is not so bad after all: I visited a wedding in Norway last week, where a bunch of CISVers were present - most notably a family from New York, who had become close friends with the Norwegians, after the kids had attended a village together. During the wedding dinner the New York dad got up and held an emotional, very moving speech on how this "mysterious organization called CISV" had brought their families together - and all I could think, was: "Building global friendship".

(This post is the first one in a series commenting on the motions submitted for AIM2010.)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2010 is the previous archive.

August 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.