Seeing the reports of what is unfolding in Japan is heartbreaking to watch – there’s a massive crisis happening over there and I personally can’t stand by and watch it. There must be a way that we as individuals, and teams, can help those on the ground. And I believe there is.
I’ve been following an organisation called ‘Crisis Commons’ for some time now. They’re an open source initiative and have created a series of events known as ‘Crisis Camps’. In short, a Crisis Camp is a BarCamp style event where volunteers come together to solve real problems affecting those on the ground. Often these solutions are pulled together using publicly accessible data, technology and the web, to improve existing technological tools used in crisis and development scenarios.
The mandate for these tasks or mini projects can come from the Worldbank or the UNHCR, or any of the major agencies tasked with dealing with these massive crises – these are real, urgent needs, sometimes with only a day or two to tackle before it’s too late.
Everything that is produced as part of these events is licensed with a creative commons license and is freely available for others to use, tweak and distribute at will. This ensures that the good work done and the learnings made can be shared with others who may be trying to resolve similar issues.
Motivated by a personal urge to help, coupled with being impressed and inspired at how Crisis Camps around the world are helping, I’m calling on the local community to get involved and form a Brighton based branch.
If you’re interested, come along on Wednesday 23rd March to The Caxton Arms pub at 7pm. It’s an opportunity to get together, have a discussion about the Crisis Camp format and Crisis Commons (there will be a short (I promise!) presentation) and to see if there’s enough interest to form a group. More importantly, it’s open to *anyone* who’s curious.
You can also keep up to date on what’s happening on Twitter – follow @crisiscampbtn
You can read more about what Crisis Camp and Crisis Commons is here and there’s a short (and somewhat cringy!) video of last years London Crisis Camp at the bottom of this post (set up to help Haiti).
I hope that we see you there on Wednesday, and, hopefully, to work with in the future!