Young Rewired State Year 5: Everywhere and Hyperlocal

So the time has come when we are all itching for more Young Rewired State, and interestingly it seems that year 4-5 of this thing is when it all starts to get local. As you know, we like to try stuff to see if it works and so here is a very brief outline of the plans as we stand today, (PLANS, not definites… we are still testing ideas):

YRS in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
Historically we have struggled to get centres and kids in these areas, mainly because we need to do more to raise awareness of YRS rather than there not being any kids who could take part. So we are planning on running three separate hack weekends on open local government data for 50 kids in each place, emulating what we did in England in 2009 at Google – the beginning of YRS.

The first is being run in Scotland: http://rewiredstate.org/hacks/yrs-scotland-2012 and we are working out Wales right now and Northern Ireland will likely be a collaboration with Maggie Philbin and Teentech.

  • if you would like to assist with the organisation of any of these three weekends, please let me know


YRS UK local

We now have 42 centres across the UK, some slightly bamboozled, but those who are in their 2nd or 3rd year of being a centre are well-established and seeing a need to foster the local coding youth community beyond the annual event, both through the centre and with Ben (Nunney)’s community management offerings to all of the YRSers.

We are also looking at how these kids can work together on local community projects, or not – just things that interest them – and would like to see the centres be involved in this.

Please bear with us as we take our time to get this right. We have managed to nut years 1-4, we just need to work out year 5 and then we can rinse and repeat, for everyone.

YRS Worldwide

The idea has always been to find and foster every kid who is driven to teach themselves how to code, and this does not limit us to the UK. For a few years now we have received messages from people overseas keen to run their own YRS events. So in 2013 we are launching YRS Everywhere. We are going to run weekends (again for 50 kids using local open government data) in the following places:

  • Estonia
  • Berlin
  • New York
  • Amsterdam
  • Kenya
  • plus one other wild card (we have a few options here you see)

We will replicate the method of scale we used in the UK, moving from weekend to week, to multiple centres and finally hyper-local, year on year – all the time connecting these young coders to each other, in a very light way, maintaining the worldwide mentoring model used to date. We have no idea how this will work out, but we have begun chats with local developer networks who will act as foster networks for the youngsters, and open government data people in country, and the response has been wildly enthusiastic.

  • If any of you have contacts in any of these countries, please do hook me up with them, I would like to tie everything together as much as I can

Money – how are we paying for this?

Firstly it is important to clarify that my intention is not to build an organisation and flog it for millions. The idea is that this thing will be built and will grow and grow and grow, goodness knows where it will take us all but I would still like to be doing this when I am 90, and I would like to still be doing this with you all. I find that more exciting than being rich for a few years then sad and lonely…

We run YRS on a sponsor model, covering costs by trading what we actually have (access to young programming minds to test kit or raise brand awareness to a new generation) but not selling databases or IP. Obviously I have given up work now and we have a small team who run YRS and Rewired State (Rewired State being a profit-making social enterprise), we are paid through money made on RS hack days and through pieces of consultancy. YRS will continue to run on a NfP model, as we grow so we will need to raise more money to cover our ambition, but we are not shackled to a VC because we are not building a business to sell – we are creating a network that will continue to grow and hopefully gainfully employ more and more people and be rewarding and energising – because we have no flipping idea what is actually going to happen, and have the freedom to do this.

And so we work very closely with our chosen sponsors every year to both get the cash we need to run this thing and to get them the results they need in order to donate actual money to us. It is a fine line but we work hard to get it right (nearly there!).

We intend to find a single main partner for Young Rewired State: Everywhere, as SAP were for us in the 2012 Festival of Code. We will find a model that combines local, in-country sponsorship, combined with our main partner sponsor.

In addition to this we will continue to run ‘for profit’ Rewired State hack days to support central costs.

The only way we can scale to find every single kid driven to teach themselves how to code, is to avoid obvious limitations. There is not going to be any single group that rises to the top as an outright winner from YRS, everyone will benefit, but every person involved can choose how they shape their involvement in YRS – it totally will be what you make of it.

I know I am in it for life and I am going to dedicate myself to making it great and worldwide. Young developers will take the network and make friends for life, build businesses, create the next bazillion dollar thing. Mentors will become worldwide mentors helping young people from all backgrounds, maybe even working with them to create something world-changing. Centres will find their own local coding youth and will hold the ability to shape that relationship and hone those skills for the greater good, or for their own. The Rewired State team work together to boldly go wherever, to try stuff, test and be brave, with a small cushion (a very small cushion) of financial stability. It is what we all make of it.

But I do not believe in death by committee. I never have but flirted with it in the early days of this social enterprise and it failed. I plan to lead this thing and forge ahead with as much support as I can muster and see how far we get. A time will come when what we are doing becomes irrelevant, at that point I will get a new job.

  • if any of you know of any potential sponsors or partners for any of this, please let me know

 

Prison reform in Kenya

Quite a la-di-da post title for me :)

My pal Tom’s girlfriend asked me to re-post her appeal letter on the www.justicefortom.com website (appeal that is for cash to make prisoners’ and remandees’ lives better in Kenya). I have done so, but whilst tweaking the spelling (sorry Sally) I re-read the post and what she was asking for.

Now, read the following, and tell me that this is not reasonable to expect in a civilised society, or any society FFS:

The first thing is to buy pipes for the existing borehole at Kamiti prison so we can get running water to 4000 inmates (at the moment they only get an occasional bucket if the mains are working). We have a quote of 75,000 shillings – £650 to sort this problem out.

There needs to be reform of the work available to prisoners beyond heavy industry at 10cents a day. We have a plan for inmates to make handmade greeting cards to earn money to buy extra food, soap and send something home to their families who they can no longer support. We will supply paints and card. I will help organize the sales.

In the longer term if the authorities can respond and cooperate, we would like to help:
- to improve the visiting area where you get 15 minutes behind thick dark wire and have to yell at the top of your voice. This area is so dirty and where most diseases spread ie typhoid.
- to improve the library and learning facilities, ie computers
- to improve the diet of inmates
- to get pay phones in all the blocks
- to get a limit on time people can be held in remand

Now, I get quite a lot of stick for being a part of Team Tom, and often have to fight a corner I know nothing about. I really am an amateur, he is just my mate, but the above just seems… well crazy quite frankly.

Regardless of how you fall in the ‘Tom is guilty/not guilty’ debate, (please don’t have this with me), the fact that the prison system just needs a small injection of cash and Reason should not come into it – so give me a break!

That was it really, just a bit of a moan, as ever!!!!

Am back from Kenya

The last two weeks in brief:

I took these photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mulquem/sets/72157607109542754/

I stayed at the following places:

http://www.soysambuconservancy.org/

http://www.eihr.com/baringo/index_en.htm

http://www.blixencoffeegarden.co.ke/

Visited here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Naivasha

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Baringo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Elmenteita

http://www.kws.org/nakuru.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamiti_Maximum_Security_Prison

Talked a lot about this:

www.justicefortom.com

Helped set this blog up (Please do take the time to have a look at what is happening here):

http://soysambuconservancy.wordpress.com/

All in all it was a magical time. Thanks to my many hosts.

And now, I am back.

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