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Next at Praja - the facilitator/EM concept

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Praja related

In addition to the ongoing technology upgrade work (an online "project" concept should go live anytime now, and a better moderation system is being designed), we will like to put some structure to this growing citizen networking platform.

A recap first

Before describing the concept of engagement managers (or facilitators), let us do a quick of recap on what we are, and what we want to be

  • Core idea - We want to be a citizen networking platform, a place where constructive and analytical minds come together. Learn and share here, and apply those at your favorite NGO or activist group. Or, pitch your cause here, and recruit volunteers for your cause or project.
  • Important point - We don't want to be yet another NGO. Though members are free to undertake projects they wish, we would encourage work in the area of auditing or tracking civic bodies and their performance (promoting transparency and accountability), or in the area of conveying suggestions/complaints to them (citizen engagement).
  • Lack of structure is deliberate. There are no official stands or ideologies of Praja.in. We want to let things evolve, don't want to force one cause or bless one approach or promote one issue over another. Once good minds start mingling together, right causes will get picked up.
  • Essentially, this is an open place, and we don't belittle discussions. However, there are some rules of moderation.

Now, about this new experiment

To make good use of the energy here, there is a need to promote the concept of "projects". However, to function in this online and virtual world, projects will need some basic support structure (besides online tools).

  • Projects created by Praja members will usualy touch points with 1 or more local civic bodies.
  • It is important to have real, visible and local people to be the "front" for
    Praja members with a given local civic body. Local bodies will find it hard to digest
    our "virtual" and "context driven, not people driven" way of working, thats why this need.

Let us call these "front" members as Engagement Managers, or EMs.

What exactly is a Praja EM

Points to note about the EM concept:

  • EM is NOT the sole person doing interaction with the civic body
  • EM is Praja members' face to the civic body, provides them a contact point.
  • EM should connect the enthu Praja members of the time (because they
    come and go) to the civic body on the project running at the time.
  • EM is NOT the person coordinating projects. EMs may double as people who run projects as well, but thats not recommended for two reasons.
    • first and simple reason - that will cause work overload for EMs
    • second, EMs running projects could misuse their contacts to push their points of view
  • Projects will come and go, could be run by an enthu members at the time. EMs will only hand-hold and support enthu action oriented people that come along.

Basically, EM would be seen as the facilitator and contact point, not the sole "do-er" or decision maker in any way.

EMs will have some online tools, like a praja.in email id for legitimacy, and possibly an "online queue" to help them track requests.

Who can be a Praja EM?

Well, any member with the will and civic orientation. But you should be willing to do whats mentioned above. Additionally, you should not have any business interests as motivator. For example: if you build roads for a living, you can't be a Praja EM with BBMP.

With time, when more members would want to be EMs than the number required, we will have elections on the site to pick EMs.

Any empty EM slots?

Ideally, we should have 3 EMs per civic body of interest. Since most of us are part-timers here, 3 would provide cover for 1 person getting busy with work/travel etc.

We have spoken to a few members about this, and here is how the EM picture looks like right now. Names in braces are tentative and need final confirmation.

  • BMTC: Sudheendra, Rithesh
  • BBMP: Suhas, Sanjayv

Based on discussions seen on the website, we seem to need volunteers to play EMs for following bodies:

  • BWSSB: (Manjari)
  • BMRC: (vinod_shankar)
  • Bangalore Traffic Police: (s_yajman)
  • Lokayukta: (silkboard)
  • South Western Railway: (sb_ypr)

Thats't it?

Not really. As this community grows, with more members, and better online tools, we 'd need more EMs. But we wouldn't overplan right now. Current need is purely based on the type of discussions we have been seeing so far.

And yes, we will tune this concept of EM, and define the role better as we go. Nothing is perfect, and a bunch of admins are helpless without your inputs and suggestions. Keep them focused, brief and to the point though.

Finally

Look forward to some volunteers for Praja EM role. Send a private message to "admin" if you are interested.

We will track this experiment, lets wish it well. May work, may not work, but lets try.

Comments

kbsyed61's picture

Activate the Project section

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120 users have liked.

Admin,

Excellent. This is the only way Praja can elevate itself to the next level. We not only need solid tech support but also the real project work visibility so that all the stake holders are in the loop.

Until the tech work for PM/EVM gets ready, please re-activate the Project section that we used to have. It will serve as project tracking for most of us.

Syed

admin's picture

Projects feature almost ready

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94 users have liked.

Looks like we are now close to getting the project feature ready.

We realize that the EM concept will work better after projects being executed behind the scenes become prominently visible and available on the website via a separate section and frontpage visibility.

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