As I sit down to write this final report for my Interledger Foundation Ambassadorship, I find myself reflecting back on my initial goals and the journey those have taken me on. Those goals were to:
- test out new Web Monetization tipping features;
- engage in public outreach with Web Monetization to media, digital creatives, and open education communities by hosting workshops and tipping parties;
- create an edited version of the live Web Monetized at MozFest Podcast; and
- engage in outreach on Web Monetization and Interledger Foundation opportunities to indigenous communities and disabilities communities.
I've done that and whole lot more through this Ambassadorship, which I very much think of as journey, one that meandered and had to be re-routed at times. While my Ambassadorship is at an end, the journey that was a part of this Ambassadorship continues with new paths beginning ahead.
Last summer I shared much of this journey in an Interim Report Series:
- Outreach and Education with Tipping Galleries and Parties
- Building Educational Assets, and Troubleshooting Pathways to Share Those Assets
- Outreach and Community Building
That Interim Report Series was a final report unto itself, so I am not going rehash those earlier aspects of my Ambassadorship in this report, but rather focus this report on the piece of my Ambassadorship that caused me to extend it into 2023, and specifically to the Interledger Summit 2023, which was to do outreach to indigenous communities and disability communities with the Interledger Protocol and opportunities and possibilities that the Interledger Foundation and broader Interledger community represent.
As the Summit allowed me to further build and learn from a few pieces I spoke about in my Interim Report Series, I will also highlight those here, specifically the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon and Community Lead Podcasting.
As I spoke about in my 'Outreach and Community Building' Report, when I had to rethink the Indigenous Communities and Disability Communities Micro Grants that I was initially envisioning as a means of creating more engaging outreach with those communities (due to Coil closing and Web Monetization being temporarily unavailable), Chris suggested reimagining these micro grants as a way to bring key individuals from the indigenous communities and disabilities communities to the 2023 Interledger Summit. I loved this idea, and am pleased with what was created, the micro grantees it attracted, the program established for those micro grantees, and how the micro grantees embraced the opportunity.
For those of you curious as to how this micro grant was set up, the goal was to invite a diverse group of micro grantees who are active within indigenous communities and disabilities communities. By diverse, this meant searching globally for people active in indigenous and disabilities communities, who are engaged in different community initiatives from fintech, technology, financial literacy, digital literacy, indigenomics, entrepreneurship, education, accessibility, and digital media. As indigenous communities and disabilities communities are themselves broad, representing a diverse range of cultural groups, believes and lived experiences, the goal was to similarly take the diversity of such communities into consideration in reaching out to as broad a group of micro grantees, as possible.
I found those grantees by searching globally, reaching out to colleagues around the world for introductions, cold emailing, and having exploratory meetings. As this was an invitation based micro grant application, and was during the summer when many people were 'away from the office', it was a bit of a balancing act of deciding how long to wait before reaching out to other avenues. Some people were going to apply (like a couple of indigenous education and digital groups in New Zealand), but did not in the end, others were interested, but the timing wasn't right, and still others reached out with interest past the deadline. I will create a full list of the organizations and contacts I found for Julaire. If anyone else is interested in that, let me know, and I will make you a copy.
From there, the micro grantees filled out a very similar grant application in Submittable to other Interledger Foundation Grants, and like with other Interledger Foundation grants, these applications were reviewed by a few people, before the micro grantees were formally offered a micro grant to attend the 2023 Interledger Summit.
My one change that I would make to this process would be to start it earlier, in the Spring, both to give more time in reaching people and to create a broader pool of people from these two communities, by encouraging some of them to apply to speak at the Summit.
I was very pleased with the amazing group of individuals that the micro grant attracted, and with how they embraced the opportunity, making valuable connections, and being open to ideas and partnerships. The micro grantees included (in the order in which we received their applications):
@tinthit joined us at the Summit in her role as lead systems designer for the Indigenomics Institute. The Indigenomics Institute acts as an Indigenous economic advisory for public governments, Indigenous communities and the private sector. They focus on four core areas in overcoming Indigenous economic barriers and addressing challenges: as a dialogue platform for indigenous economic solutions, economic policy / research / analysis / planning, education and training, and partnership development. Additionally, Tinthi is a film director and producer, social justice advocate, and a Co-Founder and Director for BIPOC-CA. Read on for Tinthi's reflections from the Summit.
Bernard Chiira is a leader in the African innovation ecosystem and a pioneer for assistive technology innovation and entrepreneurship development in Africa. His passion is to inspire, catalyze and bridge success for individuals, startup founders, organizations, and businesses. Unfortunately due to a visa issue, Bernard was not able to join us at the 2023 Interledger Summit, but the hope is that he will be able to join us at the 2024 Interledger Summit.
@hforeman is a program director at New Mexico Community Capital (NMCC), which helps grow sustainable Indigenous economies through technical assistance, grants, and access to capital. He is a specialist in facilitation, development, and implementation of engaging learning experiences for students of all ages. He has created a variety of curricula around education, health, and entrepreneurship, including with the Indian Country Digital Trainers program with the National Congress of American Indians, and as Grow With Google Digital Coach for Indigenous Communities. Read on for Jake's reflections from the Summit.
@nehaarora is the founder of Planet Abled, a globally recognised travel brand promoting inclusive travel for persons with disabilities and the elderly. Planet Abled’s core business is mainstreaming accessibility into the tourism frameworks, practices, and market opportunities to enable growth, scale, and a customer-centric approach to have an amplified positive impact on travellers. She approached the Summit with accessibility in mind, speaking with people about how we can address accessibility throughout our ecosystem, starting right from the code, and reminding people that part of creating an accessible environment is making those that are providing that accessibility (like the sign language interpreters) feel like valued members of the community. She even helped me when I badly aggravated my concussion symptoms in one of the sessions (due to too many sensory stimuli hitting me at once), reminding me that I needed to prioritize calming those symptoms down so I wouldn't be out of commission for the rest of the Summit, and making sure Vineel understood from a audiovisual standpoint what could be done in future sessions to limit further aggravation of my symptoms. Read on for Neha's reflections from the Summit.
@artproctor is a Neurodiverse, Afro-Indigenous, Black Scotian Mik’maw, and a Social Finance, Open Payment, Indigenomic advocate, Tech Steward, Entertainment Technologist, Artist, Activist, and Community Builder. He is also the founder of Indigitech Destiny, designed to foster unity, learning, and technological progress within Indigenous communities, with an objective of employing technology as a means of reconciliation and collaboration. Additionally Art has been helping to develop and deliver digital literacy programs to IBPOC individuals, and is exploring partnering on a multi-pronged initiative that addresses digital and financial literacy, developing an open learning curriculum tailored to assist IBPOC individuals with varying levels of neurodiversity, physical, and hearing challenges. Read on for Art's Summit reflections.
It was important to me that I gave the micro grantees everything they needed to make the most of the Interledger Summit, catalyze future opportunities, and for their time at the Summit to be beneficial, both from their perspective and that of the Interledger Foundation. Ultimately, I wanted to set them all up for success in gaining an understanding of what the Interledger Protocol is and how it can be benefit their communities, learning more about the Interledger Foundation and the opportunities that exist with the Foundation, and making them connection within the Foundation and broader community for future allies, partnerships, initiatives and collaborations. To do this, I did the following:
Before the Summit:
- group email introducing the micro grantees to one another and to Santosh and Carrie
- an invitation to add their bio and photo in a shared google doc, if they wished me to introduce them before the Summit in the community forem and in the community Slack
- a shared google doc for them to add their wish list of the types of people and specific individuals in the Interledger community that they'd like to be introduced to at the Summit and / or in the Slack community
- an invitation to co-shape, create and record a podcast together at the Summit, to share their ideas and reflections on their experience
During the Summit
- a pre-Summit micro grantee get-together upon our arrival in Costa Rica for everyone to meet in person
- a WhatsUp group for connecting with each other throughout the Summit, including around catching up over meals ...etc.
- Santosh and I made introductions and connections between the micro grantees and people from the Interledger community whom we thought there might be a good relationship and / or opportunity with
- we hosted two live from the Summit community podcasts, that we invited others whom we connected with to, one at the end of the first full day and one at the end of the last day
- initiated an idea for a group collaboration, of which we met as a group with Roberto of The People's Clearinghouse, and have plans to draft a proposal together with The People's Clearinghouse and ThitsaWorks.
After the Summit
- followed up with everyone on their Micro Grantee Reports, a reminder on what to include and a template and imagery to help get them started
- a broadened WhatsUp Group for conversations as we further develop the group collaboration that was sparked at the Summit
Santosh Viswanatham kindly offered his help with our cohort in playing co-host to the micro grantees, acting as a source of knowledge for their questions, and helping make them introductions in the community. With his help, all of the micro grantees not only came away with a greater understanding of the technology, community and Foundation, but many new friends, allies, and future collaborators. Best of all, they all ended the Summit with multiple potential opportunities to follow up on.
I also need to give special shoutout here to Neha and Art, who made full use of every opportunity offered to them.
The thing that made me the most happy and proud of our micro grantees is that they came together to start exploring ways that they could support one another's initiatives, and when a group collaboration was suggested, they embraced the idea, along with Roberto of The People's Clearinghouse and Nyi of ThitsaWorks. Meaning that this is just the beginning of their journey together. That would not have happened if a program had not been established that made them colleagues and collaborators from the start.
This was a valuable experience for all involved, and I greatly hope that the Interledger Foundation continues to host Summit micro grants targeted to inviting underrepresented communities within the Interledger community to the Summit to learn and take back what they learn to their community. And I hope that in hosting those micro grantees, a program will be set up for the future Summit micro grantees, so that they too gain the most they can from the Summit.
While I am thankful to the micro grantees for how they embraced this opportunity and to everyone at the Summit for making this a valuable and welcoming experience and opportunity for them, I also want to say a few special thank yous:
- to Chris Lawrence for suggesting this idea, ensuring that I was able to take it in a direction that was meaningful to me, and making it possible for me to host an initial micro grantee get-together upon our arrival in Costa Rica
- to Ayesha Ware and Vineel Reddy for looking after the logistics of getting our micro grantees to the Summit,
- to @devcer for helping me to play host to our micro grantees, acting as a source of knowledge for their questions, and helping make them introductions in the community
- to Anna Sheard for helping to review the micro grantee applications
- to Lawil Karama for offering the remainder of her Ambassadorship discretionary fund to further support this micro grant
I am thankful and appreciative of Alex Lakatos, Vineel, and Chris for seeing to it that space was made at the Summit Hackathon to host the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon that I'd been advocating for, with the hopes of beginning to tackle both the lack of Interledger enabled technology on Wikipedia and the lack of noteworthy people and organizations within our community on Wikipedia. This was hugely appreciated, as was Ionna's attention to making sure that my previously aggravated concussion symptoms were protected from further triggering factors in the audiovisual displays.
I am also appreciative of Santosh offering his support to prepare knowledge banks in GitHub and Jeremiah Lee for helping to tackle the strategy around the event with me. And an enormous thank you to everyone in our community who cheered this idea on and began to add to our Wiki Article Prep Spreadsheet in advance of the day.
The idea for the day was to create a friendly, 'everyone and all knowledge and comfort levels' are welcome space. To do that, we created jobs that people could work on, whether they felt comfortable editing on Wikipedia or not.
People were invited to:
pick a topic to research and add to the Wiki Article Prep Spreadsheet,
begin writing Wiki Articles on shared Google Docs that they added to the ILP Community Wikis Underway Spreadsheet, and
strategically begin to create new Wiki Articles, adding a piece of a pre-drafted article, and then having others create subsequent edits to add more parts to a Wiki Article (creating a community of editors behind it - making it less likely to be removed by Wiki editors that like to control the content on Wikipedia).
I wasn't really sure what to expect on the day, other than that Jeremiah, Ayden, and Victoria would at some point be swinging by to help. What happened, further filled my love for this community as various people wandered over to check out what we were doing. Most had never edited anything on Wikipedia and had no intention of participating in the Edit-a-thon, but between @jeremiahlee and I, we welcomed them, walked them through what we were doing, and invited them to participate in whatever way they felt comfortable.
What those who sat down to participate did was amazing, as they took on some of the tougher knowledge pieces to research and write, including some who were newcomers to our community and still somewhat skeptical, not being sure if our goal was to create puff pieces on aspects of the community. Jeremiah and I assured them that we were looking for balanced, unbiased articles, in the fashion that Wikipedia is designed for, mentioned that we were both at an arm's length from the Foundation ourselves, and that we openly express our concerns and constructive criticism when we have them. From there we fell into our roles, me welcoming people, helping them get started, and creating the educational and organizational resources as we saw what was needed. Jeremiah helping people to research and shape their articles. Both of us answering questions as they came up and gathering people in the know, like members of the tech team, Stefan, and Briana to interview, as needed. Later, Ayden joined us to help with the strategic adding of Wiki Articles, in stages from different editors.
- James Dailey drafted a Wiki article on Mojaloop
- Nandini Harihareswara began researching and mapping out the Interledger Protocol, which Cristina and James have begun to write up and add to Wikipedia
- Kevin Crew and Jeremiah researched and began to draft a Wiki article on the Interledger Foundation
- Cristina Sanda drafted a Wiki article on Rafiki
The day was not without its hiccups. We learned that:
- we need to begin to teach people in our community to write Wiki articles, to ensure they meet Wiki article and citing criteria;
- we need to foster more editors within the Interledger community, so there are more than four of us creating and editing Wiki articles;
- if hosting a Wiki Edit-a-thon with everyone in the same location, we need to let Wikipedia know, so that our location is not flagged and blocked from making edits for the day; and
- to create the knowledge bank on Wikipedia that we are aiming to create, it is going to take time.
Despite the hiccups, I am happy to share that we were successful with our multi-editor strategy and ended the day with our first community built Wiki article. The article in question is the one James wrote on Mojaloop, and that Ayden and I created and did separate edits to on Wikipedia. I'll admit that this has put a huge grin on my face.
My thanks to Alex for suggesting that we make Interledger Wikipedia Edit-a-thons a monthly activity, for Vineel for following up on that, and to Jeremiah and Ayden for being game to join Vineel and I in creating an Interledger Wikipedia Edit-a-thons Working Group.
We will be getting underway on that working group soon, so stay tune in the Forem and on the wikipedia-editathon Slack Channel for Wikipedia Writing and Editing Educational Resources, an invitation to a Wikipedia Writing and Editing Workshop, and our plans for future Wikipedia Edit-a-thons throughout the year, and hopefully at the 2024 Interledger Summit.
Sometimes the best things come out of things that you are not initially successful with. That was certainly the case with the panel that I pitched for the Summit with our cohort of indigenous and disabilities communities micro grantees. While this session did not get a space in the program, it forced me to think of alternative ways to give our micro grantees a platform to share their insights on both the potential of the technology that the Interledger community is building could have in their communities and the challenges that need to be addressed to make it accessible to their communities, as well as to share their insights on the potential that their communities bring to Interledger. I decided to suggest the idea of a micro grantee lead podcast to our cohort, which we all (Santosh and I included) co-create and share ownership of. I am happy to say that everyone embraced the idea, which lead to us hosting two podcasts, one at the end of the first full day of the Summit and one at the end of the last day.
The beauty for me with these, is that they didn't stop at being co-created by our cohort of micro grantees, but became a community lead and co-created podcast. Best of all, we'd created an environment where people felt safe in sharing their honest reflections and insights in a roundtable style, in which everyone had an equal voice, no matter how old or how new to the community, and no matter whether they'd been previously offered a stage or not. You can see the raw, unedited, live from the Summit version of that podcast below:
I will be creating an edited version of the podcast to release to Castopod to syndicate across the digital verse in the coming months.
I'd like to see the continuation of community lead, co-created podcasts at future Summits, as if we are only creating the official Summit media with the same people that work for the organization or are on the board, then we are creating an echo chamber and not fully sharing that ecosystem that we speak. Such a podcast offers that community voice in such a way that allows people to reflect, share more deeply, and share in a way that they might not feel comfortable when the official Summit media are interviewing them.
My thanks to all whom participated with Art, Neha, Jake, Tinthi, Santosh and I in creating this podcast, including Saloni Garg, Stephanie Perrin, Carlos Villasēnor, Eunice de Asis, Malou Lintmeijer, Savannah Koolen, and Raashi Saxena. With special thanks to Saloni who joined us both days, and took the lead with Art on the second podcast in getting it organized and gathering everyone together.
For any of you who have read this in it's entirety (which is greatly appreciated), you will know that among my hopes for future Summits are that:
- the Interledger Foundation continues to host Summit micro grants targeted to inviting underrepresented communities within the Interledger community to the Summit to learn and take back what they learn to their community;
- a program will be set up for the future Summit micro grantees, so that they gain the most they can from the Summit, like this year's micro grantees did;
- the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon become a regular part of the Hackathon Day at the Summit; and
- a Community Lead, Co-Created Podcast become a regular part of the Summit.
I do have one more hope for future Summits that came out of what Carlos Villasēnor shared in the second Community Lead Podcast at time marker 19:11. Carlos points out that aside from the entertainment, we didn't really involve the locals in the Summit. He was the only local participant, and only because a friend that was attending invited him. In participating in the sessions, he kept thinking of local organizations and stories that would have tied in nicely with the Summit, and thought that not involving the local host country / community in the idea sharing was a huge missed opportunity.
I agree with Carlos, it was a missed opportunity and one that the travels and conversations that Neha, Carrie, Santosh, Malcolm and I had in Costa Rica following the Summit further highlighted. I will write more on that in a future post.
For now, my hope would be that at future Summits, we involve the local host country / community in the conversation, idea sharing, and problem solving with the technologies that we are creating.
One thought for this, that David Ramirez and I recently chatted about was to invite locals to share case studies, presenting challenges that they are looking to address, inviting our community to brainstorm with them, and then in teams that include both locals and community members, pitching ways of applying Interledger’s technology to creating solutions for them. Perhaps this could even be a technical and non-technical offering as a part of the Hackathon Day. Even better, we could create a Field Trip Day as part of the Summit to visit the local organizations sharing the case studies and learn about their needs and challenges first hand and on-site. This could have a much deeper and more meaningful impact for all, as you don't really learn about a place and its realities inside the walls of a resort. Thanks to our post-Summit Costa Rican exploration and conversations, Neha, Carrie, Santosh, Malcolm and I discovered this really drove home the importance of the technology our community is building when we saw the challenges that the Interledger technology could solve first hand. We also saw the challenges of different payment systems from different countries not working well together, from members in our group that didn't have the local currency with them or secondarily small US dollars on them. Some food for thought.
An Overarching Theme of Making Connections & Helping Others to Catalyze Potential Opportunities & Explore New Pathways
The highlight of this Ambassadorship for me and the overarching theme that I keep coming back to as I reflect on this has been one of making connections and helping others to catalyze potential opportunities and explore new pathways. Thats come in many different forms throughout the Ambassadorship through:
- making introductions between people in my life and people within the Interledger Foundation to navigate new realms or where I saw potential mutually beneficial opportunities and possibilities;
- doing outreach into other communities to introduce them to Interledger and how they might apply the technology
- helping people explore the technology and community to figure out how it might fit into what they do and what they do might fit into the community;
- helping people to hone their ideas and pitches;
- helping people navigate the path to ask for the opportunities they wished in grants, contracts, or a job;
- inviting people to collaborate on ideas that I have;
- helping others with their initiatives; and
- encouraging partnerships and collaborations on new initiatives within the community.
I'd forgotten how much of this I had done, until I was at the Summit's Opening Night Mixer and had lovely people like Jeremiah, Andrey Torres and Marc Zuze remind me, and thank me for the impact that had on them and / or their work.
I learned that these are things that I am good at, and that I very much enjoy, both as it allows me to get to know people better and as I like to help people shine and do what they love to do.
My Ambassadorship may be done, but you will still see plenty of me.
In terms of what is on the horizon for me, aside from my teaching and storytelling work, a few things that I am looking forward to in the coming months that pertain to our Interledger community:
- beginning to meet and plan with the aforementioned Wikipedia Edit-a-thon Working Group;
- drafting a Wikipedia Writing and Editing Guide;
- hosting a Wikipedia Writing and Editing Workshop;
- beginning our monthly Wikipedia Edit-a-thons;
- drafting a proposal for the idea that our micro grantee cohort, The People's Clearinghouse, ThitsaWorks, and I began to discuss at the Summit;
- creating an edited version of the Community Lead Podcasts from the Summit to syndicate with Castopod;
- tinkering and experimenting with Fynbos, Chimoney, Rafiki, the newest instalment of the Web Monetization Standard, and any other fun new things that emerge;
- updating StoryToGo's Guides and Open Education materials with the various new fintech that is emerging in the community; and
- getting active on gFam again.
Oh and I am helping Art with a couple of conference proposals, that we will hopefully involve others in our community in the Montreal area.
Should the opportunity arise, I'd also love to:
- host some tipping parties with the communities we were not able to, when we had to put Web Monetization on hold;
- develop any educational materials for the community;
- help shape the vision / reality for the idea I shared above of involving the local host country / community in the conversation, idea sharing, and problem solving with the technologies that we are creating at the next Summit, possibly with a field trip day and / or as a part of the Hackathon. Thinking that could be quite fun to create with Vineel.
Oh, and @laka - Jeremiah and I are still eager to help you set up an Interledger Castopod Instance and begin to demonstrate for people what they can do with it.
Thank you to all of you that made this Ambassadorship a wonderful experience for me, for all the wonderful idea sharing that you invited me into, and for the friendship that I have with a number of you. It is very much valued.