a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Georgia on their minds

Posted on the February 23rd, 2010

Today, in the first video of a series, TOL showcases a cross-section of citizens of the country of Georgia. Each one talks about his or her idea of what civil society actually is. May seem dull fare but, as usual, when people speak from their hearts in ordinary language about something important, it isn’t (“The View from Tbilisi: Change from the ‘Bottom Up'” by Tako Paradashvili and Nia Kurtishvili, Feb 22, 2010).

TOL is a non-profit organization focusing on the post-communist countries of Europe and the former Soviet Union. Intro to video:

As democracy in Georgia continues to develop 19 years after independence, how do Georgian citizens view their personal and collective responsibilities? Is civil society capable of fighting for people’s rights, and how well has it succeeded? To what extent do Georgians recognize and capitalize on the power they have to monitor their government and take part in building the country’s future?

(Perhaps it will occur to you, as it immediately did to me, that these same questions apply as well to the older democracies — to the United States at more than 200 years old, and to those of Western Europe — especially as some are facing a critical and defining turning point in their development –see here and here.)

What Is Civil Society? from Elene Asatiani on Vimeo.

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What’s shrinking the digital divide the fastest?

Posted on the January 3rd, 2008

The mobile phone is the electronic device most often in the hands of those in developing countries, according to Katrin Verclas, of MobileActive.org. As of the end of 2007, three billion mobile phones were expected to be in use across the globe, Verclas says.

As a point of comparison, an estimated one billion people in the world reportedly had Internet access by the end of 2007 (see more on digital statistics here).

Verclas is the founder of MobileActive.org. It is a worldwide network for people interested in using mobile phones, and their potential for communication, in civil society and for social activism, according to the website.

Examples of innovative campaigns and projects abound. Democracy organizations have used mobile phones to swing elections through innovative get-out-the-vote activities, ensured impartial voting through poll monitoring via SMS, developed ground-breaking new information services with vital civic or health information, documented abuses of political prisoners, and lobbied legislators to pass environmental laws. (From the About section of MobileActive.org).

For more information about Verclas and the work she is doing, check out this webpage on Changents.com, where I first read about her.

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