Happy New Year!
November and December were busy months for SMEX. On November 1, we moved into our very own offices in Badaro, where we have a dedicated training space and a space for intimate screenings and events.
On November 21, we hosted a wrap-up event for our second social media training project in Lebanon. Then, in early December, we coordinated the social media coverage for the MobileActive.org and UNICEF-sponsored workshop in Amman, Jordan. The workshop brought together Iraqi stakeholders, UNICEF program staff from several offices, and mobile and mapping technologists to help launch an effort to leverage the power of mobile phones for data collection that can help identify and solve problems facing children in Iraq. Finally, we also attended the last two days of the 2nd Arab bloggers meeting in our hometown of Beirut, where we witnessed an even stronger regional blogging community emerge.
After a brief break and trip to the US, we’re ready to launch in to 2010, our first year as a 12-month organization rather than a six-month project. Our decision to expand has been prompted by the numerous inquiries we’ve received and the passion that we’ve developed for what we do, which is first and foremost training, translation, and consulting for social media–enabled civil society initiatives in Lebanon. To sustain such an operation, we will continue to seek funding but we will also look for other ways to support ourselves through diverse revenue streams, including offering paid trainings (though many trainings will always remain free), translation, consulting to small and medium-size enterprises, and online advertising or partnerships.
We’ve also been thinking about what we can do better. The list is long, but not unusual for a small organization: a more frequently updated website, better communication with our supporters, keeping up with new developments, and patnering with more like-minded organizations. We will likely be recruiting to help fill some of those gaps, but others we’ll address by working smarter, too.
We’re excited about our upcoming challenges, which include training youth in new media for the municipal elections, publishing a guide to intercultural dialogue for bloggers, offering an expanded roster of trainings, launching an online opportunity exchange, and hosting evening events.
But even more than the project goals, what we’re most looking forward to is bringing people together so that they can empower each other to make change.