Saturday, September 27, 2008

DrAMa: The rise and fall of a community in Northern Uganda (part 1)



... and then there was the time I started a project in an African war zone.

My journey into the war-torn heart of Africa's Pearl began with an aim to motivate the members at Life in Africa's WE Center Kampala to join hands behind a cause beyond their own poverty. A community like ours could do something to help the children of Northern Uganda.

We held a great fundraising event, we got a contract making bracelets to support awareness of the plight of children in Northern Uganda, and we went to Northern Uganda in small groups to facilitate art therapy workshops with groups of night commuter children and former child-soldiers. After interacting with children at different organizations in Gulu, we'd developed the strongest bonds with one night-commuter center in particular. The volunteers that were keeping the place running were horribly under-resourced. We started thinking about setting up some of our adult community activities there, involving the volunteers and the childrens' parents.



I wrote online about the idea of establishing a second WE Center in Gulu, and before long we had $15,000 to get started in the form of an Omidyar.net community favorite award. We arranged with the organization who had built the night commuter shelter to rent space there and construct some additional buildings. Grace worked her heart out managing the start-up and mobilizing the community in Gulu to get started. My second cousin connected us with her church; volunteers from the US came to help us get activities rolling. We added a number of children's programs (including the Breakfast Club food program and more peacetiles) to our range of adult programs, and within 6 months the WE Center in Gulu was thriving with excited activity.

I close my eyes and remember that as a magical time. As many of you already know, the magic would not last...

But it was around that time that a friend of a friend of a cousin of mine got in touch. He was in Uganda running a private film-making workshop and looking for projects for his students to film. He assigned a student film-maker named Andrei Zubok to make a film about the WE Center Gulu project, and Andrei's film was really great except for one section where the sound faded out.

Fortunately, in my inbox from Andrei yesterday is the link to a new version of the WE Center Gulu video on youtube with that sound problem corrected. I am especially grateful to Andrei - not only for giving more of his time to correct the problem, but for capturing the magical essence of what Life in Africa in Gulu once was, before it crumbled into the cracks later created by callous greed.





Related posts:

Expect lots of DrAMa

Friday, September 26, 2008

a ToASt to Stacey Monk @ EpicChange.org



There's a new kid on the block in my virtual wwworld who is making me smile.

I first noticed Stacey Monk when she started following me on twitter. Curious, I went to her site and was startled to find a former version of myself, all decked out with web 2.0 tools. Pangs of jealousy tinged my memories of starting to write online 10 years ago, sharing stories about the world around me in Uganda, and the impact that I was able to make by getting my wwworld involved in lending to the cause. Oh how I would have been lucky to have the amazing community building tools that Stacey has!

In the days when my "Letters from Uganda" were filled with Stacey's kind of ardorous passion, there were no blogs. Email lists, discussions and website forums were the interactive tools available, and on my Ugandan connectivity it was slow going to keep up. There were many days I spent 15+ hours online. But somehow, even though she has all these amazing web 2.0 tools available to make reaching thousands of people easier, I've no doubt in my mind that Stacey is working just as hard as I did in those days. She's putting all she's got to give into Epic Change, and it really shows.

To you Stacey, hats off for a job well done! You should feel very proud of your first year accomplishments online and in Tanzania, and I wish you all the best in achieving the more complex steps ahead, along the way to scaling your lending concept for African communities. I feel the emotional rollercoaster this journey is taking you on, from the exhileration of unanticipated successes to the "sometimes overwhelming self-doubt." Never doubt that what you have already given of yourself and achieved is far more than what most people expect from themselves or from you. You are WOWing us!

I find myself brimming with ideas whenever I visit the Epic Change website, so I hope you don't mind if I share them here unsolicited.
  • I'd love to see you think about getting the Tanzanian community involved in creating content about their culture. Well presented content about African fashion, recipes and proverbs will bring in a lot of additional search engine traffic to your site. That kind of cultural info at an earlier version of lifeinafrica.com also put us on the online syllabus of many a geography and african studies teachers - students and teachers would be a wonderful segment for you to reach with the news of what you are doing.

  • if you haven't already, connect with my good friend Mark Grimes from ned.com about monetizing your webspace through the BetterWorldMediaNetwork he's soon launching. It sounds like your website traffic is high enough to make what you can earn for the cause through advertising meaningful.

  • use your blog to write some "pillar articles" that are targetted at an audience beyond your socially motivated readers. An article on your traffic building strategies, for example, would offer an interesting case study for bloggers in the online traffic building industry to share with their readers. You can google for places to submit articles like that online to publishers who are looking for blog content. That could open up a whole new neighborhood of the web for you to draw from in motivating people to get behind Epic Change.
The part that always challenged me most with Life in Africa was helping the Ugandan commnities I was working with understand the value of their participation in the wwworld I was creating online. As you move forward with bulding connections between your readers and the community in Tanzania, I hope you will succeed in finding ways to make the connections mutually meaningful. If there's ever a way that my experience can be of help to you in achieving your dreams, Stacey, just holler.

Meanwhile, thank you for everything you have given to achieve so much in Tanzania and online in such an amazingly short time, and for inspiring so many to understand, hope and believe that "epic change" at the magnitude you're dreaming it can be possible in this lifetime.

Stacey Monk of Epic Change, a heartfelt ToASt to you.

You go girl!




related posts:

Let's ToASt to hope for turbulent times

Saturday, September 20, 2008

AdvEntURe: The Nile on Horseback and a Rainforest Lodge



My back (and backside!) have finally stopped hurting enough to confirm that I won't be going horseback riding again in the near future. I did earn a badge of adventurism from my near-teens, however, so I'm glad we went and we did have a really great time.

Nile Horseback Safaris is run by a lovely english woman called Natalie, who has a well trained Ugandan staff taking care of more than 15 horses and their various guest riders like us. Her house and tented stables overlook a lovely pool in an elbow of the Nile, not far from it's source at Jinja, at the edge of Lake Victoria.



Our 2 hour guided horse ride took us on paths through villages there along the Nile, past homesteads with their ever curious children, shouting and running to watch us up close as we passed. I noted that this time their shouts were not "mzungu! mzungu!" referring to our family of foreigners, but "mbabazi!" They were so excited to see the horses! (Horses are not indigenous to Uganda, so we don't too have many here.)



There wasn't enough open space to get any good gallops in, but Lucas (11) got to canter a bit and the rest of us got bounced to near death in some lively trots. All the horses but one were very well behaved. Thomas (12) had a few troubles motivating his horse to keep up with the rest of the group, but one of our 2 guides made sure he didn't get left behind.

All in all a safe and highly recommended family adventure activity in Uganda. The minimum age for the ride is 6 though, so Natalie was nice enough to let our 4 year old Ben hang out with her toddler. He was happy enough with a quick ride around the paddock, and a promise that he could go swimming at the Rainforest Lodge later on.



Wow. What a beautiful place.

Geo Lodges Uganda has done it again. It's no surprise they've won Best Ecobusiness of the Year. Their Jacanna Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park has long been one of my very favorite heaven on earth places. While I still prefer Jacanna's crater lake views from every room, there is a dramatic ambiance at the Rainforest Lodge that's carried off with incredible style.



The dining hall first reminded me of something out of an old King Kong Movie set. Lit up at night, the side facing the forest was one of the most beautiful sites I'd ever seen. The buildings melt naturally into the forest surroundings, illuminating the beauty of natural wood and stone.







We loved the sauna (a real Finnish kind) and the food was really great too.

All in all, these two newish additions to Uganda's ecotourism offer were a hit with our family - and all within 1.5 hours of the capital. If you're ever in Uganda, it was a perfect way to spend a weekend.

related posts:

Get ready for AdvEntURe!

Friday, September 19, 2008

GAmEs 4 GoOd: the webbed wwworld game



where in the wwworld do YOU fit in here?

Take off the mask of cyber-anonymity, and say a quick hello!

Many who've been invited here know me in the real world as well as online, and many of you know each other as well. In this game we're going to try and map our online and offline relationships, to see who's here and how we fit together.

You'll have to get a blogger ID to participate if you don't already have one.
  • Start by saying how you know christina (that's me) in the real world and/or the wwworld online.

  • If you see others you know who have posted before you, tell us how you know them in the world and in the wwworld, too.
Below are some examples of what your comment might look like:
  • "I know Christina from her time in Brussels, and now we connect through Linked In. I also see comments from Tom, Dick and Harry who I know from Brussels"

  • "I know Christina because she's my second cousin thrice removed, and I didn't even know she had my email address."

  • "I have seen Christina physically in Chicago, Portland, Thailand, Senegal (etc.), but I first met her online at Omidyar.net. Now she's part of my wwworld at ned.com, twitter and facebook. I also see comments from Julie, Jennifer and Jane who are facebook and twitter friends."

  • "I know Christina, Tom, Harry, Julie and Jane from facebook, but I've never met any of you in the real world."

  • "I don't know Christina or anyone here, but y'all rock and I'll see you on ned."
Give it a try in a comment below. Remember to include both your real world and online connections.

Have fun, and wwwelcome once again! I'm excited you're here.


Related posts:
Enjoy yourself with GloBaL GAmEs 4 GoOd!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

cLiCk! and like magic you're already there



Christina lives in Africa.

She's having a party, and you've already arrived!


Isn't technology cool?!

now...


Get ready to dAncE!

Get ready for AdvEntURe!

Get ready to LaUgH!

Get ready to crY

Brace yourself for christinaswwworld chALLEnGeS!

Enjoy yourself with global GAmEs 4 GoOd!

There will be ThiNkiNg and LeArNiNg

yUmMy TrEaTs galore, and fits of gLoBaL fAsHioN

Expect lots of DrAMa

Let's ToASt to HOPE for turbulent times




wwwelcome!

...and thanks so much for responding to the party invitation link! I hope you'll stay a while to explore the venue (ie, this blog), and subscribe or visit often between now and Christmas. The links above offer a sampling of what kind of content you can expect. Another excellent place to start exploring is the archive of everything posted so far, which appears somewhere on the right of your screen.

The pArtY @ christinaswwworld is an experiment, during which I am going to try to blast the ordinary blog out of it's box as a versatile tool for creating cross-cultural community content online. I've never actually done this in this format before, but my main aim is to engage the global community of my friends (and their friends, and maybe total strangers) in daring to dream, think globally, and see HOPE in the crazy world we all live in. I'm also trying out some ways to generate income with this blog, that I can donate most of to my favorite cause.

If there'd been blogging technology when I started writing online 10 years ago, what I'm planning to do here is probably what the first LifeInAfrica.com would have looked like. Only this time I haven't just arrived to discover, wonder at and share my unseasoned version of what it's like to live in Uganda. Instead, I'm winding down after 10 dramatically full years to say goodbye (with my life still intact - well, mostly.)

In that context of personal transition, this online party experiment offers personal conveniences - there are many dozens of you from times and places in my life before Africa, with whom I have reconnected virtually over the past year. I am soooo happy to have found you in my wwworld, and find that (though I'm terrible at keeping in touch) I have old friends from my lives in CA, Brussels, Geneva and Finland in mind as I sit to put thoughts on the screen about what this past 10 years of my life in Africa has been. It would be so very cool to take the time to chat, or to get y'all together with some of the friends I've met in the intervening years... so (ever the organizer of wigged out social events) I'm inviting all of you here and we'll see what can happen.

What only some of you who got this link from me know, is that during my decade of community work in Africa I've also developed what some have called an actual career in innovating with online content to create social impact. During a planned working sabbatical in the US this year (which unfortunately fell through - I'm still in Kampala), one of my main plans was to visit and strengthen relationships with some of the amazing people I've had the privilege of collaborating with professionally. While I won't be sharing the face to face time I'd hoped to with some of you Better World Building colleagues in 2008, I do want to honor some of you in my humble way, by toasting to you and telling other guests here at the party about the hope you have inspired through your works, in me and so many others.

Finally, to my family and close friends who've been urging me to start writing again, here's a 3 month commitment on my part to give it a whole-hearted effort. Thank you so much for your encouragement over the years, and for your recent support in my decision to head back out into the great global unknown after December.

So what are you supposed to do at an online party?

Have fun! Relax! Explore the links above or in the archive, and then go on with your life today refreshed. Don't feel obliged to read every word posted here between now and Christmas, but do subscribe or stop by often to keep tabs on what's happening, and do me the personal favor of responding now and again.

When you find something that interests or delights you, pulls at your heartstrings or sparks a related story worth sharing, please use the comments to chat (you can see the comments, or at least a link to them) at the bottom of each post. I would absolutely LOVE to hear from you, and this technology makes it so easy to have web-wide conversations (you'll have to have a blogger ID to comment).

Be on the look out for other folks you know, and feel comfortable in the comment space to respond to what others have said, should you be so inspired. Off topic comments will be allowed as long as you are in polite conversation with each other. (Spam, harrassment, or any comment resembling any kind of abuse will be deleted and the perpetrator banned from posting. Sorry, it had to be said. Guests, please alert me if you see anything needing my delete button's attention.)

Last but not least, listen up for fun ways you can participate in some global party games. For starters, be sure to leave a comment at the webbed wwworld game to let me know you've dropped by, and greet the other guests. I'm inviting everyone I know from way back when who I can reach through online connections, and if there's anyone else you'd like to invite, feel free to do so. Just have them click on over to http://christinaswwworld.com, or send them the link to any specific post here - the more the merrier!

I sincerely hope you'll find your participation in my social experiment here a unique and enriching global experience. Hugs to you all for stopping by. Thanks for being a part of my wwworld and my life's very interesting real world journey so far.

I'm really glad you clicked.

Christina (Tina) Jordan
Kampala, Uganda

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Let's ToASt to hope for turbulent times



Wow. The stock market has just crashed, one major US financial institution has collapsed and others are only afloat because they are being propped up by one of the most indebted economies in the world. Economies around the world have only just begun to feel the impact of this week's events. It's official - the world we live in is broken. Most probably beyond repair, if maintaining our current lifestyles is our objective. I have found it fascinating that all of the East Africans who are playing the ourwwworld game are seeing the end of times spelled out in the google search trends.

But I have a secret weapon for remaining optimistic. I know that there are armies of people out there - all over the world - who are actively engaged in the Better World Building industry. (Some people call us changemakers, some call us social entrepreneurs, others call us the citizen's sector.) I've personally been an active participant in and promoter of what I love to call the Better World Building industry, through my endeavors online from Africa during the past 10 years.

As a result, my networks on facebook, twitter, linkedin, ned and other social networking sites include many awe-inspiring people who dedicate amazing reserves of their time, creative intellect and other resources into building a better world. They are already developing new systems and ideas that offer hope for better times ahead. During this party, I'll be raising toasts to a number of them, who have inspired hope in me and in others through their amazing initiatives.

My intention is not only to recognize them (for they surely deserve it), but to inspire hope in other readers. As long as people like these really exist, the world really isn't as badly off as it sometimes seems.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Expect lots of DrAMa




I could fill a book with the drama that my life has been here in Africa. Maybe someday I will. For now I'm more interested in developing the condensed version.

For the moment - in spite of having called off the marriage to N. and having no idea about what the future holds - the boys and I are comfortable, safe and at peace in our Kampala cocoon, enjoying some fun family pursuits while we develop our wings. Since January I've officially been on sabbatical, but it's only recently that I am beginning to feel the effects of taking a breather. It's amazing how perspective always comes thru time spent focusing on other things.

This evening there are auditions for the annual Christmas pantomime play (which is a british comedy thing very unlike the american kind of pantomime). We go every year to see it, and we've wanted to audition to be in it as a family for many years but it's never worked out. This year we are determined.

Eek - that means I have to sing. Wish us luck!

Monday, September 15, 2008

yUmMy TrEaTs galore, and fits of gLoBaL fAsHioN


There are some food experiences I plan to share at this party. Be prepared to expect any of these gastronomic delights if you ever visit me in the real world someday!

On the menu:
  • milky ginger tea
  • mombassa fruit salad
  • organic vegetarianism in Thailand
  • our ugandan favorites: chapati, posho and beans, malakwan greens in sesame paste, Ugandan pork
I also love African fashion, and over the years I have played with creating African fashion shows online (featuring ordinary models like people on the street and members of my own household). Now if i can just remember where they are, I can entertain you with an online catwalk, including:
  • African fashion for kids
  • Fashion 4 football album
  • Zarina’s swahili fashion show
  • LiA fashion designers on kiva
I knew all that weird content would find a use someday! Now to find it in my messy archives when I need it... (I've done a LOT of weird stuff like this over the years, so it will take some doing!)

There will be ThiNkiNg and LeArNiNg



This just in from: http://akoha.com

What if playing a game could make the world a better place? Playing Akoha missions can be fun and meaningful. As part of our play testing phase, we’ve adopted a school project with Room to Read.” read more

Hooray! So I’m not alone in imagining that online reality games can play an effective role in generating social impact. Here’s where my thoughts lead: games are addictive, repetitive and fun. If meaningful numbers of people get engaged in playing games (and hosting online game parties) for targeted social good, the impact that the gaming communities make could collectively be really interesting.

I’ve sent off for an Akoha beta invitation. Should that come, I’d love to see about trying it out here at the party. Meanwhile, if YOU happen come across any other new and innovative social games for good out there, please share the link in a comment to this post.

Definitely looking forward to riding this wave of discovery and invention for a while.

C

P.S. - did you ever play the free rice game?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Enjoy yourself with GloBaL GAmEs 4 GoOd!

Hugging the world

For years I've been trying to teach online communication skills in Africa. What I know very well, is that time spent online here is slow, expensive, and beyond providing a new venue for Africa to beg in, it does not provide any obvious financial return. In many ways, the ourwwworld game is yet another attempt, on my part, to try and crack that nut. Is there a way that participating on the internet can be made to happen sustainably - through online income generating mechanisms - for the African participants in my wwworld? (I've been working on this puzzle for about 7 years from various angles, so bear with me. )

The basic object of the ourwwworld game is to create blog posts that include terms listed in the google hot trends, and submit the posts to digg.com to get dugg by other readers. The players with the most diggs at the end of the month win cash prizes.

An important component of the ourwwworld game is revenue sharing - in addition to a chance at prizes, each player gets part of the ad revenue generated directly by their player blog, and Life in Africa (a cause which they all have relationship with) gets 40% of all the ad revenues earned. That assumes, of course, that people like you will visit the related sites that google serves up on the player blogs. My job as moderator is to promote the players' ourwwworld content in venues beyond digg.com, so that traffic will help to increase the blogs' revenue too.

At the scheduled end of the 3 month game, the players will get to keep their high traffic blogs and all residual income, as a platform from which to launch their own financially sustainable blogs, in their own style and voice.

Seven of us have just started piloting the game - we're still learning to play and thinking about refinements to the rules, so we'll see how it goes. If you've got a comment or an idea for making the game better, you can join us in a public player discussion at ned.com. Meanwhile, here's a roundup of the most dugg plays that the ourwwworld players have submitted to digg.com so far:
See a roundup of all the plays posted so far (some of them more entertaining than these, I think) at the ourwwworld game blog.

Enjoy the diversity of perspectives!

Brace yourself for chALLEnGeS!



Announcing: the Do-Good Dream chALLEnGe @ christinaswwworld


Respond to the Do-Good Dream chALLEnGe before 1 December, and you could win $150 in extra holiday season cash!

Submissions including thoughtful and complete responses that follow the challenge guidelines below will be voted on in a christinaswwworld reader poll that will be open at ned.com during the first 2 weeks of December 2008. When the poll ends on 15 December, the individual who posted the winning response will receive $150, to be awarded by christina (that's me, and here's why link coming soon).


Here's your chALLEnGe scenario

Imagine for this challenge that after many years at your current career, you've come to a point where you are ready for a dramatic change. Your family of 4 is onboard with heading out into the great global unknown, to spend the next 5-15 years exploring the world and doing what you can to give back to the planet.
  • You have an angel who thinks this is a great idea, and has agreed to pay you a $1,500 monthly stipend and your childrens' tuition at international schools for the next 15 years as long as you are putting your talents, time and energy toward making the world a better place. You can volunteer, get yourself extra training, get a job or even start a business and still get the $1500/mo, as long as your activity is contributing toward making something better that you think is wrong with the world.
  • After re-arranging your finances, you also have $150,000 in cash and no debt, to help you relocate and plan for your family's long term financial security.

  • You have all of your own passions, experience and networks to draw from in reinventing the next 15 years of your career, and moving forward from now as someone who is paid to do what you can to make the world better.
Here's your challenge: Design a new life for yourself in service to humanity. Dream yourself into the scenario above, and then push yourself to think through the practicalities of making it happen. Like the photo at the top of this post says, "No one can do everything, but everyone can do something!" Earn the $150 prize by telling us what YOU would do, following the guidelines below.


chALLenGe guidelines:

1. Your response to this challenge may be posted anywhere online that is publicly readable, including your own blog, if you have one. If you don't have your own blog, you may post your response at an online community like ned.com, but your profile preferences must be set so that readers don't have to log into anything to view your submission.

2. To enter your response in the christinaswwworld prize competition, post YOUR REAL NAME, YOUR CITY/COUNTRY and the LINK to your do-good dream challenge response in a comment at the bottom of this post (starting with http://) before 1 December 2008. Do NOT submit your full response or a link to any webpage that does not have a do-good dream response on it or you will be deleted.

3. The page at the link you submit must include your Do-Good Dream Challenge response and a link back to this post (http://christinaswwworld.blogspot.com/2008/09/get-ready-for-do-good-dream-challenge.html) .

4. Your response to the challenge must include the following 3 elements:
  • A destination for starting life in another country for a while, where your children can attend an international school. You must change countries at least once for at least 5 years, and feel free to map out more than one destination over the 15 years. (For the purpose of this challenge, you must pretend you have school age children even if you really don't. Your destination must offer an international school.)

  • A basic action plan for making the world a better place wherever you've decided to live. Let your own passions dictate the kind of long term change you'd like to be a part of in the world. Let your own experience, connections, and (possible) educational needs shape your immediate starting point. Include a timeline for how long you would want to live where, and what you would hope to do to occupy yourself. Finally, tell us one thing you would like to be able to say you achieved after your years in paid service to humanity are over.

  • A financial plan for how you will spend, invest, and/or increase your available financial resources (see above) to cover your family's travel, moving and basic living costs while at the same time thinking about your old age. Do a little research, and think about what would be wise and safe to do with your cash in today's turbulent economic times.
By the way, I never promised this challenge would be easy!

Let my $150 inspire you to inspire others to think global, by taking the unspoken do-good dreams inside of you to another level. Who knows? Maybe YOUR do good dream will be December's wwwinner! Or better yet - maybe an angel will see it here, and help you to make it happen.

Have fun dreaming about how much good you could do for the world if you decided to, and good luck convincing christinaswwworld readers that your entry is worthy of their vote in the December poll at ned.com!

Housekeeping:
  • Be subscribed to this blog by email (do that in the right column), and logged in with a blogger ID when you post your name, city/country and link in a comment to this post (anonymous commenters are disqualified from winning the $150).
  • Subscribed readers from any country with moneygram or western union services are welcome to participate.
  • Be sure to use the city and name that matches your identification so that you will be able to claim your prize money through moneygram or western union when you win.
  • Christina and christinaswwworld readers reserve the right to make any part of your do-good dream a reality in their own lives. Don't post proprietary plans or ideas that you don't want others to steal.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Get ready to crY

Top of murchison falls

Sometimes it seems like it's a national sport to be horrible to each other here. People will go to extreme measures to hurt each other badly over the most ridiculous things.

My friend Margaret's husband used to beat her senseless for giving birth to girls. Even after she had a boy, he continued beating her for having the first girl. When her third child was a girl, it got so bad she had to leave him.

My friend George's brother was recently poisoned by his stepmother when he came to prepare a home at his father's place for his new wife. This isn't the first time she's used "witchcraft" on the family. There have been other siblings who've died. She doesn't want them to have their father's property, so she's been trying (with some success) to just kill them off.

There is a jealous streak in society here that's very destructive in how it plays out between people, especially at the family level (but certainly not only there). I have been hurt by it in ways that are very difficult to talk about. Everybody I know who is a part of or who has gotten very close to this culture has been hurt by it at one time or another. Sometimes I think that part of why people here stay poor is because they spend so much time pulling each other down.

I will be glad to get some distance from all that.

Get ready to LaUgH!

Ben playing the matching game with Layibi kids

When he was still three, my four year old was telling me a dramatic story one day about something that had happened to him.

I didn't recognize the story, so I asked him, "When did that happen, sweetheart?"

Without batting an eye he replied, "When I was black."

Get ready for AdvEntURe!

exploring in the delta @ Murchison

We've had some great family adventures in Uganda.

But when we were in the USA a few weeks ago, I was SHOCKED when my kids were shocked that I got on a horse. Upon further inquiry, I learned that my kids' image of me did not include adventurous.

WHAT? Me, who has lived my life bouncing from one foreign country to the next, not adventurous? Me, who has been river rafting on the Nile at least a dozen times not adventurous? Me, who has worked in an African war zone? Over the next few weeks of our US vacation, I took every opportunity to show them an adventurous side of me that I imagined 11 and 12 year olds could understand. I went on roller coasters, I body surfed in the ocean, I played with the Wii, and I even let them go to the movies by themselves.

Lord knows, I can't stop with the adventures now - with near teens in the house, my reputation as a mom is at stake!

So I'm planning some fun family adventures during our last months in Uganda, including some of the wonderful wildlife and eco-tourism opportunities you really shouldn't miss, if you ever visit this country. This coming weekend, we're going horseback riding along the Nile near Jinja (about 1.5 hours drive from Kampala). On the way back, we'll spend one night at the Mabira Rainforest Lodge.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Get ready to dAncE!


I will never forget the dancing in Africa.

One of the most inspiring successes I ever had in online community fundraising was at the Omidyar.net community, when we needed $700 to transport night commuter children from Gulu to Kampala for a performance at a Life in Africa fundraising event called Solidarity in Style. The money to transport the dancers was raised from individual Onet members ($10-$100 contributions) in one breathtaking week.

As we all watched the dropcash campaign overflow, Solidarity in Style became the Onet community's event. My friend Lars managed to have a peacetiles mural delivered for the dancers. Invisible Children - who I'd discovered through Onet - was involved. I later posted pictures and reports from the Solidarity in Style event for the community to see. In a subsequent peacetiles workshop, the kids from Gulu made a thank you mural of tiles that I delivered to the people who contributed at the Onet community conference in Chicago. Lots of good stuff, all inspired by giving children the opportunity to dance.

Dancing breaks through our human barriers. One of the more successful member driven activities at LiA was the Talent Discovery group, who raised money online for drums, so that they could dance together (cross-tribally) in the LiA garden a few times each week. When my sons attended a week long LiA 4 Kids program last year, it was through dancing that they found a gap in the cultural barrier and made good friends. When N. took me dancing for the first time was when I knew I was in love with him.



I think that when we can free ourselves enough to dance around the house alone or encourage others in our immediate surroundings to dance with us, it's one of the purest forms of good clean fun there is.

So dance with the wwworld today, and be free!

An Australian friend who lives in the Middle East sent me a link recently that I absolutely love. Though I'm sure many of you have seen this already, I'm sharing it for your dancing pleasure.


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Wow. Imagine getting paid to travel the world and the wwworld getting people to dance! Now that's a job I could live with.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Own Way: the global life of evans the atom and old yeller

Dear friends,

I've just been at digg.com enjoying I WONDER: earthquakes today, white plague, and The World's Best Places to Live (w/PICS). In my own cool way I've been stressing big time lately over where the best place will be for me to start building a new nest. After 10 years in a country where only one of us was born in, my 3 sons and I have decided to head off sometime soon, into the great global unknown.

I had thought for a while that we would stay where we are forever. I thought I wanted that. But after 10 years, maybe I have learned what I was supposed to learn about myself here. I've caught rare glimpses of possible life after LiA before, but now the boys and I are all seeing very clearly that something else is looming on the horizon for our family - we are excited about it, we just don't know what or where it is yet. I personally see it like a speck getting closer somewhere there beyond the fray of tangled mental threads, near the core of my patched up heart, at the middlepoint of the furthest distance in the 4th dimension of my solar plexis. (I think I must have been evans the atom in another life.) This is a pretty big decision.

Seasoned 21st century cyberpilot that I am, the only thing I can think to do at a crossroads like this is to develop a cyberflight plan for getting us to where we need to go. Since my life is currently like a make-your- own-flavour ice cream parlour of opportunities, I've decided to have a party. What's next is the special topping of the month, and I've got some online games and entertainment up my sleeve. Through writing, sharing and having fun with friends, surely I will figure this thing out.

So at christinaswwworld - for the moment - I am I leaping off the tops of the real world rocks I've been hiding under for a while, to fly online with the winds of global change once again this fall. In addition to local and online colleagues and friends, I'm making a particular effort to invite some friends, family, former colleagues, and classmates I lost and then found over the past few years, who I would not like to lose (again) in this upcoming personal transition. My intention is to create a unique atmosphere at christinaswwworld between now and Christmas. Think of it like a party at my place, with parlour games, dancing, good food for your soul, and an interesting variety of side discussions going on.

If you haven't been following my career online, be warned that I love to try new and unconventional ideas online for making good things happen where I live. Case in point: as I launch this message into cyberspace, 6 of my friends are playing the ourwwworld game, that teaches blogging skills and global awareness through wordplays with google search trends (and earns money for the players and for LiA when folks visit the sponsors on the players' blogs) Before I leave this place, I also feel the need to document some of the observations, lessons and life shaping experiences that have been my life here. Special photos, recipes I'm taking with me, people and stories I will remember, cultural insights, personal insights, etc. are the kind of variety you're likely to see me posting for the next few months.

After December 2008, the activity at christinaswwworld will die down for a while. Hopefully you will have felt you were a part of a unique online experience. And since we don't yet know where I am going to be, I will let christinaswwworld.com be the one place wwworldwide where you can reliably find out for many years to come - even if I'm not posting regularly to the blog any more. If and when christinaswwworld.com ever does become active again, it is likely to be different in format and content, but it will still be me :-)

Subscribe if you want to receive regular posts between now and december, bookmark christinaswwworld.com if you just want to stop by for the occasional virtual drink, or simply file the name away in your head for future reference when you wonder "hey, what ever happened to old yeller?"

thanks for clicking, and for reading, and for being a part of my wwworld.

Christina (Tina) Jordan

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

TALK2ME: boeing strike, boeing strike vote 2008, boeing machinists

Digg1: ourwwworld pilot game: player welcome
Digg 2: Top 10 Ultimate Rivalries


Talk 2 me about the boeing strike, boeing strike vote 2008, boeing machinists searches that I am seeing i the google trends.

Without even knowing what it's about, it's clear that more pressure of any kind is not going to do the airline industry much good in the near future. It's pretty amazing to think about how much control those boeing machinists have over my global lifestyle.

In the part of the world I live in, second hand boeings are the airplane of choice for most national airlines. If boeing production is down, that means our planes will get replaced less often. And in my own country, the airlines continue to buckle under all of the repeated blows they have faced in the past decade. I was extremely impressed with the employee owned SouthWest airlines for national flights, however - having started out offering nothing but the basics, they now remain one of the few airlines not charging for baggage as an extra.

I am afraid all this is headed toward a time when cheap flights may no longer be available. With fuel up, food up, and the cost of producing planes going up, it's inevitable that the travel industry will continue to adjust with higher prices. When I traveled transatlantic with my children this past summer, we paid almost double what I had budgeted. Ouch!

I do think about the carbon footprint my global family is leaving, but I'd still like to be able to find cheap flights when I need them. I don't think the airline is doing much to reduce my carbon footprint when I pay the higher prices to them. But like all of us, they need to survive. And I hope they survive so that I can continue to travel to visit my family, and my kids can still continue to visit their dad who lives in another country.

For the airlines to survive, however, I understand that the workers who make the planes also have to survive. I wish the boeing machinists well in the boeing strike vote 2008 - may it not disrupt their lives nor mine too much.

Is there a way you can see in which the boeing strike will affect you?

MY OWN WAY: tropical storm hanna, sarah palin bikini, dive in underwear

digg1: OurWWWorld Blog
digg2: Study: Smiling Now Primarily Used To Communicate Anger

fema.gov is asking for donations at www.fema.gov to help shelter those displaced from the hurricanes; james whitey bulger is an even more wanted man today; and I'm going to blog this MY OWN WAY because I have a cousin in the gulf states, and I've no idea whether or not he's received or needed fema.gov assistance during tropical storm hanna 2008 or her brother Gustav.

There's another search storm brewing for natural gas cars, just as a newspaper in McCain's home state reports Enthusiasm runs low for natural-gas cars. Did I miss something? I guess they forgot to ask me. Probably because they were too busy looking up bristol palin alaska, sarah palin bikini, sarah palin hot pictures and (my personal favorite) sarah palin social security number.

But as long as the beige book says there is enough monoatomic gold left for a gmac mortgage in my dive in underwear, then I don't mind what wxyz news detroit is reporting. I know all the star spangled banner verses, I love to dive in underwear, and my cng conversion is just fine.

Happy, happy.

I DIDN'T KNOW: amantadine poisoning, house

Dig 1: I DIDN'T KNOW: ourwwworld pilot game sample play

Dig 2: The 7 Most Retarded Ways Celebrities Have Tried to Go Green


I DIDN'T KNOW what amantadine was before today. Google is showing related searches for amantadine poisoning, huntington, huntington's disease, house, wilson's disease. I couldn't find anything at digg. So I decided to look up amantadine using goodsearch .

Aha! Goodsearch gives me the reason why people are looking for this today. It seems related to a Fox television show called House. But I still don't know what amantadine and amantadine poisoning mean, so I decide to try out the wikipedia links.

Not only did I find it mentioned in on wikipedia pages devoted to the House TV show, but it also appears on Wikipedia:WikiProject Pharmacology/List of drugs. Wouldn't you know, there is also an amantadine page at wiki, where I found the following information.

"amantadine is the organic compound known formally as 1-aminoadamantane. ... This compound is sold under the name "Symmetrel," for use both as an antiviral and an antiparkinsonian drug."

"It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 1966 as a prophylactic agent against Asian influenza and eventually received approval for the treatment of Influenzavirus A[1][2][3][4] in adults. In 1969 the drug was also discovered by accident to help reduce symptoms of Parkinson's disease ...."

Related to amantadine poisoning, the wikipedia page goes on to say

"Amantadine has been associated with several central nervous system side effects, likely due to amantadine's dopaminergic and adrenergic activity, and to a lesser extent, its activity as an anticholinergic."

my non-chemists brain switches off...at that point, until I see:

"Cases of suicidal ideation in patients treated with amantadine have been described,[6] although this psychiatric adverse event is relatively rare. Nonetheless, clinical surveillance of suicidal ideation in patients on amantadine is warranted at the clinician's discretion, as amantadine has been implicated as the major fatal (biologically toxic) factor in completed patient suicides.[7

Voila! Maybe that's related to whatever it was that happened on House. I didn't know and still don't know what that show is about. It doesn't air in my part of the wwworld.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I WONDER: bristol palin drinking, sarah palin legs, palin secession

DIGG 1: TALK2ME play: ourwwworld pilot game sample (a.k.a talk2me: palin pregnancy)

DIGG 2: Palin linked to group wanting vote on Alaska secession


I WONDER, when I see that today's googlers are looking for bristol palin drinking sarah palin legs and palin secession, what on earth were the republicans thinking?! She's a dream for the press to tear apart, and googlers are obviously hungry for whatever pieces of the story they can find. I don't know anything about the lady except what I'm reading in the digg headlines, and ain't none of it good.

I also wonder at how many people are looking for felonspy.com, louisiana state police and anarchists today.

my home country is just a mess!