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We can fly, if we only want

Does one everything alone, one carries the burden of the world on ones shoulders. - Does everybody something, we hold a feather in our hand and we can fly, if we only want.

I love this sentence, It means so much to me and it explains in such a positive way my vision of participation. You might ask now: “Why participation?” - Because I believe participation is one key-element in order to progress and to face any difficulty a group may face.

So I'll better start right at the beginning. I work for the international co-ordination of the International Young Christian Workers (IYCW). My colleagues and I just finished our yearly meeting, the meeting of the “International Team” (IT) of IYCW.

The IT consists of 14 persons working in 5 teams in all four continents: Latin America, Africa, Asia-Pacific (incl. Australia) and Europe and we have an “International Secretariat” which tries to bring together the four “Regional Teams” in order to form one team, the IT. Our work languages are English and Spanish.

Our responsibility is to co-ordinate and to organise our international campaign “Just work for all!” with its' four sectors: “Just work for all unemployed young workers and the apprentices!”, “Just work for all young workers of the informal economy!”, “Just work for all young temporary and precarious workers!” and “Just work for all young women workers!”.

According to these sectors we divided ourselfs in four working groups and we try to work together continuously throughout the year.

Furthermore we give training, orientation, support, etc. to our national organisations - if you want you can call this our “product”.

What else should I tell you...? Well, we are a very old movement, IYCW was founded as international movement 50 years ago, our structure (four continental secretariats in four continents with four co-ordinators each and one international secretariat with also four co-ordinators) is as old as I am. The main means that we use to discuss the reality, our orientation, our plan and our actions are long, intensive and expensive meetings.

Our reality and what we discovered:

  • The reality in our society changed a lot and so did the young people in the last years. E. g. twenty years nobody used the internet, today we can't imagine anymore to live without it. Everybody has a mobile. The term “worker” which is part of our name doesn't have the same meaning any more – e.g. are there still workers in Europe or are they all employees today?
  • Our movement does not organise any more the mass of young people, it seams that our work and mission isn't interesting enough. Other movements like “Attac” started from zero some ten years ago and are today ten times as big as we are, they develop interesting actions, have an impact and make a difference.
  • Our movement changed a lot in the last years but not the structure. E. g. our movement decreased in numbers – in the '80 we were twice as big as we are today.
  • Financially spoken: we are not able to sustain this structure anymore.

Some elements need to be done, we need to...

  • .... review the type of action, the type of coordination and the role we want to play in society.
  • .... find references - “best practice examples” - in order to help us define our future.
  • .... discuss these elements in a process towards the next international council (our highest decision making body) which will take place in October 2008 in India.

Where to find answers?

I have to admit: I'm a “cutting-edge-technology-freak”
  • I always have the latest version of Ubuntu running on my laptop – at the latest when the release candidate is out I install that version.
  • I'm regularly installing other distros in order to see them run in live.
  • My favoured desktop is Beryl and I tried especially Metisse for quite a while. For many people these desktops are just Eye Candy (Things that make you go, WOW That Desktop Looks Sweet). My aim has always been to improve my work efficiency - considering the time I spend to install and to learn (especially if you ask Tanja ;-)), I can't say my productivity dramatically increased... but I think I can fulfil many tasks today a lot faster than before because of these innovative windows interactions.
“What the hell is the link between an organisation like YCW and an operating system?” You might ask now. At the beginning it didn't say anything to me either. But the longer I used Ubuntu, the more I entered, the more I learned and discovered about the non-technical aspects: the vision, the philosophy, the people, ... and the participation.

Ok, I'll try to be more concrete:

Ubuntu is an African word meaning 'Humanity to others', or 'I am what I am because of who we all are' and was founded in April 2004 by Mark Shuttleworth. The Ubuntu community today counts ten million people and is growing (after only three years!).

Mark invested a huge amount of money into this project and is one of it's key-leaders (maybe the key-leader) but he's not the boss! He lives the statement: “In Ubuntu, leadership is not an award, right, or title; it is a privilege!” , which is part of the “Leadership Code of Conduct” and part of the “Code of Conduct”. Read some of the texts from his blog if you want and judge yourself.

I believe Mark has a big share on the success of the distro, but I also believe that without the community the actual success wouldn't have been possible. Furthermore I believe it's not the money he invested in but his idea/philosophy which was his most important contribution.

There are many ways to get involved, to contribute and to participate. In order to be coordinated the community uses a lot of technologies (which are also interesting to be considered) like: email & mailing lists,, chat: irc & jabber, blogs & planets, forums, wiki, phone & phone conference but also physical meetings.

Ubuntu is the favourite linux disto and there's nothing M$ Windows offers to the average user that can't be found in Ubuntu totally for free!

What makes the huge success of Ubuntu?

I think it's the meaning of it's name: 'Humanity to others' - 'I am what I am because of who we all are'. The positive idea of men, believing we will be able to achieve the best for all of us if everybody gives his/her very best and that provided the fact there's a space to participate everybody will contribute with all his/her strengths. The success acknowledges this idea.

I wish us all to learn from the experience of Ubuntu for our life, work, movement and the society in general.

Please feel free to contribute to this idea, spread it or share it with others. If you want leave a comment and participate ;-)


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