Wikimedia Chapters Association: redefining the ‘we’

In Berlin, now some months ago, representatives of the national Wikimedia chapters decided to establish a new organization: the Wikimedia Chapters Association. A team with Israeli chapter president Tomer Ashur is preparing the organization, and some chapters have already selected its Council Member. In mid June, the board of Wikimedia Nederland nominated me for the following two years.

In general, we all in the Wikimedia movement prefer to see the larger picture, to include rather than to exclude. We are doing great things, and we together try to improve what was to be improved. But in the last few years the different entities in the movement understand more and more that they have different roles with slightly different responsibilities.

When I say ‘we’, it usually responds to the whole movement, but sometimes it can also mean: ‘we, members of Wikimedia Nederland’. Sometimes it is ‘we, the national chapters’, in contrast to volonteers and personnel of the Wikimedia Foundation. This is natural and a good sign for a healthy development and differentiation. It does not necessarily mean that there have to be hostilities between the entities, we can agree to disagree, and if we/we/we don’t succeed with our opinion this time, we may the next time.

The WCA creates a new ‘we’. At least partially, because not all chapters will join it immediately. Or, it even creates several ‘we’s. We, the members of chapters (collected by the WCA); we, those with positions in the chapters; we, the members of the WCA Council…

In Washington, we will try to bring the movement and the WCA forward. Chapters need support, chapters need representation within the movement. This is our commitment.

Wikimedia Chapters Conference 01

Chapters ConferenceSitting now in the big room of the Cluboffice in Berlin, the venue for the Wikimedia Chapters Conference.  Yesterday a smaller number of people came together as Chapters Committee and Movement Roles Group (more about that later). At the moment we are experiencing the “State of the Chapter” session 1 with one third of the chapters presenting their work and prospectives.

The presentations, each in 3 minutes, are always quite different of course. Again and again we hear from the activities of the previous year, about a chapters relationships to museums, universities and so on, and their dedication to Wiki loves monuments. Fine, but in spite of the instructions online for the presentations, hardly any speaker exceeds the listing up and gives a more analytic overview. In some cases, it was a good idea that the facilitator Anja asked questions and made it a kind of interview. Still, it is good to see the representants and link faces to the names.

Sometimes a novelty project is presented, e.g. the Wikimedians in Washington, D. C. had a project with blind people. Nice guy from Estonia: ‘No money, no problem’, but even without much funding they are very active in ‘our little media empire’.