Review of Activities 2000-200l (Part Four)

7. Discussion EastWest Institute Prague 24 September 2000
Carlos Braga, Manager of the Information for Development Program at the World Bank, primary funder of this phase of the Stories Exchange Project, and Eleanor Fink of the World Bank Development Gateways project came to the EastWest Institute to discuss the project with Institute and Project staff and a corporate partner, Florin Caloianu, Managing Director of EDS in Prague.
Mr. Caloianu offered EDS’s services in designing the ICT systems required by the Drom Romany cultural preservation project in Brno.
Ms. Fink suggested that initial productions of the studio be co-branded, and suggested that there be further conversations exploring possibilities of cooperation between the Stories Exchange Project and Development Gateways.
8. Discussion Drom Social and Cultural Center 25 September 2000 Brno
The Director of Drom reported to the Stories Exchange Project Director on an offer by the Know How Fund of the UK Foreign Ministry to support visits by experts on ICT platforms for minority recording and distribution in the United Kingdom, including the director of the Haringey Community Arts Programme and Music Business Course Europe, and the manager and technical director of the Selby Centre recording studio.
Here too it was felt that an innovative association of minority cultures with advanced technologies can provide a telling counterpoint to explicitly political debate. This may be particularly significant at a time when many of the most urgent political issues in Europe in fact revolve around questions of culture and technology, if not (yet) so explicitly around such linkings of the two realms as the Stories Exchange Project proposes.
The discussions at Drom also turned toward formation of an advisory committee comprising representatives of the Museum of Romany Culture, the Janacek Academy of Drama and Music, ICT programs at Masaryk University, local businesses and international corporations based in Brno and Vienna.
In a subsequent meeting at the Museum for Romany Culture, it was suggested that the Drom project work with an enthnomusicologist at the Museum who situates Romany music in the context of world music.
It was also decided to enlarge the focus of the project to take advantage of the strategic location of Brno near Vienna, Bratislava (Slovakia) and Budapest, and involve musicians, ethnomusicologists, Romany and other cultural organizations, NGOs and businesses in the four Central European countries and representatives of Romany and other minority cultures in Vienna.
This diverse body can participate in activities which integrate live performance and discussion with exchanges via the Stories Exchange Project discussion forum Web-page and excerpting of current recording projects on the main Stories Exchange Project page – and, eventually, on another page to be developed by the Brno studio.
9. OSCE Presentation of Project Hofburg Vienna 26 September 2000
The Project Director presented the Stories Exchange Project at an OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) conference on the Roma in EU candidate countries, emphasizing the use of information and communication technologies to help minorities leapfrog into – or over – the mainstream, and to initiate cooperation with majority communities.
10. Presentation and discussion of stories Jewish Cemetery, Czech Embassy and Czech Center Vienna 26-27 September 2000
The Czech Ambassador to Austria, Jiri Grusa, hosted discussions of the Stories Exchange Project, beginning with a presentation by himself and the Project Director at the grave of Jakub Hilsner, an early victim of anti-semitism defended by the founder of Czechoslovakia, President Tomas Masaryk.
This was an historic first presentation by a representative of the Czech Republic at the Jewish Cemetery, and was videotaped for streaming on this Web-site.
Presentations of stories at the Czech Center stimulated conversations with Director Renata Erich and a Romany linguist at Romano Centro, Vienna about possibilities of cooperation in the Drom cultural preservation/ICT studio project and other efforts by the Stories Exchange Project to ground social and economic development in cultural initiatives.
A comment by Emilie Horackova, one of the Romany leaders of the Slovak expedition, about the positive effect of reading responses to her stories on the Web-page led to a proposal by another member of the Prague team, David Svarc, to identify teams of young Romany volunteers to man computer installations and facilitate use of the project Web-pages in high school ICT programs.
J. Project activities October-December 2000
Following successful presentations of the Stories Exchange Project in Usti nad Labem, Prague, London, and Vienna the Project concentrated on intensive local uses of the two Web-sites which will increase the visibility and influence of the work so far.
1. Development and promotion of Web-sites
In October 2000 the initial re-design and development of this Web-site was completed and the second site, the discussion forum at www.stories-exchange.ecn.cz was initiated in cooperation with econnect: a Czech server committed to the development of civil society through cooperation among non-governmental organizations.
Various strategies were initiated to publicize the sites and encourage widespread use of them in the Czech Republic and elsewhere.
These include:
a. advertisement on other Web-sites, including the econnnect home-page (www.ecn.cz)
b. November 2000 workshops in schools including the Business Academy in Usti nad Labem and the Vranovska Street school in Brno, the latter with the cooperation of Romany musicians associated with the Drom music studio
c. workshops in Romany social and cultural centers including Drom
d. video documentation of these workshops for editing together with the coverage of the September Stories Exchange Project workshops and discussions in Terezin for use in a television documentary on this phase of the Project and in further development of this Web-site.
e. initiation of the Stories Exchange Education Project, focused on expanding use of the two Project Web-sites. Teachers and students in Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Usti nad Labem, and other cities and towns throughout the Czech Republic will be trained
 — to organize local adaptations of the Project
 – to edit new stories for publication of at this main Web-site
 – to use demonstrations of the Web pages in school computer labs and Project computer installations to animate discussions about inter-ethnic issues among parents, teachers and students.
Two local coordinators of the education program were appointed to serve until the end of June 2001, underwritten by small grants by the Project to two partner institutions: Nadace Nova Skola/ New School Foundation, Prague and Drom.
These local education coordinators began to develop guidelines for use of the Web-sites in classrooms, organize live public discussions in schools and cultural centers to be further developed on the discussion-forum Web-site and organize links among computer labs and other ICT installations in schools and libraries in Prague, Brno, Ostrava and Usti nad Labem. The Brno coordinator began to integrate local Stories Exchange Project activities with the Drom recording studio project.