Monday, April 5, 2010

Evolving a global superorganism

To date, Moishe House Providence hasn't engaged in much inter-house collaboration, but this blog prompt certainly got our wheels turning. Our most explicit inter-house collaboration thus far was the earth-shattering blindingly-brilliant 'tele-shabbat' we orchestrated with the houses in Philly, DC, and Hoboken. The wiki also presents itself as a venue for inter-house collaboration on program ideas and other resources. And I appreciate the Moishe staff’s encouragement of programs that 'tour' the houses, such as screenings of relevant independent films and inviting relevant bands like Girls in Trouble, which in a way act as inter-house collaborations – in this case, to bring the same program to multiple houses. But of course, like the Moishe staff, I'd Love to see more and greater inter-house collaboration, for example a global (or at least national) designation of April as environmental month, with at least one environment-related program plus a celebration of Earth Day, and a multi-house collaboration with national and international organizations, e.g. if all the U.S. houses attended their local J Street launches, and a big-sibling little-sibling system, where houses with more knowledge and experience act as mentors for houses that are just getting started.

Inter-house collaboration benefits both us Moisheniks and our community members by very tangibly reminding us that we are part of something much bigger than our local community. It cultivates a more global self-awareness of the superorganism that is the Moishe House network, enabling us to better engage in collectively intelligent behavior. It also enables us to capitalize on the global network that we are, rather than relying only on local resources. Let me better articulate this with a story.

I'm part of another global network: Pecha Kucha. (For those of you who've never heard of this global and unpronounceable phenomenon, it's basically a monthly show & tell night that happens in 300+ cities worldwide where people give presentations consisting of 20 slides x 20 seconds per slide = 6 minutes and 40 seconds of what I cheekily refer to as PowerPoint performance art.) When the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12th, Pecha Kucha organizers around the world flooded HQ, asking what we as a global community could do to help. And what emerged was a collaboration between Pecha Kucha and Architecture for Humanity to help rebuild Haiti 20 seconds at a time. The idea was to have cities worldwide host their Pecha Kucha nights on February 20th, and to have PK HQ videoskype into each city over a 24-hour period and live-stream the skype content to the web, i.e. to create a 24-hour PK presentation "WAVEcast" circumnavigating the globe by city. (Yowza.) The intentions of this global WAVEcast were to raise awareness, raise money, and generate content, and sure enough, Providence participated. It was a dramatic success, and PK has already built its first school in Haiti. I tell this story because the way PK cities worldwide collaborated to help Haiti is an inspiration to me, and something for Moishe Houses worldwide to strive for. And no need to start with a global WAVEcast; a big-sibling little-sibling system is certainly an exciting-enough proposition.

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