We began our partnership with Founders and Coders in November 2018 by supporting the Founders Programme. The objective was to give Founders and Coders (FAC) and Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG) Graduates some practical industry experience as well as the opportunity to work on projects which had social impact. Over two years Intersticia funded three cohorts of Founders each comprising two graduates from London over three months who worked with three teams of Gaza (one team per month) from the Gaza Sky Geeks Code Academy on Tech for Better projects.
One outcome of the Founders programme has been the creation of the Yalla Co-Operative, a start-up Web Design and Development Agency formed by Joe Friel, Simon Dupree and Ramy Al Shurafa, with Simon working in Berlin, Ramy in Gaza and Joe in London. Our second Founders cohort, Kristina Jaggard and Oliver Smith-Wellnitz, acted as Class Co-Ordinators of FAC 18 and Kristina has now started working with Yalla in Berlin.
As we reflect on the programme and what we have achieved it is time to move to the next phase.
In London Founders and Coders has recently been granted the status of a UK Registered Apprenticeship Training Organisation which means that in addition to the Coding Bootcamp FAC is in a position to work more closely with employers by providing on the job training as well as coding skills. (FAC has developed guidelines for their programme which can be found here.)
In early 2020 as Yalla were exploring how to further support their Gaza team the idea began to emerge of Yalla itself taking on Apprentices which would provide GSG Graduates with ‘on the job’ experience whilst also helping Yalla to grow as a business.
This very much fits in with Intersticia’s desire to deepening our connection with existing Fellows whist also strengthening our impact on the projects we undertake. By continuing to invest in both the GSG Code Academy graduates as well as Yalla as an young start-up enterprise we can created a prototype programme which demonstrates the ability of a company to work collaboratively from both Europe and Gaza whilst also continuing to give opportunities to Palestinian graduates.
The idea is that Intersticia UK will fund Yalla to create such a programme whilst also drawing on GSG’s mentoring network, FAC’s support through logistics and administration, and Intersticia’s coaching and mentoring expertise. Once developed and tested then Yalla and GSG can take the concept to other partners and employers around the world.
How it will work
As with most things Intersticia we are making it up as we go along – there is no tried and tested model for this, nor are there other examples we can draw lessons from. Yalla is a rare entity in it’s UK-Europe-Gaza partnership structure and this would be no different, but that is why this is the perfect philanthrophic opportunity.
Yalla have crafted a very comprehensive plan for the Apprenticeship Programme which is now being refined and, as we proceed, will evolve as we all learn.
The primary aim of the programme is to provide two recent graduates from the Gaza programme to earn a living wage while also gaining experience in a real life agency and practicing the hard and soft skills that they’ll require for meaningful employment.
Secondary aims are:
- To provide many recent graduates with the experience of applying for their first employment opportunity within the field of Web Development
- To provide the opportunity of permanent employment to new graduates living in Gaza
- To support recent graduates in building the leadership skills that they need to work with clients either as a part of, or independently of, Yalla (soft skills, project management, confidence in spoken and written communication, experience in remote working)
- To support recent graduates in building solid portfolios that showcase their interests and strengths
- To provide recent graduates with a chance to acquaint themselves with the technical skills which are commonly used before moving on to billable work
- To build a sustainable apprenticeship programme that can eventually be promoted to other organisations
Our Founder Fellow Kristina Jaggard will act as the Programme Facilitator and the application and interview process will take place in April 2021 with the programme commencing in May 2021.
As always Intersticia works in the space where things are ill-defined, a bit messy and always challenging – the space where all things are possible. During our conversations with Yalla over the past two years it is apparent that they have sufficient technical skill to give the Apprentices their ongoing technical and business experience but there is much more we can offer in the area of coaching and help with the ‘soft skills’. To this end we will be helping with the Interview process and then working with the Apprentices during the six months of their Apprenticeship. In addition we have engaged Ahmed Elqattawi, an English/Business coach and mentor working with Gaza Sky Geeks and who served as my translator for Brave Conversations Gaza, to join the team as our Gaza based resource and advisor.
It has been an enormous privilege to work with FAC, GSG and Yalla over the past few years – this new initiatives takes our work to the next level truly demonstrating the potential of a small, agile and innovative project to have broader implications whilst enabling and empowering individuals to change the world.
From our Intern Jacquie Crock
For as long I can remember I have never truly understood what Intersticia is. I knew that Mum had a friend called Anni, and they would travel around the world and do interesting things. But I never knew they had a purpose, a common goal and motive that lead them to what Intersticia is today. As one of the newest members of the Intersticia community, joining in the historic year of 2020, my questions were finally answered.
The first thing I realised was that Intersticia is not a workplace, rather a community of like-minded individuals working together for the future.
Some of my first work was with the new “Brave Conversation” podcasts, a brilliant idea to better know each member of the Intersticia community. As a kid, still in school, hearing about people literally studying Martian matter, and working in innovative fields from sustainable energy to aid in humanitarian crises to tech and the arts, I found it quite overwhelming to be part of such an incredible group. However, it only took me a short while to understand that there is not a single member of this community that would ever put themselves on a pedestal. Of the people I have met this year, each have been incredibly articulate and genuinely kind people, and overwhelmingly intelligent all the same!
Another aspect of Intersticia that, rather excited me, was the mechanisms deployed to ensure sustainable work practices.
As soon as I joined my first Zoom meeting I was refreshed to experience people working through future based concepts, ideas that will benefit the international community, not only for themselves but for generations to come. Relating to this idea, I immediately noticed how generous the Intersticia community is. This year has forced us to live online, and although it has had its disadvantages, meeting via zoom and communicating online has lead me to meet so many incredible people.
I am completing my final years in high school and was asked to present a twenty minute presentation on the Gaza Strip, in a brief conversation I mentioned this to Anni, and within hours I was put in touch with an incredibly generous woman who not only took the time to email me and send me articles, but who gave me an hour out of her day to meet with me. This was one of my first experiences with the generosity this community contains and certainly won’t be my last.
After meeting with a collection of people in 2020, I was grateful to learn that even in times of crisis people can still practice things that they value. This image above depicts Palestinians in Gaza practicing music (Pre-Covid). Those in Gaza are resilient and spirited, and that even though they face some of the most prominent challenges of this century, that they are still able to celebrate life.
Unlike friends of mine, who spend hours stacking shelves or working in shops, the time I spend working is educational and truly beneficial for my future. I have had the opportunity to listen in on workshops and meetings and have learnt so much. The social depth that humanity is facing with the rise of technology and globalisation is unlike any other time. Hearing about what these new advancements mean and how to face them has been inspirational and hopeful, knowing about these concepts now has prepared me for the future, however difficult and inconspicuous it will be.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to be Intersticia’s newest Intern and look forward to meeting more of you in the future!
There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen. (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin)
“May you live in interesting times” is an English expression that is claimed to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse
2020 has certainly been interesting.
As we have all been hunkered down in our respective homes around the world locked up in various level of Covid tier we have connected as never before, created new ways of supporting our Fellows and others with whom we work, and truly begun to embrace the world of digital media that has been at the core of our beliefs about what is needed for 21st Century Leadership.
Intersticia exists to develop and promote digital fluency and develop smarter humans in terms of how we proactively create, manage, harness and utilise digital technologies.
We do this primarily through the following activities:
- We identify, support, nurture and encourage individuals through our Scholarships and Fellowships
- We work with like-minded partner organisations to support entrepreneurship and innovation
- We hold public events with a specific aim of promoting conversations and building skills in digital literacy and leadership
In the 2019 – 2020 year we built on the foundations that were laid in our first couple of years of existence and, powered by the opportunities afforded by the Pandemic, we have been busier than ever. At the end of 2019 I felt that we were completing the work of our first Horizon, developing our Fellowship; clarifying who we are, what we do and how we do it, and creating our partnerships.
As we embark upon 2021 our second Horizon is becoming clearer.
Identify, support, nurture and encourage individuals through our Scholarships and Fellowships
From the outset Intersticia has sought to identify and support emerging leaders who are a little different, are prepared to take risks, are generous of spirit and have a deeply ingrained need to make the world a better place. I am often asked how we find our Fellows and those we choose to support.
The first filter is through our values which are those of authenticity, integrity, persistence, courage and grace. We look for these in how people approach us, how they present themselves, how they interact with the world and the sorts of things they value in life. These are what drive those of our current Fellowship and manifest in how they demonstrate their individual leadership.
The second is our belief that Intersticia is a community. We are not a leadership development or training organisation, nor are we a Charity that ‘sets and forgets’. Our intention is to recruit and embrace individuals who will contribute to and expand the work that we do both individually and collectively, and as a group collaborate to bring about positive change.
The third is the filter of need. There are many who apply for our support who come with worthy ideas that many other organisations will see merit in, and we often encourage them to find those organisations. As a small organisation our interest is in those people who often fall through the cracks, who often straddle multiple disciplines and who don’t fit neatly in to one category or another. These people provide the hidden connections which we see of great value.
We now have 21 people we have supported through Scholarships and Bursaries and of these 19 have been made Fellows (see https://intersticia.org/fellows/).
However, bringing people in to our Fellowship is just the beginning, and one thing that our work thus far has demonstrated is that it is not broadening our reach which is important, but deepening our connection and strengthening our impact. Of those we support some choose to continue being a part of, and contributing to, our community, others choose not to, which is their choice.
For those who stay with us there are four main areas that we have begun to focus on:
- helping our Fellows develop their own Authenticity as emerging 21st Century Leaders
- creating our Fellowship as a Community that shares experiences and learning
- supporting our Fellows to find their Voice in the stories they tell and work that they do
- harvesting these factors to build a collective Resilience in their work and individual lives
This year we have not been able to come together as a group physically but we held our 2020 Retreat online and appended this with Small Group sessions which continue in to 2021.
We have embarked upon a series of Intersticia Brave Conversations interviews with each of our Fellows produced online and available throughout the community. As a complement to this we have begun working with our Fellow Jess Chambers in her professional capacity as a Voice Coach to give all within our community additional skills in how they present themselves publicly.
Finally we have expanded our group of Advisors with the contribution of key individuals who are willing to help and support our Fellowship group. These people have been incredibly generous with their time, energy and enthusiasm – without them we couldn’t do all that we do.
Work with like-minded partner organisations to support entrepreneurship and innovation
We also could not do the work that we do without leveraging the partnerships that we have, in particular Goodenough College, the Web Science Trust, Founders and Coders (FAC) and Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG). It is through these organisations that we have been able to find new opportunities and innovative projects.
Our support of the Founders Programme began our formal partnership with both FAC and GSG and has resulted in three cohorts of Founders from both London and Palestine, and our first cohort of Founders (Joe Friel, Simon Dupree and Ramy Shufara) has created the first spin out in Yalla, “a Web Design and Development agency which helps non-profits and impact-driven businesses drive positive social change in the tech sphere”.
In 2021 we aim to take this to the next level through the development of a pilot Apprenticeship Programme with Yalla employing two Gaza Code Academy Graduates.
Hold public events with a specific aim of promoting conversations and building skills in digital literacy and leadership
From the outset Intersticia has sought to operate within the interstice between society, culture and technology, the space of the Social Machine.
Our flagship activity is our Brave Conversations events which seek to educate the general public about the Social Machine and act as an Outreach activity for academic research of Web Science. We have now held events around the world, and, with the opportunity afforded by Covid in 2020, online.
Our plan for 2021 is to build on these foundations to further expand the footprint encouraging a greater partnership with the Web Science Trust and its network of Web Science Labs, beginning with our second event hosted by IIIT Bangalore in February 2021. We will also be an integral part of the 2021 Web Science Conference to be held online in June 2021 and intend to integrate content from the Web Science Untangling the Web podcasts in to our activities.
All of our events are listed below and on the Brave Conversations website.
2020 Brave Conversations Kav Mashve
2020 Brave Conversations Arabic/English
2020 Brave Conversations Southampton Online
2020 Brave Conversations Gaza
2020 Brave Conversations Bangalore
2019 Brave Conversations London
2019 Brave Conversations Boston
2019 Brave Conversations Melbourne
2018 Brave Conversations Kingston
2018 Brave Conversations London
2018 Brave Conversations at the World Government Summit Dubai
2017 Brave Conversations Canberra
Digital Gymnasia Series
In a ‘normal’ year we would usually hold a series of workshops at Goodenough College to promote digital literacy and digital skills to current students of the College. Given the restrictions on travel we have instead now developed our Digital Gymnasia Series which has been delivered throughout 2020 to students and Alumni of the College around the world. In 2020 we developed and delivered eight workshops which attracted between 20 – 30 attendees each time. In 2021 we will be delivering an additional four Gymnasia to the Goodenough community in 2021 on the topics of Building Digital Brands, Demystifying AI, Facilitating Online and Digital Governance. All of these are now being recorded to be made available online to the general public, especially the Boards of Charities and Not-for Profit organisations.
2020 has taught us the value of our networks and connections, whether they be IRL (in real life) or via the virtual medium. What I have found is that whilst I have been ‘grounded’ in my physical space here up on Pittwater and have connected more frequently with my local neighbours and community, I have been much more active with a broader range of people around the World and my Global community. I have spoken to my family and friends more often, I have held more meetings and I have been more productive than I have ever been. Through this I believe we have been given the opportunity to deepen our relationships this year, particularly with our Fellows and Advisors, who have all brought their personal experiences and challenges of negotiating and navigating through 2020 and shared without hesitation.
We have been given the opportunity to slow down and consolidate rather than madly race around looking for new adventures and shiny new distractions, and for that I am extremely grateful.
So what comes next? We have talked about our planned 2021 Retreat in Devon and following that we plan to take our Fellows to walk through the Sinai Desert led by our Advisor Louise Sibley. These face to face activities where we don’t have to rely on words but can commune as a group of humans physically together are now more important than ever. As are our ongoing Brave Conversations events where we ask our Fellows to share their thoughts about the work they are doing and perhaps the theme for 2021 may be “Brave Conversations Unplugging” as the World gradually unfreezes from it’s Pandemic state (thanks to Sam Crock for that idea).
More on that to come!