Monthly Archives: February 2011

As many are familiar with the inspiring story of protests to oust now, former Egyptian leader Hosini Mubarak, a new social project has come about to document it all.

To chronicle the Egyptian revolution, the #18DaysInEgypt project is turning to a hybrid model of social media, citizen journalism and documentary film-making to tell the story of Egypt in real time. Launched by Jigar Mehta, Yasmin Elayat and Alaa Dajani, the crowd-sourced documentary project is relying on social media like Flickr, Twitter and YouTube to be the palette against which people can share their experiences as events unfold. Anyone in Egypt can participate simply by tagging media appropriately (i.e., the date on which the documented event occurred, the place at which it occurred, other distinguishing tags) to allow for search ease. The #18DaysInEgypt team is working on adding a URL uploader to include links from Twitter and other media tools, as well as working on tools that enable people to share their photos and videos via SMS and MMS.

The project is fresh and new, but novel not just for obvious reasons; its novelty has far-reaching implications. #18DaysInEgypt will change the way social media and film-making are created and distributed. There has already been a spade of articles written about how social media accelerated the events in Egypt. Yes, social media is an incredibly powerful tool and we are still learning how to stretch and manipulate it in innovative ways. How social media will inform the dialogue between the MENA region and the rest of the world is yet to be completely seen.

For historical posterity, the success of a project like #18DaysInEgypt will shape how documentarians reach their subject matter and their audience. This particular project will provide on-the-ground insight into the political and social dimensions of what a movement of this kind means for MENA countries and around the world. Beyond this though, the success of this project could shape how the social sector learns about and addresses the needs of the MENA region.

Despite the volume of footage on the Middle East, there exists a vacuum regarding how to accurately help the MENA region – and this is a challenge not just for country partners, but for people living in these countries. More than 50% of the populations living in MENA countries are under the age of 25. Unemployment rates are at approximately 40%, but literacy rates are 80%, if not higher. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2011 report, it takes an average of 20 days and 38% per-capita income to start a business in the MENA region. People living in countries like Egypt and Tunisia are capable of rebuilding their countries economically and socially. There is need for political reform, but clearly, there is another huge opportunity in these countries for social entrepreneurship to address current challenges. For the MENA region, social entrepreneurship could engage and harness the ingenuity of its young peoples to rebuild.

There is no such thing as a crystal ball: the future, and end, to unrest in MENA countries cannot be predicted. However, thought can be put into what comes next. Egypt will hold elections later this year and the people will decide on what direction leadership, and the country, should take. To support a successful new vision, who better to decide the social, environmental and political fitness of a country than its young, energetic and empowered citizens?

Here is a link to the documentary website for #18daysinegypt

Article excerpts found via

Original story reported by Nisha Kumar Kulkarni


Amazing story on the first woman to pitch for Major League batting practice.  Hopefully someday we’ll see a woman pitching in a regular season game!  Below is the transcript from an interview on NPR.  To hear the actual interview, click here.


This time of year, when big league baseball players have reported to training camps in Florida or Arizona, there’s often a story that goes like this: Thirty-six-year-old pitcher never played in the big leagues gets a break in spring training, makes big impression. Will this season be a dream come true?

Well, here’s the twist this spring. There is a 36-year-old pitcher who over the years has competed not just in the U.S. but also in Venezuela, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and whose big break came Monday, throwing batting practice for the Cleveland Indians. And it is historic because the pitcher is Justine Siegal, no relation. Justine Siegal joins us now from Phoenix. Hi, welcome to the program.

Ms. JUSTINE SIEGAL (Practice Pitcher, Cleveland Indians): Hi, how are you?

SIEGEL: And do we have it right? Do we think you are the first woman to ever pitch batting practice in spring training?

Ms. SIEGAL: Yeah. I think that’s what we know of.

SIEGEL: And you pitched against Cleveland this week, but also against Oakland today.

Ms. SIEGAL: Yeah, I just got off the field throwing to the A’s and that was a fantastic experience as well.

SIEGEL: Yeah. How did it go?

Ms. SIEGAL: It went well. I was less nervous than the Indians, so that was good. But I throw a (unintelligible) fastball and I want the ball to come in true and firm and over the plate. And let these guys work on their swing.

SIEGEL: Apart from the fact that everybody would want to be in spring training right now, at least everyone I know, what’s in it for you? Why do you want to pitch batting practice this spring?

Ms. SIEGAL: Well, first, pitching batting practice is a dream come true for me. I mean, I had the idea when I was 17 years old and I was watching the Indians hit BP and I was thinking, I want to be a BP pitcher. The other part is just to create a dialogue about girls and women in baseball. Forty percent of Major League Baseball fans are women. And 100,000 girls are playing youth baseball across the country. So, there’s no reason why there can’t be a female BP coach.

SIEGEL: You are pursuing your PhD in sports psychology at Springfield College. You’ve been an assistant coach there for the men’s baseball team. You’ve obviously spent a lot of time with male baseball players. How do the men down in Arizona, how are they treating you when you walk out to the mound?

Ms. SIEGAL: Well, the players from the Indians and the A’s have been nothing but respectful. The Indians and the A’s, they believe in this dream that I have and they’ve supported it all the way through.

SIEGEL: That’s great. Over the past couple of days, have you thrown batting practice to some major leaguers whose names we would all recognize.

Ms. SIEGAL: Well, I just got done throwing to Coco Crisp.

SIEGEL: Coco Crisp now with the A’s, but he played for the Boston Red Sox not too long ago.

Ms. SIEGAL: Yes. He was fun to throw to ’cause he was doing – a little smack, a little – having a little dialogue with me as he was hitting. He was having a good time and it made me smile and have a good time as well.

SIEGEL: Here’s the big question, how realistic is it to think that sometime in our lifetimes there might be a woman throwing not just BP in spring training, but pitching for major league ball club? What do you think?

Ms. SIEGAL: I think it’s really realistic to see a woman pitching in the Major League Baseball if she’s a knuckleball pitcher, particularly a left-handed knuckleball pitcher just to throw one more loop in there.

SIEGEL: That woman could throw in the Major Leagues, you think?

Ms. SIEGAL: Yeah. I would put my money on that.

SIEGEL: Justine Siegal, thank you very much for talking with us.

Ms. SIEGAL: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That’s Justine Siegal, batting practice pitcher for the Cleveland Indians and the Oakland Athletics, speaking to us from spring training in Phoenix, Arizona.

We sent out some t-shirts and hoodies to David Costa and his band today!

David Costa is an indie music artist from Chicago/Northwest Indiana making big waves in music scenes throughout the country.  His very unique style, is a blend of hip-hop, alternative, social commentary, and prose storytelling.  This group is flat out dope and has some big things lined up in the near future for them, including the ever-famous South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

Here are some links to get to know them a little better, these guys are destined for stardom. Get familiar!

David Costa Website

David Costa Facebook

David Costa Bandpage

Video Footage of Performance

via The Bay Citizen

By: Rayhan Harmanci

The newest university to open its doors in San Francisco has no official curriculum, no accredited course work, no grades and no paid teachers.

In an age of escalating college costs, however, the Free University of San Francisco — which resides in the basement of Viracocha, a store in the Mission District — has one very large thing going for it: no tuition fees.

Conceived by Alan Kaufman, 59, a poet and former instructor at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, the Free University is an oh-so-San Francisco experiment in divorcing education from commerce.

“We don’t need walls, we don’t need desks to impart knowledge,” Kaufman said. “The idea of a free university is that it’s monetarily free, free of constraints, free of any kind of administration.”

The Free University kicked off Feb. 5 with a weekend of lectures. It was billed as a teach-in, where local luminaries like Diane di Prima, the Beat poet, and Matt Gonzalez, the former San Francisco mayoral candidate, held forth on a number of subjects. Class titles like “Abolishing Corporate Personhood to Create Authentic Democracy” and “Restoring San Francisco’s Urban Wildlands” drew hundreds of students.

On March 6, the university will begin a cycle of seven five-week classes. After that, Kaufman said, students can expect both 5- and 10-week courses. Another teach-in is scheduled for June.

Kaufman, who has long bridled against traditional education, came up with the idea for a free university in December. With the encouragement of Gonzalez, who is best known nationally as Ralph Nader’s Green Party vice-presidential running mate, the project was born.

A loose collective of about 50 people is the institution’s sole decision-making body.

Kaufman is working on a plan that would expand the concept even further. Nine colleges within the university — including a law school with Gonzalez as dean and an art school headed by Chuck Sperry, a printmaker — will be put to the collective for approval. Each school will have one female dean and one male dean to achieve gender parity.

“Call us crazies, San Francisco crazies, but we’re doing it anyways,” said Kaufman, his Brooklyn accent apparent even after 20 years of Bay Area residence. “We believe that we are a system-changing revolution.”

The makeshift school may be unusual but is hardly unique. “There’s a long history of free universities in this country, and the Bay Area in particular,” said John Hurst, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.

But today’s rising cost of higher education makes the project newly relevant. According to the Project on Student Debt, a nonprofit research organization, the average California student holds about $17,000 in debt; student debt totals nearly $1 trillion nationwide. College tuition has increased 400 percent since the 1980s, a faster rate than that of escalating health care costs.

Robert Cohen, a professor of history and education at New York University, compared the Free University to the Freedom Schools established in the South during the civil rights movement of the 1960s — although then the issue was access more than cost.

“This is a kind of response to commodification of knowledge,” he said. “There’s no free public higher education in California anymore.”

The big question, of course, is how long the Free University can remain in session with volunteer teachers. Hurst wasn’t hopeful about Free University’s long-term survival without any financial exchange.

“The model has to be built on sustainability,” he said. “None of the ones that have been free-free have served for very long. Would that they could. Sooner or later, people have to live.”

Still, students and teachers — often interchangeable roles at the Free University — are hopeful.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” admitted Evan Karp, a writer and website founder. Along with Andrew Paul Nelson, Karp taught a class on Friedrich Nietzsche. “Everyone was passionate,” Karp said of his students. “Certainly, that was what I wanted out of a university experience that I didn’t get.”

Even if the Free University doesn’t last, its concept could spread. “Once you show that there’s a hunger for these kind of courses, maybe other institutions will pick up on it,” Cohen said, “Lawyers do pro bono work. Why can’t universities?”

This article also appears in the Bay Area edition of The New York Times.











Hot on the heels of Google’s “Art Project,” a street view functionality that allows users to explore museums around the world, Red Bull has introduced “Street Art View.”

Using Google Maps and crowdsourced data from around the world, Street Art View is an ever-changing site that lets visitors explore murals, stenciling, and other graffiti from countries around the globe, or suggest their own favorite pieces.

Jump from Canada to Spain to South Africa to Japan—where the above image was taken—all without leaving your desk. You can even search by artist, all the better to see just how far Banksy’s reach has become.