URE's Collaborative "Hot Potato" Projects
Central to our efforts to realize meaningful change in the world, each year the Up the River Endeavors Consortium is challenged to "think outside the box" and create unique projects based on the collaborative interaction of its members. Since URE's inception, the founders believe that in order to promote an ethic of cooperation that leads to positive, synergistic change in the world at large, its essential that these ideals be demonstrated by its proponents. Using the metaphor of a game of hot potato to represent our collaborative projects, the "heat" and energy circulated between us is a reflection of the urgency to use the resources within URE to reach out toward others in a time where many aspects of human existence are unbalanced and the very survival of our own species may be in question. Rather than perpetuating the fiercely competitive models of human behavior that have historically defined much of "human progress" and created strife on a myriad of social and environmental fronts, we aim to demonstrate alternative, cooperative ways of interacting with one another.
In essence, URE hot potato projects embody the altruistic concept of "pay it forward". Much like a round of hot potato, no single organization can "hold" a project for too long, and momentum we build by everyone inputting dynamic ideas and sharing responsibilities is the key toward realizing our projects. We believe that the more we are able to inform each other and come to an understanding about the interconnections between the problems we see manifesting in the world, the better equipped we will be at consciously finding effective solutions. By working together and overlapping our fields of expertise, we are able to draw upon the unique strengths of each member within the URE Consortium and accomplish much more than we ever could by working alone. We pool our resources into innovative and often experimental ideas that transcend the notions of "business as usual". These ideas are the foundation for our projects, whose ultimate goals are to empower others in both our local and global communities to help realize a collective future that is balanced, sustainable and hopeful.
A Collaboration Between all Organizations and Individuals within the URE Consortium
For the first time in URE history, we are currently working on a project that involves not only the interaction of a few organizations, but actively involves each member of our consortium. With the momentum we have gained from everyone's ongoing commitment, we are enthusiastic about the public launch of our current project, Worldwide Visionaries.
Using Technology to Change Attitudes and Behaviors
Based on an ongoing assessment of the social, behavioral and environmental imbalances being addressed by each of the URE organizations within the Consortium, we recognize that the world may well be approaching a tipping point. URE is convinced that in order to create a hopeful and sustainable future, we need to support and empower younger generations, our future leaders, with the tools and resources needed to promote sensible decision-making and decisive action.
In this exciting, multifaceted project, we aim to pool our resources into a dynamic and engaging on-line format that will stimulate dialogue on some of the pertinent global issues of our time. In addition, via an activist message and powerful multi-media techniques, we will support creative projects that reach beyond the web and into our communities.Initiating Meaningful Dialogue
We hope to challenge our audience to actively join us in the search for the root causes common to many of the problems in the world today. Drawing from the unique strengths and talents of each individual within URE, we will share the responsibility of providing students and young audiences with articles and educational resources on social and environmental topics.
By raising awareness and providing an interactive educational foundation, we aim to stimulate on-line discussion and creative brainstorming on an international scale. We hope that this site will encourage visitors to not only raise questions and make connections, but also, to propose creative solutions.From Good Intentions to Action
URE believes that turning meaningful dialogue into positive action, we need to provide a forum where young people sense that their opinions and contributions are valued, where they can creatively address issues that are personally meaningful, and where they are given recognition and support for their unique talents and ingenuity. With this in mind, this site will also provide opportunities for participants to develop and voice their responses in a wide variety of media.
Including the initial, enthusiastic involvement of students from the University of Southern California, young people from all over the world will be invited to express their views through a broad spectrum of media, including: video projects, photo-essay books, music, illustrations, interview projects and even the development of activist organizations among peer groups and local communities!
A few highlights of the projects that USC students are currently proposing and developing include:
- "Seeing into the Future" - Promoting environmentalism in young children through the development of a comprehensive, 26 lesson plan supplemental environmental education curriculum for primary school children
- "Demystifying Public Transportation" - A pamphlet explaining and encouraging public transit use among USC students. This project is currently being expanded upon through a collaboration with the USC Office of Transportation.
- "Do you CSee Me?" - The Child Sexual Exploitation Ends with Me Campaign that seeks to raise awareness about child prostitution within the U.S. through a short documentary film, MySpace page, pamphlet and t-shirts.
Showcasing Innovative Ideas
Through the power of interactive web media, this web site will showcase participants’ projects, providing recognition for their contributions as well as critical networking opportunities. A summary of the project (and visual or audio posting, where applicable) will accompany links to the author(s). This will allow visitors to the site to interact with each other sharing ideas, networking, and participating in projects that interest them.Providing Additional Incentives and Support
To foster and continue the growth of projects that demonstrate exceptional creativity or success, we are also exploring the sponsorship of on-line contests. Offering modest cash prizes, or even small grants that young people might invest back into their project may provide increased incentive for participation as well as financial resources to help individuals take their projects to the “next level.”
We also plan to provide some strategic tools and resources for participants interested in pursuing additional grants from organizations outside of URE. Knowing how to get your project funded is a critical step in the development process. URE organizations and their representatives have a wealth of experience to share in fund raising, project design and evaluation techniques.Beyond Computers: Engaging Communities
URE recognizes that the success of this effort depends upon the concerned voices of our younger generations extending well beyond the Internet and reaching the communities they are aiming to help. Some of the selected projects will be activist-based and therefore community-oriented by definition, directly involving students in a journey of discovery and continuous improvement.
Based on an assessment of the audience response to these projects after they are launched, we hope to organize events and workshops in high schools, universities and/or local community centers in selected locations across the country. These events may help move some of the discussions from on-line blogs into a face-to-face setting, provide an opportunity for young people to share a variety of dynamic projects with live audiences, and to develop contacts with others who may be working toward similar goals. If these events are successful, they may inspire others to initiate creative projects of their own...with or without the Internet.
We will also be exploring ways to coordinate and advertise these events off-line. This off-line component of the project is based on the hope that highly motivated, on-line participants will be enthusiastic about assuming leadership roles and will assist in spearheading these initiatives.Worldwide Visionaries - Collaborative Learning at its Best
This collaborative project is an ambitious undertaking. But it represents our firm belief in the creative energy and innovative talents of young people. If successful, we look forward to realizing our common goal of creating a more balanced, more hopeful future. Your involvement will make a world of difference!
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