Nowadays, it is remarkably difficult to be stronger than the government or than public authorities, whatever power your initiatives or projects have. However, there is always the possibility of building on existing structures, on already existing communities and organizations. Mihai Lupu has been developing a specific model of this for years now – a platform attempting to converge social energies in order to create a real institutional capacity in already existing public structures – that are, in turn, already supported governmentally.
Creating an established network, or, rather transforming an existing structure into such a network has real potential, he argues. This is precisely what he managed to do through his project – a network of libraries. The general challenge, however, relates to the way small communities could get quality education from higher, better and larger structures.
It is hard to transpose yourself and your ideas into a community that is characterized by a high degree of permanence. EduCaB started working with over seven hundred communities, but has long faced the challenge of defining its goal – is immediate impact more important than long-term, sustainable positive changes for that community? In the case of the latter, communities actually exposing themselves is a mandatory precondition.
Informational flows between larger and smaller communities are also crucial. The issue of migration, nowadays considerably accelerated, goes against communities trying to conserve and keep the people they have. The existent social dynamics are really complicated today and, as more and more people are leaving smaller settlements, numerous communities get stuck with older people and no more dynamic.
The center of the community is a place that is sought after by everybody but especially by the people that are coming to a larger community. However, they usually get stuck at the periphery, due to a lack of exposure and display no participation in the life of the city. Only a small percentage of the total is creating culture and consequently diverging it from the center.
How can such (especially smaller) communities be attractive enough for individuals, companies or even organizations in order to scale up their projects, in order to take it to the next level? The answer that EduCab promoted and stimulated through its vision is education, but more precisely, access to education.
Transforming an already existing network of libraries into access points to the actual community and to the culture it generates is a perfect example of providing such structures with more social significance. That, in turn, sparks social participation and engagement and strengths the civil society.
More than that, EduCaB is about networks of people with the same energies. The most important lesson I have learnt throughout these last years in implementing EduCaB is that there are always people around us with the same energetic minds and a strong willingness to work for social welfare. If likeminded people with a positive mentality work together, success becomes meaningful and achievable. When people with similar passions and beliefs around the world connect and work together, distance doesn’t matter – nothing seems unachievable. We just need to find those people. With less effort than we expect, we can find them by using our social capital, something that we often fail to identify or notice. – Abu Sayed, EduCaB Bangladesh
Watch Mihai Lupu’s full Urban Talk here:
After studying psychology at the University of Bucharest and history at the Central European University, Mihai Lupu made a name for himself as a community and organizational developer, but mostly due to his work as the founder of EduCaB Inc. The project represents an institutional capacity building mechanism aiming to catalyze educational and local development opportunities within communities, through maximizing the organizational and educational potential of public structures such as libraries, museums or schools. The initiative was developed all over the world, in countries like Nepal, Romania, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Senegal, Uganda, and Tanzania. Mihai Lupu is also the co-founder of Short Film Breaks, the only film festival taking place in private companies, with initiatives started in Romania, Nepal and Indonesia, and pipeline projects in Brazil, UK and Spain.
Video & Photo by Heavy Designers