A Message from Allan

A Message from Allan

…Mezimbite, and where it is going.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Thanks for all the work – it is all taking shape……  lets keep the integrity of the vision.

Last year Karim – on looking at what I have been doing since we were both students in graduate school at MIT together – decided that it needed to be communicated to people outside my immediate neighbors. Consequently, he gave me a birthday present of a website. Thank you.

Putting it together started with a focus group and then growing that into a marvelous working team. The site is up and looks amazing and works far better than I could have imagined. It is largely established but some refining is necessary and of course we need to keep it up to date as Mezimbite develops and grows.

For me it is not about the website but what the website represents; a place, its people and their activities and most important, its core values.

The greatest strength of Mezimbite is that it is real, its thinking may be complex and diverse but it is also direct and dumb and its members take action.

It deals with potentially sustainable resources, mainly the Miombo Woodland that I love, and it is about conserving what we have and restoring what we have lost. It treats all resources with respect, and adds the most value possible to them at home, be they natural raw materials or human resources. It practices and consequently builds a culture of giving back what we receive from each other and nature.

I am a bit of a dinosaur so I find it is remarkable that people are visiting the site and reading.

The greatest strength of Mezimbite is that it is real, its thinking may be complex and diverse but it is also direct and dumb and its members take action.

What is really interesting to me though is how quickly the blog has been converted into Mezimbite Magazine, an idea that I was not able to express at the start of the website development, but have dreamed about for a very long time: the gathering place for reasonably like minded people to express our views and hopefully grow into a community of common action. It is kind of like my kitchen at Mezimbite, where, like the Jewish dining table at which I grew up, people arrive, often some of whom I will have never met, most are a little like me, others just starving Peace Corp volunteers; and we endlessly discuss issues solving the problems of the world over lunch or coffee….. interesting.

I have been amazed at how many people treat the magazine the same way and have been willing to take the time to do some writing and getting some valuable discussion going… I trust with their ongoing efforts we will become a worthy platform for all of us.

But there are some rules:

  • This is the meeting place to find out about best practices of sustainable development where the core values of a developer are expressed through their actions.
  • Content is always about how we can assist each other in facing serious environmental and developmental issues.
  • Introducing a project is great, self promotion (except for Mezimbite which owns the site) and self congratulation is out.
  • Projects and discussions must be based in reality - we are not a platform for political or academic theory but for politicized and intellectually sound actions

I am a great believer in free speech, and I have often been in harms way defending peoples’ rights sometimes to a wrong opinion. But that does not make the Mezimbite Magazine an anarchistic free-for-all, there is an Editor-in-chief, Karim, and an Owner, Me, and we will maintain a discipline on appropriate content and quality of writing.

We need some consistency of the articles being between 500 and 1,500 words with decent pictures, catchy but not gimmicky headlines and readable layout.

One of the items in the Mezimbite Magazine are a series of “advertisements” – well, they really are not adverts but links that we have placed to the like minded people/organizations that have been supportive of us. This is our token of returning that support. The magazine experiment is still a long way from being able to offer space for advertising.

The website itself is to communicate and promote Mezimbite.

The home page has evolved  into a visual split between Mezimbite, a magazine/forum and an invitation to action section. While this may not be perfect for right now, I like it, and would like to see it run this way for a while. It is not carved in stone, and if it doesn’t work as well as we want it can always be changed.

While the invitation to action section is still very new, there are already some real successes (not really to the credit of the website, but happening at the same time). I would like to list them and thank you all as stakeholders in Mezimbite for creating and maintaining momentum;

  • Antoine’s enthusiasm in assisting with forming a dedicated 501C3 parallel to Mezimbite
  • Carsten’s insights with regard to conversion of tree planting to carbon offset revenue
  • Jessica’s generous network of links to a gazillion middle/high school and college kids
  • Judy for the linking to all the “old” Peace Corp in Africa volunteers and veterans
  • Emily and Garreth’s work on achieving a positive cash flow in the Jo-burg shop in less than three months.

I think the job of the focus group is now largely done and well done. Good job guys. Thank you. Now, we enter a phase of growth and maintenance; we need to be clear who does what:

Summer, keeping our comms clear and fresh and adding new web content.

Karim, the Editor-in-Chief of MM and.. Greg, the plumber.

Please let people know that we are here…

AllanForest.jpg

_____________________________________________________________________

Allan Schwarz is the founder of the Mezimbite Forest Centre in Mozambique.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

  1. Kim Gardi Abelman01-12-2012

    Allan this is phenomenal.

    To have used your intellect, your education, your vision and your energy this way is something many of us dream of, but never get to do!

    You created an awesome opportunity not only for yourself but for others – that is part of our mission on earth. Achieving that is quite remarkable!

    What a great project!!!

  2. Gregory01-17-2012

    Allan, As always thank you for your hard work and dedication.

Leave a Reply