[Air-l] Linking online and grassroots communities through radio

Charlie Breindahl hitch at hum.ku.dk
Fri Aug 6 00:11:54 PDT 2004

Mountain Forum and Radio Sagarmatha: A collaboration to form a bridge
online and grassroots communities through radio

More info on: <http://www.mtnforum.org/radio/index.htm> 
Contact: <radio at mtnforum.org>

Dear colleagues and friends,

To the best of our knowledge, the communication model described below, which
attempts to foster a dialogue between a well-defined online community and
communities at the grassroots has not been implemented anywhere in the world
yet.  We at the Mountain Forum would welcome any input from AoIR'ers who
might know of work or research in this area.  We are well aware of the
various community radio projects such as Kothmale which integrate internet
into the work of a community radio station, but attempts to link discreet
online and offline communities for mutual benefit is not something that we
have heard of before.

The Mountain Forum is a network of networks focused on sustainable mountain
development issues and has grown a great deal over the last several years
<http://www.mtnforum.org>. The total subscriptions across all the lists we
manage currently stands at over 16,000. However, as has been expressed by
many members of the community through past feedback exercises, the
technology that has allowed us to exist in the first place has also limited
us to be in touch with only those people who are literate (especially in the
English language), and who have computers and internet connections. This
limitation has led us to seek solutions to this problem of inclusiveness (or
the lack of it) which will allow us to incorporate voices that are

Towards this, the Mountain Forum Secretariat is launching a pilot project in
association with the Asia-Pacific Mountain 
Network (the Asia-Pacific node of the Mountain Forum) and Radio Sagarmatha,
which is the oldest independent community 
broadcasting station of South Asia <http://www.radiosagarmatha.org/>. Radio
Sagarmatha reaches out to people at the grassroots level in 8 districts of
Nepal. Being a community radio station, the voices of people are
consistently brought into the fold of the radio programmes through
interviews in the field. Mountain Forum is made up primarily of academics,
students, experts, professionals and policy makers across the region and the

What we aim to do through this project is to form a bridge between the
audience (and participants) of the radio programmes and the Mountain Forum
community. This way, we hope to be able to facilitate a dialogue between
communities at the grassroots in Nepal and the global and regional
communities of the Mountain Forum.

The way this will work is simple.

1. Radio Sagarmatha staff and Mountain Forum staff will identify potential
issues for discussion in collaboration with their respective communities. 
2. These ideas will be posted on MF lists seeking input from subscribers.
This input could be in the form of related questions to be asked,
information on the issue etc. 
3. MF staff will also search the Online Library of the Mountain Forum to
provide further information on the issue to Radio Sagarmatha producers. 
4. Input from MF subscribers and MF staff will be sent to the radio
producers to incorporate into their research. 
5. Radio producers will go out into the field and pose questions, and record
voices and reactions on the issue. This will happen in the local language. 
6. The programme will then be produced and broadcast in the local language. 
7. Meanwhile, the content of the programme (including the voices of the
grassroots people) will be translated and adapted for MF discussion lists
and posted (in English). 
8. Mountain Forum discussion list subscribers will be asked to respond to
the posting. 
9. Responses of the MF community will be broadcast in the next programme by
Radio Sagarmatha. 
10. Other responses from the radio audience will be posted on MF discussion
11. A summary of the dialogue will be provided on MF discussion lists at the
end of this cycle.

In the first phase, we are planning to produce 8-10 such programmes and the
tentative date for the first broadcast is 17th of September. Each episode
will be of 15 minutes duration and will be broadcast once every week. If
this model works, and a true dialogue is established, then we hope to scale
it up and take it to the next level.

For more details on this project, please visit 

In case you have suggestions, and / or input on this project, please send
them as soon as possible to us at: 
<radio at mtnforum.org>.

With best regards,
Layton Montgomery

 /\   /\    /\    /\    /\
/  \/    \/    \/    \/    \
   /       \   /     /       \
  /          \     /           \
/  Layton Montgomery \
   Executive Secretary
   Mountain Forum

   layton at mtnforum.org

   Tel:  +977 (1) 5525 313, x675

   c/o ICIMOD
   GPO Box 3226
   Kathmandu, Nepal

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