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Moldova gets socially innovative

If you had 48 hours, a team of web experts, and the objective of fixing a social problem in your community, what would you do?

Twenty-five young people got a chance to answer that question this month at Moldova’s 2012 Social Innovation Camp and came up with some very inspiring ideas.

The social innovation camp, a meet-up where teams compete to develop web-based solutions to social problems, was organized by Transitions and our Moldovan partner, MediaPoint, on 27-29 July.  Of around 140 applicants for the event, 25 were chosen to work in teams to develop the best five ideas. The winning teach would receive $2,000 to go toward turning its idea into a reality. Each team received help from Czech new media expert, Social Innovation guru, and long-time Transitions collaborator Jaroslav Valuch.

The ideas developed during the camp were a mobile app with public transportation information for Chisinau; an online platform that lets people find others to play sports with; an online resource portal about adoption in Moldova; and an app that lets users learn about and build itineraries around Moldova’s top tourist destinations.  The winning team, Parkanoid, developed an app to track illegal parkers in the city’s capital.

Alexandru Lebedev, who was part of the Parkanoid team, attributed his team’s success to sheer force of will. “If usually camps are for having fun, this was different. We went with a goal, we worked hard all the time, we had no sleep, and unfortunately we were a bit anti-social, but the result is great,” he said. “I’m very happy that we could create something useful that really works.”

Net Prophet, TOL’s tech/social media blog, covered the event to capture some of the weekend’s highlights.

How well do you know your neighbors?

When a new family moves into the neighborhood, usually it’s common courtesy to welcome them and get to know them. They are, after all, a new addition to your community and you’ll probably have to live next door to them for years to come, so why not start out on the right foot? 

But what happens when your new neighbor is an entire country? Or even seven of them, as the case may be, if you’re in the European Union.

This month Transitions launched a new website called Next in Line to help get to know future EU members. The site is part of a journalism project that brings candidate and potential candidate countries for EU membership closer to audiences in Central Europe and other member states. 

The project revolves around reporting assignments in seven countries – Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Iceland, Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey – conducted in collaboration with some of Central Europe’s leading publications and local journalists on the ground.

The resulting stories, which are published in English in Transitions’ publications and in Polish, Czech, Hungarian, and Slovak in outlets run by the project partners, paint an in-depth picture of life in these countries and of the issues they are facing.

In addition, the project offers citizen journalists the opportunity to report on these countries and even win valuable prizes. Citizen journalists and bloggers can submit stories on topics from any walk of life. We will publish them as long as they tell something interesting – good or bad – about a candidate or potential candidate country. 

The project is co-funded by the European Union and implemented in partnership with Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland), Respekt (the Czech Republic), and Tyzden (Slovakia). Our Hungarian partner, the Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) in Budapest, is working with journalists from a range of Hungary’s most important magazines and newspapers.

Success Story: Putting on the map

We’ve long been proud of, MediaPoint’s online platform, which was set up to help fix Chisinau’s streets and received an initial push at a TOL/MediaPoint workshop (funded by the National Endowment for Democracy). So far the website, which lets anyone geotag problems they see (such as potholes, graffiti, trash, etc.) on an online map, has helped the city resolve more than 300 problems.

This month, the site took a turn in the international spotlight when it was used as an example of a successful idea at the International Open Government Data Conference held in Washington, D.C. And not only was featured at the conference, but it was presented by none other than the mayor of Chisinau himself, Dorin Chirtoaca. The platform was formally adopted by the mayor’s office in January as a way for citizens to report social problems.

During his talk at the conference, Chirtoaca explained how the site not only has helped the city find out about and fix problems, but has also allowed citizens to get in touch directly with the people responsible for resolving those issues.  He also pointed out that the site has helped improve government accountability because politicians and department heads can no longer plausibly claim ignorance of particular problems in the community. You can see Chirtoaca speaking about the website here, beginning at the 28:10 mark. also got a special mention by the World Bank this month in its report, “The Journey of Open Government and Open Data in Moldova.”  You can find the site’s mention on pages 15 and 16.

Featured Content

Transitions Online ( often showcases the work produced through our grant programs.  Some of the highlights from June include the following stories:

1 June 2012
Drawing the Line
TOL Special Report: With Greenpeace’s help, citizen activists are fighting construction of a metro line under Moscow’s second-largest natural reserve.
By Alexander Tretyakov

4 June 2012
Into the Woods
TOL Special Report: Russia’s horrendous 2010 fires have sparked a new corps of volunteer forest guardians.
By Anna Baskakova

12 June 2012
The Price of Reunification: $3.5 Billion
Is the choice for Moldova to let go of Transdniester or pay off the region’s huge debt to Gazprom?
By Zakhar Koretsky

13 June 2012
Russia’s Environment: In Numbers
TOL Special Report: It’s better, and worse, than you think.
By Barbara Frye

13 June 2012
Russia’s Environment: A Tour
TOL Special Report: From old nukes in the west, to oil spills in the middle, to clear-cutting in the east.
By Barbara Frye

15 June 2012
Equal But Separate?
Kyiv has an ambitious plan to integrate disabled children into mainstream classrooms, but many fear the potential for bullying, de facto segregation, and other pitfalls
By Ksenia Korzun

20 June 2012
For Baku, Islamic Terror As Scapegoat?
Azerbaijani authorities claim to have thwarted an Islamic terrorist plot before the Eurovision Song Contest, but skeptics say Baku is trying to distract from criticism of its human-rights record.
By Shahla Sultanova

25 June 2012
Borderline Miserable
The ongoing tension between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan is causing headaches and heartache for many Tajiks.
By Farrukh Ahrorov

27 June 2012
Racial Profiling on Macedonia’s Borders?
Roma claim a crackdown on the flow of asylum seekers into the EU has effectively barred them from leaving Macedonia.
By Ljubica Grozdanovska Dimishkovska

28 June 2012
Better to Receive Than to Give
A debate on corporate charity once again reveals a shocking gap between Russian and Western businesses.
By Galina Stolyarova

Current Projects

Azerbaijan and Moldova
Promoting the use of new media and social media among journalists, civil society organizations, and young people.
Training journalists to cover issues related to the environment.
Central Asia
Promoting the use of Internet media and new media techniques to produce, promote, and distribute new forms of content.
Improving the quality of environmental investigative journalism while increasing the impact of the environmental movement in Russia.
Education Reporting
Using distance learning courses, workshops, and other resources to improve reporting on education-related topics.
Roma Multimedia Training
Training Roma and majority community journalists in multimedia story-telling, with a special focus on Roma issues.    

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