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320Reality – Project Launched to Gather Ideas for Future of Middle East from Young Social Entrepreneurs Worldwide

PROJECT NEWS

 21 October 2012 – Interested in a different take on the “Arab Spring” and a positive counterpoint to the news of constant turmoil in the Middle East? Young social entrepreneurs worldwide have just launched 320Reality, an online project to gather the best ideas for bringing new hope to the region.

 Societal challenges in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey have spanned generations. Corruption, violence, poverty, oppression — the problems can seem insurmountable. But the energy and determination shown by the people of the region during the Arab Spring show that anything is possible when fearless people unite.

 “It’s too easy to fall back into a position of cynicism and despair when governments and political factions seem determined to obstruct positive change,” says Aaida Mamuji, North America spokesperson for PeaceMidan, a non-profit dedicated to supporting innovative and sustainable development in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. “But we can’t stay locked in hopelessness. As people, we must take charge of our own destinies. And as global citizens, we must pay attention to the problems of all regions because eventually, in some form, they become our problems.”

 How it will work: Social entrepreneurs from around the world are invited to submit three-minute videos of their best ideas for sustainable development and bridging communication barriers in the Middle East. The online community will vote on these ideas and choose the most compelling. Winners of the first round will be invited to submit follow-up videos to further flesh out their proposals. The online community and a panel of judges will collaboratively choose six finalists who will be invited to attend PeaceMidan’s first international conference in Long Beach, California, in September 2013. The six finalists will pitch their ideas at the conference in 20-minute presentations. Three winners will receive financial and professional support to turn their ideas into reality.

 Ms. Mamuji, doctoral candidate in Public Administration at University of Ottawa, appreciates the power of grassroots movements such as PeaceMidan. “Margaret Mead said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ We’ve seen that over and over in history. But now, with our communication technologies, people can have an even stronger voice — no matter who or where they are.”

But how do we channel all of the energy, innovative ideas, and possible solutions of our far flung global citizenry?

“It starts with communication,” says Ms. Mamuji (pictured right). “Most of the discussions about the region on the street, in the media and on social networks are fraught with emotion and lack substance and credibility. One of the first initiatives of PeaceMidan is to nurture positive, open communication at the grassroots level and internationally. We believe that positive, unified and practical change in the Middle East is possible and that now is the time.” The communication initiative will begin with an interactive conference of subject matter experts and lay people in Long Beach, California in September 2013.

 Ms. Mamuji adds that PeaceMidan’s conferences and programs aren’t just an exercise for the elite or well-educated. “Haven’t we had enough of government bureaucracies and talking heads telling us what to think or what is possible? We want to hear ideas from the 16 year old in Iowa and the shopkeeper in Istanbul. And we want to provide the financial and professional resources to turn the best ideas into reality.”

 A tall order. But PeaceMidan has created the structure to do it. Through a program called 320Reality, people all around the globe have the opportunity to present short videos that outline their innovative ideas for supporting development and peace in the region. The online community will vote for the ideas they think are most worthy. The finalists will be invited to the Grand Finale event in Long Beach to present their ideas in 20 minutes. The ultimate winners of the final round will receive funding and professional resources to make sure that these good ideas become reality. The program launcheD on October 15th 2012.

 “The positive energy that unites us as social entrepreneurs can overcome any barriers in language, race or culture. We believe that the answers to the Middle East’s challenges lie within each of us. For humanity’s sake, it’s time to get creative!”

 Aaida Mamuji is the North America spokesperson for PeaceMidan and a doctoral candidate in Public Administration at the University of Ottawa. Born in Kuwait to parents of Yemeni and Indian descent who met in Kenya, the highly accomplished Ms. Mamuji is now a Canadian citizen whose studies and work focus on international development and public policy.

 PeaceMidan is a non-profit dedicated to support the development of the Middle East, Turkey, and North Africa by implementing unique, innovative, and sustainable initiatives. PeaceMidan’s initial programs include 320Reality, an online pitchfest where people from around the globe can submit their innovative ideas with the potential of gaining financial and professional support to turn these ideas into reality. PeaceMidan’s first international, interactive conference will be held in Long Beach in September 2013.   Further information can be found at http://www.PeaceMidan.com and http://www.320Reality.com.  Contact: [email protected].

Source: PeaceMidan