Grants:Project/Chinmayisk/Community toolkit for Greater Diversity/Workshop
Date: October 5 to 8, 2018
Location: Mandrem House, Mandrem, Goa, India
Description: This training workshop was conducted as a part of the grant for a project entitled "Community toolkit for greater diversity".
The Wikimedia and open knowledge communities in India has some very talented and enterprising people. The workshop was aimed at bringing some of those brilliant minds together and introducing them to ideas for cultivating empathy and allyship as a part of a larger cultural change required in the communities. Such conversations are usually hard to start and maintain. They require a design that enables difficult conversations. Hence, the workshop was designed as a peer-learning event where participants were welcome to share their knowledge and lived experiences.
Facilitation for the workshop happened in English. Hindi and Kannada were used as and when required by the participants and facilitators.
In the course of discussions within the project core team, we were cognizant of the fact that the venue would be important to the outcomes of the event. The workshop was designed to enable the changing of perspectives via creating a space for difficult conversations. These conversations were planned to happen between people of different life experiences and viewpoints. The goal of the workshop was also to equip its participants with the knowledge to create spaces for inclusivity for others and themselves. Hence, we needed a space that was warm, creative, constructive and safe.
Mandrem House, located in the tiny town of Mandrem in Goa, became our choice for meeting all these requirements. The different parts of this house were used during the workshop as locations for various conversations. The especially tough conversations were hosted in a calming space, such as the beach at the time of sunset.
Key areas of interactions
One of the goals of the training workshop was to foster solidarity among individuals who have been working on bridging the gender gap (content and participation) in the Wikimedia movement in particular and the issues of diversity and inclusion in the open knowledge movement in general. The training workshop was designed such that the participants were required to share their living space for three days. This meant that they were supposed to live and work together. This resulted in several, organic conversations and interactions, which would not have happened in other settings such as conference rooms in hotels. During the workshop we made a conscious effort to foster partnerships amongst the participants. This led to conversations about supporting each other’s work in the movement and about the inclusivity issues that we all commonly face.
Unpacking basic concepts
As the training workshop was the first of its kind in the Indian Wikimedia community, we needed to discuss basic concepts before delving deeper into conversations about inclusivity, friendly space policies, et al. While some participants were acquainted with some of these concepts or the discourse on those topics, they had little exposure to related academic literature or formal training. Some participants had a small amount of working or personal experience of interacting with some of the underrepresented demographics. The facilitators needed to unpack the concepts of bias, prejudice, privilege, sexuality, sexual identity, ethnicity, caste and power dynamics, gender politics and so on before venturing into further explorations.
The participants who had academic or working knowledge of the issues of one underrepresented demographic (as defined in the project) or another helped other participants understand those issues, making it a peer-learning experience. The participants who had relatively greater experience in the open knowledge movement and the Wikimedia communities reciprocally helped those who had less knowledge or experience than them.
The participants came to the workshop with several expectations. One of them was to learn from each other. Hence, the workshop included a space to exchange information about the different kinds of support that the participants needed in the course of their work. Two scheduled sessions and a few impromptu ones were held on the topics of “How to create and design projects” and “How to apply for grants to fund projects and activities”. We also discussed Safety and Trust support systems.
- Chinmayi S K
- Rohini Lakshané
- Shobha S V
- Tanveer Hasan
List of participants
- Aaryaa Joshi
- Chinmayee Mishra
- Dhanalakshmi K. T.
- Manasa Rao
- Medhavi Gandhi
- Sneha P. P.
- Sumita Roy Dutta
External speaker and resource person
Amrita Anand (Video Volunteers)
Declined RSVPs or no response
- Ananya Mondal
- Meenagayatri Surampudi
- Sibi Kanagraj
- Aliva Sahoo
- Parul Thakur
- Smita Vanniyar
- Manjusha O V
- Vaishali P
Selection and profile of participants
All eight participants identified themselves as cis-gender women.
One of the participants, Manasa Rao is a former employee of the A2K team at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), India. CIS is an affiliate of the Wikimedia Foundation, which is the grantor for this project. The A2K team at CIS works for the promotion of Wikipedia and its sister projects in India. Sneha P. P. was invited from CIS because all members of the erstwhile A2K team were men. Medhavi Gandhi, representing Art+Feminism, was another participant at the training workshop.
Amrita Anand served pro bono as a local resource person and facilitator. She comes from the social welfare and media space and brings with her the ability to discuss issues related to diversity and inclusion within the Indian linguistic context. She was also chosen as a facilitator in order to integrate the perspective of local civic action in Goa and for her bilingual skills as a trainer (English and Hindi).
The remaining five participants are were invited on the basis of their contributions to different Wikimedia projects. Additionally, we considered the following criteria:
- Linguistic, regional and age diversity among the participants.
- The participants have the same core values as us, that is, they treat others with respect and they have empathy.
- They have demonstrated willingness and enthusiasm to contribute to diversity and inclusion issues.
- They have had relatively few opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge, skills or contributions despite having been being strong contributors in the community.
The participants reside in different parts of India and are speakers of one or more of these languages: English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Odia, Gujarati and Bengali. They contribute to Wikimedia projects in one or more of the languages they speak.
We did not issue a public call for participants in the interest of maintaining a safe and constructive space and avoiding disruptions (physical or online) before, during and after the workshop.
List of learning modules
The learning modules listed here were used as both training material. The participants read, reviewed and gave their feedback on the set of learning modules during the workshop.
- Lived experiences [of different underrepresented demographics] online
- Why do we need to identify privilege?
- Why and how does ignorance of (one’s own) privilege, or lack thereof, negatively effect our efforts for achieving the sum of all human knowledge?
- Creating safe spaces for events
- How to determine the needs of the group
- Reading list
The proposal we put forth for the grant allocated to the Community Toolkit for Greater Diversity included a plan for conducting a workshop with 20 attendees. However, a lower budget was sanctioned for the project. Hence, we needed to reduce expenditure on the workshop. One of the ways we did so was by bringing down the number of attendees to 13, including eight participants, four organisers and one external facilitator.
Monitoring and evaluation
To evaluate the outcomes and impact of the training workshop, we conducted these activities:
- Pre-workshop survey of participants
- Post-workshop survey -- personal interviews with participants
- Post-workshop survey -- feedback from facilitators
- Intermediate-term monitoring -- three-month check-in interviews with participants via VoIP or phone
Pre-workshop evaluation: We conducted a pre-workshop survey of the participants to understand better their role and contribution in the open knowledge movement. The survey questionnaire was also meant to collect demographic and contact information of the participants and to gauge their understanding of different concepts as and when they arrived at the workshop.
Post-workshop evaluation: On the last day of the workshop, we conducted personal interviews with participants to evaluate how effectively we had transferred our knowledge to them, their comprehension of different concepts from the training, and their plans for the immediate future.
We sent another survey questionnaire to all the facilitators a few days after the workshop. Since it was a closed group, facilitators of the sessions had many personal interactions with the participants, making them observers of the learning process. Hence, we collected feedback from the facilitators.
Intermediate-term monitoring: We held follow-up interviews with participants in January 2019 to determine:
- how they had benefited from the training workshop in the interim three months,
- if they had been able to implement the lessons from the workshop in their respective communities and volunteer work, and
- if the lessons from the workshop had persisted with them.
Via this set of interviews, we also documented their deliberations and actions with reference to the topics of the workshop.
Questionnaires for evaluation of outcomes and impact: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Project/Chinmayisk/Community_toolkit_for_Greater_Diversity/Workshop/Survey_questionnaires
Code of conduct
Considering the sensitive nature of the issues the training workshop dealt with, it was necessary to have a well-defined code of conduct. We wished for the code of conduct to be as inclusive as possible. In view of the fact that we were supposed to discuss issues that have conventionally sparked furious debates in the public sphere, we needed to ensure that we created a safe space where the participants could talk and share their opinions and thoughts freely but not mindlessly.
The code of conduct implemented for the training workshop can be accessed at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Project/Chinmayisk/Community_toolkit_for_Greater_Diversity/Workshop/Code_of_Conduct
Owing to the nature of the event, we avoided communicating with the press or making a public mention or promotion of the workshop. The Sunday Times published an article on 7 October 2018 with a mention of the project. The article is entitled “Adding the W in Wikipedia”.