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Caucasus: Social Innovation Camp

This post is part of our special coverage Caucasus Conflict Voices.

Although Internet penetration remains low in the South Caucasus, all indications are that new and social media has an increasingly important role to play in the area of democratization and activism in the region. With that in mind, the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF), the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) and other donors brought the first Social Innovation Camp to Tbilisi, Georgia on 8-10 April as an event running concurrently with a Social Media for Social Change conference.

Social Innovation Camp is about solving social challenges in new ways – by bringing together ideas and digital tools to create web-based innovations in just 48 hours.

First Social Innovation Camp in Caucasus will gather 40 participants – designers, entrepreneurs, social needs experts, marketing, legal, advertising gurus from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia to work on an idea of a potential social start-up that can make a change and compete for a prize.

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The local organizers for the Social Innovation Camp Caucasus, Global Voices author Anna Keshelashvili in Georgia, Global Voices Caucasus regional editor Onnik Krikorian in Armenia and Transitions Online's Emin Huseynzade in Azerbaijan, spent a month evangelizing the event and attracted a dozen participants from each of the three countries. Think from A to Z. introduces the general idea behind the Social Innovation Camp Caucasus.

SICamp is one kind of Barcamp (unconference) format. Why Barcamp is unconference? it doesn't has some strict rules that the conference has. On Barcamp people often shares information. no profit. just share what you know. and make new communications.

The SICamp has a few differences. one of them is, Barcamp has no result. only sharing the information. The goal of SICamp is to have ready functioning projects at the end of the event. and after 2 international SICamps we can surely say that it is POSSIBLE to do a project in 2-3 days.

A short video is also now available online.

This is Tbilisi Calling was particularly happy that the main winner of the Social Innovation Camp was an Armenian environmental activist.

Good news stories aren’t so frequent here in the Caucasus region, so when they do come along, they’re worth celebrating. Last year, Armenian environmental activist Mariam Sukhudyan was facing a possible five-year prison sentence for slander after exposing alleged abuse at a children’s home. The charges were finally dropped a few weeks ago, and in another welcome development, Sukhudyan and her colleagues won first prize at the Social Innovation Camp event here in Tbilisi last weekend with their web project aimed at combatting ecological damage to forests.

Meanwhile, at the Social Media for Social Change Conference, Global Voices Caucasus regional editor Onnik Krikorian once again co-presented with Azerbaijani blogger Arzu Geybullayeva on the role of social media in conflict transformation. The slides, along with those introducing Sukhudyan's winning idea, are available on the Frontline Club blog.

This post is part of our special coverage Caucasus Conflict Voices.

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