Archive for September, 2007

Communication and the art of blogging


M: “ … Here is the corrected project. As I am not yet getting the photos, I will send them from Bamenda by weekend latest. … I will finally travel tomorrow night…”


H: “ … The projects are being put onto the web site and I have been asked to shorten yours. I will do it and send it back to you in order to be confirmed by you – sorry again for all this trouble, but this is learning time for everybody. I have asked to wait for the photos of the children…”


M: “ … Yes I am already in Bamenda. I arrived last Saturday and went to the village on Sunday from where I returned yesterday evening. We have so many problems attaching photos to documents, reason why I am forwarding the one that was sent to me from Bamenda when I was still in Yaoundé… This morning when I tried to get the guy who snapped the other ones, I was told he went to Yaoundé. Please, can we work with those we have?… Good day and courage in the good work…”


H: “ … Today I am happy to be able to tell you that you could login to before the official launch in October 2007. You go to, then you use your Email address and your password. You are cordially invited to write a blog. If you find technical problems, please let us know. Describe the problems in detail, please…Good luck and start using the platform…”

16. 09. 2007

H: ” … Good to have you back online. I hope you had a bit of recreation back home…”


H: ”… Hope everything is ok? Back to work?…Did you have time to see better place?…”

20.9. 2007

M: “ … Thanks for all the mails … I have resumed work this morning … I will look at other issues first and then go to Better Place Web Site…”

20.09. 2007, three hours later

M: ” …I have been on the Better Place Site and I am really overwhelmed with the work you people have been doing. I am surprised to see myself there …Now, you ask me to write a blog… I also wanted to give you this reaction directly on your Better Place address, but I do not see how to do it.
Tell me, how should I do it?
Now, I really see the need of the photos I will do my best to get them. My next trip to Bamenda will be for that…”

20.09 2007, three minutes later

H: “… This is your better place too …You can write a blog direct into the site from your account. Try it…”

20.09. 2007, three minutes later

M: “What is a blog? That’s my main problem now.”

20.09. 2007, five minutes later

H: “Just a commentary about a subject you will choose with a headline which gives the content in brief. You start from your account. There is: project – blog – photos … You click blog and choose English. Good luck!”


Some minutes ago we have spoken to each other – on the telephone! This is our first blog!

Kind regards to all of you in and around better place from Mary Nyuyinwi (M) and Hannelore Knott (H): Keep on going to change the world!


„Can I start saving the earth today, or do I have to wait until tomorrow?

Daily people ask us what they can already do on betterplace.: “Can I donate money to this project in Bolivia, the one on the start site?”, “I know this one guy on the platform, how can I connect with the old chap?”, “Berlin is horrible in autumn, where can I volunteer next month?”, “Why can’t I turn the foto I uploaded 90° to the left?”, “Can I start saving the earth today, or do I have to wait until tomorrow?” FAQs – Frenetically Asked Questions.

The short answer: there are a number of things you can do already – at least if you are part of the illustrious circle of people we have invited before the official launch. Here is a list, as well as a list with features coming up soon. To preempt your questions: both lists are not complete.

What you can already do on betterplace: register as an invite, upload pictures (I repeat, to all those already invited: you can already upload pictures!), comment to this and that, blog, filter the projects for different criteria, look for projects, add projects, register organisations and companies, send messages internally, change the world.

What you can’t yet do on betterplace: network with other users, gather in groups, support projects in a concrete sense, follow the connection between yourself and a certain project, exchange knowledge, create a watchlist that allows you to observe the progress of your projects of choice at a glance, upload videos, feel comfortable as a project manager.

Back to work.

gourmet jour fixe

betterplace is about supporting people better their lives. Today we experienced the pleasure of having somebody support us – by cooking a lovely meal for our weekly jour fixe: our friend Lui, also known as Claudia, came into the office and spoiled us. Thank you!!!


(on the photo, from left to right: Janine, Samir, Lui, Nunni and Axel)

Here is a spontaneous interview with the fabulous cook:

Joana: why did you decide to donate this meal to us?

 Lui: I really like the idea behind betterplace, especially the fact that people don’t stay anonymous, but get to know each other on the platform and can make a change – even if they only contribute small things. With 50 Euro I can help somebody directly. I find it very rewarding to share whatever I have and to know that it is appreciated and will make a difference in someone’s life. It’s the same with food: I can make somebody smile – in this case the betterplace team.

Joana: you have volunteered to contribute to an art project from Botswana which is featured on the platform and which needed a graphic designer. Why did you offer to do that?

Lui: I like to share my skills. I will work for a few hours on the graphic design of a programme for the event. Bonty, the person responsible for the project, will sent me all the necessary information and the two of us – without ever having met in person – will work out the details, I in Berlin, she in Maun, Botswana. I am doing something I like to do anyway and can help somebody at the same time. That’s one of the great things about betterplace: because there are so many different things on offer (or on demand) everyone can find something she or he can contribute.


Welcome back, Nunni!

It’s great to have Nunni back after a much-deserved break. As I saw her this morning, I couldn’t help think how different the site will seem to her after a two week absence.

Nunni and I started uploading the new projects when they came in. It was exciting to receive them as strangers, sift through the content, become familiar with each of them and then reach a point when – for me at least – they all seemed so familiar.

Of course, as it goes, everything seemed to be happening at the same time. We received these projects and wanted to upload them at precisely the same time as the new version of the website was being deployed, and then tweaked. So, after some days of becoming enthralled with uploading the projects and realising that not everything was working as smoothly as could be on the site, I needed to do some serious site testing. One day testing, one day “projecting” – half day testing, half day “projecting”, an hour here, an hour there… until the boundaries were so blurred I’d be getting lost on the test site looking for real projects and about to write a test comment in response to somebody’s real blog…

With the project uploads being almost complete, and the “tweaking” becoming more severe, I spent more time on the test site. After a few days away I went onto the real site to do something and felt as though I’d totally lost touch with what had been going on. Things seemed to move so fast. “MY” projects had changed; photos removed, needs edited, blogs posted.

So, back to Nunni’s return, I’m anxious to hear if she feels the same way I felt after I’d been “away” for a while. Is she paging through the site to see what’s new? Is she breezing over every word and noticing the spaces? Do the photos look different?

My preoccupation with all these projects is becoming really interesting to me. I find myself researching areas spoken about in long descriptions and hoping for a new update. I even find myself thinking about them when during my leisure time (it’s a great thing I’m not a social worker.) It’s starting to feel like an addiction. But then, it’s got to be the best addiction out there! Welcome back, Nunni!


PR / Marketing Workshop



Yesterday was a big day: all creative and strategic people gathered around one table for the first time. It was a good opportunity for our partners and supporters to finally get to know each other. Participants to this memorable meeting were: Jörg Rheinboldt (M10), Sabine Fischer, Julia Kranz and Christina Tachezy of Scholz & Friends, Iris Barth of DCFS, Axel Pfennigschmidt of the agency PULK, and betterplace’s Till, Joana, Hannelore, Stephan, Moritz, and myself.

The meeting was set out to be successful (and this not only because it was Moritz’s birthday yesterday): you could see that everyone is taking the cause very seriously – and how deep we are all already involved! Instead of sticking strictly to the agenda it turned out to be a very productive marathon brainstorming. If time hadn’t been limited we could have carried on with our discussions for days. On of the top hot topics was timing and format of the launch event.

The bottom line is: there’s a lot of work ahead of us! We are really lucky to have these strong partners (who all also have an excellent sense of humour!) by our side.


Dear all,

here’s our unique blackboard with the current status. Things are moving – slowly but steadily…


P. S.: If you look close you can find an error in the picture above. Whoever detects it first is in for a surprise!

Today is the day!

After months of intense work and heated discussions we have started to invite the first few selected friends and supporters to a pre-launch of – to check out the site, give us detailed feedback and leave their mark: post their own projects or enter their profiles as one of the first betterplace users. There is so much already there, but for us, who know what’s in the pipeline and what exciting features will appear on the site over the next few days and weeks before the official launch, it may well seem as if this is, as Moritz pointed out, a “soft-pre-launch”.


first day numbers

For me, a most enriching experience during the past weeks has been the close collaboration with those people who were the first to post their projects on betterplace. As we had to enter the descriptions manually ourselves (note: now they can be posted directly on the site), we got to know each one of them quite well. My initial reaction when I read through the emails with the project descriptions and looked at all the great photos is a dangerous one: I want to support them all! (Maybe I should be glad that the donate button isn’t there yet!) I hope this excitement will come through to everybody on the site. At the latest it will happen once you start engaging directly with a project and the people behind it.