Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wikimedia New York City makes a move

I'd like to update you folks on our Wikimedia New York City group, an applicant chapter hopeful to be accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation in representing and coordinating the efforts of contributors and volunteers from the Greater New York metropolitan area, a region home to some 19 million souls, or approximately 7% of the total population of the United States.

We've just filed our application with the Chapters Committee, and this presents some special issues, as we are the first sub-national group (excepting perhaps Hong Kong) to seek to organize as Wikimedians at this level, as well as the first applicant chapter of any sort in the United States. We hope that we can work with the members of the Chapters Committee, as well as Andrew, Erik, and Kat on the sub-national chapters working group, to come to answers for the unanticipated questions that may arise during this process.

The occasion for application is the completion of the draft of our bylaws, and the concurrent organization of an interim board for our group.

I thought I should also give a little background on our group, and what our activities have been. I think it is important that have not been merely biding our time waiting on the Chapters Committee to help us (though that help is greatly appreciated), but have made genuine efforts to reach out to our local community and prove ourselves as an organization. We have done this outreach though a series of events, including bimonthly Wikimedian meetings at Columbia University, but importantly also in several events reaching out to non-Wikimedians, and in budding contacts with fellow local cultural groups and institutions.

In particular, we have been strengthened by our partnerships with the Free Culture Columbia and Free Culture NYU student groups, as well as the local non-profit The Open Planning Project, in organizing the photo scavenger hunts "Wikipedia Takes Manhattan" and "Wikis Take Manhattan" (see video) in April and October of 2008, and we hope to hold similar events in future.

We are also currently partnering with the Brooklyn Museum, a leading local art museum with a distinctly progressive view on the world, in our successor "Wikipedia Loves Art" photo event, scheduled for February 2009, and which is now also being extended to museums in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and London. We also have many other project ideas on our plate, and it is my hope that with our joining the international club of Wikimedia chapters we can move on to bigger and better things yet.