Checking in with Eleza.org

This article is the second in the space of a week that I have written concerning sustainable development projects undertaken by CDTM people (click here to read the article about Jobs4refugees.org). If you know of more, please get in touch – because as Center Assistant, Laura Bechthold, says, “at the CDTM, even though you might be involved in for-profit projects, we could all do with being more socially and environmentally aware.”

If you visited the CDTM towards the end of last year, you likely would have heard whispers about the momentum Eleza.org had continued to pick up since the conclusion of its Center Venture birthing phase. If, while you were at the Center, you bumped in Laura Bechthold or Philipp Nägelein, you certainly would have heard an enthusiastic appraisal of what is being called the “Wikipedia for solutions.” So now, five months after the Center Venture finished, I spoke with Laura about Eleza.org to update those who might not have been so lucky to hear the pitch in person.

Almost immediately after the Center Venture participants presented Eleza.org to the public (via live-stream and available here), 13 of the 20 participants agreed to continue working on the project. Along with Laura, Philipp and Lin Kayser (of whom Eleza.org is described as a “pet project”), those 13 students became signed members of the organisation (German: Verein). Since then, a steady stream of new members has also signed up, and at last count, Eleza.org boasts a total of 27 members.

Those members are working towards the overarching goal of building a platform for people to get all their big and small questions answered. That is to say, a social organization might consult Eleza.org to find out how to build a refugee camp, while Eleza.org may help a refugee buy the right train ticket from Austria to Germany. The database of solutions will be populated primarily by crowd-sourced information, in the hope experts will share their best solutions for people who are encountering an issue for the first time.

In the long term, the platform will tackle more than the zeitgeist of the Europe’s refugee crisis, and align more broadly with the U.N.’s sustainable development goals. Laura says, “the refugee crisis is one puzzle piece in a big vision… we wanted to start with something local that affects us in front of our doors.”

For the time being, the refugee crisis is a great test case for Eleza.org because it highlights the variety of questions and answers involved in complex social issues. As Laura notes, “finding solutions is a lot like using a cookbook – you need to combine different flavours and different add-ons to build the perfect overall meal or solution.”

To realize the idea’s potential, the Eleza.org members are working on developing the prototype, expanding the community’s support network, and building new and helpful content. They hope a broad range of crowd-sourced solutions will be accessible on the platform by mid 2016.

Throughout this process though, CDTM will continue to be intrinsically tied to Eleza.org. As Laura says, “one of the greatest pleasures of being involved in the project is seeing a broad, interdisciplinary team committing themselves, their time and their manpower on the platform.”

If you also want to join the eleza.org movement, get in touch with Philipp Nägelein (philipp@eleza.org). The team expects big things to come in 2016.

Originally hailing from Australia, Ben has studied Law, English and Media Science but has settled in Munich to study Consumer Affairs at TU München and Technology Management at the CDTM. He enjoys philosophising about the role of technology in our everyday lives and the sounds various farmyard animals make in different languages.