INFOMEETS started as an experiment.
The motive to this initiative is a long one, starting off more than 15 years ago, while working with an NGO in remote tribal area. Back then there was no Internet that we knew of. The granddad of computers…the 286s and 386s had just started functioning. Getting to know of workshops was next to impossible then. 15 years later in many of the NGOs that I visit, the situation has not changed much. It still is a task to get a computer with an uninterrupted Internet connection to browse through web sites. Getting to know of International workshops is probably the last thing you would want to do especially when the power cut or Internet failure is imminent any moment!
The situation neither changed when I joined an academic institution to do research nor did it change when I joined a funding agency later on. If there were resources, there was never enough time. Browsing the Internet for international workshops was a luxury. It was only when I finally took a break and decided to do selective consulting that I had the luxury that I was looking for…uninterrupted web search and time!
Finding workshop was one aspect but attending one has many nuances that you discover over time – the crux of it concerning sponsorship to attend the event. This is a major concern for most people in developing countries. It is extremely difficult to think of funding one’s own expenses to attend a conference overseas.
So how DOES one get funded? Mostly acceptance of your abstract is the passport to attend and get sponsored to workshops. The abstract has to be sent by a deadline. But most workshop listings I saw were listed according to the workshop dates, not the abstract deadline. So quite often it so happened that by the time I found a workshop that was good enough to attend, the abstract deadline has passed. So back to search again! This is probably the story of a lot of people, so immersed in their work that searching, then sorting, tracking abstracts, writing one, sending it in time, is a difficult if not an impossible one.
In the past five years, while I went through this process of searching, sorting, applying, presenting, learning and exchanging, I managed to create some systems and accumulate some useful experiences. With these efforts, I was able to find many workshops of my calling, travelled to many countries, met some very interesting people and contributed to some very well recognised workshops.
In one of the International workshop, the workshop organiser lamented that they face difficulty in finding a forum where workshop information could be posted to get a good response. This made me wonder, here was a situation where there were many in the field wanting to know about workshops and at the other end of the spectrum, workshop organisers wanting to get it to them. The situation begged a solution! With this in mind, a Yahoo Group, "INFOMEETS", was created to try developing a bridge between people who have the expertise and experience and those who wanted to create platforms for its sharing and synthesis.
INFOMEETS took off with a few close friends in 2004. In the last couple of years, it has expanded to more than 1000 members in 50 countries worldwide. The members are not only subscribing to INFOMEETS for workshop information but also contributing by informing about interesting international workshops that they are organising. From an experiment, INFOMEETS is finally growing to achieve what it started out for - a tool for linking two sets of requirements for a positive outcome.
INFOMEETS has a system of browsing a list of web sites periodically and sorting workshops on abstract dates. The newsletter is kept simple to accommodate all kinds of browsers and is sent as an email so that it can be downloaded fast. If interested in a workshop, limited browsing is all that is required to get to know about it.
INFOMEETS is managed on a voluntary basis and I have allotted few weekends to keep the system updated. I hope it is worth the effort for all of you... indeed, the responses and encouragement (see below), that I get keeps this going.
If you are not a member, you can become a member by going to the homepage and subscribing. If you would like to look at some of the old newsletters and check them out, you can go to Archives. The archives have over 300 listed workshops and if looking for workshop outcome, many have uploaded their Minutes and Reports. If on the other hand, you are planning to conduct an International Workshop and would like to share with others in the group, do take a look at the section on sending us a workshop. One of the popular areas for many first timers is the Links and Resources section with useful links and tips, for example, getting funds for travel.
At any time you would like to get in touch with us to enquire, get assistance, give suggestion or make a comment, do mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org . It is my earnest wish that by using these resources, like many others, you too are able to find the workshop of your calling, travel places, meet interesting people and contribute to a better world!
Do send us a post card while sipping coconut by the seashore in the Caribbean Workshop!
With best wishes for your endeavours! Bon Voyage!
Founder and Moderator
PS: INFOMEETS have been listed in the website of Commonwealth Forestry Association as a source for forestry workshops. It has also been listed in many other e-newsletters like Southem Online and University Newsletters.
Supported by: Development Interlinks International
Thank you very much indeed for your hard work -that keeps us updated …S Kapta, India
I am informed about international seminars etc. well in time. Very usefull and informative…K V Peter, India
It is important that we work together as far as possible so I am only too happy to advertise your extremely valuable initiative… Alan, CFA, UK
It is very useful information. For small NGOs like Geo Resource Centre once in a while we get useful information from you. Otherwise, the grass root level workers may not know what is going on in other parts of the world. It is a kind of teaching material to update our knowledge to work for the community and conservation... Dhanapal, Geo Resource Centre, India
Thank for sending this document. Please make sure you inform me constantly about events... Aremu B.O, Nigeria
Forestry is the basic element for the sustainability of earth. Let "infomeets" starts snowballing. We have much to contribute to the life systems… S. Mukhopadhyay, India
It is a good site for people interested in biodiversity and forestry. The idea of providing links to the various host sites is good as it saves time... Abha Rishi, India
Thank you for your services… Dr. S. Rajendran, India
Very useful links & resources… Borrás José, France
Your newsletter gets better and better! …Jim Ball, Chairperson, CFA, UK