The Year That Was: A Round Up

It has been almost a year since Leo and I started this project. We connected with Gene in January 2013 and started building MESYM 2.0, and launched it end of April. Since then, the website has grown slowly but steadily, and so far I’m pretty happy with the progress although there is still much room for improvement.

I thought I’d take stock of the year that was for MESYM, and talk a little about what is going to come in the new year.

Facts and Figures

I did a quick inventory check and these are some figures that I collected, on items that have been published on the MESYM website:

  • 178 Events
  • 106 Organisational Profiles, 77 Individual Profiles
  • 32 Actions
  • 35 Announcements
  • 16 Features, 74 Articles (not including archived MESYM 1.0 articles)

We’ve exhibited in some events like Rockin’ 4 The Reef, World Environment Day at Kota Damansara Community Forest, and Malaysia Day. We’ve also organised two crowdsourcing meetings to map out actions and events, and brainstorm.

But I guess the most noteworthy is the documentary events that we ran, and continue to run:

Our Documentary Events

MESY Documentary Night #1: Dirt! The Movie

MESYM Documentary Night #1: Dirt! The Movie

Here are the MESYM Documentary Night films that we have shown in the past year:

  1. April: Dirt! The Movie
  2. May: Home
  3. June: Do The Math + Story of Stuff
  4. July: Wira Rimba + On Borrowed Time (Discussants: Elizabeth John of TRAFFIC, WWF)
  5. August: Green The Film + PEKA’s deforestation video (Discussant: Kevin Lawrence of PEKA)
  6. September: Pandora’s Promise (Discussants: Dr. Ronald McCoy, Matthias Gelber)
  7. October: Cross Currents: A Documentary on the Environments in Asia (Discussants: Justine Vaz of KDCF, Dr. Hezri Adnan)
  8. November: The World According to Monsanto
  9. December: Blue Gold: World Water Wars (Discussant: Dr. Lee Jin)
  10. Upcoming in January: More Than Honey (Discussant: Abu Hassan Jalil)

And from October we started our second monthly event, called the MESYM Crossover Documentary Series

  1. October: Wasteland
  2. November: Obey
  3. December: Urbanized (Discussants: the #BetterCities team)

Some Thoughts

To be honest I initiated the project with the naive idea that once we put a platform in place, people would be using it without much need of persuasion from our part. How wrong I was! It is a constant struggle to get people to participate. If anything, the building of the platform is only a very small part of the actual work. The rest of the time and energy is spent on emails (and waiting for email replies), social media, connecting with people, thinking of how to connect with more people, generating content, looking for more content… there is never really a slow moment. To juggle this with other priorities in life (such as a full time job) is challenging.

To build an online community is very different from building a directory, though it is also much more rewarding and sustainable. We continue to work to amplify good work of others, though I would only consider us to be successful when we are able to support a vibrant community that uses MESYM as their primary platform to do good environmental actions.

The New Year

So the new year is going to be a very exciting year for MESYM. For one, we are going to launch MESYM 3.0 early this year, and it will incorporate a volunteering platform. Also, the entire platform will be overhauled to be more efficient and user-friendly. We’ve noticed that the site is rather slow in loading, and with the launching of the upgrade, we hope to provide a better user experience.

Secondly, now that things are a little more stable, we are going to start to generate income for MESYM. We’re looking at several different avenues like sponsorship, or grants, or competitions. We have some ideas of where and how, but the problem that we have right now is to produce the paperwork that we will need for these. So that is the plan for now – get money, invest money back into the website and its expansion.

To Everyone

Thanks for the support so far. MESYM is growing, we’re learning on the job, and it isn’t easy. However, it is the feedback (positive or negative) that we get from the community that keeps us growing. So if you have any advice or comments, we would be glad to hear from you. Happy new year to all, and collectively let’s make a real difference in Year 2014!