HOPE Alliance Africa- The Printernet

A little over a decade ago, a passionate and persistent deep thinker introduced himself to me during a weekly Twitter chat along with an interesting idea he had. He zeroed in on me after finding out I was an teacher and administrator with some passionate views of my own about education reform. Over time he became a close friend and collaborator, and together we passed many, many hours going back and forth about this idea of his. He believed that the education system would have to be considered a failure until "every, yes every child in the world could read." 

A poster from 2012 Michael leveraged in 
promotion of his mantra, "every, yes every
child will read."

My friend's name is Michael Josefowicz. Michael very sadly passed away last month on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. He was a man who had many irons in the fire, but he never swayed from his primary goal to support actions that enabled kids to become literate and meet their considerable potential; every single one of them throughout the world. His primary mantra, (and he had many,) "every, yes every child will read" became quite ubiquitous in the many conversations with people he met while looking for partners and people to support his goal.

Had I stayed at the school I was teaching in at the time, we had plans to publish newsprint style stories for my fifth grade students in Canada in both English and another language. These stories were intended to be written by the kids themselves. I had recently made some connections with teachers in other countries through the United Nations Associated Schools Project Network, so we had potential partners and access to cheap black and white printing at the school... we were ready to go. Alas, I received an administrative transfer to a new school and our project was put on hiatus. We never stopped talking about the core plan though; supporting youth literacy through cost effective print media.

 We continued going back and forth about new ideas to promote literacy as the major focus of Michael's "fix education" agenda. As a retired printer wanting to divine new ways of using print media to do good things, he held on to his idea to leverage very low cost print in two languages enabling kids from around the globe to communicate with each other. He felt that this form of correspondence would evolve in engaging and authentic ways stemming from what he felt were student's natural interest and desire to know kids from other places throughout the world. While we were mulling about this idea of his, Michael was making acquaintances in Africa and the seeds of a tangible project were planted. I think that Michael's emergent thoughts at the time are obviously represented through the poster graphic included above.

There were so, so many conversations, often going late into the night around where Michael wanted to go with his idea. Michael was always online. He communicated with people around the globe, and at the time in particular, a number of people living in various African locations. There were other concepts that influenced Michael's dreams, and perhaps it's best to let him explain some of that in this interview with Tammy Lea Meyer:

Countless hours of dialog, several mistakes and failed efforts later, Michael finally achieved something he felt confident enough to share with the world. He called it the "Printernet." Michael describes the Printernet as a concept. From the Patreon site he established to solicit financial support for the project, he explained that the real time purpose of Printernet is,

...creating ways to use Print in the service of Social Justice and Education.

Michael established independent print distribution centres, and was able to connect with and support publishers in local  African villages.  There is much more to the story of Michael's publishing centres and the work happening there to actively use print in the service of social justice and education, but that will emerge when it's supposed to. The fundamental question now is where does Printernet evolve to now that Michael's leadership is no longer present?

HOPE Alliance is committed to supporting the Printernet. We are humbly committing our time and expertise to the project; it has now become our passion project.

To that end we have formed a high performing team of collaborators committed to supporting the Printernet concept. Our commitment is grounded in each of our team member's individual background and experience as well as out of respect and admiration for Michael and his passion for the project. It's our4 way of honouring him, and perpetuating the project simultaneously. As Michael would say, we're just trying to "do well by doing good.

"What a high performance team needs is that everybody there, is really there."--Michael Josefowicz

Our preliminary schematic is detailed below. You can't get any more grassroots than this, and we understand it won't make much sense to anyone new to the Printernet project, but if you're intrigued to learn more, please don't hesitate to visit the Printernet website at printernet.org.

"Everything happens when it's supposed to happen"--Michael Josefowicz


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