Read&Connect:Georgia Joins the Global Conversation

 
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Mar 5, 2014

Radarami Update - February 2014

Parliamentary Library; 26 February
Parliamentary Library; 26 February

Dear Radarami supporters,

It has been a cold several months since we last wrote to you, although it seems that spring has arrived in Tbilisi. Radarami's staff has been busy with the four books we hope to publish in the next four months. Translation and editing are underway for the three books currently supported by grants: How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen by Kwame Anthony Appiah, and The Democracy Project: a History, a Crisis, a Movement by David Graeber.  

We are also working hard to find funding for a very important book: Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder.  Many people think of Stalin as a Russian leader, but in fact he was born in Georgia, about 30 minutes' drive from Tbilisi.  Perhaps because he's a local boy, a majority of Georgians have a positive view of Stalin, in spite of the fact that he oversaw the murder, imprisonment in forced labor camps, and mass deportation of tens of millions of Soviet citizens.  We think it's high time for a new history of the Stalinist period in Georgian, and this is why we are currently raising funds for this book.  An important part of this fundraising is through Global Giving where we launched a new project in December to support this book.  We hope you will take a look at the page for more information on the book and consider making a donation.

Our first Global Giving Project, which you have supported, was originally designed to raise money for Ill Fares the Land: A Treatise on Our Present Discontents by Tony Judt.  On February 18, Radarami held a discussion at the National Parliamentary Library on this book's themes.  The debate was led by Bakar Berekashvili, political scientist and lecturer at Georgian American University, and the four debaters were Political Science Faculty students at Tbilisi State University Irakli Iremadze, Levan Lortkipanidze, Sopo Shubitidze and a graduate Giorgi Khatiashvili.  It was a well-attended and spirited debate, with the audience chiming in during the second half, and a large group congregated outside the library to continue the discussion after the library had closed.  We are very happy this work is sparking such intelligent debate here in Georgia.  If you are interested in learning more about one audience member's impressions of the debate, a young Georgian Radarami supporter who recently graduated from Connecticut College wrote a short review here.

Radarami also held an event on February 26 aimed at teachers and others interested in Georgia's education system. Alexandre Lortkipanidze and Irakli Kakabadze, journalists for the national education magazine, Mastsavlebeli, spoke about Radarami's Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America by Jay Mathews, and about the issues facing Georgia's schools--whether lessons taken from America's charter school movement are relevant to Georgia.  Over 70 people attended and received free books.

As publication of Ill Fares the Land has been completed, we will be closing that project on Global Giving.  We would ask you again to take a look at our new project and consider it for any future donations.  We greatly appreciate your support.

In the meantime, please enjoy the photos from our two most recent events.  

Photo Credits:

Debate on "Ill Fares the Land"; 18 February - Georgian National Parliamentary Library "Work Hard, Be Nice" - Presentation/Discussion; 26 February - Levan Mujiri 

Also, feel free to check out our new and improved website, thanks to our newest staff member Mariam Aduashvili! 


Kind regards,
The Radarami Team
Parliamentary Library; 26 February
Parliamentary Library; 26 February
Parliamentary Library; 26 February
Parliamentary Library; 26 February
Alexandre Lortkipanidze - Speaker; 26 February
Alexandre Lortkipanidze - Speaker; 26 February
Debate; 18 February
Debate; 18 February
Debate; 18 February
Debate; 18 February
Debate; 18 February
Debate; 18 February

Links:

Dec 2, 2013

November 2013 - Radarami Update

Readers get books at Surgeon
Readers get books at Surgeon's Notes Launch

Dear friends,

As you know, we formed Radarami to connect intellectually hungry Georgians with information about the world beyond Georgia’s borders—a world that's only available to speakers of major languages.  Because of your support, Radarami has published 10 books, printed 27,450 copies and continues to distribute these copies to 31 library districts, 8 university libraries, 55 bookstores, 2 penitentiaries, 47 public schools and 15 other locations, including the only operating mobile library in Georgia.

Here’s what we’ve been up to the last three months:               

In September, we launched our tenth book, "Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science" by Atul Gawande, at the Medical University in Tbilisi.  The book is a fascinating story- and interview-based exploration of the limits of medicine.  A local surgeon introduced the book and the author of the introduction spoke.  Over 60 surgeons, doctors and medical students attended. See the attached photo.

Through our partnership with the Ministry of Education and Culture of Abkhazia in exile, we distributed books to the Gali region in Abkhazia and to IDP (internally displaced person) villages, resettlement communities for those who had to leave their homes in the disputed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, territories occupied by Russia since the 2008 war.  Approximately forty schools in IDP villages and in Gali now have access to Radarami books.

Radarami is glad to welcome onboard several new staff members and interns.  We have a very talented translation coordinator, Ketevan Jakeli.  After receiving her BA and MA in English Language and Literature, Ketevan taught English and worked on several projects under the Ministry of Education before being hired as an expert textbook evaluator. In 2010, she was hired at Save the Children as a specialist in textbook development for schools and universities, where she oversaw textbook creation, contracting and managing authors, editors, translators, designers and publishers.  In 2012, she started working at the Georgian Publishers & Booksellers Association (GPBA) as an Executive Director and was the manager of the GPBA annual Tbilisi Book Fair in 2013. She is currently Deputy Director at a small Georgian publishing house, Logos Press.  In addition we have three new interns—Nuri, Mariam and Sandro, who are helping out with grant writing, events organizing and distribution respectively.  All three attend Tbilisi State University—Nuri and Mariam are BA students, and Sandro is working toward his MA.

Two weeks ago, we asked our 200 + SMS users which book was their favorite.  What we found out is that opinions are quite divided.  The most popular Radarami book is Kathryn Schultz’s “Being wrong” (35% of respondents), followed by Tony Judt’s “Ill Fares the Land” (23%).  Currently we can send and receive messages to our readers as well as categorize readers into different groups.  We are meeting with our SMS system IT designer to upgrade our SMS platform to allow Radarami readers to communicate with each other and organize their own events.

The Open Society Foundation is partially funding the publication and printing of two books in our pipeline: “The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement” by David Graeber and “The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen” by Kwame Anthony Appiah.  The Democracy Project reappraises the state of American democracy and argues against inequality, in favor of consensus, equality and broader participation in politics.   The Honor Code discusses from a historical perspective how moral practices like foot binding in 19th century China were ended by changes in what is considered honorable, not by legislation from above.  

In addition, we are hard at work on translating, editing and fine-tuning Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin”, which chronicles and evaluates the destructive period of German and Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.  This book is especially important for Georgians because of the political divisiveness of Stalin, who is still admired by many Georgians as a national hero.  There is great need for a public reappraisal of his role.  Soon we will launch a holiday fundraiser to raise money to print this much needed book.

If you have any other questions or comments, please email mitch@radarami.org

Happy Holidays from Tbilisi,

The Radarami Team

Children in an Abkhazian Public School
Children in an Abkhazian Public School

Attachments:
Aug 22, 2013

Radarami Update - August 2013

Complications: A Surgeon
Complications: A Surgeon's Notes (Cover)

Hey ya'll!

As you know, Radarami was established to connect intellectually hungry Georgians with information about the world beyond Georgia’s borders—a world that's only available to speakers of major languages.  Publishers simply aren't interested in the small Georgian market so Georgians find themselves in the dark when it comes to major global issues. It is with your help that we are pulling them out of the dark and connecting Georgians with new ideas.

These past three months, here's what we've been up to:

In May, we printed Franklin Foer's “How soccer explains the world”, which discusses globalization by examining the role and reach of soccer.  Radarami held an extremely successful two-part launch in the main library of Zestaponi and at the democracy center in Kutaisi.  Our two guest speakers were Dato Turashvili, the acclaimed contemporary Georgian author, and Dato Chkhladze, a Radio Liberty Journalist.  The Zestaponi event had over 80 people in attendence.

In July, Radarami launched "Work Hard. Be Nice." by Jay Mathews in two towns in Shida Kartli region, Gori and Ruisi.  The book follows the story of two Teach for America fellows who set out to remake the education model and founded the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) which is currently used across the U.S. The guest speaker was a local school teacher. Teachers and students came to listen to information about our mission, "Work Hard. Be Nice." and our previous books. 

In August, most Georgians are on vacation, so we are not having any events this month.  However, as always, Radarami is working to found partnerships with other organizations and ministries.  Recently, we entered a partnership with the Ministry of Education and Culture of Abkhazia in exile to distribute our books to the Gali region of Abkhazia starting in September/ October.  They own the only mobile library in Georgia in order to reach Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) villages and we made a deal to house Radarami books on this vehicle.

Our tenth book coming out is "Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science" by Atul Gawande which explores the limits of medicine through stories and interviews. The Radarami team is excited to launch this book in September after Georgians return from their August holiday.   We have provided you with a picture of the cover (it's the aquamarine one).

If you have any other questions or comments, please email mitch@radarami.org.

Warm wishes from Tbilisi,

The Radarami Team

Zestaponi Launch: "How soccer explains the world"
Zestaponi Launch: "How soccer explains the world"
Georgians take books at Ruisi launch
Georgians take books at Ruisi launch
May 24, 2013

Radarami Update - May 2013

Radarami at Tbilisi Book Festival
Radarami at Tbilisi Book Festival

Dear Radarami Sponsors,

As you well know, Radarami was founded because there is a cadre of isolated and intellectually hungry Georgians eager for information about the world beyond Georgia’s borders—a world that's only available to speakers of major languages.  Because publishers simply aren't interested in this small, poor market, Georgians find themselves in the dark when it comes to major global issues. It is with your help that we are pulling them out of the dark and connecting Georgians with new ideas.

We’ve been hard at work the past three months, here’s what we’ve been up to:

In April, we published Michael Lewis’s book “Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World” which we launched in the small town of Akhaltsikhe located in Southwestern Georgia.  "Boomerang" is a fascinating exploration of the Eurozone crisis; he takes the reader to Greece, Iceland, Germany, Ireland and the US to explain the danger of debt. In a lower-middle income country such as Georgia, it is essential that citizens understand the potential consequences of government mishandling of cheap credit.  We are very pleased with the book’s warm reception in Georgia.

At the Akhaltsikhe event, over 35 dedicated young people came to listen to information about our mission, the book "Boomerang" and our previous books.  We have provided you with a few photographs of the event and the Boomerang book (the orange one).

In addition to our monthly book launches, our volunteers have been spending time giving radio and TV interviews, manning our stall at the Tbilisi Book Fair, and doing our best to get the word out to more and more Georgians about this exciting project.  Your continued support allows us to host more events and to help transport rural readers to these discussions.  Beyond the monthly costs of translation, editing, and printing, we are also hoping to develop new software to upgrade our current SMS texting program to allow readers to text other readers in their area and organize events independently.

Next week, we are launching “How soccer explains the world” by Franklin Foer, which deals with the topic of globalization by examining soccer’s reach and role in the world.  The book launch is set for the small town of Zestafoni, picked specifically because it is home to the much-adored Zestafoni club team, some of whom will attend the presentation.  By exploring issues such as team rivalries, local traditions, world trade and the exportation of Western culture in the context of a compelling narrative, Foer delves into the very essence of globalization.

After that, a book about education called “Work Hard. Be Nice.” by Jay Mathews is up next.

Finally, some of you may have seen Georgia in the news lately.  On May 17th, 20,000 counter-demonstrators led by Orthodox priests attacked a group of LGBT-rights supporters who were gathered to mark International Day Against Homophobia. Fortunately, all of our volunteers are safe and unharmed.  However, approximately two-dozen people were injured and some even hospitalized, including a number of activists, police officers and a journalist.

This violence against a minority group has reminded us of the importance of our project which brings outside information to Georgians.  In this time of transition—Georgia is still in its first decade of democratic rule, there are many social issues that this country must address and overcome. Truly knowledge is power, and we want to thank you for helping us bring some of the world's great pool of knowledge to Georgia.

If you have any other questions or comments, please email mitch@radarami.org.

Warm wishes from Tbilisi,

The Radarami Team

the ORANGE is "Boomerang" by Michael Lewis
the ORANGE is "Boomerang" by Michael Lewis
"Boomerang" Presentation in Akhaltsikhe
"Boomerang" Presentation in Akhaltsikhe
Feb 25, 2013

Radarami Update - February

Reading before the Judt book presentation
Reading before the Judt book presentation

Hey ya’ll,

As you know, Radarami was founded on the hypothesis that a nation can’t survive on local newspapers alone.  We've crunched the numbers and nearly 70% of Georgians do not have the language facility to read a book in any major language, including Russian. Publishers aren't interested in this small, poor market. The "small language trap" means Georgians are in the dark when it comes to major global issues and starved of new ideas.  We believe that there is a cadre of isolated and intellectually hungry souls eager for information about the world beyond their borders—a world that's only available to speakers of major languages.  It is with your help that we are pulling them out of the dark.

So here it is, what we’ve been up to the last three months:

In December we published Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt.  Radarami received an impressive amount of press coverage for the launch, including television appearances, radio interviews, and print media.  We held a panel discussion on the relevance of the book for Georgia in January, featuring Radio Free Europe journalist Salome Asatiani. Despite the Christmas and New Year Holiday, it was a standing room only crowd.  

What's more, our initial print run of Ill Fares the Land sold out within the first month, so we're scurrying to nail down funds for a second run. Our PR coordinator is complaining about the number of calls from bookstores asking for more copies, and readers are writing in to our text message system to report outages in their local shops. What can I say—it's a good problem to have.

One of our most gratifying moments came when Radarami received a handwritten letter from a man serving a sentence in Gldani prison.  His sister brought him copies of Radarami books, and he read all of them.  He wrote to thank us for the project, to tell us how inspired he was; he and his sister are now organizing an essay competition based on our books for those incarcerated in Georgian prisons. 

We are still getting many, many text messages about past book. My personal favorite was a reader in a remote village in Western Georgia (northeast of Abasha for those of you in the know). He texted us to complain that his village library only had 2 copies of Kathyrn Schulz’s book Being Wrong and both were checked out. His friend had one of the copies and when he scanned it, he knew he had to read it, so what could we do about it? Of course we sent the guy his own copy. We had no idea our books had made it that far.

Switch by Chip and Dan Heath went off to the printer this last week.  We held a hugely attended launch in the regional capital Zugdidi, with over 130 people showing up! Michael Lewis' Boomerang is the next book up. We have secured rights for another 5 or 6 titles beyond that, and so the pipeline is strong.  

If you have any other questions or comments, please email mitch@radarami.org.

Warm wishes from Tbilisi,

The Radarami Team

Readers come up to get books after Zugdidi event
Readers come up to get books after Zugdidi event
Attendees at the Judt Discussion
Attendees at the Judt Discussion

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Organization

Radarami

Tbilisi, Shida Qartli, Georgia
http://eng.radarami.org/

Project Leader

Susan Smith

Director
Tbilisi, Qartli Georgia

Where is this project located?

Map of Read&Connect:Georgia Joins the Global Conversation