Supporting Civil Society Innovation in East Asia.
Introducing the Freshwater Institute: A Hub for Civil Society Innovation in East Asia
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Freshwater Institute is co-led by Ed Rekosh, co-founder of Rights CoLab, and Shawn Shieh, a Rights CoLab contributor and founder of Social Innovations Advisory (SIA), a consulting company established to strengthen civil society resiliency in the Asia-Pacific. Shawn works with human rights activists to re-think, re-orient and re-strategize their work in challenging spaces such as China and Hong Kong; he also helps CSOs in other regions assess the human rights risks of Chinese overseas investment as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Shawn and Ed previously developed workshops for East Asian civil society organizations on alternative business models, which led to the idea to create Freshwater.
At the heart of the Freshwater Institute is a collaborative human rights accelerator program for emerging and established human rights activists and CSO leaders. By late spring, we will open a competitive selection process to select the first cohort of Freshwater Fellows. Our first big event is the Civil Society Innovation (CSI) Lab, a 3-day, in-person experience to be held in May in Taipei. For representatives of Asian civil society organizations seeking more tailored support, Shawn and Ed will offer advisory services based on their decades of experience in research, organizational development, and human rights activism. We are also developing summer internships for bilingual (English and Chinese) students with an interest in civil society and human rights.
Our goal is to develop the Freshwater Institute into a lasting CSO based in Taiwan with regional impact, offering a space for networking, retreat, and reflection where Asia Pacific CSOs and activists gather to build trust and develop shared strategies in a safe, collegial environment surrounded by nature.
Stay tuned for more information on the Civil Society Innovation Lab, the application process for the Freshwater Accelerator, and the launch of Freshwater Institute’s website!