In Citizen Diplomacy, Uncategorized

The Latitude Movement

Citizen Diplomacy for the 21st Century

December 21, 2016

Section I. What is the Latitude Movement?

The Latitude Movement is at heart a simple concept- that a specific minute of latitude (a mile-wide stripe of earth that goes directly East-West around the world) can become the basis for a new and enduring connection amongst local communities globally, building on the common ground they already share- same latitude, same day-length, same light, each and every day along the line.

The Latitude Movement is about discovering and honoring small places often lost in the shuffle of a hyper-global world, and creating lasting bridges between those places and the people in them.

We know that sunlight (and the daily quantity thereof) influences climates, agriculture, culture and daily rhythms along a latitude line. Surely this shared light along each latitude is a great starting place for international connection and conversation. Farmers will be the first to attest to the impact of sunlight on crops, and it isn’t hard to extend an understanding of that impact to the rhythms and nuances of our cultures, and ultimately, one another.

The Latitude Movement is a response to the need for new kinds of citizen diplomacy and connection amongst local folks globally in the 21st century, a response that directly addresses isolationist tendencies taking hold in a globalized era as well as diplomatic impasses in the realm of official, traditional power structures, both nationally and internationally. The Latitude Movement does not seek to replace other forms of diplomacy and exchange between cultures and nations, but rather, offer new possibilities for regular citizens to engage in processes vital to long-term prosperity for communities around the planet. The Latitude Movement recognizes that the ‘long haul’ work of bridge building can, and must be, the work of many hands. Latitude represents a simple, practical framework to help many who would like to be more involved in peaceful bridge-building get started. Follow a line East-and-West, and find ways to foster dialogue, exchange and peace on that line, in whatever small way you can. Perhaps a potluck with people from a town directly West, just a few miles away. It can be that simple.

Indeed, through the work of hundreds and thousands of Citizen Diplomats, each specific latitude on the planet can form a latitude circle of sister communities comprising international citizens from both urban and rural areas, engaging in exchanges and East-West citizen diplomacy locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

And latitude circles, having built successful East-West bridges through diversified informal citizen diplomacy efforts, can then develop productive citizen diplomat relationships with other latitudes North and South, thereby making the Latitude Movement a comprehensive approach to citizen diplomacy in a globalized era.

The natural starting place for the Latitude Movement is to focus on one minute of latitude around the world, and develop a model for latitudinal diplomacy and exchange that can then be emulated and adapted to other latitude lines.

The Latitude Movement, as an organization, seeks to emulate latitudinal connection and structure as a horizontal, non-hierarchical organization itself. Therefore, the focus of the organization is to advocate for latitudinal diplomacy without controlling or owning it. The Latitude Movement simply encourages latitude exploration, communication, conversation, and elevation of communities in mutually beneficial experiences and work, by highlighting best practices in the field of latitudinal diplomacy. It tries to set the stage for what is possible by example. Small is beautiful.

And the beauty of latitude is that it is specific, while still a universe unto itself, a collection of small and not-so-small places sharing the common ground of same day-length each and every day of the year. There is a potentially infinite amount of work to be done on each and every latitude line, yet at the same time, small, individualized citizen efforts can have a huge impact when pooled with other efforts.

How will the Latitude Movement work?

The Latitude Movement uses latitude line as a galvanizing point for citizen diplomacy, ushering in a new approach to citizen diplomacy for the 21st century that utilizes online tools while honoring the importance of place-based diplomacy and face-to-face connections.

The idea will be advanced by ‘unofficial ambassadors’, who share a passion for travel, exploration, conversation and cultural exchange. The Latitude Movement extends the field of Citizen Diplomacy from traditional exchanges into a more informal network that broadens citizen diplomacy participation and takes advantage of online tools such as Facebook, Google Maps, Google Earth, and even Airbnb for latitudinal hosting and travel functions. A simple way to think of Latitudinal diplomacy is ‘Airbnb Diplomacy’- it is about informal diplomatic exchange amongst global citizens blending traditional cultural exchanges with 21st century tools and technology.

The principle work of the Latitude Movement will be to advance latitudinal connection and cultural exchange as well as citizen diplomacy on one specific minute of latitude, and present that work as a model for other latitudes to emulate or adapt in their own way. In addition, That Latitude Movement will promote the concept of latitudinal diplomacy, and best practices in latitudinal diplomacy, while remaining a non-hierarchical, truly latitudinal entity both in terms of the focus of the organization, and the design of the organization itself.

The plan is to build a Latitude Circle on 43.10 North in 2017 (43rd parallel, 10th minute, Northern Hemisphere), commencing with the basic practices of Citizen Diplomacy- reaching out to existing citizen diplomat organizations already in place on 43.10 North, asking for letters of support- documenting potential hosts and ambassador leaders on the latitude line, reaching out to school groups to engage the concept, and slowly piecing together the circle of latitude sister communities. Again, the idea here is to build upon and expand existing forms of Citizen Diplomacy, not replace them. Adding new bonds between people is the goal. If ‘Track II Diplomacy’ best describes the current landscape of Citizen Diplomacy, the Latitude Movement is Track II (b), widening the scope of Citizen Diplomacy, while working with the existing landscape. Old is not obsolete, new is not negligible.

In 2016, I had the opportunity to begin researching and exploring that latitude of 43.10 N, with two visits to Muskegon MI, Greenville, MI, and my hometown of Manchester Vermont. I am planning trips to Europe and Japan, and hope to begin connecting the dots via a grassroots effort with minimal budget. Because a minute of latitude is a very narrow and focused slice of the world, it creates a fairly basic game plan. Map out the minute in great detail. Develop lists of towns and communities in each nation on that latitude line. Highlight resources and institutions. Highlight news sources and other opportunities for exploration via online tools- Google Earth for instance.

Blog about latitudinal travel. Begin building an online following and social network consisting of global citizens of latitude 43.10 N. And finally, organize a low budget, potluck summit in Manchester Vermont, inviting visitors from around the world. Everything will be small scale, low to no budget. Through this process, it will become clear what resonates, what gains traction, who natural partners are, and how the idea should or could be advanced.

My sense is that a small organization, honing the model on one latitude, and then spreading the idea in a kind of open-sourced way, not trying to control the idea, but rather highlighting best practices and encouraging the idea, will be the most effective way to rapidly advance the concept.

Why specific latitude line?

Humanity has an ever-expanding set of communication tools in the 21st century, yet it seems that instead of making the world smaller, most of our technological capabilities have done just the opposite. In the information era, we have too much information, too many options. And now that we can connect with people across the world, who do we actually connect with, and why? In response to the overwhelming opportunities afforded by the internet age, an unintended consequence is that we increasingly connect with people of the same mindset and beliefs, finding ourselves isolated in filtered thought silos/bubbles. Or we ended up isolated all-together. As Dhruv Khullar concludes in the New York Times, having surveyed research on the negative impacts of social isolation, “a great paradox of our hyper-connected digital age is that we seem to be drifting apart. Increasingly, however, research confirms our deepest intuition: Human connection lies at the heart of human well-being. It’s up to all of us — doctors, patients, neighborhoods and communities — to maintain bonds where they’re fading, and create ones where they haven’t existed.”[1]

Latitudinal connections for the most part have not been realized in conscious direct ways, and The Latitude Movement sees the potential for new bonds to be created between people, starting with neighbors and extending to our neighbors around the globe. The most telling indicator of this is the simple question- do you know what other places around the world are on this latitude line? Most people have only a vague answer. Perhaps the starting place is- do you know your neighbors?

For those of us interested in the work of citizen diplomacy- building bridges amongst people and places, and for those of us interested in finding ways to advance our connections with diverse people in positive and peaceful ways- it is absolutely vital that we extend out beyond our comfort zones, and our own thought silos, to connect in real ways with other people around the world, including our own community and regional neighbors. The training ground for diplomacy is our backyard, and the Latitude Movement sees that the first bridges we need to build are those at home.

Latitude can be a helpful tool for connecting with others around the world from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives- within our own communities, our own nations, and internationally. If we spend time concentrating on and exploring a particular latitude line, we have a way of making the world smaller that still keeps the world the world. Latitude is a place-based filter of the world, in that a latitude line is a thin slice of the planet, yet from any place we stand, if we go directly east or west around the world, we will connect with a wide range of places, communities, and perspectives.

Latitude is obviously a limited slice of the world, and no one latitude will have all the places and peoples of the world with whom we may wish to connect. On the other hand, if we adopt a latitudinal mindset, we will see latitude line as a practical way in which citizen diplomats around the world can get started in the work of peaceful bridge building, and together the world can be covered. If I concentrate on my latitude line, and you on yours, together we will have approached citizen diplomacy as almost an open-sourced, group contribution effort, not unlike Wikipedia.

The beauty of specific latitude is just that- line- at a time where we have more tools than ever before, but not enough focus and direction for the use of tools in powerful, positive ways. I am speaking broadly here of course, but the essence of this concept is that we are utilizing Latitude to give us focus, and open up possibilities for an informal, open-sourced type citizen diplomacy that could widen the scope of citizen diplomacy significantly and introduce a new trajectory to diplomacy at a time when it is sorely needed.

Latitudinal diplomacy can be sustained by hundreds of thousands of people practicing latitude connection over time. There is an enduring reality to latitude that is not interest specific, or determined by geo-politics. It is simple geography, and a simple connection among places that is intrinsic to those places whether we like it or not. Latitude is what it is, but it is also amazing if we take a moment to contemplate the shared experience and reality of a particular latitude on planet Earth. And if you are challenged to think about how to advance an idea for wider participation in citizen diplomacy – how to essentially scale Citizen Diplomacy- in a way that is lasting and not dependent on one organization, or trend, latitudinal diplomacy- The Latitude Movement- will emerge as good as an idea as any, and can certainly compliment a range of other bridge building exchanges and partnerships already on the ground. The strength of the Latitude Movement is that latitude can endure as an organizing principle for open-sourced citizen diplomacy for all time, a basic framework into which citizen diplomats can fill the picture- and reality- of a more civil, constructive, and peaceful world.

Section II: Citizen Diplomacy needs an ‘Uber’.

Over the last sixty years, the field of citizen diplomacy, also known as ‘Track II’ diplomacy (versus ‘Track I’ diplomacy which is that of government officials) has mostly consisted of exchanges between students, schools, and international community leaders- such as mayors of cities and leaders from various professional fields, doctors, lawyers, distinguished professionals- fostering productive exchanges and goodwill.

The sister city, or ‘twinning model’ of citizen diplomacy, emerged after WWII and gained steam during the Cold War. Formal sister city partnerships were created, delegations and other exchanges were worked out, and each city tended to form a committee of involved citizen leaders in doing the work of this citizen diplomacy, which included such activities as annual trips, fundraising events, speakers and other activities. There are variations of course, and a great diversity of programs that comprise Track II diplomacy generally, including arts programs, travel trips, conferences, and even centers of study established for the purpose of greater cultural exchange and understanding. But the core model of Track II diplomacy has remained more or less the same as it continues today- a model of diplomacy still tethered to traditional notions of diplomacy and exchange that have formal agreements and institutional backbones. ‘Unofficial ambassadors’ in Track II diplomacy still have the formal underpinnings of diplomacy generally. This is most directly symbolized by Sister Cities International, with its Honorary Board President being the Current President of the United States of America, which will shortly by Donald J. Trump.

In stating that Citizen Diplomacy needs an ‘Uber’, I am not suggesting that traditional Track II diplomacy needs to be replaced or disrupted, and I am certainly not suggesting that Citizen Diplomacy somehow emulate Uber the company. The idea of an ‘Uber’ in Citizen Diplomacy is rather that the idea of Citizen Diplomacy can take new forms, including an increasingly informal sector of self-engaged Citizen Diplomats, not tied in a formal sense to traditional political and institutional power structures. The idea of an ‘Uber’ in Citizen Diplomacy is that anyone can engage in the process of being a ‘driver’ of peaceful bridge-building on their own, or in small groups with others around the world, as they see fit, on their own time and in their own ability. Especially given the right resources and tools to get started, and with current technological possibilities to compliment basic human civility and hospitality. There is no barrier to entry. A group of students, or a recently retired electrician, or a young farmer, or a dance troupe, or a musician, or a stay at home parent, or a family, can all enter the Citizen Diplomacy picture in their own ways, abiding by basic principles of respect, listening, finding common ground, and promoting peaceful engagement. The idea of an ‘Uber’ in Citizen Diplomacy is the introduction of a new framework that opens up possibilities in the work of diplomacy to people and places currently unengaged in this work. Just as Uber widened the scope of who could be a professional driver, The Latitude Movement could widen the scope of who can be a driver of diplomacy and bridge-building across the world.

In summary, while the field of citizen diplomacy has a solid history and a proven track record, and many valuable longstanding international relationships between cities and countries have been developed over decades, if we look at the current field of traditional citizen diplomacy we can see that there are clear limitations to the current “Track II’ citizen diplomacy model as it has unfolded, and emerging opportunities to scale Citizen Diplomacy in fresh ways that involve more people.

Limitations of Traditional Track II Citizen Diplomacy

Perhaps this reads as a criticism of Traditional Citizen Diplomacy, but the truth is that all forms of diplomacy need to be sustained. I hope that we understand that every organization, person and thing has limitations. Certainly the Latitude Movement will have limitations. So in addressing limitations, what we are looking at here is opportunities for more Citizen Diplomacy, not currently addressed by Track II Citizen Diplomacy. A kind of SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) analysis which helps us see areas of need. Limitations of Track II Diplomacy include:

  • Limited Reach. Currently, Track II Citizen Diplomacy is dominated by the sister city model, which features mostly binary ‘twin’ relationships between international city partners, and involves, for practical and understandable organizational and logistical reasons, very limited involvement of people in those cities. Sister Cities International touts the several thousand sister city partnerships throughout the world, which is certainly a huge accomplishment, yet hundreds of thousands of communities around the world, particularly smaller communities, do not have a formal sister. Delegations and school exchanges, the heart of sister city work over the past 60 years, consist of small groups, and the direct participatory experience of citizen diplomacy is limited to very small numbers of students and leaders. Many cities have formal sister city partnerships that are currently inactive or very limited in function, further limiting the scope of this work. How many people around the world are currently and consciously engaged in Citizen Diplomacy? While there are thousands of sister city partnerships and other global exchanges, the participation of regular citizens in the work of bridge-building around the world remains very limited, at a time when we have more tools to connect and build bridges than ever before.
  • Focus on International, not Intra-national. Traditional sister city partnerships most often connect two cities from two nations. While this is important and vital, there is an unmet need for diplomacy and bridge building within nations as well, particularly those nations at risk from, or recovering from civil war and divisive conflict. A recent mapping article in the New York Times, after the divisive 2016 election in the US, showed the degree to which the United States is almost two distinct countries from a voting perspective, and that clearly more bridge-building is needed within the US, not just between the US and other countries.[2]
  • Focus on cities/urban centers, to the exclusion of rural areas and smaller population centers. For the most part, citizen diplomacy has concentrated on connecting larger urban centers internationally, leaving rural communities and smaller communities out of the citizen diplomacy picture. Yet rural communities, via their connection to and understanding of agriculture, have tremendous capacity for bridge-building.
  • Focus on exchanges tied to institutions. While Citizen Diplomacy is considered the work of ‘unofficial ambassadors’, traditional citizen diplomacy is still tethered closely to institutions- local governments and schools for instance. There are practical and important reasons for this, and strengths as well, as institutions have resources, and can sustain stable, enduring relationships. At the same time, in the era of ‘Airbnb’ and ‘Uber’- we have the opportunity for a greater quantity of direct, informal exchanges of citizen diplomats from around the world, without the direct need for grants, budgets, committees, approvals, and applications. There are existing online tools that create the ability for direct diplomacy, which can certainly be an expanding piece of diplomacy around the world.
  • Lack of fluidity, and mobility. Traditional citizen diplomacy models are hardwired, and hard earned programmatic and diplomatic infrastructure linking together particular communities around the world. This infrastructure is hard to replace, and needs to be sustained- it is valuable to have those connections between specific places, and a lot of work goes into making them happen. Yet the work of citizen diplomacy would benefit from more fluidity. When crises present themselves in places far away from the cities linked together in a binary sister model, how can citizen diplomats in those cities respond and get involved as citizen diplomats elsewhere. How can the tools of citizen diplomacy be deployed in efficient ways that respond to conflicts and help prevent them from getting worse, and even possibly heal them? If we have a sister city over here, but our nation is about to go to war over there, wouldn’t it be vital for us to be able to shift some of our diplomatic focus as citizen diplomats to where the conflict is brewing?
  • Barriers to Entry. Two snowboarders decide on the gondola ride to the top of a mountain that they want to be citizen diplomats. How do they get started? Perhaps by finding a local chapter of an international peace-building organization- which will likely not be locally based, or finding the nearest sister-city partnership and the committee and contacting the committee, sending an email, waiting for the next event which might be months away? What it the town nearby has no sister? How would that process commence, and how long would it take? Which sister, and how is that decided? What about just pulling out google maps, reading up on the practice of diplomacy, and going for it, snowboarder style?

The above evaluation of current limitations in Citizen Diplomacy is intended to mainly to point out that opportunity areas exist to greatly expand Citizen Diplomacy beyond its current constraints.

The Latitude Movement can be a solution (as in one of several, not THE solution) to the above Citizen Diplomacy limitations in the following broad ways.

  • Responding to: Traditional Citizen Diplomacy having Limited Reach. The Latitude Movement takes the idea of sister communities and applies it to a latitude circle- a minute of latitude around the world (about a mile wide slice of the earth, east and west). Latitude circles connect hundreds of communities, not just two or three. The current list of thousands of Sister City partnerships could become hundreds of thousands of engaged communities, including those nearby, meaning that anyone can get involved, on any budget.
  • Responding to: Traditional Diplomacy being International not Intranational. The Latitude Movement connects a circle of communities (and in fact every place large, small, high and low on earth along the same latitude line), whether in the same country or another country, whether in a place that is thriving, or a war ravaged rubble strewn conflict zone. Bridge building happens locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally in the Latitude Movement. It happens between a small town and a city 10 kilometers apart, and two medium sized towns 5,000 miles away.
  • Responding to: Traditional Diplomacy focusing on Urban Areas and Connecting Cities, not rural areas and small towns. The Latitude Movement connects cities with small towns; urban areas with rural; and even farmland with wilderness and ocean. Every person and place on a latitude is considered part of that latitude circle and welcomed to engage in the practice of Citizen Diplomacy.
  • Responding to: Traditional Diplomacy focusing on exchanges tied to institutions. The Latitude Movement opens up the possibilities for a wider scope of Citizen Diplomacy to include one-on-one direct, micro diplomacy- the stuff of single travelers and hosts, simple meals, potlucks. The Latitude Movement focuses on giving citizen diplomats tools, and encouraging their creativity. This is not to say that institutions should be avoided. Institutions are a critical aspect of any true and lasting diplomacy. Rather, the Latitude Movement seeks to simplify an individual’s entry into citizen diplomacy- to make it easier for more people to get involved in citizen diplomacy in small simple ways, that could lead to profound and positive impact on a global scale. So the clarification here is that Latitudinal diplomacy may include, but is not restricted to, institutional exchanges, although it is the hope that institutions will recognize the possibility and importance of this movement.
  • Responding to: Traditional citizen diplomacy’s lack of fluidity. The logic of parallel diplomacy is that latitudinal diplomacy along an east-west latitude line is always exactly parallel to diplomacy on any other line. Therefore, parallels can partner. A crises somewhere on another parallel of latitude (Latitude Circle B) can be responded to by other latitudes (Latitude Circles A, C & D). Latitude circles can even have sister circles, and other exchanges. What latitude gives us is line, and if each latitude line on earth has motivated citizen diplomats, we have taken a major step forward, and if these latitudes can then partner, we have an entire world of peaceful bridge building. Imagine, for instance, the recent earthquake in Nepal, which occurred on the same latitude as communities in Florida, a latitudinal ambassador from further North could connect with those communities in Florida mobilizing to help Nepal.
  • Respnding to: Traditional citizen diplomacy as time-consuming. The work of the Latitude Movement will also be time consuming. That said, by virtue of being decentralized and non-hierarchical, there is a real efficiency and sustainability in the concept, which is not dependent on the health, wealth and effective functioning of any one organization, grant, or governing body. Any citizen can mobilize citizen diplomacy, immediately, today, in small ways. If the idea of latitudinal diplomacy takes off, a diplomatic version of Wikipedia occurs, with many contributors creating something more comprehensive than the capabilities of any one group of people. Perhaps latitudinal diplomacy is limited in its own ways, as the conscious deliberate work of sister city partnerships can result in types of programming difficult to sustain by individuals- single citizen actors. At the same time, if latitudinal diplomacy was advanced via traditional ‘unofficial’ citizen diplomacy (which should more accurately be called ‘semi-official’) as well as the ‘informal’ citizen diplomacy advocated by the Latitude Movement, then suddenly there are multiple layers of diplomacy resulting in a more vibrant diplomacy overall.


In summary, the field of Citizen Diplomacy needs a fresh twist that returns the ‘umph’ to Citizen Diplomacy in the 21st Century. In the era of Uber and Airbnb, we can see the potential for coordinated informal networks to have impact, and the question is how this informal network can be implemented and grow. I see the potential and need for more citizen diplomacy both within the US around the world, and I see Specific Latitude Line as the Airbnb or Uber of Citizen Diplomacy. Anyone can work on their latitude line, at any time, or even another line of their choosing, and by doing so, we have a world of citizen diplomats achieving incredible bridge-building in ways that centralized efforts simply cannot.

Again, Why Specific Latitude at the basis for an expanded informal Citizen Diplomacy?

A minute of latitude is a specific east-west line around the world, 1/60th of a parallel of latitude, about a mile wide. It is a very specific set of places and people on Earth. However, as an entry into citizen diplomacy and global awareness and exchange, latitude line becomes a powerful tool. For one, shared latitude line is a great starting place for citizen diplomacy, as every community sharing the same latitude also shares the exact same sunlight and day-length each and every day. And in bridging divides, it is important to have something common to build on. So any citizen on earth can immediately begin the process of building peaceful bridges by focusing on an east-west line. If others on the same latitude, and other latitudes, do the same, we suddenly have a world of engaged ‘unofficial’ ambassadors. Latitude line creates immediate specific focus for people interested in getting involved as citizen ambassadors.

Further, latitude line creates focus, bridges urban and rural, and simplifies decision-making. If everyone works on their line, we have a changed world. This is of course making it sound too easy, but to some extent, the logic of latitude line is to create a sort of structure for citizen diplomacy that integrates every place on earth in a simple and replicable way. The strength of the Latitude Movement is its enduring simplicity. Go East, Go West.

What about a current project connecting a community in Vermont with a community in Africa?

Keep doing that project! It is really important to state that the Latitude Movement is not envisioned as THE solution, but rather, one of many solutions. Existing infrastructure and hard earned relationships between international communities need to be sustained. The point of the Latitude Movement is to engage the currently un-engaged, and to add connections to existing ones. Sister city partnerships and other international projects which feature binary international connections will get a boost from the Latitude Movement, as more people engage Citizen Diplomacy, and traditional networks get more hands for the important work which must be done across the planet. The only limit is our limit in imagination and creativity. We must operate from a perspective of abundance- there is so much more room for people to get involved in this work and we need more ways for them to get involved.

How will the Latitude Movement work?

The model is designed to be simple, and the latitude movement needs to reflect that. A basic website will provide the tools for communities and individuals to explore latitude and best practices for engaging in informal citizen diplomacy along Latitude Line. As the idea spreads, the home website will highlight tools for latitudinal diplomacy- latitude research and mapping tools, connection tools, travel tools, hosting tools, and most importantly- diplomacy tools, how to brush up on and build diplomatic capacity in our daily lives.

The key to making the Latitude Movement idea take off will be:

Focusing on one line, and developing Latitudinal Diplomacy- what we might call Track II (b) Diplomacy, or even Track III, Informal Diplomacy, on one minute of latitude around the world.

Clearly the key is creating one model. One minute of latitude line, several hundred communities becoming connected, and a criss-cross of East West connection and exchange unfolding locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, all along one minute of latitude. If the idea takes hold on one minute, others may say- “we should do that on our line!” And the idea gains steam, more minutes, and suddenly, perhaps even quickly, the entire planet. Consider this- there are just over five thousand minutes of latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, and just over 5,000 in the Southern Hemisphere. On one hand, that’s a lot of Latitude Circles. On the other hand, it would not take a large percentage of the some 7.4 Billion people on planet to achieve global scale latitudinal diplomacy.

The Latitude Movement would concentrate its fully flavored but small scale efforts on just one minute, creating an amazing one-minute model, and also highlighting best practices of latitudinal diplomacy elsewhere across the globe. Perhaps there’s a best practices summit that occurs on a different minute each year. And that’s it! It is that simple, because it is an idea designed to take off and find application and interest throughout the world. It’s a bit like micro-finance. Once the concept emerged, a range of innovators developed the concept. The same with crowd-funding.

The business model is that of doing something that goes, to a certain extent, viral, and maintaining openness to the idea of people around the world engaging the idea as they can. This is not a burdensome, centralized, top heavy model. Different versions and ideas will emerge on different latitude lines. Apps will emerge. Different models will emerge, different ways of engaging the concept. There are so many potential applications of this approach to the world. It will be a tool for geo-literacy, it will be a tool for travelers, it will be interesting to foodies, it will just be plain interesting.

But the key in developing the first model, on one line, one minute, will in fact be traditional Type II Diplomacy. Working with the existing infrastructure of Citizen Diplomacy, creating the latitude circle, building partnerships and formal exchanges on one minute, and adding and encouraging the informal, with partners to create and adapt existing online tools to enhance the ability of one minute of latitude to connect across the world. ‘Old is not obsolete, and new is not negligible.’ We still need the hard-wired. Hard-earned infrastructure created by traditional diplomacy.

So the idea is – to keep it simple, focus on building from existing diplomacy infrastructure, and creating opportunities for a wider scope of people from all walks of life to participate- artists, farmers, teachers, everyone.

Let’s go!

[1] The Upshot: How Social Isolation is Killing Us, Dhruv Khullar, The New York Times, Devember 23, 2016.

[2] The Two Americas of 2016, Tim Wallace, The New York Times, Nov. 16, 2016.

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