Posts about activism
Investigate how sustainable social change has transpired in the past, and you’ll be closer to effecting change in the future.
It’s no wonder Dan is so popular among the TED crowd — business leaders and wealthy technologists who can see a product in every social trend.
What’s more mystifying is why Dan Pallotta would be popular among nonprofits, activists, and social changemakers. It’s clear Dan has no substantive message for them.
Online activism didn’t come out of nowhere. The methods and tactics of online activists — be they individuals or international nonprofits with hundreds of staff — are drawn on social change movements and community organizing strategies that have been tried, experimented with, failed, tweaked, and tried again, long before the Internet existed.
Last week, Special Envoy to Sudan Gen. Scott Gration sat down with representatives from Save Darfur and the student network STAND for an unprecedented live Q&A, webcast directly from the White House website. The webcast was notable not just for its interactivity — members of both STAND and Save Darfur were encouraged to submit questions, which were then asked directly of Gration on air — but for its accountability.
The subtitle of this workshop could be, “Social change has always relied on social networks — they just weren’t called Facebook.” I’m going to be talking concretely about the strategy of using online tools for social change. This won’t be an ain’t-it-cool presentation of shiny technology, nor will it be a technical exploration of complicated software. It will be an interactive how-to on making social change work more effective by using online social technology.
Gurus, mavens and experts convey information — they tell you the way things are.
Organizers, conversely, cultivate leadership and facilitate a community's exploration of its vision — they offer a way to see how things could be.
Naturally, we need an accurate picture of how things are before we can strategize ways to improve them, and so it's important to continually listen to and learn from the experts, taking from them relevant information and measuring it against our own experience and knowledge. But folks involved in social change — online or offline — can't stay there. We have to be willing to step up and do the difficult organizing work that leverages our knowledge and experts' data into something larger: a movement.
Social media doesn’t mean you do less organizing — it means you (can) do it better, or at least differently. You still have to use all the old skills of coalition-building, strategic planning, creative social action, managing relationships and preventing burnout. None of that goes away just because you’re engaging with people on Facebook instead of in town halls.
If organizers limit themselves to seeing Twitter as a strategy in and of itself — without considering the strategy apart from the tool — they risk overlooking ways to run a more effective campaign on other platforms, or augmenting a campaign using multiple platforms. Worse, organizers risk giving supporters feel-good activism that quenches their desire for social change without actually moving the movement closer to a concrete goal, or putting any pressure on powerholders.
The strategy always comes first, and then you figure out which tool fits. The alternative? A forest fire.
Just a quick note to say I’ll be speaking as part of Social Actions’ “Using Facebook for Social Change<” webinar on Thursday, along with Susan Gordon, the nonprofit coordinator of Causes<, and moderated by Beth Pickard< and David Karp< of Firstgiving<.
You’re invited to join in a live and open text chat to discuss how you can use Facebook for social change. This is your opportunity to share experiences and ask questions about how people and orgs can do outreach, inspire action, and fund raise on the Facebook network.
Some nonprofits, older and more institutionalized, are wary of giving their members “control” of their “message” in the realm of social networks and social media. Mostly, I think that’s nothing more than a fear of losing power. When you think you know how to change the world, it can be hard for some people to want to involve others — or give anyone else the credit. What’s interesting here is that there’s a significant ability for activists to self-organize. The message to nonprofits from the past few years seems pretty clear: Stand in our way, and we’ll just go around you.