Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

In a previous posting about Social Justice Networks, I profiled NetSquared, a nonprofit helping community organizers improve their communities through technology. NetSquared had coordinated a world-wide network of local groups organized around the idea of Internet-based meet-ups…using online social media to connect people with common community concerns. I attempted to join and participate in my local community’s group, however, even after reaching out to them multiple times…I have never been contacted back.

I am happy to see, however, that NetSquared has recognized the intrinsic difficulties in online organizing and recently released an open letter to their organizing groups. To read this letter and learn more about NetSquared, go to Open Letter at http://netsquared.org/blog/vanessa-rhinesmith/open-letter-netsquared-local-organizers-0

A few posts ago I started writing about several websites that were designed to create opportunities for people interested in social justice causes to become more organized through online connections. I signed up for my community’s NetSquared group and emailed the group leaders to become more involved. Unfortunately, I have not had any communication with this group and it seems that most of NetSquared’s current activity is in one city and in a few international locations. So I am not very excited about the impact of this project. Also, I’m signed up for email alerts and newsletters but I haven’t received any real consistent communication.

 

Another project that I would like to profile is the new site created by Craigslist Foundation called LikeMinded. The website is easily navigated with a topic page covering issues such as arts, health, education, safety and environment. I initially thought that this site was designed to bring like-minded people together to address community issues. However, the website is really set up to share resources, information and projects. For the first month or so the database was filled with information that was obviously entered by the designers. Now there are many more projects and resources entered by the actual providers or people actually involved in the project. However, there currently is not an opportunity to engage in discussion on the website. You can contact people involved in the project directly, however, you have to use an anonymous email system so it doesn’t really promote community connections and openness. I will keep watching the site and review it again as it evolves.

As part of my ongoing research into useful Internet Resources for social justice organizations, I have found lots of websites for people across the nation, in communities and in neighborhoods to find each other. These sites cover the spectrum from being very organized online networks to very loose associations of people who support a common cause.

Many of the relationship-building sites, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, we were already using as part of our personal social network and quickly realized that they could be used to advance our social justice causes. In the last few years, several national foundations/nonprofits, attempted to create opportunities for social justice causes to use web-based organizing as a model for creating social change. I would like to profile a few of those on this blog.

Each one has faces a challenge in 1 key area: keeping the momentum going. Web-based organizing does not seem to change what organizers and fundraisers have faced for generations: 10% of the people do 90% of the work/giving. So it’s difficult to measure just how active the NetSquared groups are and what the actual impact of the network is on these groups.

NetSquared

Most of us in the nonprofit world are already familiar with the good works of TechSoup, who provides low cost and no cost donations of software in addition to free tech how-to’s on social media, marketing and fundraising. Their parent non-profit, TechSoup Global, also coordinates the NetSquared Initiative, an international network of individuals in over 79 cities that empowers individuals to create solutions to their communities’ social challenges. Through online communication and coordination, communities have access to resources, meet and define answers to their challenges. NetSquared provides significant educational support and connection to these groups through Tweet feeds, Blogs and online communities. For the last 4 years, they have provided international challenges competitions addressing social justice issues, provide a Community Organizers Handbook and a database and evaluation of global projects. There are many very active groups including the Baltimore, MD meet up group and a group providing micro credit loans to women in Uganda. I also attempted to connect to the group in Twin Cities MN where I live, however this group hasn’t met or communicated much winter 2010. I emailed the group leaders and have yet to hear back from them on the group’s status. I will report back on how successful I am at networking with these folks. Photo by devois

I know I said I would be posting my favorite free Internet resources on this blog.  However, occasionally I will come across the work of a nonprofit’s cause that I just have to share here.  The amazing work of Breaking Free and the video they released publicizing the need to fight human trafficking is worth the posting here.  Please watch the video and support this agency’s work.