Susan's Super Citizen Showcase

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

80 percent first-timers at Vancouver Net Tuesday

Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega was one of six presenters who shared their ideas on technology and social change at Vancouver Net Tuesdays tonight at WorkSpace in Gastown.

Raul, who has a PhD in Resource Management and Environmental Studies, is the organizer of the Vancouver Bloggers Meetup. Tonight's Event - Net Tuesday - is organized by social media consultant Joe Solomon announced on Meetup as: "Social Media and Web Innovators come together with Social Change Makers and Nonprofits to mix, swap stories and ideas, and build new relationships."

Famous Vancouver blogger Darren Barefoot MC-ed the event and he asked for a show of hands: "Who is here for the first time?" About 80 percent of us in the crowded room put up our hands.

Doug van Spronsen told us about Info from their website: "MakeGood helps your company communicate the good things you do through an interactive badge that you place on your website. Customers and employees can click on the badge and see photos, stories and testimonials from the people you helped - without ever leaving your website."

The badge isn't just a chance for the company to brag; it also links people to opportunities for participating in the company's charities or actions for change.

Grace Carter shared the story of - a BC Children's Hospital Social Media Case Study. Participants dress up in costumes, run around, have fun. and raise money. Last year 2,500 people participated and raised over $100,000 for Children’s Hospital.

During the presentation, a man ran into the room wearing only underpants! He is a popular race contestant with many fans on the ChipsNotDeadYet Facebook Page.

Shawn Smith spoke about Global Agents for Change - a group of under-30 folks from around the world. This year they are organizing two youth-led cycling journeys raising funds and awareness to fight global poverty. One ride is from Vancouver to Tijuana and the other from Amsterdam to Istanbul.

Steve Williams of SAP Business Objects told us about his work with non-profit organizations - helping them to see how they can use their data and information. This data, if well-managed and mined, can be used for communicating, demonstrating the impact of donations, and engaging stakeholders.

"It's not just about communicating on an issue. It's about "How do you encourage people to take action?"

Joe Solomon mentioned one way of encouraging people to take action during his talk on what's next trend-wise in the world of "social change meets tech." It's the “Related Ways to Take Action” WordPress Plugin that allows your blog readers to take action based on the content in your post.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Favianna talks art, technology, and social change in Vancouver

Favianna Rodriguez is a reknowned artist, author, and technologist from Oakland, California – and she was in Vancouver, B.C. Canada last week talking about using art to transform global politics.

Favianna presented a slideshow of her political poster art on March 5 at District 319 Theatre, just down the street from the corner of Main and Hastings in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Favianna’s talk: “Designing for Democracy – Art, Technology, and Community Development” was the first 2009 event hosted by Web of Change. W of C is “a series of conferences that connects the foremost thinkers and do-ers in the growing community of social change and technology from across North America,” says the W of C website About page.

Favianna showed us an assortment of her bold, sometimes colourful, political posters that address the issues of war, gentrification, human rights, racism, corporate irresponsibility, health, and quality of life within communities. Posted high on billboards, Favianna's political art opens public discussion on issues of the day - for example: young men of colour being targeted by military recruiters and people being jailed in the U.S. for not having appropriate residency papers.

“Our role as media makers and activists has become very important,” Favianna told us. “With the right tools and the right strategy, things that seemed impossible can become possible. We can create business models that will affect the entire world.”

Here are some photos of the slides Favianna showed:

In 2002, Favianna launched TUMIS – a bilingual Spanish-English web design company that donates its profit to Oakland’s Eastside Arts Alliance. Since its launch, TUMIS has seen annual growth of 25%, which is good for the Alliance founded by Favianna and other local artists, cultural workers, and community organizers of colour. The Alliance provides local youth and adults with a cultural centre in which they can pursue their own arts projects in a supportive, creative atmosphere.

On March 8, Favianna shared a vision of how Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside could follow the model of Oakland’s Eastside Arts Alliance. "Art, Resistance, and Community Transformation" was presented to the public for free by the annual Sista'hood Celebration at the W2 Launch Pad Gallery at 116 West Hastings Street - co-sponsored by DTES Community Arts Network and Tides Canada-Endswell Fund.

Here, from the W2 Launch Pad Gallery website, is a summary of what Favianna tells the group in Vancouver: “A young woman grows up in this neighbourhood. She and a group of artists start a successful technology and design collective. They launch a business and help establish a non-profit society. They raise the money to buy an old building and rehabilitate it. It houses their company, a bilingual daycare, a cultural centre, and 16 units of low-income housing. Their efforts are bringing social and economic development, music, art, and their community together. It's an incredible transformation.”

In 2004 TUMIS co-sponsored Designs on Democracy, a conference on design and communications. This gathering brought together over 300 organizers and designers to discuss communications in the context of social justice.

Jason Mogus, the Web of Change founder and president of Communicopia, introduced Favianna on March 5. He welcomed guests, talked about Web of Change, and offered a few key questions for us to ponder – and to discuss while mingling in the reception area at the bar after Favianna’s talk…

Jason suggested the social networking folks ask themselves: What kind of world do you want to live in? What’s your theory of change?

To the social change people, he asked: How are you involving people? How are you using technology?

To everyone, he asked: How can you build a community and sense of connectedness in your work? How are you growing your heart?

Jason offered praise to local firms who are dedicating their efforts to social change – and one example he mentioned is Agentic Communications – a local web development agency that offers web strategy, campaign consulting, and website development for progressive organizations, like non-profits and government agencies (and other companies too). I’ve been writing web content for Agentic recently – so you can look forward to a future Super Citizen feature soon about that company’s work towards social change…

Friday, March 06, 2009

Tim McAlpine keynote on "challenge marketing" at BCAIM luncheon

Tim is a Gen X-er whose dad worked in banking, and he is an expert on reaching Generation Y (under 25s) and convincing them to become credit union members. Demographic forecasting showed the importance of winning a younger market and it made sense for the credit unions to reach out using social media. In Alberta, 2,300 Generation Y "kids" (I can say that because I'm 41) signed up to become credit union members and deposited $4 million Canadian.

Tim is the president and creative director of Currency Marketing and yesterday he presented an overview of his Young & Free story as keynote speaker at British Columbia Association of Integrated Marketers luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Here is a link to Tim's presentation.

The company's first campaign Young & Free Alberta, for Common Wealth Credit Union in Lloydminster, won a 2008 Groundswell Award in recognition of social media with business value.

Here's how the awards team described Young & Free Alberta: "A credit union in Alberta started a campaign to generate more young customers. They conducted a contest to find a young spokesperson, who then used a blog, YouTube, and Facebook to connect with other young people in Alberta. Result: 2 million impressions, 2,300 new accounts, and $4 million Canadian in new deposits."

Each spokesperson - one preferred the term "spokester" - agrees to produce five blog postings and one video posting per week. Tim said they aim for 60 percent funny and 40 percent money. Check out the blog of Miles - the new Alberta spokesperson. Quite honestly I would have participated in this type of discussion when I was in my early 20s - but back then, 20 years ago, there was no internet as we know it today... alas part of the Gen X experience...

Currency is also running challenge marketing campaigns in Texas and South Carolina. Hundreds of entrants submit one-minute videos explaining why they want to be the Young & Free spokesperson. Tim showed several samples and they were funny, charming, creative - and prolific!

"All this creativity is going on outside the walls of the agency. It means there's no more heat on us to come up with creative ideas," says Tim, with a laugh. "All this stuff is just coming in by the dozens each day. We encourage our applicants to go nuts."

Tim says Currency's goal is to partner with one credit union in every province and state in North America. As a long-time member of Vancity Credit Union, I'm glad to see all this great effort to promote our cooperative, community-based financial institutions and I hope all the young people have a chance to learn about and make good choices re: money matters.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Heather Merry revs up Ragged Right blog for IABC BC

Heather and I are taking the helm of a new volunteer position at the BC Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. We are now co-piloting in the role of Blog Editor / Monitor for Ragged Right - and our goal is to keep the blog chugging along with at least one new entry per week.

Heather is an Investor Relations Specialist at Westport Innovations and she runs her own contracting business eye 4 communications - offering writing, editing, and proofing services. She and I kicked off our lively brainstorming session on Monday at The Belmondo Cafe in North Vancouver. We bounced ideas around, drafted an editorial calendar, and now we are turning to our fellow IABC members to solicit volunteer bloggers. What better way to get your feet wet in the blogosphere, if you haven't done so already?

We aren't asking our volunteer bloggers to cover all aspects of an issue or event; instead we want to open up topics for discussion and encourage others to share thoughts and ideas. We could even debate and argue! Heather and I have "story assignments" for volunteers and we are also hoping people will come forth with their own ideas.

Here is our job description: "The volunteer will be responsible for creating an editorial calendar, selecting Members to make the posts on the calendar and following up with managing the submission of posts, editing them for spelling and grammar (without changing the "voice" of the submission) and posting these. He/she will also manage and post any additional postings that come in from membership, aside from the editorial calendar.

"In addition, members' comments will need to be monitored for compliance with site policies."

Partnering in a volunteer position is a good solution for avoiding the over-commitment trap many of us fall into. My partnership with Heather came about thanks to Catherine Worrall, the B.C. Chapter's Director of Marketing Communications and principal of Ideastream Design Inc. Both Heather and I expressed interest in the volunteer position but wanted to make sure we were comfortable with the time commitment. Sharing the role is a great option for us - so thanks to Catherine for the thoughtful delegating!

Heather and I need volunteer bloggers to cover every Chapter event - including an event coming up on March 10 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the YWCA downtown: "A Case Study of Award Winners."

Here's the invite info for the above: "Join IABC/BC professionals who have won and judged Bronze Quill, Silver Leaf and Gold Quill Awards. You'll learn tips on how to create award-winning communications projects and entries." If you can't go in person, you can attend via webcast.

We need volunteers now - so please get in touch by leaving a comment on this blog.