New York City — Yes, Virginia, organizing online works!
The inspiring testimony of Zakiyah Ansari, public school education advocate, proved that organizing people into issues or making them commit to an organization could happen digitally. In fact, the way to go is through the social media.
At the Organizing 2.0 Conference by the Labor, Community, and Policy Studies Program of the Murphy Institute of the City University of New York, 43 different and simultaneous sessions were created to deeply focus on the organizing groups and unions through the social media.
Ansari, the advocacy director of the Alliance for Quality Education, campaigned for quality education and budget for public schools in New York, especially in the poorer communities. She actively used Twitter in engaging parents to be involved in the campaign for better education.
She attributes the mix of direct organizing and regular use of social media to the success in gains such as increased support and voice to fully fund pre-K schools and to help problematic public schools instead of abandoning them.
The Need for Digital Strategy
At the Digital Strategy session, Organizing 2.0 executive director Charles Lenchner encouraged organizations and unions to be informed of and use existing social media and digital technologies that hasten campaigns and increase in membership.
Elana Levin, in the session on Organizing workers online to offline, noted the affordability of Facebook advertising to reach out to bank employees nationwide. She considers using FB advertising as cost effective and efficient in organizing workers in the campaign for better banks. The “Your Payroll Cards Are Rip Offs” is a landmark example of starting a campaign online then going offline.
Levin is a community organizer and a Williamsburg Warrior against the rezoning plans for Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
Creativity and Good Copy
On being creative in designing campaigns, digital artists shared the need to look at themselves as part of the actors responding to an issue. “We cannot separate ourselves from the public or the issue, we are one with them, so that the material we create speaks for the issue and the actors,” said digital artist Josh Yoder.
It was also noted that the use of cultural symbols to convey strong messages of justice and necessary action and evoke participation from the public.
Colin Delaney, at the session on Blogging in a Post-Blog World, centered on the core message, “write good material and you will be read. All the technical requirements and knowledge should follow.”
Delaney is a digital strategist for politics and advocacy. He published the award-winning epolitics.com.
Marivir Montebon, a steering committee member of the National Writers Union-New York and OSM! executive editor, said that the input of the two-day seminar will definitely boost NWU’s own efforts at organizing and strengthening the writers group of New York.