End It Movement Part II – Social Media

What?
I’ve already introduced you to the End It movement, their cause, and the incredible leadership ability of their team. After reading Goldsmith this week and discussing the use of social media, I was inspired. Therefore, I would now like to focus you’re attention to their social media presence. 
So What?

It is amazing to see how much information can be shared and how quickly it is shared. End it launched just last month. They currently have 49, 230 “likes” on facebook, 59,916 followers on twitter, and 14,248 on instagram. The information End It posts is immediately shared by hundreds, even thousands of their followers, then by their friends and followers, and so on. Even better, End It has celebrities joining the End It Movement everyday. Celebrities who have millions of followers. As far as I know, End It does not have a building, it exists only in the media. How amazing is that? This movement that I was informed of at a conference just months ago is now constantly growing and raising awareness and money for a wonderful cause. All because of social media.

(Country star Carrie Underwood and Nashville Predator hockey player husband Mike Fisher, Nascar Driver Kevin Bayne, a collage of NFL players, Vampire Diaries actress Kat Graham, and Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman)

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Source: http://facebook.comENDITmovement/photostream
What now?
As change leaders, we can use the same media resources used by the End It team to spread awareness and information to countless people. I do feel that it is important to be sure that if you are going to use social media, you need to keep up with it. The End It team has presented an excellent example of doing just that; End It posts something to their facebook, twitter, & instagram at least everyday, often more. They also respond to posts, pictures, etc. sent in by their friends and followers.
There is, however, a bit of a catch-22 to utilizing social media. I have worked for organizations in the past that have really failed at keeping up with their social media. Letting messages go unanswered for months, not responding to posts on facebook, and so on. Failing to keep social media updated is a poor reflection on the organization. Essentially, if your organization is going to use social media, it is imperative that its social media pages are kept up to date and are responsive to the public. 

What? 

In February, Marissa Mayer made the decision to ban work from home programs. What followed? Quite an outrage. In March, Hubert Joly, Best Buy CEO, banned the same programs. What followed? Not much. So what is the difference between these two decisions. The most obvious answer is that one was made by a woman in power and the other by a man. 

So what?

I immediately heard of Marissa Mayer’s decision through numerous media outlets. However, I heard nothing about Best Buy’s policy change without researching it myself. Why is that? Kara Baskin, author of a excellent article on this story, asked Laura Liswood (secretary general of the Council of Women World Leaders), to shed some light on the issue here. “Yet because so few people from historically underrepresented groups are in positions of power, Liswood says, we throw our hopes behind the few who rise to the top. There are just 21 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, according to 2012 statistics from DiversityInc., as well as six black CEOs, seven Asian, and six Latino. When one member of an underrepresented group succeeds, her recipe for it becomes one-size-fits-all.”
What now? 
Essentially, in order to rid of backlash from decisions like Marissa Mayer’s, there needs to be more leaders like her in high power positions. At that point, decisions of business leaders from underrepresented groups won’t be news stories but simply every day business decisions. For this change to occur, there is call for change leaders from underrepresented groups who are equipped to handle the power and culture within these organizations. With time, these leaders will multiply and there decisions will no longer be new stories simply because they are not the carbon copy of the executives we see all too often today. 

 

Good ideas gone wrong? Maybe.

What?
This week I stumbled upon this article and have been contemplating its message since. The title, “7 worst international aid ideas”, caught my attention and I just couldn’t pass over it when a picture 50 Cent (the rapper…just to be clear) surrounded by Somalian children popped up on my screen. Color me intrigued. 
So what? 
I was incredibly conflicted as I read the article. The author discusses a number of ideas that were clearly well-intended and some that seemed incredibly promising. I was especially torn when I realized that TOMS had made the list, feeling a pang of guilt and judgment, knowing I had done more than my fair share to support their company. Although I do recall feeling a bit uneasy after I purchased my first pair and the saleswoman exclaimed “…And you helped a kid in Africa!”. Did I really though? Definitely not as much as I could have through a number of other means. But a little something is better than nothing, right? 
The author suggests that is not true. Most of these individuals or companies truly intend to help the people that they set out to aid. However, their ideas lack the ability to truly make an impact on the issue of poverty. Moreover, they take away any opportunity for economic stimulus if the product were to be produced in the countries that they are attempting to help. Fair Trade company, Sole Rebels, is a footwear company that works to do just that. 
Now what?
Did this article stop me from purchasing TOMS? I’ll be honest, probably not. But I do think there are lessons to learn here as change leaders. It’s pretty obvious that if we want to be influential leaders, the ideas that we support should be effective and efficient in helping to reach our goals. I can’t help but think that these concepts lack the balance of innovation and adaption. It is important to bear in mind the benefits of a team that includes persons from both ends of the spectrum and anywhere in between.  
Perhaps even those of us working in policy could work to ensure that counterproductive red-tape policies such as donor fund restrictions like the one mentioned in the article do not become the norm in domestic and international aid. 

Homelessness, NIMBY, & You–What’s needed and what’s next?

While reading Goldsmith this week, I was immediately reminded of my internship experience this summer. My internship at the Conflict Resolution Center in Roanoke allowed me the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the issues of homelessness, “Not in my backyard”, and how it deeply effects you and I. I found the authors discussion of Linda Gibbs and her work to be incredibly inspiring after having to deal with many of the same issues, albeit on a much smaller scale. Something that I found to be lacking greatly in my experience was the managerial aspect of accountability, so I very much appreciate her emphasis on that task. 

What?

My internship came to be through a contract with the City of Roanoke, the Roanoke Rescue Mission, and the Conflict Resolution Center (CRC).  The Rescue Mission (RM) had recently decided to obtain property nearby, with the hopes of that property becoming a new location for their thrift store, which is currently located across the street from the Mission. Some members of the Southeast neighborhood were outraged by the idea of this expansion. They feared that the continued presence of the transient population would decrease quality of life and increase crime in the community, specifically fearing that the change of location for the thrift store would push the homeless persons further into the neighborhood. The Southeast neighborhood called upon city officials to stop the RM from obtaining the new property through code enforcement. The city felt it was best to bring in the CRC to facilitate discussion about the movement, which began in January 2012. 

To read more about the beginning of the facilitation process, visit this story by Jorge Valencia at The Roanoke Times. 

So what?

It is incredibly easy to read this story or others like it and shrug it off because we typically do not have to look into the face of homelessness on a daily basis. We often write it off has a cause that we are interested in but we do not become advocates until the fear of homelessness becomes very real to us or someone we know. Or until situations like the one above actually do take place in our backyard. (Trust me, this is not a soapbox sermon. This is very much the pot calling the kettle black.) However, homelessness is an epidemic that has a long history and is far from over. It could and should be dealt with in a more effective manner, as is demonstrated by Linda Gibbs’ efforts in New York City. 

Now what?

Measurable Results. I quickly discovered that from a holistic perspective, the facilitations were moving along as was expected. Participants were speaking respectfully to each other and trying to come up with a collective approach to homelessness. But there was little to nothing to show for it from a measurable perspective. Yes, the RM had stepped up on security measures and other similar changes had been made but none of these really impacted homelessness in Roanoke. It is important to focus our attention to “using a range of methods that combine research and theory, individual or collective experience, and evidence” (Goldsmith, 2012, p. 125). A more comprehensive approach to homelessness with measurable results will be significantly more beneficial that the attempted quick fixes we see far too often. 

That being said, please read the latest article (by David Ress at The Roanoke Times) about the progress that is being made in Southeast Roanoke. As is made obvious by the previous discussion, there’s a long road ahead…but any progress is a necessary step forward. 

Independent Research: Communication, youth, social change and…

Sooryamoorthy, R. (2011). Communication, youth, social change and… International Sociology Review of Books, 26(5), 604-612. Retrieved from http://iss.sagepub.com/content/26/5/604.abstract

This article presented a synthesis of a number of studies that focused on youth in varying countries and the ways in which they use communication tools such as the Internet and access to media in order to promote social change.  The studies varied in methodology, some researchers using interviews to acquire information, others gathered data by mining through message boards, some even offered workshops in order to obtain data. For example, researchers in Malawi used a series of workshops to learn about youth organizations fighting against HIV and AIDS. In a study of American youth, Felicia Wu Song observed 30 online communities, specifically focusing on “what happens to human beings at the deeper phenomenological level when their experiences are more and more mediated by technology; the assumptions people embraced about political activism and civic participation that make the technology such as internet a medium of political engagement; and the need to know better how the new technologies for communication and media increasingly restructure our everyday lives” (Sooryamoorthy, 2011, p. 605).  This study used three dimensions of the democratic process (dispositional, deliberative, and representational) to analyze the virtual communities and the process under which they operate. Another researcher, Jiwon Yoon, adopted methods of “participatory observation, analysis of blogs, content analysis of sample documentaries…and interviews” to investigate a group of immigrants from South Korea who were attempting to assimilate themselves into North Korean culture (Sooryamoorthy, 2011, p. 609).   These studies, along with a number of others served as the basis for a very brief discussion of evolving methods of communication in relation to youth, and social change.

While Sorryamoorthy a plethora of information, I found the reading to be somewhat confusing and lacking cohesion. The studies and articles that the author analyzed were incredibly different and aside from focusing on the same subject, failed to provide a sense of consistency. The studies were diverse in length, location, and methodology, among other variables. I do not mean to establish that all studies with many variables lack consistency, but the author failed to consider the connections in an effective manner. Additionally, as is made obvious in the previous discussion, not all studies examined included any discourse on the results, nor did all include a detailed methodology. I find it exceedingly difficult to hypothesize upon the relationships of communication, youth, and social change with the information presented. While it was not necessarily the authors intention to compare youth leading social change through communication, namely through internet and the media, it seemed to be an obvious theme. The author could have benefited greatly if he had assessed these themes in a different manner. Nevertheless, if this were the intention, a meta-analysis focusing on the results of the aforementioned studies would be more appropriate.

The subject matter in this article is incredibly interesting and could inspire a more in depth look into a younger generation serving as a catalyst for change. It would be beneficial to complete a longitudinal study that gives more than a brief glance at the state of youth involved in social change currently. This would provide a comprehensive look at the effectiveness of various methods that the world’s youth are using now and their subsequent results and/or consequences. Sorryamoorthy’s analysis offers several case studies that could serve as the subjects in this study. The revised method would also allow the author to discern how variables in different cultures effect the abilities and techniques of youth intending to revolutionize policies within their countries.

It is essential that professionals that intend to accomplish similar work realize the necessity of choosing subject matter appropriately. As stated previously, I felt that the article lacked consistency its discussion, bouncing around from study to study without truly connecting their respective themes. In order to keep the attention of our colleagues and the community we are attempting to reach, we must be sure that the information we present is relevant. In doing so, we also express ourselves as more capable researchers who truly understand the importance of looking at details, ranging from intricate aspects to more obvious qualities.

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