• How Communications Helped Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

    Photo Credit: Matt Trommer, mtrommer@yahoo.com

    Photo Credit: Matt Trommer, mtrommer@yahoo.com

    It’s easy to forget that for a nine-month window between the 9/11 attacks and the summer of 2002, public anxiety about the Middle East didn’t have anything to do with Iraq. In August of 2002, the Bush administration deftly re-framed the national conversation by emphasizing the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and his possible possession or acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, and the need to invade Iraq to mitigate that threat. Before that time, however, public anxiety coalesced around fears of an unfamiliar enemy, al-Qaeda, and the possibility that shadowy terrorists might somehow slip a nuclear weapon into a major American city. Often left unstated, these fears were deep.

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  • Jane Golden Wide

    “Art ignites change.” A conversation with Jane Golden of The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

    KEY TAKEAWAYS:

    • A social change organization has to communicate clearly, cogently, directly, passionately about the work they are doing so that people will see it, experience it, support it.
    • When it comes to society’s more intractable problems, you cannot look past the role of innovation and creativity to ultimately make a difference when traditional interventions have failed.
    • Communication is how a social change organization tells its story, how it builds an audience, it is the lifeline of an organization

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  • The Art of Activism: A #ComNet14 Preview

    art-activism

     

    Have you ever tried explaining your work to somebody, but when you do, their eyes glaze over and they suddenly spot someone they need to say hi to?

    Those of us involved in social change, especially those who have been in the field for many years, can get bogged down in the day-to-day details of work, like the precise wording of a policy document, or the insider politics around a hot-button issue. We focus on figuring out what’s realistically possible given the present circumstances, but lose touch with the “impossible” visions of a better world that originally inspired us. And we wonder why we’re always preaching to the choir.

    How do we tap into these “impossible” dreams? How do we make them visible for others to see and buy into?

    In order to change the world we live in, we need to be able to imagine the world we desire. In order to get others to join us, we need to be able to share our visions and dreams. Sometimes we forget that we didn’t get into this field because we read a research report or white paper. Something happened that made us feel anger, outrage, or a sense of possibility.

    How do we tap into these “impossible” dreams? How do we make them visible for others to see and buy into? Stephen Duncombe and Steve Lambert of the Center for Artistic Activism and I will be talking about just that at our breakout session, Making the Impossible Possible – the Art of Activism, at COMMUNICATION MATTERS, the  Communication Network’s 2014 Conference.

    You’ll hear about new tactics and strategies that activists around the world are using to mobilize people, or make them sit up and take notice. For example, take the work of architect Alfredo Jaar. Jaar designed and built an art gallery in Skoghall, Sweden, and had it opened with great fanfare by the mayor, only to burn it down 24 hours later – all to inspire the residents of this company town to come together and organize to do something for themselves. Or the gay men in Kenya, who, tired of experiencing discrimination and poor treatment at a local health facility, turned up on a weekend to clean the clinic and thus transform the doctors’ and nurses’ view of them.

    PicMonkey Collage

    You’ll also get to do a brainstorming exercise where you will get to reconnect with the impossible, ‘Utopian’ visions that once inspired you, and then start to figure out how to make those dreams come true.

    Brett Davidson is director of the Health Media Initiative, at the Open Society Foundations. Prior to joining the Open Society Foundations, Davidson worked as a radio journalist and producer in South Africa, and as a media consultant assisting nongovernmental organizations to develop advocacy strategies. Follow him on Twitter @brettdav

  • Know Your Audience: A #ComNet14 Preview

    digital-polling

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    • Polling can reveal when a narrative will work and when it won’t.
    • With public opinion, intensity matters just as much as numbers.
    • Polling can help you find a story that will draw the audience in.

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  • Social Engagement Abstract Illustration

    Emotional Rescue

    KEY TAKEAWAYS:

    • Engagement drives people to advocate for your cause, and go the extra mile.
    • Engaged communications fulfill an emotional need and are key to improving relationships.
    • Identifying the emotional need your brand meets allows you to move your audience.

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