Event: Organizers and Change-Makers, Not Martyrs (5/9/13)

You are an Organizer. You are a Change-Maker. You do this work because you have witnessed the power of you and your friends, working side by side for long hours, to alter the course of history.

In the culture of organizers at unions, campaigns or non-profits, we push ourselves because the suffering and obstacles we are up against are intense. And when it comes down to it, there can never be too many votes, too many donations, or too many activists marching for justice.

As organizers, we often fight harder for other’s health than our own. We know that health plans must include preventative care and our energy sources must be sustainable. We fight for wages that match the work being completed. But we often fail to apply these values to our own work.’

We can do better for ourselves and our organizations. Stress, overwork, and unhealthy work practices are accepted as the norm even though they cause lower productivity and burnout.

Join The Action Mill‘s Nick Jehlen , Dara Silverman and Organizing 2.0 for an evening about how we can move towards sustainability in our work as organizers.

RSVP Here for Organizers and Change-Makers, Not Martyrs on May 9.

The answers are in development from places like the Action Mill, which researches and designs tools that create better workplaces for people. They look at work habits, organizational structure, communication tools and more that have practical implications towards healthier and more resilient workplaces.

Nick Jehlen will discuss practical steps to reshape our unsustainable work, as is the the focus of The Action Mill. He will be joined by Dara Silverman, a consultant with experience developing and planning campaigns, supporting new and experienced organizers, fundraising, strategic planning, and board development

It is not just about taking better care of ourselves as individuals, but creating work environments that help everyone to be more productive over the long-term so we are ready to grow our movements and sustain them for the road to come.

Thursday, May 9


at the North Star Fund at 520 8th Ave, Suite 2230, Manhattan

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Special Guests: Kenzo Shibata and Erin Hofteig

Kenzo Shibata, new media coordinator for chicagot public teachers unionKenzo Shibata is the New Media Coordinator at the Chicago Public Teachers Union. In that role he had a massive and prominent impact on the successful strike last year. He’ll be speaking bright and early: 9 am, Saturday, March 23rd.

Erin Hofteig, former digital director of the AFTInterviewing him will be Erin Hofteig, outgoing digital director of the American Federation of Teachers. I’ve known her since she was helping to transition the AFL-CIO to Salsa (the database/CRM tool that most unions use). She’s an incredible teacher who wants to map out next steps for labor and new media tools.

We’re interested in questions like: what digital preparations were made before the strike? How was digital included in strategy discussions? What were the working relationships between communications (PR) and social media space? How did members’ roles evolve as users of social media supporting their union during a difficult time?

In other words, they’re going to have an open conversation about the nuts and builds of building power online during a strike, and the relationships inside a union local that is doing it right.

Got questions? Post them here in the comments and we’ll pass them to Kenzo and Erin. They will also be part of other sessions addressing labor unions use of new media at the local level.

Full bios:

Kenzo Shibata taught high school English in the Chicago Public Schools for nearly a decade and was a founding member of CORE: The Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators.

Shibata was a labor and public education activist who reported and blogged on education policy before taking a position with the Chicago Teachers Union. From 2010-2012 he was the chief publications editor before taking on the newly created position of social media coordinator in July of 2012. He manages social media, blogs, and edits video for CTU. His work can be seen in Gapers Block, Beachwood Reporter, AREA-Chicago, Alter-Net, In These Times, Substance News, Jacobin Magazine, Huffington Post, Labor Notes and Truth-Out. His social media work has been highlighted in NPR, The Daily Dot, and DNA-Info.

He’s been a guest on Take Action News and the Matthew Filipowicz Show.

Shibata recently completed his Masters in Public Policy at Northwestern University. Follow him on Twitter: @kenzoshibata @ctulocal1

Erin Hofteig is a new media strategist and manager with over a decade of experience during which time she has raised millions of dollars, launched strategic initiatives to win campaigns – both electoral and political – built large, multifaceted websites, run online advertising campaigns, trained hundreds of people to use these tools to strategically reach online and offline goals, and built strong connections to leaders of the progressive online community as well as with leaders of a variety of traditional progressive organizations.

Erin specializes in strategic planning, online marketing and communications, website design and outreach. A graduate of the California State University, Chico with a double major in Political Science and International Relations, Erin has worked with everyone from national Presidential campaigns, Democratic state parties, national party infrastructure, non profits, media organizations, private companies, individual campaigns and the labor movement. She loves to play poker.

Workshops and Presentations at Organizing New York

Here’s a partial listing of what you might learn if you come to Organizing New York (March 22-24):

Y U No Register for Organizing New YorkOnline campaigning and digital strategy

  • Classes in NationBuilder, Salsa, and CiviCRM (popular databases)
  • Mobile phone organizing strategies
  • Building engagement on Facebook for organizations
  • Using humor and comedy in your communications
  • Personal stories and story-telling that drive campaigns
  • Advanced social media strategy
  • Introduction to digital strategy
  • Online political tactics for local campaigns in New York City
  • How to ensure that your web project is a complete failure (!)
  • Seven easy things you can do to make your website more engaging
  • Online Idol: Experts evaluate existing campaign and organizing websites and social media usage
  • Using online video in your organizing without wasting vast resources that have no impact
  • Running an online advertising campaign when you are broke
  • Safe space and no judgment! Facebook and Twitter 101
  • How to choose a CRM and CMS (database, donation tools, website design software)
  • Google analytics for beginners: what every online campaigner should know
  • Taking on corporations online and winning
  • Working with bloggers and the blogosphere to advance your issue
  • Managing your volunteer social media communicators to deepen engagement
  • Working with Puerto Rican and Dominican American communities online
  • Working with African American communities online
  • Evangelizing online organizing within your organization

Civic Engagement

  • Recruiting ‘national issues’ activists for local political impact
  • Leveraging New York’s progressive power for national impact
  • Understanding the most important elections tool – the VAN
  • How to advance statewide issues (like marriage equality, fair elections and higher taxes on the 1%)
  • C3 and C4 legal workshop: advancing progressive issues without getting into trouble with the IRS
  • How to advance city wide and local issues in New York City
  • Introduction to this economic mess we are in – understanding the progressive narrative on inequality
  • Performing the narrative: how to speak and message on economic issues for maximum impact
  • Running against the political machine (any machine!)
  • Have you ever thought about running for office? Find out what it takes
  • What we know: recent lessons from organizing citizens and workers in low income communities using online and offline strategies in perfect harmony
  • Using policy initiatives to build progressive political power
  • Campaigning in low turnout elections, online and offline

Grassroots Fundraising

  • Online Fundraising 101
  • Grassroots Fundraising 101
  • Collaborative and creative fundraising strategies: thinking outside the box
  • Developing a fundraising plan
  • Building a culture of fundraising in your organization
  • Getting your board on board with fundraising
  • Major donors: building a team, running a campaign
  • Thon-a-thons: thoning the %&*! out of anything
  • Fundraising from your membership base
  • People of color and fundraising
  • White people and fundraising
  • Planning your best fundraising event EVER
  • How to ask for a gift
  • Kickstart this: planning your crowdfunding campaign
  • Building authentic donor relationships
  • Building a fundraising team: volunteers, board and more

Whew! Still think we’re missing something? Submit YOUR workshop idea for Rootscamp, the unconference day (Sunday, March 24).

Candidate College on Social Media in Local Politics

In 2011, I participated in a candidate training organized by Morgan Pehme of Civic NY, a good government group. While I was a panelist on the last session (which addressed social media in particular) the highlight for me was asking four high powered campaign consultants about using new media in local campaigns. Specifically – are any of them claiming expertise in using new media? And if not – who do they recognize in the field as having expertise they respect?

The answers were revealing. There was a recognition that politics is changing, and that this is an important field. Just not important enough that any of these folks needed to develop actual expertise it, in contrast to other campaign management skills involving field, fundraising or phone calls. For one of them, it was enough to hire bright young things and be done with it. None of them could name an actual ‘expert’. The most fascinating response was that ‘social media is only worth 100-200 votes, so you can give it to a volunteer if that’s what they are most passionate about. Don’t waste too much time on it.’ (I couldn’t stop thinking about former Congressman Weiner while hearing this.)

And then the New York Times Magazine article about the Republican’s use of online strategies in the 2012 election came out two weeks ago. In it, you can hear the frustration of Republican operatives who tried mightily to help their team do better at social media and online tools generally – but failed mightily in multiple dimensions.

“There are always elders at the top who say, ‘That’s not important,’ And that’s where the left has beaten us, by giving smart people the space and trusting them to have success. It’s a fundamentally anti-entrepreneurial model we’ve embraced.”

Here in New York, the division isn’t between R’s and D’s. It’s between smart, entrepreneurial people who don’t have status power, and the insular, top down cohort of political consultants and campaign managers who essentially run every race. My impression is that some of them are now working on the question of how to project expertise in social media, online advertising, and other new media tools, notwithstanding that just about all of them adopted counter-factual opinions and practices in the last few years. And that’s actually progress; even their most misguided and trusting clients are demanding that the folks who yesterday said that social media wasn’t that important now offer guidance on using Twitter. Obviously, folks like me are in the same category as ‘premature anti-fascists’ were in the 40s; clearly suspicious for not having soberly waited to become a late adopter.

I suspect that almost none of them are asking the most important question in 21st Century, open source and open ended politics: how do we remove that insular filter that puts us two steps behind instead of being the ones that are two steps ahead? That my friends, is the real question. Social media just gives us a better way to ask it.

If you want to help answer that question while learning hard social media skills, don’t forget to register for Organizing New York, March 22-24.