Twitter, FB banned for debates

I spend a lot of time looking at ways that nonprofits and activists can use social media to affect change.

Evidently, so does a court in Nigeria.

Map of Sharia states in NigeriaThe Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria was hoping to use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to host debates on the use of amputations as punishments.

But an Islamic court ruled against the use, saying, “An order is hereby given restraining the respondents either by themselves or their agents from opening a chat forum on Facebook, Twitter, or any blog for the purpose of the debate on the amputation of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe.”

Malam Buba Bello Jangebe was the first person in Nigeria to be sentenced to an amputation after stealing a cow in 2000. On the anniversary of his punishment, the Civil Rights Congress had hoped to open up a debate so Nigerians could voice their opinions on Sharia law.

The civil rights group says they plan to appeal the decision.

Source: BBC

A global jam session for development

Next week the US government will host what they are calling a “jam session” for individuals interested in, or working in the field of international development. They are calling it Global Pulse, and it will be held, live and virtual, from March 29-31.

Ideas come from other ideas....lots of light nulbs emerge from one large bulb

Using the IDM “Innovation Jam” platform, they hope to have upwards of 20,000 participants sharing ideas and brainstorming on issues such as empowering women and girls, eual access to quality education, civil rights, global health, equitable trade and environmental protection.

Its a neat idea, and an interesting use of technology. All that is required is IE6 or Firefox 1.5 or above.

Oh, and a high speed internet connection.

While I understand the technical need for the high speed connection, I wonder how many people who should be a part of the conversation will be left out?

I’ll be attending the sessions as much as possible. I’m particularly interested in how the needs of people with disabilities will be addressed in the discussions, and I’m curious to find out how people in the field are using media and communications in their programs and ideas.

Stay tuned……

Glenn Close sets back Disability Rights 50 Years

Glenn Close has won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Tony, and has been nominated for an Oscar, but she still can’t seem to get a simple PSA right. She and her sister Jessie, who has bi-polar disorder, have recently launched a new campaign to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness- but are they doing more harm than good?

The main PSA for “Bring Change 2 Mind,” does anything but. It shows a crowded train station with hundreds of people milling through, with a few in white t-shirts. These t-shirts have titles and labels on them – such as from sister, better half, to schizophrenia to bi-polar. The purpose, I’m assuming, is to put a face to the diagnosis…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUaXFlANojQ]

But, I have a real problem with this set up. You have PEOPLE wearing labels – isn’t that what disability rights activists have been fighting for years to overcome? When these individuals walk through the train station, we don’t see them as people, we see them as diagnoses. I don’t know Glenn Close’s sister’s name, but I know what her mental illness is…

When did we stop trying to put the person first???

And what about the people who are walking with the diagnosed? Their shirts have roles written on them- sister, battle buddy, better half. But the schizophrenics, depressed, and bi-polarĀ  are sisters, brothers, better halves, battle buddies…..are they not?

How does this video show us that people with mental illness are real people too?

It’s doesn’t.

We are not learning anything about them as people, about their lives, their daily struggles… just their diagnosis. And in my opinion, that’s damaging.

Contrast that with a stigma reduction campaign I reviewed just a few days ago from Scotland, whose tagline is “See Me” (as in, not my diagnosis). In this campaign, the PSAs share the commonality of the experiences of the people with mental illness, AND show how the people who care for them helped them out:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chKRsULodG0&feature=player_embedded]

At no point is anyone labeled. Instead, their situation is described, concrete things to do are suggested, and in the end mental illness doesn’t seem like something we need to freak out about! It doesn’t need to show famous people donning “I’m With Stupid” t-shirts.

The only redeeming factor of the “Bring Change 2 Mind” video is that at the end of the piece, the t-shirts fade to colors, and they meld into the crowd. This is a nice touch, but only goes to undo the damage that has already been done. We haven’t gained any ground.

The more I think about it, the more I hate this campaign. The tagĀ  line is “Change a mind about mental illness, and you can change a life.”

But how, Glenn? How do we change a mind? By wearing diagnosis t-shirts?

This campaign gives us nothing but a famous person, revealing the “skeletons in her closet,” set to a John Mayer soundtrack.

(The press that the campaign is getting is equally sickening…..but I’ll save that for part deux, tomorrow)

Can social marketing reduce stigma?

This was one of the questions I addressed in my masters thesis this past summer. Specifically, I wanted to explore how different cultural interpretations of disability would affect communication efforts to reduce stigma in developing countries. More on that later.

As I was doing research, I came across a very interesting campaign from Scotland. The tagline is “See Me,” and they have lots of interesting uses of media in their campaign. In addition to tv and radio ads, they have photography contests, polls and downloadable curriculum packs. They also have a great collection of evaluation tools.

Each TV ad has a very clear target audience in mind, whether children or adults, the ads are aimed a people who know someone affected by mental illness. Take a look:

For children-

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0G73qkwfBM]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0ii8XiRwbc]

For adults-

(My favorite line from this one is, “Patterns change, friends don’t”)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mR5QyML6Ds]

(This one has some great brotherly ribbing, showing how their relationship didn’t change as a result of the mental illness)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chKRsULodG0]

Its the subtleties that I appreciate most in the ads for the adults. The ones aimed at children are clear and hopefully incite some empathy and understanding….

What do you think? Do you have some examples of stigma reduction social marketing that you found particularly good. Or bad?

Got Water?

Bottle of Beau Pal water
Bottle of B'eau Pal water

Its summertime in Washington, DC, and although it has been a comparatively mild summer, it is still hot and humid enough to make you want to jump in the pool, or have a tall glass of crisp, cold water.

How about the latest in boutique bottled water, B’eau Pal?

Unlike other high end aqua refreshment, it’s source is not some glacial mountain in the Alps, or natural spring in the Adirondacks. No, this water comes straight to us from India.

Bhopal, India, to be exact. Site of the world’s largest industrial accident.

The B’eau Pal campaign is the latest from The Bhopal Medial Appeal and The Yes Men, in an effort to raise awareness about the incident and put further pressure on Dow Chemical to be held accountable.

The launch of this campaign coincides with the 25th anniversary of the accident, which has killed 20,000, and continues to kill at least one person a day.

The campaign features a beautiful red label and even includes a nutrition label, which indicates the drink has:

The campaign is clever, but not designed for mass distribution. Rather, the Yes Men had hoped to present the bottles to Dow Chemical executives earlier this month. However, word got out, and protesters found the Dow building completely empty. Had there been some kind of confrontation, perhaps there would have been more press, and consequently more awareness.

Unfortunately, all that’s left is a pretty bottle of poisoned water.

While I like the idea for the campaign, I can’t help feel like it is just there to make US feel better. Sure its witty. If the Dow folks had been there, we could really smirk. And hopefully the coverage would have raised some awareness and possible generated some funds.

But was there really hope that the campaign would change Dow’s mind about taking responsibility?

I’d like to know how the campaign measures success in this case? What’s the return on investment here?

Don’t let your work hide on a shelf!

Messy Bookshelf

Last semester I took a course on children in international development. It was an amazing overview of some of the particular development issues that hit children – child labor, trafficking, education in crisis, early marriage, HIV/AIDS to name a few.

The final project for the course was a case study and we were partnered up with others with similar interests. My partner and I decided to focus on interventions that are in place for young disabled Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

Not only did we have to turn in a paper, we also had to present our research to the class. So, rather than bore everyone with another power point, we decided to create a website.

But not only did this give us a different way to present, it also creates a ‘living document’ so to speak. It makes the information available to others, provides resources, and gives us a way to keep our work from hiding on a shelf somewhere. Because, really, what good is it going to do there?

So check it out! We incorporated videos, photos and all kinds of links!

Feedback is welcome!!

http://www.rwdjordan.wordpress.com

Photo: Home and Garden Webshots

Virtual Violence

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and there are lots of things you can do!

UNIFEM has organized a “Say No to Violence” campaign, and they are collecting signatures to deliver to UN Secretary General Ban Kim Moon. You can find out more, and sign the petition here.

I’m a little disappointed in this campaign – its seems a little thrown together. Nicole Kidman seems uninspired in her presentation of the issues, the videos are incredibly dull, it takes too long to figure out what we can do to get involved….

BUT, it is an important cause, and hopefully you join me in supporting it. After all, its the CAUSE, not the CAMPAIGN should support.

That being said, a campaign that I do find interesting (and worthy!) is Take Back the Tech.

From their site:

The root cause of violence against women (VAW) lies in unequal power relations between men and women in almost all facets of life. The field of information communications technology (ICTs) faces the same gender disparity. As a result, digital spaces like the internet, broadcast and telecommunications have become defined and developed according to dominant perspectives of masculinities.

This means that VAW that happened in physical spaces like the home and streets, are now also taking new forms and occurring in digital spaces. For example, domestic violence abusers have used tools like spyware and GPS to track and control their partner’s mobility.

Our right to move freely without harassment or threats to safety also applies to digital spaces.

This 16 day internet campaign’s goal is to “reclaim ICTs to end violence against women.” A great project, with some fun tools (widgets, a tech hunt, and the Ka-blog) and they have a different action idea for each day of the campaign. That’s 16 ways to make a change!

Today’s action is to Widget Your Stand, i.e. put widgets on your blogs and social network accounts.

They’ve also set up a forum for people to make their own activity suggestions.

Lots of good ideas in this campaign, fun use of tools, I wish the site were a little easier to navigate, but all in all a fascinating campaign – one I’ll be watching!!

As someone who spends a considerable amount of time online, I think its a great frame. What about you? Do you see this a real problem? Do you feel that violence against women is evident, or promoted, online?

Rough draft of history

At a recent Internet Advocacy Roundtable, held monthly at the Center for American Progress, Professor David Perlmutter from University of Kansas, and author of Blog Wars, said of blogs, “They are becoming the rough draft of history.”

I don’t know if that is a phrase he came up with, or if its been kicked around for a while, but it really stuck with me. For so long history has been written (and consequently determined, to an extent) by the powerful. Those with wealth, education and money were the ones who got to shape the “official” history.

But as social media becomes increasingly available, the number of voices and the number of narratives is increasing as well.

This is not to say, obviously, that all the voices and narratives are being represented – indeed social media is still available to the relative elite. But there is no doubt that there are people and groups who are getting their histories recorded in new and exciting ways.

Installation in Libertys window, by Michael Wolf. It pays tribute to the Chinese factory workers who make 75% of the worlds toys
Installation in Liberty's window, by Michael Wolf. It pays tribute to the Chinese factory workers who make 75% of the world's toys

But giving these stories voice does more than just represent a people. It can expose the greater stories that we all share. In a fabulous article called The Story Revolution, Arlen Goldbard points out that we all share some basic human events – these are what Isaiah Berlin calls “the clear layer.” But beneath that is the “much thicker ‘dark layer’ which is a name for the aggregate of our little stories.”

“You can generalize effortlessly based on the clear layer: That’s where social and historical theories are propounded, …. But if you really want to understand something, you have to be willing to spend time in the dark layer, with its multitude of little stories.”

The Future of Emailing Congress

Computer with mailbox flagHave you emailed your congressional representative? Did you feel like it did any good?

Congressional offices are receiving hundreds of millions of emails every year, and the workload on staffers is enormous! As the number of emails has increased over the years, the staff size and technology budgets have not.

The Center for American Progress will be discussing this issue and posing some suggestions in it monthly Internet Advocacy Roundtable. As ususual, I’ll be live blogging!

You can follow along here!

Getting Excited About Maps

There’s been a lot of buzz about using maps in advocacy, and its been something I’ve been meaning to explore further. I knew about the use of maps to see that damage done in Darfur (you can track as village go missing, and as communities are destroyed in Zimbabwe). And as neat as these were, they didn’t really do anything more than show me what I had just read before I click on “see map.”

But today I came across a completely engaging use of maps.

Buried somewhere in the Oceana website (it really should be easier to find) there is a fun tool for getting people involved in increasing awareness of mercury in seafood. If you visit Oceana’s Green List, you are asked to enter in your zip code. The site will then show you a map of your area with all the local grocery stores marked with either red or green map pins. The green pins indicate the store posts warning about mercury levels in seafood. The red ones indicate stores that have yet to post these warnings. They are on the so called Red List.

If you click on one of these pins, you get the sotre’s name, logo and address and a link that says “Help us get to your store to hang signs.” and “Sign up to speak with your store manager.”

When you click on the link, you fill out a quick form (name, email address) and then you are given a link to a printable comment card that you can drop into the stores comment box.

Personally, I found this very fun and engaging. I would have never thought about lobbying my grocery store on this issue, but now I can ‘t wait to drop this thing off!

(This post was originally posted on my blog at NetCentric Campaigns.)