May 20, 2009

Mexican arts center ‘saves lives’

Mexican Arts Center ‘saves lives’ from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaSocialbrite isn’t just about social tools, it’s about stories — stories of people and organizations that are making a real difference in people’s lives.

One of the best ones I’ve come across in the past year is the story of Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center. Instructors there teach young people — chiefly in the Richmond/San Pablo area east of San Francisco — to connect with their heritage through music, dance, arts and crafts and more.

This six-minute testimonial I put together includes a clip of Los Lobos performing a benefit concert at the center and my interview with Los Lobos lead singer David Hidalgo, who talks passionately about how the center “saves lives” by giving kids an alternative to drugs and violence.

The people connected with the center — founder/executive director Eugene Rodriguez, Claire Bellecci, dance and music instructor Lucina Rodriguez — are an amazing group: dedicated, passionate and fun to hang with. (By the way, it took me a few weeks to learn how to pronounce Los Cenzontles! it’s from the Aztec for the mockingbirds.)

But what’s especially striking is their musicality. Los Cenzontles is not just a 501(c)(3) nonprofit but a kick-ass band that has toured with Los Lobos: Lucina is lead singer and Eugene plays bass guitar. The group’s Songs of Wood and Steel is a masterwork — I’ve worn it out in my car CD player. Love the fact that you can support the group buy buying one of its CDs, DVDs or T-shits at its online store.

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May 19, 2009

Twitter literacy: Getting value out of social media

Beth KanterHoward Rheingold has an interesting post titled “Twitter Literacy (I refuse to Make Up a Twittery Name for It). Stephen Downes went ahead and said the word, Twitteracy. Rheingold points to some research data from Nielsen that more than 60 percent of new Twitter users fail to return the following month. Rheingold suggests that is an example of social media literacy:

Twitter is one of a growing breed of part-technological, part-social communication media that require some skills to use productively. Sure, Twitter is banal and trivial, full of self-promotion and outright spam. So is the Internet. The difference between seeing Twitter as a waste of time or as a powerful new community amplifier depends entirely on how you look at it — on knowing how to look at it.

He goes to lay out some reasons why he finds Twitter valuable, a nice counterpoint to Jakob Nielsen’s critique in BusinessWeek where he suggests that Twitter gives you ADD and can damage productivity. Clearly, if you use Twitter efficiently and in the right way it can provide value.

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May 19, 2009

Hope meets phones

kiwanjaIt’s been another landmark day in the short history of FrontlineSMS:Medic. For those of you who don’t know, today saw the launch of their latest initiative — Hope Phones — which, generally speaking, encourages people to dig out their old phones and give them a new lease of life in the hands of a community health care worker (CHW) in a developing country.

Hope Phones

Hope Phones will make use of the nearly 450,000 cell phones discarded every day in the United States, and allows donors to print a free shipping label and send their old phone in to The Wireless Source, a global leader in wireless device recycling. The phone’s value allows FrontlineSMS:Medic to purchase usable, recycled cell phones for health care workers.

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May 18, 2009

How KidsAreHeroes.com uses social media

How KidsAreHeroes Uses Twitter from John Haydon on Vimeo.

John HaydonI had the incredible opportunity to speak with Gabe O’Neill of Kids Are Heroes a couple of weeks ago and was completely blown away by two things:

  1. How KidsAreHeroes.Com Uses Social MediaHis unwavering sense of mission.
  2. He uses only Twitter for social media actions.

Kids Are Heroes recently won the competition for Richard Branson’s first ever PitchTV show! In this video, I talk about my meeting with Gabe and the four success factors that contributed to his success:

  1. Solid sense of mission
  2. Remarkable content
  3. Be active with social media
  4. A reason to fight

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May 18, 2009

Change.org adds Jobs for Change

Amy Sample WardChange.org’s Jobs for Change is a career service and jobs marketplace that aims to help people find and develop a career they love in social change — which for them means nonprofit, government, and social enterprise jobs. To do this, they’ve hired a team of career advisors who will each be writing a daily blog to provide advice and guidance to a different demographic of job seekers – from College Students to Sector Switchers.

You can also ask the team of advisors any question you’d like and get a public response, sort of like Yahoo Answers but powered by experts. Excerpt:

We are currently building the largest database of nonprofit, government, and social enterprise jobs on the web and have just hired a team of career advisors to provide daily advice and guidance to help people of all backgrounds find and develop a career in social change. We have also partnered with more than a dozen leading organizations that will give Jobs for Change reach to millions of people interested in deeper civic engagement.

I am curious how Idealist and Social Actions play into this since they are the most frequently visited/used sites by myself and others I know to find both jobs, volunteer opportunities and more in the social benefit sector. I’m also excited to see how the advice and question/answer content develops. After the site is past this initial launch, it’ll be nice to relegate some of the home page to valuable content, too (and not just logos of partners).
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May 16, 2009

Sloane Berrent on the cause-filled life

The cause-filled life from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaSloane Berrent, who publishes TheCausemopolitan and blogs at LAist and GirlsinTech.net, talks about causes and building community in this 3 1/2-minute video interview. I caught up with her a few minutes after the LA tech scene session she co-moderated at South by Southwest 2009 in Austin; the session drew about 120 people.

Sloane, who practices what she preaches, is heading to the Philippines as a @kiva fellow for 12 weeks. She’ll be at the Kiva fellows social Wednesday at 6:30 pm in San Francisco. She’s already a good way toward raising the $7,500 she needs for air fare, vaccinations, work vise, lodging, transportation and daily living costs — you can support her here.

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