August 6, 2009

How the National Wildlife Federation uses social media

National Wildlife Federation from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaRecently I had the chance to sit down with Danielle Brigida, social media outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, the enormously important nonprofit organization that inspires Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. They do that by combating global warming, protecting wildlife and wildlife habitats and connecting people with nature.

NWF (which is not a government agency, as some think) has been a leader in the use of social media over the past year, and a major reason for that has been Danielle’s work within the organization as well as outside, interacting with supporters and putting a human face on the institution.

“We have a new wave of members and donors coming in — people who want to get their hands dirty,” Danielle says in this 6-minute video interview conducted along a busy street in Berkeley, Calif. “Social media is a great way to start the conversation — and then you have to take it offline. You’re not having a big giant brand tell you what to do anymore. All of our members have a say in what we do.” Many of NWF’s program managers are using Twitter to connect with people and to use it as a sort of instant focus group.

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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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