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Watch: Women on the Run – Alba’s Story

October 30, 2015

This week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released a new report entitled “Women on the Run.” Women in Central America and Mexico are fleeing their countries in rising numbers to escape a surge in deadly, unchecked gang violence, fueling a looming refugee crisis in the Americas. Loris Guzzetta and I produced the video above for the project. You can help by sharing the video on Youtube and other stories here.

Music is by Podington Bear


Listen: New radio story for PRI’s The World on Mexican asylum seekers

July 22, 2015


Credit: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

I recently visited Des Moines, Iowa and met the family and friends of Constantino Morales, who applied for political asylum in the United States. Read more here.



Building Relationships with Journalists via Social Media

July 10, 2015

Prezi-JournlRelationshipsNonprofits use social media for many reasons: activism, fundraising, volunteer recruitment, affecting policy change,”brand raising”, etc. It’s undoubtedly become an integral part of your organization’s communications. But how are you using it to build stronger relationships with local journalists? Sure you can create your own networks to communicate directly with supporters but broadcast journalists often have greater reach. At the same time, you can help journalists do their job more effectively by connecting them to more information for their stories.

I recently developed a checklist for nonprofits, particularly those working on immigration issues. You can see my presentation on Prezi here or read my suggestions below.

Read more…

Why It Matters to Follow Back on Social Media

May 13, 2015

Cross-posted from E-Politics

Antbirds hi-res

Mary Tremonte “Gentleman Antbirds Courting” via JustSeeds

To measure the online influence of your organization or campaign, it’s not enough to simply count your followers on social media. That’s part of the argument in a recent report by the Citizen Engagement Lab, “Moving Beyond Vanity Metrics.” Instead the ultimate goal should be active engagement (online and off) around your mission.

But it’s not just your followers who should be doing the engaging online. They are not a faceless audience who simply receive your content. It’s important for your organization to follow back some of your followers. Of course, this isn’t the only way that your organization should interact with followers… but it’s a start. As digital strategist Beth Becker likes to say, “You can’t follow no one but you can’t follow everyone.”

Here’s why: (The “how” comes after):
Read more…

Listen: The Abandoned – Life for Migrants in Sicily After the Cameras Leave

April 25, 2015

I recently completed a radio documentary for the BBC World Service: “The Abandoned” as part of their new “World Stories” initiative. You can listen to it here.

Social media was instrumental in helping me find this story. Last year in the New York Times, I read about a similar community of squatters in Rome, “The Salaam Palace.” I happened to be attending a wedding in Palermo in October 2014 and thought I’d see if there was a similar community there. I found Centro Sociale Ex Karcere online and tweeted them. They connected me to Emiliano Spera who then introduced me to residents at Via Oberdan. The building was only two blocks from where I was staying! Prendocasa also has a Facebook page that has helped keep me up to date on what the residents are up to… as well as connecting to them via mobile apps like Viber.

Special thanks: The story wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable support and assistance of Zoe Sullivan, Loris Guzzetta, Ann Hepperman, Anna Fileccia, Enzo Guzzetta, Bianca Guzzetta, Salvo Ruvolo, Antonio “Frillo” Zito, Emiliano Spera, Samrawit Gebrihet , Vittorio Pitrelli, Centro Sociale Ex Karcere, members of Prendocasa, Jesuit Refugee Service (Oscar Spooner, Riccardo Campochiaro and Ketta), Sergio Calabrese, Neil Trevithick, Nebiyu Aklilu, Fereiewi Ferhawet, Estub Dinak Amanuel “Mimi”, “Yeshi”, Fulvio Vassalo, and most importantly, Wubelem Aklilu, or “Beauty.”

Let me know what you thought of the story by leaving a comment below.


Crosspost: Above the Noise via @CultureStrike

November 19, 2014

Written by Michelle Chen and cross posted from

At the workshop, surrounded by a small gathering of people holding colorful hand-scrawled signs, Lupe Mendez, poet and self-proclaimed “Librotraficante,” reflected on his adventure as a book smuggler of sorts. Back in 2012, when the Arizona education authorities sought to crack down on a Chicano-focused ethnic studies program in public schools, he and other activists launched a campaign to “traffic” the contraband literature—works by radical authors, poets of color, and other rebel storytellers. Now before his fellow workshop participants, Mendez held up a simple placard displaying block-print alphabet in black and blue letters. He voiced his answer to the prompt for the workshop: getting people to think about why telling stories is important.

“See the letters below?” Mendez said. “This is my ‘why’: I want to share, discover the ways to tell the stories, create the voices of color that our histories need, and to build a Librotraficante Nation.”

The participants in the workshop at the Facing Race Conference, “Stepping Up Cultural Strategy: How can Racial Justice Rise Above the Noise?” focused on building out that storyline, the “why” that activists are questing for. The theme was the core of our “cultural strategy”: “the potential of arts experiences and cultural content to shift how people feel, think, and communicate about an issue. Read more…

New Series: Women’s Refugee Commission – 25 Years of Leading Change

October 19, 2014

I’m helping produce a series of video for the Women’s Refugee Commission which is celebrating 25 years of improving the lives and protecting the rights of refugee women and children.