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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.

New Project with @EndIsolation: “Detention Stories – Life Inside California’s New Angel Island”

August 13, 2014


Audio Recordings Document Abuse in Immigration Detention

LOS ANGELES – Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) releases seven audio recordings and videos, featuring the voices of people in immigration detention across California.  As video and audio recording generally is not allowed in immigration detention facilities, people in immigration detention requested that CIVIC record their voices to share with a larger audience online.  Through these telephone conversations, CIVIC documented arbitrary use of solitary confinement, sexual assault, physical abuse by ICE officers, prolonged detention, retaliatory transfers, and other aspects of life inside immigration detention.

Read more…

Listen: Latino Advocates in the South urge us to be “beacons of light” for refugee kids

August 2, 2014

Last week, I participated in the 3rd annual SPINAcademy South in Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. The four-day training is specifically designed for organizers and advocates working on immigration issues across the South; a sort of summer camp to learn effective communications skills and storytelling strategies for their organizations.

As part of the training, I led a “tactics team” on audio storytelling and the participants decided to make a radio story connecting their own migration experiences with those of refugee children now arriving at the US/Mexico border.

Read more…

12 Ways to Promote Your Upcoming Event with Social Media

July 26, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 12.45.08 PMEDTI just returned from a great week in the mountains of North Georgia with the 2014 SPIN Academy South (see photos here). I lead a session on “12 Ways to Promote Your Event with Social Media”. You can view the  presentation via the Prezi image above or here. You can also read an outline of what I recommend: Read more…