unintended consequences of building a global campaign (350.org and Egypt)

Every time a global news event breaks, it seems the crew at 350.org has a personal connection to it — whether the earthquake in Haiti or current protests in Egypt or anything in between. But they’re not just trying to hijack the news cycle; instead it seems like the natural result of building a global network of committed organizers and activists. 

But instead of waiting for the event to pass so that they can get back to their regularly scheduled climate campaigning, it’s interesting to see how 350’s leaders publicly pause to shine a light on the part of their community in greatest need. I distinctly recall hearing via twitter from the 350 campaign that they had established contact with friends and allies in Haiti and that all were safe. This is the difference between building a community (or movement) and building an email list.

My friend Phil, one of the campaign’s co-coordinators, was on the phone Tuesday with one of their leaders in Egypt, Sarah Rifaat. He was good enough to relay this first-hand account of what this young campaigner was experiencing on the ground:

Internet closure is counterproductive. A lot of talk about “youth,” but they need to let the “facebook” generation have their chance to talk things through. Nobody really expected this to happen — the internet would help in engaging youth so that we can come up with steps to take this country forward.

When I was with the 350 organizing team for their first global day of action, I remember Jamie Henn reflecting on how interesting/funny it was that they had essentially created the largest news outlet in the world that day through their citizen volunteers. (For more on this, see the behind-the-scenes recap i wrote for HuffPo about 350’s organizing model.)

Well it turns out that keeping the 350 network alive has resulted in something of a global citizen news outlet for all kinds of global events, not just the ones they set out to organize. 

What are you doing on Monday?

Cross-posted from EchoDitto

Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King Day. It’s a national Day of Service and a time to reflect on social justice. The crisis in Haiti brings extra focus and intensity to the question of how we care for each other. How did one of the world’s poorest countries struggle to survive just miles off the coast of Florida? Why does it require a massive earthquake for us to turn our attention to Haiti?

King wrote, “Every man [and woman] must decide whether he [or she] will walk in the creative light of altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s persistent and most urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?'”

We have been inspired by our friend and fellow technology geek Luke Montgomery. Three years ago, Luke asked himself that very question. He decided to build an orphanage, brick by brick for abandoned Haitian children with HIV/AIDS. And he looked to his online community and social media to help him do it through participatory fundraising on his website, WeCanBuildAnOrphanage.com. He raised enough funds to start a successful 10-bed orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti.

Luke is on his way back to Haiti. Because the infrastructure is in such bad shape, he’s planning to fly to the Dominican Republic and then make his way over a rocky and roadless mountain to get to Jacmel. He got some news this morning:

Our kids are alive but our orphanage was totally destroyed in the quake… but again, our 13 children have all survived. Somehow amidst all the death around them, these 13 orphans made it out of the rubble alive. They are now living on the street surrounded by rubble with no food, water, blankets or medicine. Many of them are HIV+. Two are handicapped and can not walk. We are rushing an emergency team to them to care for, feed and protect them. I’m leaving and will be on the ground in Haiti for as long as it takes to rebuild. We need your help. We lost everything.

We’re going to help out by renting a satellite phone for his trip. And we’re inviting you to join us by spreading the word about what Luke is doing. Share this link with your personal networks online (Facebook, Twitter, Email) to help put a face on the work that needs to be done in Haiti: http://tinyurl.com/ykt74rg

The cool part is that he’s a web geek like us so he’ll be blogging and sharing videos/photos so people can see exactly how donations are being spent. You can see the full story of the orphanage in Haiti here: https://wecanbuildanorphanage.com

For years it seemed like only moments of crisis — from natural disasters like Haiti to global warming — could unite us and our organizations in common purpose. But the connective tissues of technology seem to be taking hold in both charitable and corporate boardrooms alike. We’re seeing first-hand in our work across the climate, service, and veterans movements an unprecedented level of openness and collaboration.

Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King Day, a day of national and community service to remember his legacy. After years of working with leading organizations to support service, it’s a real privilege to join with them in a collaborative effort to build All for Good, a joint platform that makes service opportunities ubiquitous.

We’re proud to stand with so many of our clients and partners this weekend — Hands On Network, Do Something, Service Nation, The Huffington Post to name a few — in inviting you to join us in celebrating King Day as a day of service.

Click here to find an opportunity near you – and join us in using a day of service to reflect on Haiti and social justice: http://www.serve.gov/mlkday

Surviving theft. Shoulda worn that fanny pack.

I had my bag stolen earlier this week in Copenhagen. It was a huge distraction for about 24 hrs, but the upside is that I learned the truth about a few of those things people always warn us about. Hopefully this is helpful to you, but I’m also writing this to remind my future self:

  • Keep your passport not in your bag — like on your “person” or in a safe place in your room. Fortunately I had the prescience to pull my passport and other non-essentials out of my bag before heading out that morning, otherwise I may still be in the land of the Vikings. Although less important and easier to replace, same would be true for keeping your phone charger separate if you’re in a faraway place where you can’t get a replacement charger.
  • Long live the cloud. I was travelling with a small and relatively inexpensive netbook laptop. Because I use it as a secondary computer for travel, it doesn’t contain anything special — it’s essentially a piece of plastic that let’s me access email, calendar, files, and the web, all of which are hosted remotely on google, dropbox, or evernote. I was up and running again within minutes of finding a replacement machine, or using a public terminal. No priceless photos or hard-won music collections lost.
  • You can’t backup your moleskin (or non-hipster equivalent). Pretty obvious, but given how we live in a world of auto-save and redundant backups, it did come as something of a shock to realize that my [analog] notes from the year were unrecoverable. Since I didn’t have any special photos on my camera (see below), this was the most significant loss even though it was the least valuable item in my bag as far as my insurance company is concerned.
  • Download/upload photos frequently when travelling. I didn’t lose more than a few dozen pics, none of which were that special, but it could have been much worse. The lesson for me here was that when travelling and snapping photos, it’s worth downloading from the camera and uploading to web/backup after every batch of photos that you couldn’t bear to lose.
  • Don’t leave your bag even slightly unattended. Ok, right, thanks. Obvious, but my bag was actually attended when it was stolen — on the floor no more than three feet from me/our group. But it was dark and even though it was within my reach, there were plenty of distractions taking my attention away from my bag. So +1 for me for not leaving my bag in the corner or under a pile of coats; -1 for letting the bag out of sight while being obviously American in a foreign city.
  • Identify your privacy threshold.Password protection on my laptop (and phone, which was not stolen) puts my mind at ease that no personal information will get stolen, especially since those dirty thieves are most likely looking to resell the equipment. But if you’re the type of person who takes scandalous pictures with your camera or a high profile individual recording your deepest secrets in a journal, it’s worth thinking about what you’d do if that camera or notebook were taken. I don’t think that means you need to limit your creative expression, but it does make me think twice about what I’ll comfortably keep in my bag when heading out vs securing in my apartment. It used to be that a high schooler’s stolen diary couldn’t make it much farther than a copy machine and the school hallways, but with the permanence of information posted to the internet, a few scans and uploads could be devastating depending on who someone is and what they write.
  • Keep records of major purchases. Once you get a spreadsheet or system going, it shouldn’t be that hard to update every time you get a new ipod or camera, but if you’re filing an insurance claim, it’ll save you a lot of time and hassle digging up model/serial numbers and receipts.

I also learned that the Danes are the nicest people on earth. Everyone in the bar was helpful and sympathetic when I asked them all to move so I could search, the staff were helpful that night and the next day, and filing a police report couldn’t have been a more pleasant experience. My thoughts go out to ocean explorer Roz Savage, an inspired woman who i recently met at the computer terminals at the Fresh Air Center because she too was without her laptop. Almost all of her worldly possessions were taken while in CPH. Check out her post [here] to see if you can help, or just to learn about all of her crazy adventures.

Top three reasons to travel with an iphone

I try not to be a product evangelist but this was the first international trip i’ve taken with my iphone, and man has it performed in ways that I didn’t anticipate.

1. WIFI — enough said; ATT’s international roaming plans will cover you for some emergency email checks, tweeting, or mapping, but beyond that, tapping into hotel or conference wifi has proven invaluable for uploading photos, downloading messages, checking flight information, and most importantly, making phone calls (see 1B)

1B. SKYPE — in Turkey, ATT’s best roaming plan (at $6 for the month) brought the voice rate down to $1.99/min (from $2.99/min); nice to have for emergency use, but otherwise Skype has saved me; at point-zero-something-per-min to landlines, i’ve talked as long as i’ve wanted on clear connections and barely made a dent in my skype credit (just lookout for unstable wifi networks that drop your calls); pair this with free incoming on an inexpensive local SIM chip (cost me less than $20 for a number + some minutes) and I probably didn’t even need to tell my clients i had left the country; although the 7 hr time difference on email may have tipped them off.

2. VIDEO — i recently upgraded to the 3GS, but the video was incidental for me; not anymore; having video has been a cool way to capture unique stories or experiences as they happen; i’d never travel around with a camcorder (i eventually abandoned my Flip after a several-month honeymoon was over), but when there’s one on your cell phone, you’d be amazed at what starts to be come video-worthy all of a sudden.

3. MAPS — English is not so prevalent here, even in Istanbul, as most people had me believe. As in, I have yet to find a cab driver who knows where my hotel is. But everyone can read a map of their own city, so shoving a screen in a driver’s face has proven to be remarkably effective. (Or if you’re suspicious of the results of your exchange, follow along on GPS to see if you’re heading in the right direction.)

Running around the world

I’m sure we’ve all talked about doing this sooner or later, but Simon‘s actually doing it right now — one of 20 people on the Blue Planet Run 2007 team. 10 miles a day every day for 3 months — amazing.So if you’re in NYC or DC later this week, check out Simon and the rest of the runners as they approach the finish line of their 3 month journey around the globe. All in the name of safe drinking water.Also, this is nuts: only $30 ensures safe drinking water for life for one of the billion fellow travelers who don’t have access to it. I just gave… You can too right here.