CA Roadshow: Building strategies for technology use
After a week on the road, JC and I are back from this year's first California Training Roadshow. We ventured from the Bay to Bakersfield, then continued on to Los Angeles where we met Misty and hosted two interactive events with local nonprofits and organizers.
To kick things off, fifteen people joined us on May 6th for the Social Justice Technology Skillshare. We started the day by creating a mind-map of what topics to address and questions to answer. An interesting distribution of topics emerged compared to previous years. Specifically, there were fewer direct requests to learn specific tools or social media. A participant wrote, "What are we missing by not being on social media all the time/at all?"
On the other hand, the category titled "strategies" had so many notes that it reached down to the floor. Throughout the day, sessions were held primarily on how to develop strategies to engage people in the real world. Tools entered the dialogue only if they could be linked to actual impact for frontline communities. Otherwise, most of the conversations were "tool-agnostic", meaning that implementing a strategy wasn't dependent on any particular tool.
In most sessions, participants were asked to think about their organizational goals, then reverse-engineer their way back into thinking of campaign strategies, online identity, and internal nonprofit workflows to realize these end objectives. I had the privilege of holding space for a session called "Beyond broadcast: Communications for organizers", where we talked about how online activities can better support established on-the-ground efforts.
Throughout the day, we also talked a lot about who technology leaves out (i.e., accessibility). As one participant noted, "What will happen to people who lack internet access when city services are migrated online?" This was an invaluable note in the context of our Roadshow. When we hit the road to do trainings like this, we seek to accomplish more than answering "What does this button do?" It's about making do without buttons— how can organizations be resilient when technology fails or excludes communities from accessing it in the first place?
The accessibility question was fresh in our minds as we entered our training on May 8, held entirely in Spanish at the IDEPSCA space in Central L.A.'s Pico-Union. It focused on the fundamentals of creating and maintaining an online presence. Six people from the community joined us, including a few IDEPSCA staff. Facilitated by JC, it was the first time we used our Spanish-language curriculum on the road, and it certainly came with some challenges in translation.
Back in San Francisco now, we are sketching out what the next few months will look like. We're hoping to invite folks into mentoring opportunities and perhaps grow a new state-wide training cohort. After geeking out while exploring amazing venue spaces in the Central Valley, we are starting to plan out this summer's CA Tech Fest and a potential gathering of capacity builders. Many thanks to the folks from Scope, VoiceWaves, LA-Más, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, IDEPSCA, and many more who joined us while we were in town.
We hope to see you all again soon! Get in touch if you want to talk in the meantime.