Report From the Road

Aspiration is delighted to have facilitated events all around the globe over the past few months. From London to Rio De Janiero to Toronto and back to San Francisco again, we've been amazed at the passion and innovation of so many folks applying technology as they work for social change.

Here are some notes from the road, starting right in our own back yard...

  • Aspiration and Blue Oxen co-organized FLOSS Usability Sprint III, which took place October 27-29, 2006 at Google in Mountain View, California. Many thanks to Leslie Hawthorn, Rick Boardman and Google for hosting the event!

    Programmers, usability practitioners, project managers, and users gathered to discuss methodologies for improving the usability of Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) and to apply those processes towards specific projects. The goals were two-fold: To improve the usability of the participating projects, and to catalyze greater shared understanding and ongoing collaboration between the usability and open source communities. Aspiration's own Social Source Commons platform was one of the focal projects, along with Drupal, HyperScope, Socialtext Open and Sustainable Civil Society.

    For complete info about the proceedings see www.flossusability.org

  • AdvocacyDev III, August 2006, Oakland, CA: The third annual convening of developers, organizers, and activists working with open source tools for online activism brought together passionate practitioners for discussion, collaboration, and trainings. Sessions included show and tell on all the latest platforms and tools, ScoutSeven’s DotOrganize project, MobileVoter's latest cell phone organizing techniques, email deliverability, and open standards and open API’s (Application Programmer Interfaces) for eAdvocacy. A core theme of the event was capacity building: what trainings, documentation and knowledge sharing are necessary to grow the pool of practitioners in the eAdvocacy space? Developer trainings included “Building and configuring CivicSpace/CiviCRM sites”, “In-depth Drupal Module Development and Theming”, “Prototyping Using Ruby on Rails”, “Business Development: How to pay the bills and work on advocacy development projects”, and “Usability: How Can Online Activist Tools Be Friendlier and More Accessible?” Electric Embers hosted their second annual Most Excellent AdvocacyDev Veggie-Friendly BBQ Shindig. Proceedings were logged on the AdvocacyDev wiki.
  • CTCNet, Washington DC, July 2006: Aspiration helped with agenda design and facilitated a range of sessions at The Community Technology Centers' Network 15th Annual Conference July 27-29, 2006 in Washington, DC. Nearly 400 attendees participated in two and a half days of workshops, breakout sessions, networking, and resource-sharing.
  • Open Curriculum Convergence, June 2006, Toronto, Canada: Aspiration provided facilitation at this convening of open curriculum practitioners. The goal of the gathering was to discuss better approaches to peer production and collaborative development in the open curriculum space. This initial meeting allowed participants to share perspectives why they care about open curriculum, to map out what's working and what's not, posit visions and plans for open curriculum efforts, and zoom in on common ideas.
  • GKP International Partners Forum and Members Meeting, Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 2006: Aspiration facilitated collaborative networking sessions and regional coordinator planning efforts as GKP members convened at the Annual Members' Meeting to discuss issues of concern, share knowledge, and agree on a common course of action for the GKP network.
  • California eAdvocacy Training Road Show, May 2006: Aspiration took its open eAdvocacy curriculum on the road to nonprofits all over California for a week of trainings in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. The one-day “Email For Advocacy and Community Organizing: Basics, Essentials, and Best Practices" training covers email campaigns, how to write effective email campaign messages, tracking open rates and responses, how to manage and sustain email lists, as well as best practices for privacy, security, and avoiding “spammer” status. The trainings were designed to enable grassroots nonprofits to learn effective process and tactics in using email in their campaigns and strategic work. The training materials have been prepared by Aspiration in partnership with Radical Designs and ScoutSeven, and funded by the Community Technology Foundation of California. All materials are being distributed under Creative Commons license.
  • LiveWire Summit, San Francisco, California, April 2006: This two-day meeting, convened in partnership with SourceWatch , brought together a broad range of strategists, organizers and implementors working in online strategy and advocacy. Participants included staff and allies from SourceWatch, True Majority, Radical Designs, Democracy in Action, CitizenSpeak, ScoutSeven, Greenpeace, Ruckus Society, SEIU, and others who met to discuss how to better get online activism tools into the hands of local activists. A range of capacity building concepts were brainstormed and discussed, from documentation to mentoring to turnkey services.
  • Shuttleworth Foundation Kusasa Project Sprint, London, England, April 2006: Aspiration designed the agenda and facilitated this convening of educators and technologists meeting to discuss new approaches to teaching analytical skills through computer programming in the South African educational context. The goal was to consider how to develop a self taught, peer mentored program, which can be effectively evaluated without expert supervision, and to provide tools for analysis that will be general useful across the range of disciplines being taught at any given age. A range of leading thinkers, including Alan Kay, Guido Van Rossum, and Mark Shuttleworth, and many other practitioners in computer software instruction met for 2 days to collaboratively advise the Foundation on project scope and direction.

Looking ahead, Aspiration will be facilitating at:

Are you thinking about organizing an event focused on nonprofit technology? We're always delighted to brainstorm and offer support.