The New Village: Using Web 2.0 To Champion Another World
More than 20 years after my first experiences as a youth organizer, I wonder how different that work would have been – or how rapidly it would have grown- with today’s new media tools in hand. I am struck by how ideological communities exist “virtually” and remain connected across the globe despite geographic barriers and other challenges. I am inspired by how rapidly information travels, people are connected, and networks formed thanks to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
While grassroots organizing demands a commitment to building authentic relationships and community informed strategies, the facility with which we can at least initiate that work now, is revolutionary. The fact that grassroots campaigns can garner support through the use of new and social media tools, means that local efforts often become connected to regional, national, and international struggles. Words- and ideas- travel. And quickly!
Web 2.0 has fundamentally transformed the concept of “community” and facilitated the development of virtual villages around the world that inform and support each other, and struggle together. Able to cast a wider net in the quest for information, resources and relationships, activists, artists and social entrepreneurs have a broad range of applications at their disposal which give legs to their messages and visions for a better world. Voices of change and resistance, struggle and fellowship, can be heard, seen, and transmitted in the blink of an eye. And they cannot simply be relegated to the margins by mainstream media.
Today, I find myself better able to serve a number of different campaigns and efforts, by connecting people and resources, and promoting awareness of critical issues through social media. As a working mother who lives a significant distance away from the city center, I also find that I am able to contribute my time and resources to political work, without necessarily leaving my home all of the time. My “little contributions” often yield rich results. Most recently, a blog post produced 60 new members from 3 countries in 4 days, for my “mommy” collective whose endless stream of social networking posts has produced everything from the beginnings of a health food cookbook for nursing mothers and babies, to a trade and barter network which challenges consumption and waste in our hyper consumerist society. This network has galvanized support for a number of issues ranging from healthcare access to educational equity. For mothers limited by time or other constraints, this online community means the difference between being connected to possibility and living in isolation.
Many of the women in this network have found the information and support networks needed to challenge discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion, thanks to tools and access facilitated by Web 2.0. In this virtual world, we can speak up and demand space, or remain strategically silent while simultaneously gathering the necessary tools, information and resources necessary to build new spaces. Together, we are building an interdependent new world, brick by brick, one virtual village at a time.