Feministing.com Editor Samhita Mukhopadhyay at South by Southwest

Feministing.com Editor Samhita Mukhopadhyay at South by Southwest Interactive

Having returned from three days of mental stimulation, inspiration and overload, I find myself thinking about how CALCASA can incorporate what I’ve learned to strengthen the movement to end sexual violence.
I spent a few days this week in Austin, Texas at the South by Southwest Interactive conference. This is a space where some of the brightest minds in emerging technology come together to give presentations, share ideas and network with one another. There is representation from most of the usual suspects — Google, Apple, Twitter, Microsoft … the list could go on. CALCASA is clearly the unusual suspect. It’s becoming more apparent that even in our work technology can be a vehicle to engage with members, communicate with partners and educate others about ending sexual violence.
On Sunday, I attended a keynote by Valerie Casey, founder of the Designers Accord, a global coalition of designers, educators and business leaders working together to create positive and sustainable impact. She talked about how to use system thinking — how things influence one another within the whole — in a way that would harness the technology community in a way that would help sustainability. This made me think: What are the components that feed into our movement? Is advocacy enough by itself? Is prevention the answer? Or do we invest our time in changing social norms? All of these components create the system of our movement, and I think that social media and technology are vital to this system. They are tools to educate people about this work and an instrument to create social impact. Our movement — our system — is stronger when working in cohort with each element, and as Casey said, social media creates “the architecture of our communication.”
This begs the question about how CALCASA can use social media in its work. What are techniques outside standard outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and our blog? One option: crowdsourcing. I listened to a panel discussion about how nonprofits have used this technique to change the world. Essentially, instead of keeping ideas and tasks behind closed doors, these organizations leveraged community collaboration to meet their goals. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea of how CALCASA could take the issue of sexual violence to the crowd in a forum that leads to constructive problem-solving. Within our agency, we can use this technique to strengthen our social media interactions with members and to bring survivors together. For example, the American Cancer Society used crowdsourcing to start the Website SharingHope.tv. This site is a place for people to share their stories about cancer. CALCASA could bring survivors of sexual assault together in a similar way. There could be a platform in which survivors, family members and activists could share their experiences with video, audio, pictures and written stories.
Please comment and leave your ideas below! I’d love to hear them. Also, there will be a continuation to this post next week, so watch for it.