Breakout 5, Day 2: The Information Needs of ‘Your’ Community

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Day 2: Porter & Silverman

Leader: Vikki Porter, Annenberg School for Communication, USC Scribe: Fred Silverman, Marin Community Foundation

Takeaways from morning session:

Multi-tasking – problem of seeing it as OK (vs. rude). Need to focus attention during one’s life.

Need for training people around etiquette in digital age.

Issue of younger people being more familiar with digital world than adults. Has it happened before where kids know more than adults about something this important?

Parallels to philanthropic divide – getting younger, new people in who can address these issues.

Need to involve the right people – the audience – to find out their needs (cultural informants).

Need to create editorial skills to put info up on sites relevant to all neighborhoods (including poor ones).

Who will go into neighborhoods many consider not safe to get stories? And convince people of importance and relevance. Maybe foundations have greater access.

See kids as teachers of digital “immigrants.”

Participants should create FaceBook pages!

Problem of lack of human contact…with different personality at the keyboard. And too much time at the computer.

Role of games to engage people.

How do community foundations fit in – traditional models of dealing with community issues, and then incorporating digital technologies – also the challenge of how to do it all.

Also problem of fast-changing digital world, with new solutions all the time.

Tools in service of mission!

People are asking for great examples of this kind of work.

Community foundations are asking, What’s in it for me? How can these efforts become critical in meeting our missions? How were decisions made to pick a particular strategy?

Exercise: Based on your community, select an issue/initiative and propose how digital media can enhance and build on what you’re doing. Identify partners and strategies. Assume you’re making a proposal to your boards to get support for this effort.

  • Long Beach CF: Importance of collaboration. YMCA computer program. Working in underserved area, with weekly newspaper. “In and out funding” – not long-term support. Working with organizations already in front of people we want to be in front of – e.g., YMCA, schools, agencies working with constituents you want to reach.
  • Kalamazoo: Dealing with weakness of small local newspaper in covering local issues. Community in transition in terms of major companies. More transient population now. Continue tradition of giving with new residents. Initiative with older adults – have them work with young people, who can train older adults. Public square online could be result – e.g., older adult could find temporary jobs online and be entrepreneurial. Get young people involved to create online community. Have outside funding from Atlantic Philanthropies.
  • Duluth/Superior: Problem of attracting and retaining young people in area with aging population. They don’t stay after school. Community has a need to fill jobs. Attempts to connect with young people…why do they leave? Did survey…got info about their information needs: housing, jobs, etc. Partnered with businesses, universities to engage young people to stay or move back. Developed one-stop-shop website with info on jobs, housing, etc.
  • Wichita: Also challenge of attracting and retaining young people. What will encourage them to stay? Partners include local engineering school. Addresses recreation, racial issues, etc. Interactive web site to download photos, relay info back and forth. Focus on recreation (wide appeal) – providing people reasons to stay in area. Wichipedia is working name of project. Also talked about use of community radio with local programming to communicate on things necessary to know, especially in rural communities.

Final comments: There is a need to train (and perhaps pay) people to contribute high-quality content to community sites, especially when they are first launched. Otherwise, they won’t attract further participation. This should involve written content as well as photographs.

When talking about projects, include the voice of the funder: how did we decide to do this, how did it meet our goals, how did we decide who to partner with, etc.?

Involve private foundations with regional focus!