Feb 03 2014

Guest Post: Sue Braiden – Investing in Communities

IMG_7200(Nancy’s Note: I’ve known Sue online for quite some time. She no longer blogs but this post on Facebook and the subsequent discussion thread caught my eye.  This line, in particular, resonated with something I had been drafting for this blog: “So if the lesson here is to listen to the people chasing impossibly grand and improbable ideas about community capacity building, then the proof of worth might be when those people put their money where their mouths are in a very significant way.” I wanted to be able to “point” to it in a public online space, so Sue agreed to let me post it as a guest post. Thanks, Sue! The image is from the Chihuly Glass Museum in Seattle)

A decade ago a handful of people harkened to the call to find their own power to make good things happen at the invitation of Omidyar.net. People who came there looking for an inside glimpse at the couple that founded eBay were likely more than a little astonished to find that Pam and Pierre were a man and a woman who rolled up their sleeves and dug right into the sometimes mucky business of better world building right alongside you.

All these years later some of my staunchest allies remain the people I met around that digital kitchen table. It had a profound effect on my ability to trust in both the idea of a reputation-based network (Pierre applied the eBay theory to social networking) and to see the value of investing in seeding a lot of small things that worked and finding ways of scaling them up. Of the many projects that found life there, one of the ones that intrigued me most was an idea Tom Munnecke embraced: nurturing a grassroots, positive media network. As a journalist that excited me. It was indie, and audacious, and too good to ever actually work in the minds of a whole lot of people from an industry far too full of itself to see the writing on the wall.

During that time Pierre poked me in the ribs to get me to try a couple of things that I initially had a hard time seeing the value of. One was Twitter (why in the hell would I want to sit around a digital water cooler spilling my guts about what I just ate for breakfast, and who I was having coffee with now? … and yes, that’s exactly what I said to him at the time) and the now defunct Vox (which many of us ended up using as a training ground for networked indie media blogging). Those early days conversations were a revelation, particularly when he began brainstorming about the use of Twitter as both a first-responder network in real time crisis situations, and also as a grassroots media portal for people responding from those experiences on the ground. Both of those things came to pass. We’ve seen Twitter become not only a tool of reporting and rescue in earthquakes, in hurricanes and in war zones, but one that has been embraced by the mainstream media as their own rapid headline push tool.

So if the lesson here is to listen to the people chasing impossibly grand and improbable ideas about community capacity building, then the proof of worth might be when those people put their money where their mouths are in a very significant way. Take a look at Pierre’s latest project:

https://www.firstlook.org

and take the time to watch the 2 1/2 minute video that explains exactly why this is so damned vital and cool. His bottomline:

“Journalism is more than telling stories. It’s about telling stories that make a difference.”

And believe him when he says he’s not only in this for the long haul, but committed to making it work. He absolutely will.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.
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