Net Tuesday, August 4: Adding social elements to our/your website

summerlagerJoin us for our next Net Tuesday event on August 4. This will be the second of our Summer Ale Series, “Homebrewed Rumination”.

We’ll have an interactive discussion about what to consider when integrating social elements into a website. We’ll be looking at such themes as how a website can:

  • Help people connect to one another
  • Aggregate information
  • Foster collaboration
  • Encourage self-expression
  • Reach out to the rest of the world

We’ll explore each of these themes in general, and then focus on applying them specifically to: a) Philly NetSquared’s own new, drupal-based site,; and b) other sites represented or suggested by those who show up and participate.

In this way, we hope to accomplish two things… Let’s think together about how the new Philly NetSquared website might foster our individual and collective ideas and ambitions about “using the social web for social change”. And, at the same time, let’s talk about these principles in general, and how they might enhance your own site or cause.

So, bring your own perspective, creativity and open mind. RSVP’s are desired, but not required.

Looking ahead to SeptemberNetwork For Good, Causes and, oh my! These days there are so many portals to use for raising money and engaging members in action on behalf of your cause. How do you choose which one(s) to be on? Does maintaining them take away from your other online efforts (e-news, blog, etc.)? Which ones have you been successful on? These questions and others will be discussed at our Portal Pilsner session, the last of our Summer Ale Series, on September 1. Have a story about a non-profit portal you want to share? E-mail Judah at


Net Tuesday July 7: Activist Communities in the Midst of Social Media

summerlagerAs warm weather settles in, nothing’s more refreshing than a flight of Net Tuesday Summer Ales.

First up, on Tuesday, July 7 starting at 6 PM at Buffalo Billiards, 118 Chestnut Street: Communi-Lager! Chris Bartlett will present Activist Communities in the Midst of Social Media. He’ll share how he has used the tools of the trade — social networks Twitter, Facebook, Stickam, and Ning — to create a series of communities that support his community organizing. He’ll engage Net Tuesday participants in an inquiry about how we can use these tools to build community, strengthen social networks, and bring about powerful change in our communities. Key ideas for the night:

  •  The importance of connecting others — and not only yourself to others — as a strategy for social network organizing.
  • The timeline for face-to-face — how to bring about in-person connections that strengthen online ones.
  • Pitfalls of online organizing– fitting your strategies into your overall plan for getting things done.
    Most importantly, Bartlett will facilitate a conversation among participants to hear what is working for all of us. If Twitter (and other social media tools) are in fact transformative, we’ll hope to hear some stories of those transformations.

Chris Bartlett is a gay men’s health community organizer from Philadelphia. He directed the SafeGuards Gay Men’s Health Project in Philadelphia for ten years, and has acted as lead consultant to the LGBT Community Assessment in Philadelphia, a project that gathers data about LGBT communities in order to make recommendations regarding community organizing, health, housing, and economic development. He co-facilitates the Gay Men’s Health Leadership Academy, a national meeting of leaders in the field of gay men’s health and wellness, and has helped to convene the Gay Men’s Health and LGBTI Summits. Most recently, he has received support from the Arcus Foundation to develop a strategic plan for LGBT leadership development in the United States. Community organizing through social media is his greatest current passion and commitment.

RSVP’s are optional via the Meetup page. Or, just c’mon down, and bring a friend.


Looking forward to what’s on tap for the rest of the Net Tuesday Summer Ale Series…

August 4: Homebrewed Rumination. We’ll be using a modified version of our Extreme Makeover: Web Strategy Edition format with Philly NetSquared’s own website: Together, we’ll identify specific steps we can take to enable the growing Philly NetSquared community to use our website as a place to connect with, learn from and inspire one another to realize each person’s dreams and each organization’s objectives.

September 1: Portal Pilsner. Network for Good. Razoo. And many other sites are out there, committed to using social tools help nonprofits achieve their mission. How do you sort through the clutter and use these sites to advance your own cause?
Join us at our Net Tuesday Summer Ales, where we’ll sit back, relax and explore ways social technology can help organizations and individuals advance social change in Philadelphia.

UPDATED info on Net Tuesday, June 2: Mobile Technology for Social Change

You are probably already aware that our next Net Tuesday (June 2, starting at 6:00 PM at Buffalo Billiards, 118 Chestnut Street) is going to be about Mobile Technology and Social Change. This was the theme of the fourth annual NetSquared conference (N2Y4) that Ivan and Seth just attended in San Jose. The centerpiece of the conference was a “challenge”, in which 14 new, innovative projects competed for prize money up to $25,000.

We were blown away by some of the projects we saw, and want to share on Tuesday evening. Some highlights:

  • First prize winner FrontlineSMS:Medic is saving lives in Africa with cell phones that rural health workers can use to access medical records and expertise, and (this is amazing) re-purposing the cell phone’s camera to perform breakthrough in-field diagnoses for malaria and other diseases. We’re planning to have the Clinical Programs Director participate in our meeting via videoconference to discuss it.
  • Second prize winners, the Extraordinaries, are developing a way for people to use their cell phones during “spare minutes” (like, on the bus) for a growing array of “micro-volunteer” projects, like tagging photos for the Library of Congress or translating subtitles for short videos.
  • Third place winner VoxMob – Mobile Voices / Voces Moviles is testing its project with immigrant workers in L.A. It empowers these people to express themselves in words, sounds and pictures to tell their stories and document abuses.
  • SeeClickFix is working on a project to enable regular people to take and upload a picture of a non-emergency problem they see (e.g., a pothole or drug deal), and then automatically map it and generate notices to pressure local agencies, politicians and others to address the problem. The mapping aspect of SeeClickFix is being prototyped on
  • The Mobile Giving Foundation enables non-profits to set up campaigns in which people can contribute small donations (e.g., $5 or $10) via their cell phones and charged on their phone bills (in which 100% of the contribution is passed through to the non-profit).

We also want to hear about your experiences or ideas about mobile tech and social change. In addition to illustrating these various initiatives, we’ll have a chance for folks to delve into the technology and/or how we can apply these capabilities to our causes here in Philly.

We’re at the very early stages of what promises to be a profoundly powerful movement to use these small and ubiquitous devices to advance social causes. Come discover and discuss what’s happening now, and get a glimpse into the future.

We’ll start gathering at 6:00 PM and begin the program at 6:30 (and we have the room until as late as 9:00). RSVP’s via the Meetup page are appreciated, but not necessary. Feel free to come and bring a friend.

Net Tuesday April 7: Mapping for Nonprofits — An introduction to GIS

For our next Net Tuesday on April 7, we are privileged to have Robert Cheetham present on mapping and geographic information systems for nonprofits.

From Google Earth to GeoRSS, maps and geography services are changing the way we interpret our world and engage with communities. The presentation will explore how geographic information systems (GIS) technology is being used to enhance the missions, meet the challenges, and answer the questions faced by non-profit organizations.

Applications cover a broad range of disciplines, including:

  • political advocacy
  • education
  • neighborhood redevelopment
  • social services
  • public health
  • constituency building
  • public safety
  • and disaster response

Almost any activity you conduct has a geographic component to it. Consequently, technology that leverages that geography can help improve communities, support better decisions, and demonstrate needs, progress, and program impact to boards of directors, stakeholders, and funders.

Robert will present some case studies of applications in nonprofit organizations and will progress from relatively simple processes to more complex analysis. Topics will include:

  • the process of assigning locations to lists of addresses (geocoding)
  • using geography to organize and search community assets
  • incorporating map-based reports into grant applications
  • visualizing the geographic and demographic patterns in donor and audience groups
  • demonstrating electoral support for political reform
  • prioritizing resources (real estate, natural resources and the like)
  • software tools and local data resources for getting started

Bio: Robert Cheetham has been applying GIS technology to help nonprofits and government agencies for more than 12 years. He is the founder and president of Avencia, a software design and development firm based in Philadelphia. Avencia develops geographic analysis tools and services for government, nonprofit, commercial and research organizations. Previously, Robert served as the Senior GIS Developer for the City of Philadelphia and as Crime Analyst for the Philadelphia Police Department. Robert also serves as an occasional lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Design; collaborates with the Cartographic Modeling Lab at Penn; serves on the advisory committee for the Masters in GIS program at Penn State University and is Director of the Japanese Garden Research Network, a nonprofit, online database of information on Japanese gardens.

We want to thank our sponsor for this month, NPower Pennsylvania, whose mission is “to ensure all nonprofits can use technology to better serve our community”.

Net Tuesday March 3: “Extreme Makeover: Web Strategy Edition”

Our next Net Tuesday gathering will be for an “Extreme Makeover: Web Strategy Edition”.  We’ll meet at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, March 3 at Buffalo Billiards at 118 Chestnut Street.

Learn how Web 2.0 strategies can be used for nonprofit and social change causes by participating in an interactive “extreme makeover” session.  This format provides a chance for our diverse group of activists and techies to focus our attention on a particular cause.  We will NOT be creating or directly affecting any website; we WILL be thinking and strategizing together about how Web 2.0 tools and principles can be used most effectively to help an actual client achieve their goals.

Who should attend?

  • Nonprofits and activists who have used the social web: Come share your insights about what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past, and learn about considerations for more effectively using these tools in the future.
  • Nonprofits and activists who have NOT used the social web:  Come share your perspectives, and learn how to think about applying these tools to your own situations.
  • Techies who work with the social web: Come share your technical experience, and learn more about the perspectives and expectations of nonprofit and social change activists who want to use these tools.

Our makeover client will be Carl Ewald, who runs TerraMar Adventures.  Carl wants to use social web tools to engage people in TerraMar’s increasing community service and environmental protection efforts.

RSVP via our Meetup page is appreciated, but not required.  Feel free to just show up, and bring your friends (and your thinking caps)!

So, come participate in a shared endeavor to strategize about the most effective ways to apply Web 2.0 tools in a real situation, and perhaps, ultimately, to help out our natural environment as well.

Hope to see you there!


Net Tuesday February 3: Democracy 2.0 and social change

We gratefully acknowledge this meeting’s sponsorship by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, leading the effort to increase awareness of, participation in and support for arts and culture in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Our Net Tuesday Philly on February 3 will focus on “Democracy 2.0” — how the social web is being used for political and civic engagement.  This was considered a big factor in Barack Obama’s successful campaign, and is poised to permanently and profoundly alter the landscape of politics from now on.

  • What can non profits and social change agents learn from these early experiments?
  • How can our efforts reflect and reinforce this new political paradigm?
  • What implications  does Democracy 2.0 present for how we engage with clients, with our causes and with one another?

We’ll have an interactive discussion with a great panel, including:

  1. Ian Storrar, Chief Operating Officer of, an all-partisan network dedicated to educating, empowering, and energizing young people to increase their civic engagement and political participation. He is heavily involved in the Democracy 2.0 process, which is the central theory of change at  Ian is based in Washington, DC.
  2. Rob Stuart, Founding President of Evolve Strategies (a full-service communications firm serving issue advocacy, nonprofit, and political organizations) and the Evolve Foundation (which supports efforts to increase citizen participation in government). He has been an activist and lobbyist for over 20 years, and will talk about the dynamics of advocacy and Democracy 2.0.
  3. Michael Tweed, organizer of the Ben Franklin Thinking Society will present what his group is about and their initiative (and Meetup) called Democracy 2.0, an attempt to generate ideas that will use technology to improve the democratic process by making representatives more accountable and people more knowledgeable.

Plus, there will be plenty of time for schmoozing, networking and meeting other folks who want to use the social web for social change.


When: 6:00 – 9:00 PM on Tuesday, February 3

Where: Buffalo Billiards, 118 Chestnut Street in Olde City.  (We have the 2nd floor private room to ourselves.  The first two hours (until 8 PM) are Happy Hour with half-priced appetizers and $3 draft beer.)

RSVP’s via our Meetup page are requested, but not required, for this fun and informative event.  Feel free to just show up, and bring your friends.  Hope to see you there.

This past Tuesday’s Blogging for Nonprofits gathering was great!

We had a terrific meeting on Tuesday with a record 50(!) people who turned out in the rain.

The 5 panelists (described in the previous blog post) spanned a range of perspectives and Sam Cohen moderated an active and engaging discussion.  Here are some pictures taken by Meg Rider:

And Reed Gustow was kind enough to share his (very rough) notes from the panel discussion, which are appended at the bottom of this post.

After the panel discussion, we broke into two breakout groups for about 15 minutes:

  1. Nate Gasser, in his calm, competent way, demonstrated for about 15 folks how to set up a new blog in about 15 minutes.  Asking for a volunteer from the group, Whitney Blunden raised his hand, and Nate walked through setting up a blog for Operation Restoration Enterprises.  I think it’s safe to say that Whitney was thrilled with the results.  In the last day, he has added a bunch of content, and it looks great!
  2. The other breakout discussed ways in which we could support nonprofit blogging in Philly in an ongoing way.  I don’t have notes from that session, but after speaking to a number of those who participated, I’m sure we’ll be implementing something shortly to try to provide that sort of support.

All in all, I think most people enjoyed themselves and got a lot out of the evening (I know I did).  Thanks to everybody who worked on this event.


——–  Reed Gustow’s rough notes:  ———-

Blogging for Not for Profits. 01-06-09

Sam Cohen moderated. One of his projects is, Coming of Age – Inspiring Opportunities, channels baby boomers to opportunities to give back to their communities. Coming of age is made of The Temple University Center for Intergenerational Learning, WHYY, Wider Horizons, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, AARP Pennsylvania

Apparently, they only located about 30 not-for-profit organization blogs in philly. Thousands of nfp orgs though. They use them for many things: advocacy, fundraising, staff recruiting etc.

The Panel:

Mary Ann Devine. Smarts and Culture is her biz, consulting. Does mktng for arts and culture organizations. Her blog is smarts and culture. Why?  She was dir of mkt and pr at Acad of vocal arts but saw nothing out there in the way of arts mkting blogs. Writes for clients. Gives a voice to arts marketing and social media. Spends 14-16 hours a week on the blogging.

Andrew Schwalm. = does a lot of video on his blog. He has a 501c3 for this.  Also he is first person arts. Present an annual festival, yr round programming at Letage, also a salon series, people who can do memoir and documentary art. He is the comm/mkt person at First person Arts.  He is moving it to Drupal from WP. Spends 3-4 hrs on first person arts, and 8 hours on malcolmx park blog.

Judah Ferst, buzzing for change. Runs events at which people cut their hair off and donate it childrens cancer. 501C3, volunteer run. He is pres. Blog is to drive people to the home page. One of his problems is keeping content updated. He does 3 hours a week. Looking to get other board members to contribute.  And other parts of program

Dan Pantano.  Danny’s adventures at Acad of Vocal Arts. This is the premier opera conservatory in the us. Maybe 2-4 hours a week. Development is primary. Target audience (the goal) is getting the name out there internationally. Strategy is to be very up, positive. There are personality issues. Has a 3-4K person email list.

Larry Blumenthal. Resp. for web strategy Robert Wood Johnson foundation. 450Mil in grants, all in healthcare. NPR sponsor. Their Pioneer team does the blogging, they look for new ideas. Looking for alternatives to malpractices; getting health records online. They blog to break down walls. These surround the foundations, ivy tower, disconnected. This is an outdated model and they want to break those walls down. Their blog has been up for??time. Their freelance blog mgr works 8-10 hours a week.  The whole thing is building relationships. You have to give people a compelling reason to come to your blog. Like Las Vegas. Why come out to the desert unless there is a good reason to do it?  Blogs are a way to build your community. You want to reach out to and build the community you are interested in. Engaging them via your blog is one way; this is why the conversation is so important.

Sam: an issue is/can show an authentic voice. But orgs are not made of only one voice, so resolving it is hard. So how do the panelists deal with the authentic voice problem?
First Person Arts: encourage the interns to do some writing on the blog. Not as concerned with a unified voice.
RWJ – Board and management were aware of the possibility of criticism, and were nervous about it. But it didn’t happen – very few inappropriate comments. Now think they are not compelling enough, not controversial enough. Now found someone who will say controversial things and evoke a response. The person is an authority on x, so her voice is ok, even if provoking. There is a need for balance though. Be prepared for outside criticism but use it to grow. Read Naked Conversations, business oriented, how to grow from criticisms.

Another thing to do is offer comments on other people’s blogs.

Be clear with the audience about how often you will update. There is no minimum but do meet the expectations. If you start and cannot keep it up you will have a problem.

How build traffic? You have to think about other social media like twitter, other blogs etc. to let others know about your blog. Facebook allows an RSS feed to your blog. For older people, make a newsletter out of it, and email it to your list. RSS feeds can be limited to the first few lines of the blog post so they have to go to the blog to read the rest of it.
Important to ask who your audiences are.

How much does RWJ use the recipients blog? (Not the right person to ask. )

Look at your goals – what do we want? Donors? Members? Funds? Staff?
The numbers per se are not as important as  the results you get from those who do read. Quality is more important than quantity IF you get the needed results from those who do follow you.
How can the blog most help us?