MobLab Dispatch

MobLab Dispatch | 6 September 2018
Dispatch tracks innovations in people powered campaigning, training opportunities and mobilisation jobs around the globe. Get it in your inbox and catch up on past Dispatches.

How to help volunteers scale up a texting campaign. Volunteers and peer-to-peer (P2P) texting are a great match when you have a framework for success. Daniel Souweine ran the “Text for Bernie” program for Sanders’s U.S. presidential campaign before co-founding P2P text messaging firm Relay. Here, Souweine offers 7 insights for helping volunteer P2P projects win. [MobLab]

Your campaign is cultural whether you realise it or not

Campaigners have long used art, poetry, and pop culture references to extend their reach or create common ground with people. But even campaigns without these elements are still cultural, since the discourse around economic, political, and social issues is rooted in culture — as are campaigning strategies like storytelling.

Guests at last week’s MobLab Live talked about the need to create space for conversations about culture, how culture creates a common language that supports decentralised campaigning, culture’s role in providing people shelter to people with the least power in society, and more. Catch up on cultural campaigning takeaways from last week’s MobLab Live.

Connected and iterative online activism sees impact in Africa: #FreeBobiWine (Uganda), #FreeJonesAbiri and #FreeSamuelOgundipe (Nigeria), #FreeDianeRwigara (Rwanda). They’re a few of the most visible examples of pan-African online communities learning from one another to organise against long-time, repressive leaders. [Nwachukwu Egbunike & Rosebell Kagumiri | Global Voices]

This lab tests ways to disrupt capitalism. The U.S.-based Workers Lab incubates innovative organising tests for unions and labour movements. CEO Carmen Rojas explains that the Lab keeps a hand in both the tech and labour communities “…to act as a translator between the two,” and speed up learning. [Tom Cassauwers | Equal Times]


Shifting the narrative with hopeful stories. Campaigners in Hungary, where authorities are stigmatising those who speak out and organise for human rights, say they’ve found success by focusing on positive messaging and tactics that reframe human rights in a relatable way instead of always reacting from a defensive position. [Stefania Kapronczay and Anna Kertész | OpenGlobalRights]

Organising “the largest wave of nonviolent civil disobedience in 21st-century America”: The Poor People’s Campaign, made up of a diverse coalition of activists and stakeholders, resisted calls to narrow its focus. Instead, it channeled moral outrage against poverty, racism, ecological devastation, and militarism into 219 actions in 40 days with over 5,000 participants and tens of thousands of witnesses. [Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis | The Nation]

Transforming a campaign from local to global. Last month, 234 farmers, youth, and mothers occupied a United Nations human rights office in Gulu, Uganda. Phil Wilmot reports on how local groups provided support and solidarity, helping turn the occupation into a powerful movement. [Waging Nonviolence]

Can social media campaigning help deliver justice in Tajikistan? “One might have thought Tajik authorities would…become immune to the negative press.” But the success of the people-powered #FreeHamza and #FreeFatima campaigns “suggest that even in the toughest cases, pressure sometimes works.” [Steve Swerdlow | Human Rights Watch]


International orgs advance systems change with grassroots focus. A look at how a coalition of human rights groups are making space for on the ground voices and leadership in a legal and organising movement to end systemic impunity in Mexico. [Gabriela Kletzel, Angel Gabriel, Cabrera Silva | Open Global Rights]

“Threats matter—but emotions are the engine driving change.” Researchers studying public response to a recent (mistaken) missile threat to Hawaii posit that the impact of an event must compel deep emotions if it’s to move people to action. A grim conclusion, perhaps, but it does tell us there’s room for more and more innovative first-person storytelling from the front lines of climate change impact. [Kelly Bergstrand | Mobilizing Ideas]

5 lessons from humanitarian storytellers: Communicating in an authentic way that empowers impacted people and gives the audience hope are some of the takeaways from this conversation with communicators in the field. [Carine Umuhumuza | DevEx]


#MoreThanCode = co-design, community accountability, more than developers. We’re digging into findings from #MoreThanCode, a report launched by the Technology for Social Justice Project, that looks at what front-line changemakers and grassroots groups need to better access tech for social change.


Americans have an historic desire to protest. In the U.S., a survey found that 36% of people there report having felt the urge to protest. Gallup last asked this question in 1965, during the civil rights movement and Vietnam anti-war protests, and received a 10% response. Is this a product of polarisation — or something more? [RJ Reinhart | Gallup News]

5 principles from the science of what makes people care include this: Tap into what shapes people’s values. The other four are helpful but it’s the Maya Angelou quote that sticks with us: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” [Ann Christiano and Annie Neimand | Stanford Social Innovation Review]

Comparing secure messaging apps. A matrix breaks down 12 common messaging tools (Skype, Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.) using nearly 30 security-focused factors.

Is democracy incompatible with big data? As early as the 1980s, the Chinese government saw “information technology [as] a powerful new tool for both gathering information and controlling culture, for making Chinese people more ‘modern’ and more ‘governable,’” according to historian Julian Gewirtz. That’s from an article looking at China’s near total control over political dissent using artificial intelligence, surveillance, command of media, government-issued social credit, and more. [Christina Larson | MIT Technology Review]

Facebook’s journey from a platform for organising freedom to planning airstrikes. Perhaps no country better demonstrates the extremes of social media use than Libya. This New York Times story examines how Libya’s “keyboard warriors” use the platform to advance civil war and Facebook’s ineffective efforts to prevent it. [Declan Walsh and Suliman Ali Zway]

Three examples of virtual reality storytelling. A look at recent projects launched by VR for Good initiative run by the Creators Lab at Oculus. [Mariella Moon | Engadget]

Applications open for international communications retreat.  NEON is hosting a three-day skillshare for social change communicators on 15-18 November. Attendees will be joined by Anat Shenker Osorio, Jonathan Smucker and others working on narrative, content infrastructure, and collaborative communications.

It’s a shirt. It’s a QR code. It’s a voter registration campaign. So far, 10,000 Americans have registered to vote by taking a photo of a QR code designed to look like an American flag. The idea is the brainchild of Jammal Lemy, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the site of a mass shooting in February. [Steve LeVine | Axios]


Interesting conferences, events and trainings across our global network.


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