One of my favorite projects these days is the "Immigrant Organizers Information Technology Network," which a joint undertaking by the Center to Support Immigrant Organizing and Third Sector New England, and is funded by the Boston Foundation. Right now, I'm helping to put together a databaseclinic for a cluster of immigrant organizing groups in Massachusetts.
The grassroots workers affiliated with these groups are the best in the world at advocating for immigrants, and they juggle an awe-inspiring amount of information about constituents, donors, policy makers, service providers, activists, and other stakeholders. Most of this juggling is done in their heads, or on paper, or with Excel spreadsheets - very few of them also have expertise in database development. What to do?
In June, TSNE offered these groups a "Databases 101" workshop, designed for smart people who are starting from scratch in learning about databases. This month, the goal is to follow up with a clinic that will enable them to get down to cases about their specific needs.
We've invited mavens from three local organizations - Database Designs Associates, The Data Collaborative, and Organizers Collaborative - to serve as "clinicians." These folks all have extensive experience with both database development and grassroots organizing. So far, so good!
But the remaining challenge is to craft the clinic in such a way that all of the immigrant organizers come away with a feeling of confidence, a practical understanding of how databases can help them, and a list of action items to take back to their offices.
Among adult educators, there's considerable consensus that subjecting people to yet another PowerPoint presentation just isn't the answer, so I am currently on a quest for better ideas. READ MORE