Online social networks at work

I would like to share an experience that had a very important impact on my life… and this experience was a result of getting involved in online social networks.

I am frequently using Internet since 2000-2001. The social networks that we know and use nowadays, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, were launched in 2005-2006 and started gaining immense popularity in 2007. Before these the most used platforms for sharing opinions were the Internet forums (message boards) and the blogs. In 2002, some people, including me, that were active on an online message board said: Let’s do something useful offline and involve more people. We started with organizing free time activities, paper recycling and cleanup actions and continued with creating Resurse Youth NGO.

One of the largest projects that we implemented was titled I vote! and addressed the youth participation in Moldovan Parliamentary Elections 2005. We recruited 80 students from various departments of the main 6 universities from Moldova. They were the volunteers to whom Resurse offered training and promotional items. Their task was to attract attention to the message of the campaign and spread the word among their peers, by wearing the I vote!  T-shirts and badges, disseminating the flyers and engaging in conversation. The members of the NGO, including me, were also performing the same activities. We had the approval and support of the Universities’ administration and we received some media coverage. We targeted a word-of-mouth effect, understanding that students would be more inclined to believe in a message coming from their colleagues, than from authorities or other formal sources.

We had other projects with similar approach, but various fields, like cultural diversity or education reforms (Bologna Process).

Our work was mainly based on volunteering and time availability and it was an exceptionally rewarding experience. Due to the fact that most of the members, including me, went abroad or started to work full time after finishing the Bachelor studies, we had to stop the activity of the NGO.

Thus, beside a place to share opinions on an immense variety of topics, an online platform was the start and support of some real life activities with more beneficiaries.

Nowadays this kind of situation is more common, but it was something fairly special 10 years ago :slight_smile: Another founding member of the Resurse NGO is also an Edgeryder - Liudmila.

Now to describe the impact on my life… I was elected to be the leader of the NGO. I was 19. Most importantly, thanks to this experience, I met a lot of different people, in Moldova and abroad, and I learned a lot. Together with my best friends, which were also part of the message board and the NGO, we learned how to interact on “professional” grounds. At the beginning I learned by doing how to officially register a NGO, the reporting system etc. and the procedures are, in general terms, as for a company. We learned how to write project proposals (applying for grants). The members and volunteers of the NGO participated in some very interesting trainings in Moldova and abroad. Over time my communication, management and leadership abilities greatly improved. It was a first work experience that was also pleasurable. Although the organisation is not active anymore, it’s impact is still felt. And it all began online.

Hirschman’s second principle

Great story, Arina. It reminds me of the late Albert Hirschman, who pretty much founded modern development economics: he believed in something he called “the principle of social energy conservation”. In his view, once some kind of social capital of mutual trust, recognized interdependence and actioni profiles is established, it tends not to go away, but to migrate from one experience to the next. So, for example, workers involved in union struggles might learn to work together, and use that knowledge to start a cooperative somewhere down the line (Hirschman himself had an example about fishermen).

It is like the second principle of thermodynamics, but for “social energy”. It makes some kind of sense to me. What do you think?

Networks for change. Spot on

Hi Arina, how are you? Still in Switzerland or you’ve moved elsewhere?

I was re-reading your post since it has obviously inspired the latest research report on social inclusion: because it shows how activating networks, or smart use of them can be used o build something and start changing things at micro level…

Would you look through the paper and see if the researchers have missed anything? All constructive input would be valuable, because remember at Lote we were saying that we want to have a say in how the Transition Handbook will look like, and make sure it reflects not only our experiences, but also our proposals for change. Looking forward to read you!

Edgeryders organization

I forgot to tell you that some here in the community, starting with K, Darren and myself, are looking to register ER as an official organization, and are even planning a small event/ festival in Sweden partnering with local NGOs and interesting people. If you’d like to get involved just get in touch, maybe you’ve got advice on DOs and DONTs when registering an org !

Here’s the conversation: