Blog #4 – Community Engagement and Collective Action

Based on my field observation, a “social dilemma” I observed in the South Madison community was the lack of attendance at the Celebrate South Madison festival. There were many open seats at the performance stage and the information booths we’re moderately attended at best. Even with the exposure of a clear view of South Park Street, few drivers pulled off the road to join in. To me, this was a missed opportunity for many of the residents of South Madison to come together to not only do something overwhelmingly positive but to also show the rest of Madison that the community is better than the news would lead you to believe and perhaps, for some, leads them to believe about themselves. If even the residents of South Madison view themselves negatively– as poor, as delinquents, as those undeserving of something better– then why would they come to an event like this? Perhaps it would be a reminder of what they perceive that they are not– good and worthy of celebration.

Clay Shirky wrote, “social tools don’t create collective action–they merely remove the obstacles to it.” (p 159). I think for South Madison residents, the use of social media could remove the barrier of their ability to define their own identity instead of someone else doing it for them– namely, the news. When at Celebrate South Madison I did see a determination among the residents to tell others that their neighborhood is better than the news says it is. Because of this I think the use of blogs, being low cost and accessible at a library, could enable these residents, these positive opinion leaders, to write their own narrative to share with the world. They could share their stories via their social networks, on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and start to change the way their neighborhood is received.

It sounds easy enough– so why, you might ask, don’t the residents just simply start writing and sharing their stories? Well, Shirky also points out, “Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies–it happens when society adopts new behaviors.” (p 160). The key here is that the desire isn’t behind such a move as this. There could be many reasons why: perceived lack of power, lack of interested readers, etc. Because of this I think it’s all the more important that our class is careful to weave offline and online components to our campaign to encourage a transition to online media for community organization. One thing we could do that might affect the Celebrate South Madison festival directly would be to help put together more social media advertisements of the event. According to Facebook, the Celebrate South Madison “event” was created only 3 days before the big day. That’s hardly any time at all to advertise and let the word spread through social networks about the event. Perhaps could work with South Madison community and opinion leader to create their own content to advertise the event and put it online. That way the advertisements are genuine, local to the community, and would show other community members that social media can be used by South Madison locals to organize and communicate. Hopefully from there, participating UW Madison organizations would create social media advertisements as part of that campaign (but not run the campaign) to help build a bridge between UW Madison students and South Madison residents for this event. From there, we could enable the communities to build  relationships and empower each each other through our shared involvement.


Blog #3 – Technology for Community

At Savor South Madison I found a small, passionate community base but struggling economic participation. Sheri and Arvin, the SMPC organizers, were a fabulous unifying force for all of the individuals who came to the event, greeting each visitor who came by and directing the day’s events. Their outgoing nature was matched by other booth organizers, like the young woman at the Urban League booth or the woman from the South Madison library reading books to the visiting children. Both women were quick to show their passion for their respective organizations and demonstrate their dedication either through years of service or level of involvement.

The aspect of the event that was lacking, especially for our class, was the absence of local food vendors. Pizza Hut, Famous Dave’s and even JD’s were a sad commentary for South Madison. It lead to much speculation amongst the class about whether the vendors didn’t want to go through the effort, didn’t feel safe, weren’t invited, etc. Had more local vendors been there it would have been easier for us to promote the event day-of on social media and may have gotten people driving by to stop and spend some time at the event, even if just to grab a bite to eat.

I think one way that technology could help the residents of South Madison, especially with regards to food vendors, is to get the word out about these vendors by creating a bridge through our personal reviews via social media. We can use our social connections to lend credibility to these restaurants and, beyond that, use the link to campus (our course) to lend a sense of legitimacy to our advertisements. Now, an association with a course may in fact lead our social networks to believe that we are only endorsing these restaurants because we must. However I think that if we utilize video, where we show through our actions that we’ve gone to these restaurants, met the owners, and ate great food, that concern will dissipate. In addition, if we can partner with people like Sheri and Arvin, who share our passion and lend credibility to our mission, we will build a bridge for our audiences in South Madison and campus. As a part of this bridging, it would be great if we could encourage our followers to make their own videos, thus encouraging an online community that transcends the physical boundaries of the various Madison neighborhoods.

If we can in fact encourage more enthusiasm for these restaurants both on campus and in South Madison, this increased interest may encourage the restaurant owners to come local events like Celebrate South Madison, knowing their customers will stop by. The in-person participation will hopefully help to build stronger bonds between South Madison and campus, turning around the poor reputation of the area and give students a better understanding of the broader Madison community.

Blog Post 4: Community Engagement and Collective Action

Based off of my observations and conversations from Celebrate South Madison, the main case that exemplifies “social dilemma” is the lack of involvement in community events. Honestly, I believe that it is because of a lack of knowledge of these events. A way that this can be fixed is by members of South Madison joining online communities through social media platforms to get informed about all of the opportunities and events that are happening in the area. This brings up the bigger problem: many residents of South Madison do not have social media accounts. The main reasons are because they are afraid, don’t know many people who have accounts, and don’t know how they work.

First of all, we need to show community members of South Madison that social media website are not scary and bad. Negative situations, however rare, that have arisen from social media are widely publicized and this frightens people. We need to take this as an opportunity to teach the South Madison residents about the positives that different platforms have to offer. It’s kind of an unconscious social dilemma – they aren’t participating in community building events and organizations to better the community because they don’t know about them. In addition, since not many people in the community are active on social media, it isn’t as attractive to sign up. When a bunch of people in your social circle participate in something, you are more compelled to join in. Therefore, we need to get the opinion leaders of the community involved on social media sites and hope that this creates an information cascade. Once a few people get an account, that will cause several others to, and eventually a majority of the people will have accounts. Just think, if your friends didn’t have a Facebook, would you? Probably not. Finally, we need to teach the community members about how easy it is to have a social media account and use it. Once we’re able to overcome these hurdles, we can begin to solve the problem of the social dilemma happening in South Madison.

Many people that I talked to were in love with the idea of our campaign to build community in South Madison. By making the abundant opportunities widely known, I’m confident that more people will get involved. The first step if just getting them all connected through social media so that they can readily find out about community organizations and upcoming events. From my experience, social media lessens the social dilemma. For example, I am a part of the “Concerned Citizens of New Berlin” Facebook group. Many residents of New Berlin use this as an outlet to advertise fundraising events, community activities and updates, as well as share general information about our town. Being able to log into Facebook and learn about a multitude of events and happenings in your town makes it a lot easier to get involved and help out. In fact, a few days ago, a woman posted about her bike getting stolen from her garage with a brief description of it and several members offered help and shared the post to warn their friends and neighbors about it.


Blog Post 3: Technology for Community

Leading up to our first day of field work, I was a little skeptical about heading into South Madison for the Celebrate South Madison festival. Everything I’d heard about that area of town was that it was ghetto, full of crime, and just not somewhere you really want to be. However, my experience on that day was very positive. In my conversations with resident, I got a good insight into what life in South Madison is really like and the challenges that face us as we create our campaign this semester. Furthermore, it made me realize that introducing new technologies can help expand the social network of community members. By creating a community on the internet, we can break down geographical barriers and get different neighborhoods to interact with each other.

Almost everyone I talked to was eager to share their story and open up about the challenges they face as a family and as a community. Throughout these conversations, I realized that not many residents even know about the wonderful restaurant and grocery store options that are available in South Madison, or don’t think that they can afford them. I think that this is a major challenge that we face. Since the community has a low average income, they assume that going out to dinner is not an option because they won’t be able to afford it, but in reality, the restaurants in South Madison are relatively low cost. By making this a known fact, I think we can overcome that hurdle. Furthermore, for the members of the South Madison community, this should be a focus of our campaign. Additionally, not many of the people I talked to were a part of or active on different social media sites, which is a major challenge that we are facing. As we discussed in class, hosting training sessions that go over the basics of different social media platforms can be extremely beneficial; after all, if people don’t use social media, our message might not reach them. Social media can connect so many people and has a community building effect. If we are able to get the residents of South Madison onto social media websites, we could potential create a large network of people from the area and connect them to area restaurants and grocery stores I see this challenge as a huge opportunity that can help build and connect the community members.

Finally, a conversation that stood out in my mind was with a father of 2 young boys. He mentioned that he would love for us to do something that engages the kids in the community, to keep them occupied and busy during the day in summer/weekends or after school. He thinks that it is vital to show the kids that there are beneficial activities that they can be involved in that better the community, as well as keep them away from the temptation of drugs and alcohol in high school and later in life. This dad was concerned because he said that a lot of parents work during the day and sometimes into the night and that some parents like him aren’t able to afford organizations and sports programs for their kids, but still want them to have those positive experiences and build friendships with other children in the community. From my experience at Celebrate South Madison, I could tell that parents desperately want more kid-friendly organizations and programs and this is a great opportunity for us. From watching the kids participate in the Boys & Girls club musical and dance performance, I could tell that they really enjoyed coming together with friends and community members. But more importantly, watching the parents watch their children performing was really touching; each and every parent had a look of pride, joy, and true excitement on their face as their children were on stage. Because of this, I think that the biggest opportunity we have as a class is focusing on programs and organizations for the kids in the community.

Overall, we have two main challenges and some great opportunities. If we are able to show the residents that the prices of the fabulous restaurants in their area are affordable and that social media websites aren’t all that scary, I think that will increase the success of our campaign. Moreover, I think that we should focus on the fact that the community is family-oriented in that it wants to create opportunities for the younger members of the area.

Blog Post 2: Celebrate South Madison


My day at the Celebrate South Madison Festival was the first time I entered the South Madison area, and I really did not know what to expect. As soon as I walked to our tent, feeling a bit unsure about my surroundings, a young girl with a purple dress immediately ran up to me. She was so energetic and fun. She asked me politely if she could use my camera to take pictures, and throughout the day whenever I saw this young girl she looked at me with a large smile on her face.

After this initial encounter, I felt more relaxed the rest of the day. I was ready to have more interactions with the people of South Madison at the festival. I explored and took many pictures of the different booths and people watching the entertainment. I also took photos of the entertainment on stage, which varied from the Endtime Liturgical Dancers, to the Evolucao Dance Group, to the Davis Family Band. I spoke to a bunch of the Endtime Liturgical Dancers in this photograph. They were pretty shy at first, but after talking to them about dance they opened up to me. They were talking about how they love to pulse dance, and they were excited to perform that day. I found that once I spoke to many of the younger residents about topics they were interested in, such as dance, they were more likely to have a conversation with me. The girls in this photo were posing for me throughout the day and before they left they made sure to say bye to me so I was able to take one last photo. It seems to me that the people of South Madison are so dedicated to their children. If we were able to focus ideas that incorporate children and media literacy into our program to help this area, I think parents would be really appreciative.


Besides walking around and interacting with interesting people throughout the day, I also met many people at our Savor South Madison booth. Many residents came over to our table to try the various Asian candies we provided, but before they were able to take a candy we asked them what their favorite restaurant is in the South Madison area. I was pretty shocked by some of the responses. Many people responded with their favorite places, and they highly recommended them to me. The people I spoke to really enjoyed food from Hispanic restaurants, such as Inka Heritage, La Hacienda, El Pastor, and Taqueria Guadalajara.

On the other hand, there were also a good amount people who told me they couldn’t afford to go out to eat. The first woman I spoke to blatantly said, “I can’t answer your question. I’m too poor to eat out.” After she told me this, I did not know how to respond, and she laughed at my reaction. I sat there after being silent for a moment of shock and said, “Well, you can take a candy from us.” She appreciated my sincerity and began opening up to me about some of the problems in the South Madison area. I told her all about Savor South Madison, and although she made it clear she is not on social media, she jotted down the name of our website and is looking forward to updates. I spoke to a few other people who had a similar reaction about not having enough money to eat out. I was surprised how open so many people were about this.

I also spoke to one man who could barely speak English. When I was explaining Savor South Madison to him, he did not understand what I was saying. He was unable to comprehend what the word “ethnic” meant, and I spent a few minutes helping him pronounce the word. He was truly trying to understand what I was saying, and after a while he just took a candy from our table and went to watch the entertainment.

After speaking with so many different and interesting people at the festival, I was able to better understand the culture and community that South Madison has to offer. Many people heard about Savor South Madison in the past, but they wanted a better explanation, which we provided for them. Although many people said they are not on social media, they still wanted to know about Savor South Madison and asked how they could find out more about our efforts. I truly believe that the people in this area will be open to us and allow us to help them form a more developed community. The people I met this day were all so friendly and warm. They definitely have a strong desire to better their community, and I know they appreciate our help so far.

The final act of the day was The Davis Family Band, which really brought the community together one last time that day. For that hour of music being played, it didn’t matter your race, economic background or age. Everyone was dancing together as a community.



Blog Post #2 – Celebrate South Madison Reflection – Zanna Hittner

Blog Post #2 - Celebrate South Madison Reflection - Zanna Hittner

The Celebrate South Madison event took place on a brisk fall morning. As we packed up the cars and drove off to South Madison, I had no idea what to expect. The day began relatively calm; we all pitched in and set up tables, tents and chairs. Before I knew it, the event was starting and people came trickling in. One of the first people I talked to was the woman at the face painting booth. She grew up in Costa Rica, but moved to Madison 8 or 9 years ago. She talked about her experience as a clown and face painter—something she just stumbled upon. She said she didn’t consider herself an artist, but judging by the pictures she showed us—and all of the kids I saw with face-art—it is clear that she has a natural talent. The face painter said she enjoys the South Madison community, but mentioned that she doesn’t eat at many restaurants in the area anymore because most of the ethnic restaurants have closed. While this isn’t necessarily true, it was interesting to hear her perspective on the restaurants in South Madison.

Another individual I talked to was a woman with her 4 month old daughter. She was sitting and watching performances so I asked her if she had a kid in the drum line; she did not. In fact she isn’t from the South Madison, she lives on the West side, but her church is located in South Madison so she came to support her church community. She had only learned about Celebrate South Madison the day before. My interaction with her really sparked the idea of connecting with local church groups. In general churches have a strong community and many connections beyond the church community. Getting involved with a church may be a good approach to connecting with individuals within South Madison. I’m aware that we are not a faith-based organization, so that is one consideration with connecting with church groups. Another consideration is that church groups often already have a solid foundation established to support their parishioners; however, my thought is that we could utilize the connections already formed within the church and expand upon that into other segments of the community.

Lastly, I talked to a woman who visited our Savor South Madison booth about her internet use. She mentioned that she was on Facebook but not Twitter. I asked some questions to gauge what some of the barrier might be, and what I gathered is there is a general lack of knowledge about Twitter—and social media in general. I think that’s where we come in: we could hold workshops to teach individuals about different social media platforms including why to use social media, how to use social media, and tips & tricks. This also aligns with the South Madison goals Sherri identified during our meeting on Thursday.

Overall I think the Savor South Madison team did a great job representing our group and what we’re about. We had the opportunity to connect with SMPC board members, directors of the event, South Madison residents, individuals who live in other communities, and other local and campus organizations. Most of all we were able to introduce ourselves as the new group of students working with an already established nonprofit, and use the Celebrate South Madison event as an opportunity to foster new relationships.

Little Miss Diva

Little Miss Diva

Case Study- American Red Cross

a) Objectives of the campaign
The main objective of the American Red Cross’s social media use is to use social media tools to execute the mission: help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies with social media. The first notable social media campaign of the American Red Cross was the campaign they launched after the earthquake in Haiti. Working with celebrities and creating videos on their YouTube channel, the American Red Cross experienced how powerful social media can be to raise awareness and give the easy access and opportunity to the mass public to join in helping the victims. The social media campaign the American Red Cross launched after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, served a similar objective to that in 2009. Only this time, the Red Cross to have a larger presence in the online world in order to increase the awareness of the catastrophe and the needs and providing a bigger access for people to join the cause.

b) Strategies, Patterns, and Evaluation
American Red Cross have a home base presence on facebook, youtube, flickr, twitter, ammado, and its own blog. According to their guide line of using social media, American Red Cross provides disaster services updates and preparedness tips, which was exactly the case when the great earthquake and tsunami happened in 2011.
The main goal was again, in attempt to have a larger presence online. Text-To-Donate was the main venue that the Red Cross was seeking to get mass public donations. If one texts “REDCROSS” to 90999 on his or her mobile device, a one-time donation of $10 would be made and added to the users’ monthly phone bill. The idea was brilliant because it is easy and simple. There are less steps a person has to take in order to make a donation for the victims. All they need is to text.
Along with texting, the Red Cross decided to extend the campaign by partnering up with other entities. The Red Cross created mobile banners and URLs for inclusion in mobile campaigns through the help of Microsoft and Millennial; the advertising space for the mobile banner was donated by them. Apple’s iTunes created a simple donation page for users to simply donate from $5 to $200 to the Red Cross with just a few clicks. Twitter and Facebook was again a major venue for the news to be spread about the earthquake and tsunami, but also letting people know about the text-to-donate campaign. By using social media the Red Cross provided the convenience and immediacy for people around the globe.
d) The Impact
The result of the Red Cross social media campaign clearly benefited the victims by meeting the goal of raising awareness and providing easy access. According to the American Red Cross newsletter in March of 2011, families staying at evacuation centers immediately after the disaster, received water, relief items and emotional support every day for months. The Red Cross also equipped survivors with appliances for their new homes, repaired damaged medical facilities, and helped the elderly and children.

e) Conclusion
All the social media that was involved was ultimately focused on one component, text-to-donate. Simplicity, integration, and collaboration were the winning factors of this social media campaign; the campaign had a simple direction, integrated that direction through various venues, and collaborated with other entities to reach the fullest potential impact.