The Social Tech Training and NetChange Week 2009 have come and gone, but after the dust settled what remains is a strong and growing community of emerging leaders filled with new ideas for innovation in their digital campaigns, tools, and programs, and maybe even something a whole lot bigger.
What became abundantly clear from STT 09 was organizations across the spectrum are not just dipping a toe in the digital waters - they’re diving in with both feet! STT participants are constantly experimenting with new ways to reach out to constituents, listen to and involve them in the work of the organization, sharing and spreading stories in new ways, and collaborating with others to win common goals.
Today’s online campaigners are embracing the full potential of the new digital world – far beyond the “latest new tool” game – by nudging the actual work of their organization’s advocacy, campaigning, and fundraising from old style models to newer, network and people centric organizing models driven by the web.
This spirit of change infused our learning model. Why teach “the way to use Facebook” when what we thought we knew about it even 6 months ago has totally changed. Who foresaw the rapid rise of Twitter? Perhaps the only thing that last are the intangibles—a humble, open way of viewing the digital space, the relationships people make at events like the STT, the stories they hear and can pass onto others, and most of all the excitement that this sector is one of the most interesting places to be in the world.
Flowing from that enthusiasm and optimism, some of our talented STT trainers and participants shared their thoughts and stories about the impact of this year’s gathering.
Tim Walker, Biro Creative
"It's just completely inspiring to see our field come together like this. Even five years ago we struggled to call what we did a profession – online organizing and movement-building was an emerging, self-taught, even accidental enterprise. Now we're getting together at events like STT and doing rigorous development and serious training. We're seeing hard data, sharing best practices and developing standards and networks. And organizations are dedicating real time and budgets to our work – because we're having real impact in the world. More that anything else, meeting all the smart, passionate, energized folks at STT this year reinforced that our time has come."
Chris Tekpetey, Career Trek
None of the previous conferences or workshops that I have attended, in the last two years, accomplished as much in one day as we did by lunchtime of the first day at the STT conference. Equal opportunity was provided to contribute awareness and insights from all attendees, and the facilitators gave the conference a genuine feel that I’ve also never experienced before! My overall experience has impacted me profoundly, and I am grateful for the opportunity to participate this year in the Web of Change STT conference. I would not hesitate to return if another opportunity became available in the future.
Sam Dorman, samdorman.com
The STT was outstanding. If I had access to training like this when I was starting out, it would have transformed my work. I was excited to help extend that knowledge to this next wave of talented thinkers and activists, and I can't wait to see how far they take it.
Kevan Gilbert, Union Gospel Mission
“This was way beyond tips on good email marketing, best social media practices and strong storytelling. After three days of intimate, intense learning with world-class experts, I’m coming back to my non-profit with a whole new vision for what my organization could become over the next few years. As much as Social Tech Training is a conference about technology and innovation, it’s also about big-picture thinking and forward-thinking leadership.”
Deanna Zandt, deannazandt.com
What struck me most about the way Social Tech Training was arranged was how much individual attention we were able to give the attendees. Most large workshops have only the opportunity for a presenter to broadcast to the whole group, but the structure of STT had us working in small groups and on an individual basis as well. It gave me a lot of reassurance that I was providing tools and knowledge that were really going to help people, rather than simply hoping for the best. These just a few stories from an exciting field that is rapidly taking a leadership position in helping social change organizations innovate and embrace a rapidly changing world."
The smartest orgs see the web as not merely a new “channel” to master but as a potential game changer in how the organization does its work in a networked world. And people in the online role are often playing a leadership role in helping organizations get there. Congrats goes out to everyone who contributed to the vibrant community that converged in Toronto this month.
The positive energy is the best reward for all the work the organizers, trainers, sponsors and participants put in. See all of the content and coverage of STT 2009 online.