Interview with activist involved in a faith-based collective: Key Themes

1. Mobile Voices reaches a broad community

“MV is a project to explore different tactics in reaching a broad community. Given their resources, what are the different means by which they communicate? Is it snail mail, email, cell phones? Students respond to Facebook, not email. So it’s diagnosing communication means.”

2. “Equal exchange of communication” as a key goal

“If I had to say in one sentence the goal [of Mobile Voices] it would be equal exchange of communication, receiving feedback, getting comments from the community and transmitting to the masses; a back and forth.”

3. The importance of using different communication tools for organizing

“MV supported the hunger strike – this went beyond the traditional use of email, social networking sites, and websites, which works with college students. But with this population, radio, MMS, SMS are great ways to communicate to them and great for immigrant rights. I hadn’t used MMS or video via cell phone before.

We are the YouTube accessible generation. Crimes are solved via YouTube. With camera phones and text messaging – we can be our own independent journalists; people can capture the story that others aren’t seeing.”

“Also, the voicemail messages – through Gizmo, sending messages of support, criticism, evaluation, etc. This ties to the radio station. We need more avenues for pirate radio, for taking over the airwaves to accomplish the goals of the community. We also need to maintain traditional websites, social networking sites, keeping images fresh, something that people will come back to. We need to have events posted, bulletins, changing status so that people get news about the fast from them instead of major news outlets.”

“[We] can’t rely on mainstream news outlets – they will have a general take or a spin. This was a way to take full control of our message, content, and dissemination.”

4. Mobile phones and especially MMS as a significant tool for popular education efforts

“MMS is great because you can talk to people less. If this is your platform, how is your message distinguished from others? Through using images rather than just text. Everyone has access to a cell phone….. Different carriers should allow everyone to send MMS.”

“[Mobile phones] are very useful to explore [popular education], especially given the iPhone breakthrough, meaning a good screen to view a website on a cell phone. Also, people having access to fresh up-to-date content at any time, via a phone in their hand, instant communication, giving instructions, etc.”

5. Other useful tools for community organizing

“Radio and streaming online – but this takes special equipment. If you could do it on a laptop without other equipment needed to haul around, like Garageband, it would be great. Podcasts were supposed to take over this function, but it seems like podcasting has tapered off. Maybe audible stories with Flash would be better.

Shortband radio would be really effective as well. Using a cell phone to broadcast through radio would be cool, too. I’ve thought about people collaborating on a radio program or a journalistic piece via the web. People upload audio and video and do editing via a SNS.”

6. The importance of training

“Through [trainings] we can expect that mothers and fathers (community members) will know how to do a proper story, capture the “perfect” image, and know what kind of image to take (close, far). Training is essential, especially MMS training to do slide shows, videos, and learn how to upload them onto a website. YouTube can seem very daunting. Who is going to see it? So having an avenue where people can transmit videos to a site where a proper organization vouches for the space – a virtual safe space – is really important.”

“[There should be] more resources and funding in the trainings, have those taught in a framework of survival – showing urgency, crisis in the community. If we all knew how to use our cell phones, we could do [a lot]. Trainings –this is part of our activism and survival. Offline activism must be blended with online activism, building a list and maintaining interest and energy.”

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