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A Zen Peacekeeper Guide to Twitter: Using Twitter for Good

Friday, May 7, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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Twitter-radish A while back I started a series of short posts sharing what I know about Twitter. It has proven to be quite popular so I’m doing a few more before I lose interest.

If you missed them, you can read the previous posts:

This week I want to start looking at the substance of Twitter. Once you’ve figured out how to use it, what’s the point of it all? I have found all sorts of really amazing ways to use Twitter and the next few posts in this series will look at some of them.

This week I want to talk about how Twitter is being used to amplify the voices of people who are too often not heard in the discussion about development, the people who are intended to benefit from the development process.

One of my favorite examples of this is the way that an organisation called Epic Change works with an amazing woman called Mama Lucy.

Epic Change‘s mission just pushes all my buttons in the best possible way.

Epic Change amplifies the voices and impact of grassroots changemakers and social entrepreneurs.

We share their stories in ways that raise visibility and funds to support their extraordinary efforts to create hope in our world.

Voices, stories, hope, grassroots changemakers? These people are talking my language. So it didn’t surprise me when I got to know Stacey Monk, one of the co-founders of Epic Change, a little bit and discovered that we have a lot in common. Stacey shares my belief that “that communities can only be transformed from within.”

So Epic Change will:

support only changes that are proposed, funded, implemented and sustained by people who live locally. We adamantly refuse to rob communities of their sense of value, power and autonomy by fostering a relationship of dependency on our organization or any outside group.

How do they do this? By helping people in need share their “epic” true stories in innovative, creative and profitable ways to help them acquire the financial resources they need to create positive “change” in their communities.

One of those people is Mama Lucy.

Mama Lucy Kamptoni is the founder of Shepherds Junior, a small primary school in Arusha, Tanzania.
She founded the school in 2003 on land she rented land next door to her home using the income from her poultry business. The primary goal of the school is to ensure that all children in the Kimandolu area are provided access to a high quality education at an affordable price. You can read more about the school here.

Twitter is one of the innovative ways that Epic Change has supported Mama Lucy to get the story of her school out to the world, and therefore to attract the funding she needed to expand and sustain the school.

Lots of not-for-profit organisations are using Twitter to raise the profile of the work they are doing and, hopefully, to raise money for their good work. But the Epic Change model is special because this is not about Stacey or Sanjay Patel, the other co-founder, using Twitter to share Mama Lucy’s story (although they are both great people to follow themselves).

This is about them supporting Mama Lucy to get on Twitter herself and connect with people like me who might want to support her work. Which she does, very well. Mama Lucy is smart and vibrant and has learned to use the newest forms of social media to support the work she is doing in Tanzania.

More than that, together, Epic Change and Mama Lucy are introducing a new generation of Tanzanians to Twitter. Many of the students from Shepherds Junior are also on Twitter. You can chat with them and get a sense of the impact that this school is having on their lives. This morning, for example, I was chatting with Gideon, about the latest Epic Change project to support Mama Lucy and the school.

Which is where you come in.

The latest collaboration between Epic Change and Mama Lucy is To Mama With Love, a collaborative art project which gives you and I an innovative way to tell all the mothers in our lives how much we love them at the same time as we support Mama Lucy’s school. I created a love note for my mother and both my sisters, and made donations in their names to Mama Lucy’s newest project, a home for children at the school. I hope you’ll consider doing the same for your mother or any mother in your life.

This is a great example of how Twitter, and other forms of social media, can be used to amplify the voices of innovative change-makers from within developing communities. It gets us away from the trap of thinking of ourselves as ‘saviours’ and places us firmly in the territory of supporting people who are already doing great work in their communities. It’s one way that I see Twitter can be used as a force for good.

What do you think? Can Twitter be a force for good? Does it make a difference to you that you can connect directly with Mama Lucy through Twitter and that you know that these projects are being driven by her and her local community?


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3 Responses to "A Zen Peacekeeper Guide to Twitter: Using Twitter for Good"

  1. Clara says:

    Thanks, Marianne, for this post and for the series of posts you’ve written on social networking media. I’ve been enjoying them and have found them very helpful. I much appreciate the time and energy you spend on your blog.

  2. I’ve been a supporter of Epic Change since meeting Stacey Monk over a year ago. It’s such a great cause, the the network she’s built is nothing short of miraculous.

    Stacey has used all forms of social media, especially Twitter, to build her community, spread the word, and enlist the support of others – a testament to the power of being connected. Great post Marianne!!

  3. Lovely website and a great message about how social media can be used to build such amazing, positive and global communities:)

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