Digital Activism: Lead the Change You Want to See in the World



Jo White – Blogger, Phd Student (moderator)
Beth Kanter – Author, Blogger, Speaker at 6Kanter
Esta Soler – President, Futures Without Violence

Jo: A couple of powerhouse women in the house have a lot to share with you. We would like to initiate a conversation with the audience. If there is anything you would like to ask, please raise your hand at any time. We really want to be able to learn from everyone in the house.

All of you are for a reason. Raise your hand if:

Have been a part of Activism online?
Leading the charge on online activism?
Who feels like you are in your niche and are trailblazers in activism?
Who feels that need to ramp up

Jo: I am known as MediaMum.. I see in my research work people connect one to one even in social circles. I have seen it happen as far back to 2009 with Nestle press junket. Most would not expect what happened. The bloggers were accused of being brained washed. Some people decided it was a good idea to call them out.

That began my motivation on how people connect even people with no social footprint.

My other research: What happened in the Colorado flags. In the aftermath of the flood, people self-organized on a Facebook group to take horses through trails. These people never met before with one woman who started a Facebook group.

I have now moved into Animal Evacuation Site Management. The app helps identify the lost and found animals and keep track of animals in evacuation.

Jo: Introducing Beth Kanter. Author, Blogger, Speaker. Your work is on Social Good. Can you talk about that.

Beth: I have been working in social good for a while before the web before it was online. It has taken me as a trainer around the world. I sent two young Cambodian woman to college with Royalties from books. [ applause]

It makes our passions visible. When we make our passions visible online.

I stumbled upon the early version of Blogher, 10 years later. I never imagined how it would change my life and never imagined that Conan Obrien would be talking about me.

In 2007 at time of 2nd or 3rd Blogher in Chicago I had adopted some children from Cambodia and was invited to speak at a conference. I started using Twitter to raise money (before we started crowdfunding). I raised enough money to sponsor the conference via social media!

1st – Individual Social Responsibility. Why not have your own ISR. Find Social cause, leverage your network to get other people involved for your cause.

When my father died I decided to honor my father with a virtual “Paddle out”. #OceanLoveEarl. We got over 6000 tweets and raised money for the cause.

Jo: That was wonderful! I would like to introduce you to Esta Soler who has been a wonderful champion for change for domestic violence and what happens to women behind closed door. I encourage you to find Ester’s TEDx talk, best 10 minutes you will spend.

You have been a leader in the movement to end violence against women for over 20 years.

Esta: Yes, I have been doing this since my 30s. This violence is not inevitable. It is learned and it can be unlearned. Since 1993 we have been able to reduce violence against women by 64%.

Jo: How did we get there?

Esta: We got there because women and their allies became involved and connected probably through the telephone, raising money from carwashes. We decided to go to congress to tell them what was going on behind closed doors.

While we were working this Bill. One of my colleagues asked me why are supporting this bill? I said, because I believe in this cause. He said, are you serious? This is about taking the fun out of marriage. Can you imagine if we had twitter back then?

10 years later, reason prevailed, we passed the violence against women Bill and it changed the law.

We will be celebrating the 20th anniversary and I would like to work with you to change the story

Jo: What has changed in the past 10 years for you Beth?

Beth: The work in Cambodia has changed. It was a scary thing. Do you call it out? Or do we stay quiet? They got help behind the scenes and the board was taking out. It didn’t keep me away from doing this work. There are people out there, trolls out there, but if you have a network out there they can protect you.

Esta: If you do political work you are going to find resistance at 8am, 11am all day long. In 2013 when we tried to get the Violence Against Women Bill reauthorized it, it was hard to get anyone to sign it because anything about women turned into a discussion about abortion and that is not what the bill is for.

I am a data nerd, anyone else.

In 1980, we looked to see how many people are writing about violence against women, we found 158.

In 2000, there was over 5000s. That makes a difference, writing matters.

Jo: I am going to ask the audience for some feedback. Annie, led the effort against Nestle. Her social footprint was about 1,000. Now she has about 77,000

Annie: What are you going to ask Nestle? One of them wrote back and asked what would you like us to ask? I wrote a post about what I wanted them to ask and it ended up getting a huge twitter storm, lots of comments.

I didn’t realize how much the particular issue would overwhelm my life. I now look to see if I can invest time into the issue before I send that tweet.

Jo: What do you do to step away?

Beth: I turn off the computer and take a walk. I have a fitbit. I have been lucky to have a network that is supportive.

Esta: I read murder mysteries. It is a total escape. It is just a fantasy, I love scandal and I watch too much television. I keep discovering other shows that I really really like. I am also studying for my Phd.

Audience member: Like Jenny Lawson said, I take a walk and my audience will respond to them

Jo: Do you feel like you feel like you have a tribe?

Audience member: I just started telling my story about women who have to take medication and are pregnant. I have only done it for a couple of year and I found an army. My blog is Do Not Faint.

Audience Member: I sign a petition. I am dependent on my employer not firing me for supporting Whales.

Beth: Because people can read your social stream. You have 3 choices. You can be a turtle and lock everything up. You can be a jellyfish, don’t filter anything you are saying. There is a place where you can get into trouble with legal. Or you can be a chameleon and adapt to different issues and topics.

Audience member: My name is Sara. My blog is Seven Little Mexicans. I happen to work for a small company. People I work with have written thesis on radical topics. I caution in being too general and in judging.

Beth: Great question about brands. What ignites you? What is your company social media policy is.

Audience member: My name is Libby. I am an accidentally blogger. My daughter passed away from a tumor. We just launched a nonprofit at How do you unify within your own cause.

Esta: I’m really sorry for your loss and humbled by your question. I have always believed if there is one dollar there is two. It requires perseverance. Building partnerships and coalitions is hard work. Everyone is chasing after that foundation, that company. At the end of the day there are some that

Beth: My first book is the network nonprofit. Nonprofits need to work on networks instead of individuals. What are the pediatric cancer organizations? Two of them came to mind. Bike Well. Visit hospitals along the way Also check out Matthew sacry of Stupid cancer. They are trying to get research on young cancer victims.

Esta: Recommend you reach out to Dr Bob Block. He takes everyones call. He is very connected to the world of pediatricians.

Audience Member: I started the company because I suffer with Bulimia. Now living in East Harlem saw epidemic with obesity. How do we create a true mission on activism. How do we get people to change. How do I bridge the gap.

Jo: Most effective things I see if the things that people do one to one. That other people are watching and see the difference. Social media is all about individual connections. Little small things are really important. Clicktisim to show your support or change your avatar. It has been ineffective, it actually does do something. Change is being made because people are using their voices to make a difference to cause growth greater awareness.

Beth: A lot of people out there are trying to make a difference, is a great organization. Robert wood Johnson organization. Jasmine Hall Ratliff, follow who she is following. HSS also has specific sites. Health activist and app called fit and another called charity miles. You put it on and you start raising money.

Audience Member: Independent Womens' Forum writer. Can you talk about building coalitions. How do you build partners that will stick with you for the rest of the fight.

Esta: I would love to reach out to the Independent Womens' coalition. If we could see the number decrease in the number of people who are hurt we can see a difference.

Jo: Look for coalitions that operate online and offline as well.

Beth: Partnerships are about people. Then there is the connection stage. They are having the difficult conversation. You can’t get to alignment phase without going through the other steps.

Audience Member: My daughter who is twelve wants to become an environmental blogger.

Esta: The main coast of the presidio does a lot of work. In the Bay area there are a lot of organization

Beth: Maybe connect it someway to the classes. I also have a blog post, please google “How to teach philanthropy to your children at a young age” on my blog.

National Wildlife Federation.

Jo: Commonsense media is a great resource.

Audience Member: Our grassroots campaign is 1000 women for respect.

Beth: You want to find out who are the influencers that I want to cultivate and reach online.

Audience Member: As a newbie how do I get started?

Esta: At the end of the day having your voice out there is really going to make a big difference. If you are interested in the political topics you need to have an agenda.

Jo: Closing words?

Beth: Do it! Think what is one small step you can take

Esta: It’s in partnership with you is where we change norms. I want to be your partner.