MyBLOC.net–social networking with a conscience
"This is an intervention."
When a group of youth organizers sat down at a conference in 1999 and formed the BLOC Network (Building Leadership, Organizing Communities) few could have imagined that just under a decade later the group would be on the verge of launching an online social networking site for progressives of color. Poised to challenge the industry behemoths MySpace and FaceBook, myBLOC.net under Matin’s stewardship just might change the way social justice movements engage and incorporate technology.
"At myBLOC, individuals develop their own principles and purpose, so what they do reflects their theory of change," Matin offers. "We’re getting a generation of people to identify with others who have similar values. And as a power-based strategy, it’s preparing a new generation of leaders to govern."
Matin, 30, and the Movement Strategy Center teamed up with San Francisco Bay Area design firm Tumis and other members of the BLOC network to build the site based on a few simple ideas: it should be user-centric, filled with the tools and content visitors want; the software itself should be open-source to encourage cross-platform work across the globe; and it should be developed by organizer technologists, those tech-savvy justice makers who have an eye for new technologies and their roots in social justice movements. They also managed to assemble an all-people-of-color team of designers and developers.
Aside from a new place to post your profile, myBLOC.net is set up to host self-selecting groups, create alumni circles to provide long-term connection between participants at a training or conference and individually tailor learning circles to strategize on particular issues or campaigns on your block, or globally. The site connects individuals to organizations, and to each other, as well.
Shepherding a huge national project from start to finish, with stakeholders from coast to coast, a team of tech gurus and a laundry list of lofty ideas doesn’t seem to leave Matin out of step with the big picture:
"At the end of the day, it’s a tool," he adds. "It’s not going to change the world. We have to do that."
What do you think of the INNOVATORS list? Who would you include? Click here to join the conversation at RACEWIRE, the COLORLINES blog.