I originally met Renee Black while conspiring on some social media plans for the Engineers Without Borders All Candidates Debate. At some point during our development conversations Renee’s most recent project, Peace Geeks came up. I was intrigued…. so of course booked Renee in for a Projecting Change interview… check out the Question & Answers below!
Q: How are you projecting change?
I am working with an amazing volunteer team on the start-up of a new non-profit called Peace Geeks. We help strengthen the technological and professional capabilities of non-profit organizations working on peace, accountability and human rights initiatives by remotely connecting them to skilled volunteers. Our client organizations gain the benefit of skilled volunteers, while our volunteers (over 100 and counting) can stay at home and have the opportunity to make an impact globally. We also have a secondary objective of raising public awareness about the important work done by individuals and organizations working on these issues around the world. We don’t hear their stories often enough through traditional media channels and we want to help change that.
We want to work on projects that advance the strategic objectives of our client organizations so what that looks like will vary from one organization to another, but projects can include: developing organizational web sites to disseminate important information with relevant audiences; setting up data collection or crowd sourcing tools to assist with research, programming and policy advocacy efforts; implementing mobile phone applications to assist with early warning tools or to support awareness-raising campaigns; creating training programs for social media strategy, web site management, etc. We also work on the development of strategic management and planning skills, including team coaching, marketing strategy, human resources management, program strategy, etc. We will also explore developing new tools or integrating several existing tools if and when we see that it addresses a broad need.
Q: Do you feel film has power to create social change?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, this team initially came together after 14 individuals who didn’t really know each other met up watch the documentary film ‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’ at the Amnesty International Film Festival this past November. This movie tells the amazing story of the Liberian women’s movement, which played a pivotal role in helping to end the 14-year civil war in that country. When the screening ended, the energy was palpable. Many of us wanted to do something to support the amazing work of organizations such as Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), featured in the film. I have since toured this film across the country for different audiences, and no matter where I show it, people are inspired by the courage and fiery determination of the Liberian women.
Q: Tell me about the inspiration behind your newly founded NGO…
Apart from the screening, the idea for Peace Geeks culminated from my experience in the private sector where I worked on IT projects for eight years, and later in the non-profit sector and with the UN where I worked on peace and security issues. I came to realize that many of the organizations working in this space lacked the basic tools, systems and skills they needed to be most effective with their limited resources. Sometimes cost is the most significant barrier to accessing these tools, but more often than not, it is lack of awareness about the options available or limited access to the skills needed to get them. Some non-profits also may have limited strategic management capabilities and in some cases we may have a role to play in supporting the development these skills.
Another important piece of the puzzle was that I could see that many people with professional backgrounds wanted to contribute their skills and time to support such organizations, but just didn’t know where to get started. We help make these connections and harness this potential. We recognize that while the core work on these issues happens on the ground in the countries where our clients operate, we can nevertheless play an important support role in building their technological and management capabilities so they can be most effective with their resources and make the greatest impact in their communities.
Interested in finding out more about Peace Geeks? Checkout the website at www.peacegeeks.org .
Want to get involved? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or register as a volunteer at www.peacegeeks.org/pg/volunteer_registration.php
- Rebecca @rebeccaapeel