The Question Campaign, http://21dayscambridge.org/, launched in the City of Cambridge on Weds Oct 17 as part of the Cambridge Campaign Against Domestic Violence. For the next 21 Days, the Question Campaign will ask for people in Cambridge to donate their questions about Domestic Violence. Following that, through a series of public processes, the campaign partners and Cambridge residents will identify common questions and work towards local policy and service provision that responds to these questions.
This campaign is a joint effort between the City of Cambridge, Transition House Cambridge’s domestic violence agency and Engage the Power (eTp).
In their own words: Engage the Power (eTp) – we work to bring the diverse voices of the public, especially those traditionally underrepresented, into the public sphere. The practice of asking questions is at the core of our theory of social change. We believe that when people are invited to name and share the questions that are most important to them, they also start sharing what they know about themselves, their culture and their environments. When people share their knowledge, they may find similar experiences or common solutions, just as they may also realize that there is not necessarily just one story but multiple stories to be negotiated. from http://engagethepower.org/our-work/
We are supporting the Question Campaign with Vojo, http://vojo.co. This is a really exciting campaign to me because it links individuals who may not otherwise have involvement with city policy and government to policy and decisions about public services in a thoughtful way. It begins by meeting individuals where they are — as individuals with questions — and through questions, links individuals to one another and to the organizations of individuals who provide domestic violence services in the city.
In previous campaigns, eTp has received questions via email and postcards. Together with Professor Ceasar McDowell, we have set up a group, 21Days so that this and future campaigns can receive questions from people via their mobile phones. As with any other group, people can send questions to this group with SMS, MMS, by calling, and by emailing.
Some details about our implementation with 21 Days:
Do no harm – Emergency instructions
21 Days prompts contributors to leave questions about domestic violence. As it’s possible that people may be calling in an emergency situation, the audio begins with a suggestion to hang up and dial 9-1-1 if this is an emergency.
Direct connection to service providers
One of the goals of the campaign is to connect people with services that they want and need, so when callers phone the group, they are given the option to connect directly with a person at SafeLink the Massachusetts’ domestic violence hotline service. This line is attended 24 hours a day, every day.
Custom Audio Prompts
As the frame of the campaign is to receive questions, 21 Days wrote their own script for audio prompts that includes language asking people to donate and listen to questions instead of stories. For instructions about customizing your group audio, see: http://booki.cc/how-to-use-vozmob-como-usar-vozmob/group-audio/
In past campaigns, eTp has received questions via email. In this campaign, they ask for email donations to firstname.lastname@example.org. The campaign then forwards these to vojo by emailing email@example.com. For instructions about how to set up your account to enable posting from your email address, see: http://booki.cc/how-to-use-vozmob-como-usar-vozmob/post-stories/
Embedding Vojo content on 21dayscambridge.org
The 21 Days campaign already maintains a WordPress website with campaign information on it. The campaign would prefer not to send site visitors away from the site to see new question submissions, so they have embedded the RSS feed from their group onto their site using Better RSSWidget and the embed code: . Questions appear here: http://21dayscambridge.org/Newest-Questions/
For instructions about placing your Vojo content, see: http://booki.cc/how-to-use-vozmob-como-usar-vozmob/placing-vojo-content/
For more information about 21 Days in Cambridge, please see this post by Aditi Mehta, PhD student with the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, a member of the Introduction to Civic Media class running this term (Fall 2012).