Archive for December, 2010

My new job: Connector/Communicator at TACSI

I have some news I’m so excited about… and a cool story about how social media helped make it happen.

I have a new job at the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) which is located in Adelaide, South Australia (you can read the blog post introducing me if you like). It’s mission is to “identify and support the innovative ideas, methods and people that will contribute to and accelerate positive social change”. The team at TACSI describe it as a “do-tank” (as opposed to a thinktank!) for helping make social innovation happen.

How did this come about? I just happened to see a tweet from @totocol about a Social Innovation job… I clicked on it, and reading the job description gave me shivers – I felt like they were describing ME!  I had to apply…

The job was for a Connector/Communicator:

” the ultimate connector: someone who can animate a community (be it geographical or topical) around an idea or event. As our Connector/Communicator you will search out people, groups and organisations and connect them with the work TACSI is doing, with inspiring ideas, methodologies and people, and continue to build a community of interest for social innovation in Australia. These connections could be through events, through partnerships, through media – you name it! You’ll be working within an organisation dedicated to doing things differently to what’s been done before. Apply only if you’re passionate about working differently.”

(you can see the full position description if you’re interested – it’s on PDF)

Everyone who applies for a job says they’re passionately excited about the opportunity, and says they have references. Ho hum. But I really was passionately excited. I decided not to let a couple of pages of resumé do all the talking for me. I called on my network.

Over the next couple of days, I contacted a number of people I’ve worked with and volunteered with, telling them about the exciting job I was going for, and asking them to recommend me on LinkedIn. They very generously took the time to write recommendations for me. (Thank you, Sophie, Donna, Emma and Catherine!). I started peppering the TACSI folks with my recommendations by email. I guess it was a risk that they’d think I was an overenthusiastic self promoter, but fortunately they appreciated my enthusiasm!

One of the reasons I was excited about TACSI was the presence of Dr Nicholas Gruen on their Board. I met Nicholas briefly through my volunteer work with eDemocracy website OpenAustralia around the time he was chairing the Government 2.0 Taskforce. So, I took the bold advice of the wonderful Pia Waugh (advisor to Senator Kate Lundy) and emailed him directly to express my interest in working at TACSI. Again, I took the risk of coming across as a self promoting spammer. Again, the approach was received positively. (Thank you Pia, thank you Nicholas.).

A couple of weeks ago, I had a wonderful interview which felt more like an energetic brainstorming session with TACSI CEO Brenton Caffin and Program Director Erin Green. They’d asked me to prepare a presentation on what I thought their Communications program should look like for 2012. I had so much fun preparing it. I drew a lot of inspiration from one of my mentors in the open source community, Leslie Hawthorn, whose approach to community building is full of generosity and practical support. Thank you Leslie.

This seems to be turning into a Paltrow-esque Oscars acceptance speech, so I’ll just add a couple of final thank yous… to Donna, Sophie and Kat (from OpenAustralia) for being my referees. Thanks to Caroline Siler and the team at Keep Left PR for giving me some valuable experience in corporate Public Relations. Thanks to David Lee and the team at Nuffnang Australia for the opportunity to work in advertising land as their community manager. Thanks to Mark Davis and Bryony Cosgrove for letting me fulfil my dream of teaching at the University of Melbourne. And thanks to Raul (@totocol) – for tweeting the job opportunity. If I hadn’t seen his tweet, I wouldn’t have known about the job, and I wouldn’t be looking forward to 2011 nearly as much as I am. :)

In short, it was a whole social network who helped me get this job, I’m humbled and grateful and so damn excited for 2011 to start. Thanks everyone, and hello Adelaide and TACSI!

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How to Support Julian Assange & Wikileaks

This post is intended to provide a list of the practical things can do to try to ensure fair legal treatment for Julian Assange and protect free speech and the Wikileaks project. If you’re organising an event in support of Assange or Wikileaks, or have some other practical resources to share, please leave the details in comments and I will add them to the list.

Direct contact to government

Phone Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s office (02) 6277 7700, and Attorney-General Robert McLelland’s office ((02) 6277 7300 and tell them you support free speech, due process and expect them to provide full support to Julian Assange in his upcoming legal battle overseas. [When I called the AG's office, they suggested also putting it in writing and provided the email address: attorney @ ag.gov.au, so a quick email is suggested as well]

While you’re at it, why not look up your local MP and call them and tell them too?

Financial support to Wikileaks

They are still accepting donations via their website. I’m looking into alternatives too. Or if you prefer to support an organisation which has a clearer legal status, why not join or donate to Electronic Frontiers Australia, which acts to protect online civil liberties (disclosure: I recently joined the EFA Board).

Events in support of Assange/Wikileaks

(I’ve used strikethrough to denote past events)

ADELAIDE

Protest the government betrayal of Wikileaks figurehead Julian Assange

Date: Sunday, December 12, 1pm – 2.30pm

Venue: SA Parliament House

BRISBANE:

Date: Monday, 13 December, 6.30pm

Venue: QUT Gardens Point B Block, Rm 224. Contact: Bec (0401 785 942)

Date: Friday, December 10, 12 noon.

Venue: Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, 295 Anne Street, Brisbane CBD. (Information via Green Left)

Emergency Protest to Defend Wikileaks & Julian Assange

Date: Thursday December 9, 5:30pm

Venue: Brisbane Square, Top of Queen St Mall, Brisbane

HOBART

Protest to support Julian Assange & Wikileaks

Date: Saturday, December 11, 12noon – 1pm

Venue: Parliament Lawns, Salamanca, Hobart

MELBOURNE:

Defend Assange & Wikileaks on Human Rights Day – Friday 10 December, from 4.30pm, State Library.

Julian Assange, Law & Politics: A meeting to discuss Wikileaks’ Julian Assange’s legal and political position

Speakers: Julian Burnside AO QC, Peter Gordon, John Faine and Professor Spencer Zifcak

Date: Thursday 9 December 2010, 5.30pm.

Venue: the Law Institute of Victoria, 470 Bourke St, Melbourne

PERTH

Date: Friday, December 10, 6pm.

Venue: Wesley Church (cnr William & Hay Sts, Perth) (Information via Green Left)

SYDNEY

Australian Public to Rally in Support of Wikileaks

Date: Friday, December 10, 1pm.

Venue: Sydney Town Hall.

Online ways to support Assange/Wikileaks:

Sign the Avaaz petition “Wikileaks: Stop the Crackdown

Sign the GetUp petition “Media on Trial

Sign the open letter to Julia Gillard by Jeff Sparrow Elizabeth O’Shea and at the ABC website (leave your name as a comment).

The Justice for Assange website has support banners you can download and display online.

I also love that someone has suggested nominating Julian Assange for Australian of the Year. You can also vote for Assange as Time’s Person of the Year, but it doesn’t actually influence who the Editor picks.

EDIT 13 December: There’s now a petition to nominate Julian Assange for the Nobel Peace Prize and there’s also a new Brisbane-based website, Help Julian Assange which has an online petition and will soon offer the ability to contact politicians and post letters of support to Julian Assange.

Background Reading

Yesterday the EFA published their statement “Julian Assange and Wikileaks Deserve Protection.” I also interviewed Colin Jacobs, Chair of EFA on RRR last night (available for download as a podcast).

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