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Ecologies for Mobilization February 25, 2009

Posted by aufderhr in Uncategorized.
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So know that we have our events planned and contacts lined up, our focus has turned back to Carleton.  For the first few weeks of this project all our focus was learning about the issues, contact people in other organizations, and coordinating with our contacts.  But now that we have the events we need to mobilize Carleton students.  Currently, we are in the middle of the mobilization process I have become really fascinated with how the ecology of the college enables us to quickly mobilize people.

As we planned, we made posters and distributed information through the main email lists on campus, and I started getting responses the day we sent out the emails.  In some ways I think we over advertised our first event, the volunteer day.  I was worried when we sent out the emails that we would not get any responses because volunteering would involve sacrificing a Saturday during 8th week.  However, I did not fully consider that these emails reach hundreds of students and that there were likely to be a few willing.  Email lists like this are really unique to places like college campuses.  For most organizations in “the real world” any email lists would be of people who had been mobilized or interested enough to sign up for my email list.  At Carleton the list is already set up for me.

One of the other major ecology based factors is that we all live and interact in such a small space.  From an article I read I learned some Beijing universities are surround by a brick wall. Though Carleton does not have a brick wall, its location in a small town and the fact that students rarely leave campus has a similar effect. There are certain areas on campus like Sayles, dining halls, and some dorms and class buildings that hundreds of students, faculty, and staff pass through every day.  When I think of postering in “the real world” I think of posters on telephone poles or on the occasional community board in a liberal coffee shop, which rarely reach a large audience.  However at Carleton, I may see the same poster multiple times a day in different locations and eventually it sticks in my mind.  If I want to get information about what is going on or if I want to advertise information I know exactly where, and the places I look and advertise are the same.  This convergence, and ease of distributing and accessing information is not as available outside our college ecology.  Advertising has to take a different form.

The campus ecology affects the tactics we can use.  One resource available to us is tabling in Sayles: a place hundreds of people pass through per day.  We are going to try to use this to our best advantage.  The other feature of Carleton I have been considering utilizing are the mailboxes.  If we do not get as many people who write or sign letters as we want, I think we could just put pre-printed postcards in their mailbox with directions to return to one central location.

Colleges are set up so that students can easily get information to one another and this dramatically effects how we can mobilize.  In this situation our ecology and some of the structures set up within the ecology allow us to be able to avoid using personal contacts and networks structures as much.  I am interested how much mobilization would change if I were trying to do the same time in “the real world.”

Ruth

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