Working remotely from a cafe in the West Toronto Junction I am having a revelation about the future of work. I can work from any cafe on earth, all I need is a few tools: electricity, wireless internet, my laptop. While I am working feverantly to find a job in a cubicle somewhere close to home I am starting to realize that there might be more to life. For the past three years I've been climbing up the rat race through the ideal channels. Where as at the beginning of this time I could have wrote a TED talk about my creative projects, by the end of the journey I was stuck designing uninspiring "professional" graphics sacrificing my aesthetics for a stable salary and the promise of benifits.
Creativity works best when it is unconstrained by a cubicle. As a consultant you are being paid for thinking inside the box, and as an employee you are paid to do what your director thinks is best. Office politics constrain what actually gets done, and the status quo becomes "good enough". What if creativity could not only escape the constrains of the office, but also the pressing aesthetics of the city itself? What if one could learn every day by being somewhere new every week? Instead of learning about the world through the computer screen, one can get to know the world through the kindness of strangers and by really experiencing life.
Our society looks down on nomads. What is valued is a steady career, benifits, property and other signs of stability. What if the only stability you had was your backpack, laptop and internet connection? What if you didn't have to worry about money, would you really stay in one place? Be confident with your skills and do what you love until someone pays you for it. We are all experts, and through the internet we can freely share our skills and connect with like minded individuals to change the world. Will you take the digital nomad challenge? It's time to jump ship on the rat race and start a new employment revolution.
It's been way too long since I updated this blog! So many things have been changing in my life lately. For the past few years I have been working as the Coordinator of the TRIP! Project, a youth-led harm reduction initiative that serves Toronto's diverse dance music communities. It has been such an amazing opportunity to work with TRIP!, especially since I've been with the program as a volunteer since 1999. Through being in the coordinator role I've had the opportunity to work on some super cool projects, from being apart of the Youth RISE International Working Group, to collaborating with our sister project DanceSafe in the USA. I have learned so much about what youth-led harm reduction programs can look like, and why it's imperative that youth are involved at every step in creating, shaping and maintaining them. Over the past few years we have sprouted so many new initiatives and projects that work to improve the health and lives of young people who use drugs. Many workshops, conferences and trainings later, I am so inspired by the work we've done, and excited about next steps.
In the last month I have taken a leave of absence from TRIP! to Coordinate the Queen West Harm Reduction Program at Central Toronto Community Health Centre. I am hoping to bring the same innovation to our broader harm reduction services, including better kits, as well as finding better ways to get the word out about our harm reduction services to our target populations. Every day I learn something new, from how to say crack and heroin in Chinese, to how to pack a pipe! I am finding ways to integrate my media and research skills into the job already, and we are already looking to experiment with collecting data on mobile phones. We are currently piloting a new software called NEO to log our needle exchange statistics for OCHART. Before NEO we logged everything on paper, so we are saving ourselves hours of work already! The outreach workers still use paper stats, so I'm hoping that if we introduce mobile phones we may be able to save them some time too. Being in this new role is a great challenge, but already I miss working directly with youth! Still keeping my eyes on the horizon for new opportunities for the future.
I feel like these next steps in my career will really shape the direction I decide to go in. I've always been passionate about harm reduction, youth and new media, but the question is what is next? How do I channel my passions in a direction that will put me where I want to be in the future? Before working with TRIP! I always thought that in order to make change we had to rally on the outside to transform power. Now I am all about working from the inside, and collaborating with agencies, governments and international bodies that have the power to make change. In the future I would love to work for the World Health Organization or UNAIDS in actually shaping some of these polcies that effect service delivery. I want to use my grassroots experience as fuel for transforming the system itself, advocating for young people who use drugs and their human right to health.
Check out how social media is transforming the way that we organize! last year I have worked as a consultant for GetInvolved.ca on the first season of Digital U, a new TVOntario television series that explores how digital media is transforming our society. Digital U is going into its second season, and we're looking for ways to expand in new directions.
It's so cool to be able to continue to use social media as a tool for change, even as I transition from youth to adulthood. Oftentimes it feels that as youth activists we inevitably face aging out and moving on. I feel so blessed to be able to continue to do the work that I do.
TakingITMobile is a community-based research study conducted in partnership with the social network TakingITGlobal that examines how youth leaders across the globe use mobile communications to create social change within their local communities and internationally. As an e-PAR study, youth participants were encouraged to take the reigns as researchers through the online TakingITMobile Working Group, which comprised of 39 youth representing 20 different countries. TakingITMobile participants (n = 565) paint a picture of the diversity of mobile youth activism around the world.
It was found that the majority of youth reported using their mobile phones to generate Citizen Media to share their message globally, mobilize protests, fundraise, educate their peers and spread solidarity. TakingITMobile participants were passionate about a number of global issues, including the Environment (39%), Human Rights (36%), Poverty (28%), Health (24%), Peace (23.8%), HIV/AIDS (22.4%) and Violence (11.6%). While the most common mobile feature was Voice Calls (75%), TakingITMobile participants used a variety of mobile phone features, including Text Messages (46%), Web Browsing (38%), Social Media (27%), News (26%) and Photography (22%).
It was also discovered that youth who own smart phones are more likely to use their phones for activism (81%) than youth who don’t (71%). As well, females are much less likely (70%) to use their phones for activism than males. Youth ages 25-29 show higher levels of activism (84%) than youth in their teens (67%), early 20s (75%) and 30s (75%). GDP per capita was an influencing factor on both monthly costs, monthly average number of minutes used, number of SMS used and internet data used. Overall it was found that participants from countries with high GDP per capita received cheaper services, with the exception of very high income nations such as Canada and the United States. A number of barriers were identified for mobile youth activists, including cost of services (32%) cost of mobile phones (10%) as well as network coverage (9%) were the biggest barriers to accessing mobile phones.
If you are interested in further exploring how youth activists are using their mobile phones for social change you can download the full report here. As a participatory action research study, TakingITMobile aims to disseminate the results back to the community in order to share best practices in mobile activism and inspire others to take action. In conjunction with TakingITGlobal, we are hoping to produce a Mobile Guide to Action that can serve as a compass for youth activists interested in using their mobile phone for social change. For those looking to help in developing this resource the TakingITMobile Working Group is always open to new volunteers! As well, we are hoping to partner with influential blogs in order to spread the results far and wide. If you are interested in blogging about the TakingITMobile results feel free to contact lisa [@] mobilerevolutions.org for more information.