This week I was at the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in Denver. Embedded in the event was The Jewish Futures Conference, which featured the work of several exceptional leaders in the Jewish community, as well as creative ideas submitted to the organizers, and teens sharing their ideas and projects. The following are my remarks, which opened the afternoon to set the context for presenters such as Chris Lehmann and Tiffany Shlain. Every GA registrant was given a copy of Elie Kaunfer’s book Empowered Judaism, and since I’m interested in you thoughts, and I have 3 copies of the book (I lend it out regularly, and bought copies for my own synagogue’s leadership), I’ll happily pass on the fresh copy I got this week to one person who shares your thoughts on being a pro-sumer, the Jewish future, or take-aways from the GA. Be a pro-sumer in the comments!
Jewish Futures: Lisa Colton
View more presentations
from Darim Online
I’m here to tell you that the rules of the game have changed. I wish I had a nice, neat little book to hand you that would make everything clear, but it doesnt exist yet. I will, however, spend the next few minutes sharing what Id write on the back cover if it existed. At last years Futures Conference we began exploring some of the new rules like how content should be open, remixable, meaningful and relevant, and community building. Today, youll learn a few more. You probably have others which you can contribute with the microphone in your hand (the twitter hashtag is #Jewishfutures), or add in our online discussions after our event today. Youre a prosumer too. Together, were writing the future of the Jewish people.
Today, fundamental shifts in society, behavior and technology mean we must question some of the most basic assumptions that have driven our field, and our organizations, for the last several decades. Over the last 50 years weve actually seen an outsourcing of Jewish education to the professionals in institutions, and the focus on organizations that program the Jewish calendar to fulfill the demand of a consumerist Judaism culture. Looking back, we can see that this is actually an aberration from Jewish life throughout history, where outsourcing might have meant going to someone elses house for Shabbas dinner.
Today were talking about pro-sumers and our emerging pro-sumerist culture. A funny word, perhaps, but a very powerful concept that I think is actually great news for Jewish life and learning. Isnt this really what most Jewish educators dream of? That their students will grab the reigns and take an active role in learning, creating, and furthering their own (and their familys and their communitys) Jewish life? The rules of the game may feel foreign, and in fact may feel threatening to those of us who were raised, trained, and have developed our careers based on a different rule book. But as we challenge ourselves today, I want to acknowledge that these changes if we can understand them and adapt to work in alignment with them are good news.
Individual empowerment, the democratization of information, and the ease of collaboration are defining our current era. These three characteristics of todays culture have profound implications for how build and sustain organizations, how we use our professional expertise, and how we empower the people within our networks and communities to achieve our Jewish communal goals.
While this cultural revolution may be strongly influenced by advances in technology, but its not actually about technology its about what technology has made possible. Clay Shirky, in his wonderful book Here Comes Everybody, asserts that the age of social media means that organizations no longer have a monopoly on organizing. What he means is that individuals can now very easily and powerfully coordinate and collaborate with less infrastructure than was previously needed to accomplish those goals. The uprisings in the middle east and the Occupy Wall Street protests are just two obvious examples of this. But such bottom-up collaboration and organization also manifests in education and the Jewish community. Lets look at two examples.
First, the Khan Academy. If you dont know about it, its founder — who studied electrical engineering at MIT and got his MBA from Harvard — started tutoring some family members by creating short videos to explain topics they were struggling with at school. The Khan Academy now has over 2500 micro-lectures on topics such as math, history, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, economics and computer science. The impact of this discovery is that Khan has basically flipped classroom and homework time so students can watch the lectures or demonstrations at home, and then do the homework in class, sometimes collaboratively, with the teacher available for assistance anytime. Both Google and the Gates Foundation have made significant investments in the Kahn Academy, and its been featured in a TED talk earlier this year. The Khan Academy is democratizing education through its mission of providing a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere. If youre interested in learning more about the concept, check out the Twitter hashtag #JEDchat, where last Wednesday night a group of Jewish educators shared their efforts at flipping classrooms and discussed the potential impact for Jewish education. (More on that chat here).
Another example is the surge of Independent Minyanim that have sprung up in so many communities over the last several years. The Indie Minyanim really illustrate those three characteristics I mentioned a moment ago: Individual empowerment, the democratization of information, and the ease of collaboration. These individuals are willing to work hard and invest a lot of themselves to have the opportunity to be pro-Sumers. They do not want to be passive consumers or participants. I highly recommend reading Elie Kaunfers book, Empowered Judaism, which is included in every GA registrants bag. The book gives powerful insights into this generation and mindset, which are relevant far beyond minyanim.
While the popularity of Indie Minyanim is not limited to young people, it does point to the importance of recognizing the different characteristics of the generations. While Gen Xers were a hint of what was to come (entrepreneurship, for example, as a way to producing our own I fall into that category), the Millennials and the generations that come after will be even more different. Millienials seek meaning (in their jobs, and beyond), want to feel empowered and trusted, and are really good at collaboration. And they are willing to work for it. After you read Elies book, go study up on Millennials. It will make you a better parent, grandparent, teacher, employer and friend, and will clue you in on how to lead your organization and our community to be successful in The Jewish Future.
So, if it hasnt already been clear, the message here is that the times, they are a changing. In really fundamental ways, and quickly. And while the pace of change may be exhausting and relentless, Im here to tell you that for the rest of our careers, perhaps even the rest of our lives, this rate of change is going to be the name of the game. Youre gonna have to get use to it. Thankfully, weve got a lineup today thats here to help.
Now that we recognize things change, change often, and arent always predictable, we are learning to be more nimble. Perhaps Tech companies did this first, but many have also adopted the idea of the Permanent Beta. We used to spend lots of time, effort and often money perfecting something and then release it to the world. In a Permanent Beta you release the Beta version something well cooked but not set in stone, and then constantly refine it with your users. You listen, get feedback, adjust, listen some more, and continuously evolve. Whereas we used to be focused on the destination, we now embrace that its all about the journey.
I liken this to the idea of Naase Vnishmah a fascinating concept for our current age that Ive been thinking about a lot lately, inspired by my colleague Miriam Brosseau. This comes from the biblical verse where the Jews are standing at Mount Sinai express their acceptance of the Torah with the words “na’aseh v’nishma, which is roughly translated and understood First we will DO, and then we will UNDERSTAND. I think this phrase perfectly encapsulates a Jewish-Permenant-Beta mindset. I encourage you to think about how Naase vNishmah can be a guide for you to step into this new age, experiment, learn, and refine. Because we wont get to the future by thinking about it. We have to DO it.
It has been said about the late Steve Jobs that while he invented gadgets, his real impact was that he changed society. Pro-sumers similarly are moving Jewish learning and knowledge and empowerment into the communal space, not only limited only to the professionals and traditional methods of delivery that many of us are used to. Pro-sumerists are opening up new worlds that we cant yet even imagine. And as communal leaders we stand at a very important cross roads where we can see these new paths as a threat to what we know and have built, or as the key to achieving our shared goals in an era governed by a different rule book.
To help understand this crossroads, Ill leave you with an analogy which I hope will rattle around in your head for a while. Its inspired by Beth Kanter and Allison Fines work on Networked Nonprofits, from a book of the same name.
Beth and Allison talk about three stages of evolution of organizations, moving from a fortress to a focus on transactions, to greater transparency and the embrace of networks. The old model is like a fortress there are insiders and there are outsiders. There is a bold distinction between the producers (royalty) and consumers (commoners). They are divided, and the structures of society are designed to reinforce that division. In the Jewish community, we may find that our language, policies, program structures and behaviors make up these fortress walls. For some, Hebrew might be this barrier. For others, the concept of synagogue membership might be another fortress wall. Regardless of what you think about Hebrew fluency and Synagogue membership, the Fortress model does not work with pro-sumers. Period.
On the other end of the spectrum is a model more like a sea sponge that is sustained by its interactions with the organisms and environment around it. It survives, and thrives based on the flow of water in and out the pores and center tube of the sponge. Its open to the community, so to speak, in nearly every way, and lives in symbiosis with other organisms. This is the model where pro-sumers thrive. Where they can make a positive contribution, where the host organism wants and values their participation. Where information and intentions are transparent, where those who are interested in producing, can.
For example, while my synagogue has a very successful preschool program, a few mothers of infants wanted to gather, socialize, learn and build community before their kids were two and a half. They mentioned it to the synagogue leadership, who empowered them to go for it and are available to support and market and provide space to make it happen.
Because we count you all as very hip and thriving pro-sumers too, we invite you to add your voice to the conversation. I want to float a few questions for you to think about as we move through this event you can engage on Twitter (both talking and listening) using the #JewishFutures hashtag today and share your thoughts in a longer format on the Discussion Forums at JewishEdChange.net. Ive kicked off one discussion topic there, but feel free to start new ones. You are, of course, PRO-sumers!
Now remember, there’s a copy of Empowered Judaism up for grabs — share your thoughts, ideas and questions in the comments to have a chance at snagging it. Just as important as producing is listening — we really do want to hear what you have to say.
The Jewish Futures Conference is coming up shortly! What is that, you ask? Well…
The Jewish Futures Conference will bring together visionary thinkers, passionate individuals, and inspiring presentations in a conference designed to shift the horizon of our thinking in Jewish education.
Advances in media and technology are propelling rapid changes in the ways we live and learn that extend far beyond the technologies themselves. The Jewish Futures Conference will provide a space to imagine, learn and engage in purposeful and courageous conversation about the future of Jewish education and how it can thrive in today’s and tomorrow’s world.
-from the website, JewishFutures.net
And now, no matter where you are on the globe, you can participate in this years Jewish Futures Conference via live-stream – use passcode: Jewishfutures (case sensitive). (To access this live-stream you will need to download sliverlight software in advance.) You can also join in the discussion using the hashtag #JewishFutures on Twitter.
Join the Conversation:
- Monday November 7th
- 12:45 – 3:30pm Mountain Time (Live in Denver)
LIVE-STREAM TIMES- Live stream begins 12:45pm mountain time, program begins promptly at 1pm. USA: International: 11:45 – 2:30pm Pacific Time 7:45-10:30pm Reykjavik 2:45 – 5:30pm Eastern Standard Time 9:45pm-12:30am Jerusalem 1:45 – 4:30pm Central Time 7:45-10:30pm London 12:45 – 3:30pm Mountain Time 6:45-9:30am (11/8) Melbourne Don’t Miss:
Tiffany Shlain (1:43 pm); Chris Lehmann (3:04 pm)
Darim Online’s own Lisa Colton (1:05 pm) Deborah Meyer (1:19 pm)
Shai Held (2:12 pm) Udi Krauss (2:36 pm)
Mimi Levine (2:29 pm) and Andrew Farkash (2:02 pm)
And the Jewish Futures Competition Winners:
Ben Wiener (1:31 pm) and Andrea RC Kasper (2:51 pm)
All times are approximate (mountain time)
The Jewish Futures Conference is a partnership between The Jewish Education Project and JESNA’s Lippman Kanfer Institute; in conjunction with The Jewish Federations of North America. Collaborating organizations and sponsors include: Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation, The Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation, Moving Traditions, PJ Library, The iCenter, PELIE, 18 Pomegranates, Slingshot, Andrea and Charles Bronfman, Philanthropies, AVI CHAI Foundation.
This year’s Social Media for Nonprofits conference in New York wasn’t actually about social media.* It was about values and personality. Two ideas in particular stood out – uncomfortable transparency and practical optimism. Here’s how they came through…
On charity:waters fourth birthday, the young nonprofit celebrated by live-streaming an ambitious new drilling projectand failed.
When Paull Young, charity:waters Director of Digital Engagement, told this story at the conference, it was with genuine disappointment, but also gratitude. Charity:waters followers and fans posted on Facebook comments like, We appreciate your transparency, and I think this is perhaps even more important than sharing your successes. Donations flooded in, and the next day charity:water got more hits on its website than ever before.
Young called this uncomfortable transparency. He urged us to be honest about our failures as well as our successes, and to fail fast and learn. Ultimately, he reminded us, people want to hear the truth. (Several months later, charity:water returned to the drill site, this time striking water.)
Seeing Alexis Ohanian on stage showing a picture of a grinning kitten and declaring that this shot embodied his feelings about the Internet, the audience couldnt help but be charmed. We were surprised and delighted by his joyfulness.
Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit, Hipmunk, BreadPig, and other do-gooder projects with goofy titles and terminally cute mascots, is a firm believer in the benevolent web. At the beginning of his presentation, he asked for a show of hands, How many of you believe that most people are fundamentally good? The vast majority of attendees smiled, lifting their hands high. If you believe that, then most of the people online are good, too He went on to talk about a Reddit community devoted exclusively to sending pizzas to one another, and a save-the-whales naming contest that resulted in both the cancellation of a whale-hunting expedition and a several ton sea creature being dubbed Mr. Splashypants.
Ohanians enthusiasm was contagious. I walked away from his presentation feeling like I did after seeing Scott Pilgrim vs. The World really believing in the eventual triumph of love over hate, of light over darkness, and knowing that I could be a part of that. His optimism wasnt blind hopefulness, either; it was authentic, even strategic. Essentially, he reminded me that you cant work in the nonprofit world without believing that things can be better, and that people want to be good, and do good. That fundamental assumption, that practical optimism, should be reflected in the way we work online.
There were many other outstanding presentations, and I encourage you to check out the hashtag (#sm4np) and Slideshare for some great resources.
*(Ok, you got me – #sm4np was about social media, too. The conference provided a solid overview of some important themes in effective social media use: listening, storytelling, branding, analysis and reflection; all kinds of good stuff. Farra Trompeter of Big Duck, who also spoke at the conference, wrote an excellent overview of the complete line-up of sessions, which you can see here. Gatherings like #sm4np provide excellent opportunities for getting introduced to new tools and concepts, as well as prime networking time. I highly encourage representatives from Jewish organizations to attend these events when possible, hear about what’s happening in social media and the nonprofit world, and share what they’ve learned!)
Do the concepts of “uncomfortable transparency” and “practical optimism” resonate with you? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Weve said it before and well say it again: the Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online will be at NTENs annual Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., March 17-19, and we think you should us join there.
While we wont repeat all of our Top 10 Reasons to Go to the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference, we do want to highlight the three exciting Jewish-themed gatherings weve got planned just for you.
1) The State of the Jewish Digital Nation. Thursday, March 17 8-11 am Washington Hilton
The Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online are hosting an affinity group meeting that will inspire, educate and assist you in your work. The agenda offers both an expansive and detailed update on the field, including:
- A debrief of the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund from Adam Simon of the Schusterman Family Foundation;
- New Rules of the New Media Game from Lisa Colton of Darim Online;
- Case studies from accomplished organizations inside and outside of the Jewish community; and
- A fantastic problem-solving adventure led by NTEN rockstar and Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications at TechSoup Global, Rachel Weidinger.
We know its early in the morning, but well make you a deal: you can come in your pajamas and well provide breakfast.
2) Field trip to the Sixth and I Synagogue
Thursday, March 17 Early evening 600 I Street Northwest
In anticipation of Purima holiday on which we are actually commanded to be joyful and engage in revelrywe will take a field trip to the historic Sixth and I synagogue for a private viewing of JT Waldman’s illustrated Megillat Esther. Wine, beer and noshes will be provided. Learn more about Waldmans work and Sixth and I
Thanks to the Jewish Communal Service Association for hosting this event!
3) Shabbat Dinner
Friday, March 18 6:00-8:00 pm Location TBD
Join your friends and colleagues for Shabbat dinner to share, schmooze, reflect and relax. Dinner location is being finalized, but it will be within walking distance from the hotel and kosher-style options will be available. This will be the perfect preamble to the many NTC after parties that will kickoff in the hotel around 8:00 pm.
So there you have itthree awesome events designed with you in mind. There is no cost to attend any of them (except perhaps a cab or metro ride to Sixth and I), and they are open to Jewish professionals and lay leaders whether or not they are registered to attend the full NTC conference. We do, however, need you to let us know if and when you will be joining us so we can plan for space and food, and forward details to you. Please complete this quick form to let us know where we can expect you: http://bit.ly/Jewish11ntc
Feel free to forward this information to those who you know are coming to NTC, or who are in the D.C. area and may be interested in participating. If you do plan to attend the entire conference, you can also still take advantage of our discounted rate by following these steps:
- If youre new to NTEN, youll have to set up a free and easy account. (Or login to your NTEN account.)
- Go to 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference
- Select Darim Online in the How did you hear? field when registering to receive the NTEN member rate.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions. We look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C., on March 17!
Your friends at the Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online
On March 17-19, NTEN will host its annual Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, DC. The Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online will be there, and we think you should join us. Why? Thought you’d never ask … 10) You’ll get to learn from experts in the nonprofit sector in person and learn from their practical experience. 9) Speaking of, where else will you get to attend sessions facilitated by rockstars like Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, authors of “The Networked Nonprofit,” Wendy Harman, of the American Red Cross and Stacy Monk, founder of Epic Change and Tweetsgiving campaigns? (See our list of the top 10 must-attend sessions.) 8 ) A wide range of nonprofit professionals—executives directors, marketing and communications professionals, development and program staff—and organizations will be there. 7) It’s a great way to step outside the silo of our community while creating partnerships and mentorships within it. 6) It’s fun! NTC is not your average stuffy professional conference. You get to enjoy ice cream bars at the mid-afternoon break and cocktails with friends at the After-Party. Yes, you read that right—ice cream and cocktails! 5) We’re offering a discount to the members of our network (see below for how to take advantage). 4) The adventurous-and-always-fun-to-learn-from Esther Kustanowitz will be there. 3) Can we get you a warm chocolate chip cookie with that ice cream bar? 2) Guaranteed free wifi throughout the conference. You’re encouraged to fool around on your iPad/blackberry/laptop during sessions—but only if you’re tweeting or live blogging. Finally, the #1 reason why we think you should join us at NTEN this year is … 1) We’re hosting two really awesome gatherings just for you! The first will take place on the morning of Thursday, March 17, before the NTC officially gets underway. We will gather from 9 am – noon, using these three hours to:
- Get an update on the state of the Jewish digital union, including a debrief of the results of the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund;
- Discuss the new rules of the digital game and how they apply to your work;
- Hear a few case studies of leading practices in the Jewish and nonprofit sectors; and
- Work through an obstacle-busting exercise based on the issues your organization is facing.
The second gathering will be Friday evening for a light and easy Shabbat dinner. Come to eat, schmooze and continue the conversations sparked by Thursday’s gathering. Nothing fancy—just food, new friends and some time to TGIF. You do not have to register for the entire NTC conference to attend these events (though we do encourage it). Sold? Ready for next steps? Great! A) Sign up for NTEN. To take advantage of our special rate, you will need to follow these steps:
- If you’re new to NTEN, you’ll have to set up a free and easy account. (Or login to your NTEN account.)
- Go to 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference
- Select “Darim Online” in the “How did you hear?” field when registering to receive the NTEN member rate.
B) Fill out this form to let us know you are coming and if we can expect you for Thursday’s gathering, Shabbat Dinner and/or the entire conference. Again, you don’t have to register for the NTEN conference to join us at one or both of these events. C) Take care of the details like transportation and hospitality. D) Let us know if you have any questions. Until next time! Your friends at CLSFF and Darim Online
Technology, marketing, communications, leadershipall vital ingredients to advancing your mission, all key topics to be discussed at the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC).
CLSFF and Darim Online have worked with the event organizer, NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network, to offer the members of our network a discount to attend this important gatheringthanks, NTEN!and we are extending an invitation to you to join us there for an intimate discussion about the role technology and new media has to play in advancing our Jewish organizations.
Need another reason why YOU should attend? Well give you three:
- Its a rare opportunity to connect with, learn from and share knowledge with peers and experts in the nonprofit sector. A wide range of nonprofit professionalsexecutive directors, development professionals, marketing and communication folks, IT staff, program staff and othersfrom both very small and very large organizations will be present to connect with and collaborate on creating change.
- A playground for the tech-friendly and curious Jewish professionals, the NTC will help you step outside of the silo of our community to learn from the rockstars of the nonprofit technology field, gain insights and skills you wouldnt find elsewhere, and enjoy ice cream bars at the mid-afternoon break and a cocktail with friends at the After-Party.
- Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online will be hosting unique gatherings at the NTC just for the members of our networks: on the morning of Thursday, March 17, we will be facilitating an intimate learning-and-networking event, and on the evening of Friday, March 18, we will be hosting Shabbat dinner.
More details to follow on both events. Please click here to let us know if you are interested in attending and here for your chance to win a free pass to NTC!
In the meantime, to take advantage of our special rate, you will need to follow these steps:
- If you’re new to NTEN, you’ll have to set up a free and easy account. (Or login to your NTEN account.)
- Go to 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference
- Select Darim Online in the “How did you hear?” field when registering to receive the NTEN member rate.
Please note: the member rate will increase along with the regular rate as we get closer to the event so register as soon as possible! If you do it by Dec. 7, you will get the lowest rate of $359! Have money left in your 2010 professional development budget? This may be just the way to spend it wisely!
To learn more, visit www.nten.org/ntc, and please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions. We hope to see you in Washington, D.C., in March for an invigorating gathering and schmooze sessions!