Fact: National, regional and state MEChA is much more technologically organized than in the 1960s. Printed newsletters and authoring pamphlets to distribute could only go so far. Today, more members own a smart phone than non-smart phones and nearly every chapter has a Facebook page. Nearly every chapter has a webmaster (usually under the schools URL). We IM, email, Facebook and Tweet each other.
Fact: MEChA offers each of its members and officers an opportunity to explore (history, points of view, personal strengths/weaknesses), engage (their peers, friends, members, the public), inquire (through debate and discussion what’s in the communities best interest) and create/plan (opportunities for at-promise youth, themselves, cultural/civic actions etc).
Fact: MEChA is, quite often, the leading organization and support structure, from at-promise youth (notice how I didn’t say at-risk) to high-achieving (via grades, extra curricular and church activities) scholars.
Fact: Anyone with an internet connection can broadcast to the world (and its members) using apps like Cinch and then embed those in your blog or website from the comfort of your phone (I recorded those memorable moments of our daughters heartbeats). On this blog I’ve posted some and others over on BilingualHire (of course you can record and upload to YouTube, Facebook etc).
Today, MEChA remains a student-run organization and is hyper-democratic (members must be recognized by their chapters, chapters by their state, the state by the region, and the region by Nationals; and, special use of parliamentary procedure). These are all good things however the chapters miss out on engaging and building synergy with others that could help that aren’t in the room.
In 1997, during the National MEChA Conference at Michigan State University about a half-dozen chapters from across the country who had high-end video equipment recording capacity . In 1998, the policy changed that every chapter had to register their cameras. Today, our smart phones that we all carry (many of us) have built in cameras, video cameras which are tied into the very social networks that we love to use, are used to capture these great family/friend moments. Where our friends are on. Where our friends that could benefit from these workshops and discussion could learn from. Facebook, over MySpace made this distinctly better. So why aren’t we podcasting the workshops? Why aren’t we recording every workshop, keynote, meetings etc and archiving this for MEChistAs that couldn’t attend, future generations?
How you ask? Loic LeMeur over at Seesmic and the founder of LeWeb has an excellent prototype in play:
- each page interconnected with our friends on Facebook
- digitally present (if you can’t make it to Paris, France they offer a link to stream it live via UStream and non-live via YouTube)
- minute by minute photo album via Flickr
And, then there’s world renowned blogger and tech enthusiast, Robert Scoble, who interviews every entrepreneur, founder, CEO and individuals that are building, shipping their products/services, in particularly as it relates to mobile/web-based services that are changing the world and how we interact with each other. You have to check out how he captures the moments via Flickr and how he interviews via Cinch.
This strategy works to keep us engaged without having stepped foot on an airplane and be in France. I recall in high school, community college not having the sufficient funds to send every interested member which was a tragedy. While we fundraised like heck, selling tamales, pan dulce and organizing car washes over by Safeway and hosting dances–scholarships aside, we could never raise enough. At the university much different story. At our liaisons, conferences, meetings etc we could take all the minutes in the world but it just didn’t convey the message in the best possible way. This impacted recruitment/retention if nothing else. Just last week, I heard from my sister-in-law, Janet, that their community college MEChA chapter made over 170 phone calls to Congress in support of the Dream Act. That’s incredible! How else are we sharing our accomplishments?
I was often asked by my mom when returning from meetings and conferences, “mijo, tu y tu MEChA. ¿Que hacen?”
No better time than the present then to answer that very question for those that can’t be there. Will the policy and strategy change? I hope so.