Fighting an Anti-Social Work Agenda: Building a Better World #MacroSW Chat, May 4th at 9pm EST

Update: Chat archive now available!

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The organizing chat series was born out of a need to fight back against an anti-social work agenda being pushed by the current president and his administration, but also to start a dialogue about the role of social work in organizing and direct action. Is our work simply to ameliorate the suffering of the oppressed or is it to transform systems to end oppression?

Now more than 100 days into a new presidential administration, this question–and the answer to it–is becoming increasingly critical.

Many social workers are engaging in various forms of resistance both individually and collectively. Whether developing new programs and resources for oppressed people being increasingly marginalized, advocating for policy change, or participating in public actions, social workers are on the front lines in the fight for a just and equitable society. But what does that society look like and how do we get there?

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This discussion is the last in the first ever #MacroSW organizing chat series. The first chat focused on understanding power as organized people and organized money. The second chat discussed how we can effectively build relationships to develop grassroots power. The third chat focused on the power of protest as a tactic among many to achieve strategic change. How can we now take these concepts into the real world? And to what end?

In the fourth chat of the series, we will answer the following questions:

  1. What is your vision for a world consistent with social work values?
  2. What needs to change to make make your vision for a better world a reality? What are you doing to make that happen?
  3. Which social work skills do you think are most useful in your work to build a better world?
  4. How can #MacroSW help? What topics would you like to see discussed in future organizing chats?

About the Host
IMG_20170120_121533_860.jpgJustin Vest is the lead organizer for Montgomery County at Progressive Maryland where he leads issue-based advocacy campaigns and develops volunteer organizers to fight for social and economic justice. He earned his BSW from the University of Montevallo and MSW from the University of Alabama before relocating to the DC Metro area.

Fighting an Anti-Social Work Agenda: The Power of Protest #MacroSW Chat 4/13 at 9pm EST

Update: Chat archive available!

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At first glance, social work may not appear to be intrinsically linked to protest. After all, we’re more likely to be found working behind a cluttered desk or our car between home visits. But in the earliest days of the profession social workers were integrated within the communities they served. Settlement houses were often used as meeting locations for community activists to organize strikes and other public demonstrations.

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Image source. Photograph shows the American delegates to the International Congress of Women which was held at the Hague, the Netherlands in 1915. The delegates include: feminist and peace activist Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence (1867-1954), social activist and writer Jane Addams (1860-1935), and Annie E. Malloy, president of the Boston Telephone Operators Union. To the right of Malloy may be labor journalist and activist Mary Heaton Vorst (1874-1966) and the woman wearing a hat on the far right may be Lillian Kohlhamer of Chicago. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2012)

Since the election of Donald Trump, America has seen a resurgence in public activism in

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Left to right: Rudra Kapila, Sunya Folayan, Karen Zgoda, Kristin Battista-Frazee at the Women’s March in DC, January 2017. See more #MacroSW at the March here.

the form of mass protests and actions. Social workers of course have taken part in many of these actions as individuals or small groups, but our profession’s collective presence has been limited. The current administration has taken many actions that are explicitly contrary to social work values. With calls from the NASW and other social work institutions to organize, oppose, resist, and educate in response to an anti-social work agenda, it is time for social workers to consider how we can take bolder action to resist unjust policies.

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This discussion continues the #MacroSW organizing chat series. The first chat focused on understanding power as organized people and organized money. The second chat discussed how we can effectively build relationships to develop grassroots power. How can we now take these concepts to develop public demonstrations of our power? And to what end? In the third chat of the series, we will answer the following questions:

Q1: Have you ever taken part in an action (rally, protest, disruption, etc)? What was it? Describe the experience. #MacroSW

Q2: Was the action effective? Why or why not? If so, what did it achieve? #MacroSW

Q3: Are there specific forms of protest or tactics you think social workers should be engaging in? #MacroSW

Q4: Do you have plans to participate in an upcoming action? What is it? If not, what would you like to see in your area? #MacroSW

About the Host

Justin Vest is the lead organizer for Montgomery County at Progressive Maryland where he leads issue-based advocacy campaigns and develops volunteer organizers to fight for social and economic justice. He earned his BSW from the University of Montevallo and MSW from the University of Alabama before relocating to the DC Metro area.

#MacroSW Organizing Chat 2: Building Relationships 3/2 at 9pm ET

Update: Chat archive is now available!
otupa1qvrelmmztkthdvlii0dvaffyko_k_xpzzqpiharv9ejqnewo2regenyjwuov2nd5qtpxjzepntvl6jtit8xb-itxqrrlbwxnbmb85lzan3vktjajxxtjyhcsby9buch19As the new presidential administration comes into power, basic assumptions about the role of government in assisting the most marginalized have been thrown into question. Social workers should be deeply concerned about proposed changes to social service programs and the government agencies that administer them.


The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has called on social workers to organize, oppose, resist, and educate in response to the anti-social work agenda that is being put forward by the new administration. But how do we actually proceed?

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In the first chat of this series, we discussed power–how it’s defined, who has it, and how we build it. To build the power we need for change requires organized people or organized money. In this week’s chat, we will discuss how to build the relationships needed to effectively organize. What starts as a small group of likeminded people can grow into a network of activists driving a movement.

The most important component of organizing, like social work, is listening and building relationships. We must meet people where they are and forge connections based on empathy, shared experiences, or common interests. This development of trust allows us to ask people to take necessary actions they may not ordinarily take–attending a protest or challenging an elected official–in a way that isn’t transactional, but based on mutual self-interest and respect.

To take a closer look at these concepts, we will discuss the following questions:

  1. Organizing builds public relationships which differ from personal or professional ones. What do you think this means?
  2. How would you engage stakeholders to start organizing around an issue you care about?
  3. Do you see a unique role for social work institutions to build relationships for change?
  4. Once you’ve established public relationships for organizing, what do you think is the next step to address an issue?
  5. What will you do in the next month to organize around around the issue of your choice?

Resources:

About the HostQqXY63jEj1wbBoicVsEaQjGfuDlpZCo8Xk8T4KinZTZcZT9U3sPkz6_NTKAIrmeTRJJD1X2hwwQNBPuWdgNTzwsqRdzIL6RGlQ7LjWleiZlI08MQ1maO-VeWIKaxgKcdaVnMTmgX.jpg

Justin Vest is the lead organizer for Montgomery County at Progressive Maryland where he
leads issue-based advocacy campaigns and develops volunteer organizers to fight for social and economic justice. He earned his BSW from the University of Montevallo and MSW from the University of Alabama before relocating to the DC Metro area.

Fighting an Anti-Social Work Agenda: Understanding Power #MacroSW 2/2 at 9pm EST

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Chat archive now available!

As the new presidential administration comes into power, basic assumptions about the role of government in assisting the most marginalized have been thrown into question. Regardless of your political affiliation, social workers should be deeply concerned about proposed changes to social service programs and the government agencies that administer them.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has called on social workers to organize, oppose, resist, and educate in response to the anti-social work agenda that is being put forward by the new administration. But how do we actually proceed?

#MacroSW is introducing a organizing chat series to educate social workers on the important role they play in resisting cuts to services and advancing social justice in their communities by teaching basic community organizing skills that will move social workers from an online space to real world action.

In the first chat of the series, we will discuss the concept of  power–who has it, what structures support it, but also how to build our own to confront injustice. For most of us, power does not come naturally. We have all been disadvantaged in some way by a lack of power–through economic oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism or based on some other characteristic. Therefore learning to want power can be challenging. But social workers also have a unique relationship to power. We may experience personal oppression from society while working at institutions that uphold traditional power structures.  

To take a closer look at these concepts, we will discuss the following questions:

  1. How do you define power and how do you know it when you see it?
  2. Who has power in our society and why?
  3. What role does social work play in maintaining or challenging current power structures?
  4. How can advocates for justice build power to challenge inequality
  5. What new or existing opportunities do you see for yourself to build power?

Resources:

About the Host

img_20170120_121533_860Justin Vest is the lead organizer for Montgomery County at Progressive Maryland where he leads issue-based advocacy campaigns and develops volunteer organizers to fight for social and economic justice. He earned his BSW from the University of Montevallo and MSW from the University of Alabama before relocating to the DC Metro area.

Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Social Work: #MacroSW 1/19 at 9pm ET

gis1/19/17 New Resources:

  1. GIS PowerPoint Presentation and Treasure Hunt GIS activity from Robert Vernon, ACSW, Ph.D. Here is some information from Bob about these resources:
    1. Narrative for the opening PowerPoint slides:The cave drawing of a horse could be possibly directions on where to locate a weir and drive ’em off a cliff for a winter’s supply of horse-meat.   Sort of an early add for Safeway or Krogers…  (My interpretation)The Romans had extensive tax and census records on an individualized bases throughout the empire.The Domesday book was a complete census to inventory all of William’s holdings.The shot of Jane Addams includes ethnicity maps they created to pinpoint where various nationalities and cultures lived near Hull House.  The complete set is on display at Hull House over the fireplace.

  2. Chat Storify Archive!
  3. Chat statistics!

Geographic information systems (GIS) technologies have become a commonplace part of our daily lives. However, GIS technologies can also be used in social work practice for a variety of purposes including planning, education, and evaluation. Social work has a history with mapping going back to Jane Addams and her colleagues at Hull House. GIS mapping also seems to be a good fit given the person-in-environment perspective of the social work profession. While some social work professionals have adopted GIS technologies in their work, it has been a slow process overall.

GIS software has become more user-friendly but issues related to costs and the ethical use of data have hampered the growth of GIS technologies in social work. This chat will examine the potential uses of GIS technologies in social work practice. We will also explore potential issues with the application of GIS technologies in social work and how these can be overcome to promote their expanded use.

Join us for the #MacroSW chat on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 9 pm EST (6 pm Pacific) to discuss uses of geographic information systems in social work.

This topic is based on chat host Dr. Thomas Felke’s (@SocWrkDoc) work using GIS to examine various topics including poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity.

Questions to Discuss

  1. How do you currently use mapping technologies in your daily life?
  2. How do you think GIS could be used for your work?
  3. What ethical issues do you think arise with the use of GIS in social work?
  4. Why do you think the adoption of GIS technologies has been slow in social work?
  5. What would you need to incorporate GIS into your practice?

Resources