The Open Space Council Blog


Liveblogging from the Almost Spring Gathering!

March 15, 2012


Whew!  What a Gathering! Over 100 people braved the harsh California weather to join us at the Brower Center for the Almost Spring Gathering. Some in the audience are well versed in the world of social media while others are trying to keep up with email. Organizations with representatives in the audience ranged from Sonoma Land Trust to Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, REI to Bay Nature. A few people traveled all the way from San Jose while others were soaked from riding their bikes in the rain across town. Thanks to all who attended, no matter where you came from or how you got there!

We are so grateful for all that attended, all of you that followed along online, all that tweeted during and afterwards, and especially to all of our panelists.  What interesting tips, stories, and insights they provided!  The panel included:

Thank you Lance, Kathryn, Garrison, Veda, Mike, and Lisa!  Also thank you to Renata Brillinger from the California Climate and Agriculture Network for her short presentation on what’s happening in the complex world of climate change, AB32, and some interesting funding opportunities that may be on the horizon.  Here is the Cap & trade allowance revenue fact sheet and the Cap & trade allowance revenue Sign on Letter that she referred to in her presentation.

We blogged live here and so if you scroll down and read bottom to top, you’ll get a sense of what happened today.

Our next big event is the Open Space Conference on May 10.  You can learn all about it, see our fabulous sponsors, and register yourself to come over here on our website.  And our next Gathering will be in July.  Stay tuned for all kinds of details about that.


12:15pm: Lunch!

12:03pm: We’re discussing the value of relationships, control, the lack of control, just doing something vs waiting for something flashy, and building a sense of community.  Lunch is being set up in the back of the room and we’re almost ready to break.  I’ll post pictures and more presentations to this space later this afternoon.

These two were awesome panelists

11:56am:  Question from the audience: how do we turn the enthusiasm for the project into activism? Garrison: that’s what we’re dealing with at Audubon right now.  We now have a lot of tools to turn people to and bring people in.  And it’s a challenge to know what we do with them, but we’re working on it.

Question from the audience:  were there any negatives?  Kathryn: there were some naysayers, which we can’t or couldn’t control.  And there were bugs in the app – we were moving fast and little things like that happened.  Garrison: some of our members thought that we shouldn’t be online, we should be outside. The goal of this was to open ourselves up to a younger audience.

Mike from GGNPC jumped in about how they were worried about negative feedback and interactions. They have found that there is a self-policing that happens in an online group.  Even on Facebook, they have found that people will quickly react to a post that is offensive or out of line.

11:54am: Question from the audience: what is the estimated cost of the project?  Kathryn: it was around $120,000.  To create these birds and the right coding, we had to work with highly specialized creative people.

11:45am: Garrison: “Birding the Net completely changed our organization.”

We’re watching a looped video of the internet birds on the big screen behind the panelists, including a Blue Footed Booby which, as one audience member pointed out, is just a fun name to say.

GSP in the house

11:41am: KathrynThe project built a new community, humanized the internet, and drove offline activity.  She’s handing it over to Garrison Frost of the California Audubon society.  “I am not a bird geek,” said Garrison.  But he was told that birding is “really f*in cool” when he started at Audubon.  What he’s brought to the organization is some different thinking about marketing and communications.

11:38am: Kathryn: “Birding the Net was a social experiment.”  It found an additional 10,000 fans on Facebook for Audubon – that’s a 950% increase!  Goodby Silverstein and Partners worked on this project on a pro bono basis and the project had a $1.6million overall value.  Amazing!

Here’s another video for you:

11:35am: Did you know that birding is the second most popular hobby after gardening?  We are watching a short video about Birding the Net.  You can see parts of it here:

11:33am: Thanks to Lisa!  Applause.

Lance has introduced Kathryn Krischer from Goody Silverstein and Partners and Garrison Frost from California Audubon.

11:30am: [By the way, I’m taking pictures of today’s Gathering and will share them later.  Promise.] UPDATE: Pictures are here!

11:25am: Question from the audience: how do you keep people involved?  Lisa: we found that by giving people quick results has made a big difference.  Lance added that if you’ve become a verb – as in “I just iNat-ed” then you’ve been successful. (laughter)

Have you iNat-ed?

Question from the audience: how do we involve youth with iNaturalist and connect them to the outdoors?  Lisa: she went to a workshop at the Cal Academy of Sciences and heard that for something to be real for middle and high school students, it needs a virtual component.  Going outside in real nature is so important, but to also have some kind of way of connecting that is online is so important.

11:16am: Here is Lisa’s presentation.  Play along with us:

11:14am: We’re changing gears a bit to talk about science. Lance has introduced Lisa Micheli from Pepperwood Preserve.  She’s going to talk about the work that she’s doing with iNaturalist founder Scott Loarie.

11:12am: There’s lots of discussion about control of messages, images, etc.  What if other people start Facebook pages about your park or organization?  How do we get senior staff on board?  How do we control our messages?  What does a lack of control mean, and what are the opportunities in that?

11:07am: Question from the audience about how they measure their impact.  Mike recommended Klout, which helps you measure your social media reach.

10:56am: GGNPC has an internal working group for social media.  Veda highly recommends putting together a team.

Lance asked Veda and Mike about how they keep the tone and messages consistent.  Mike said that Yammer has been really helpful.

An audience member asked about how they got field staff involved.  Mike and Veda said that they asked for photos from the field staff and what they would like to share with their friends.   They then post those pictures to their social media outlets.

Veda Banerjee from GGNPC

10:52am: Number 4: Learn and adapt.  Veda: “We posted pictures of beautiful vistas and no one liked it.  Then we posted pictures of poop and we got so many new fans and likes!”

I mean, really... what the poop?

10:48am: Number 3: Encourage creativity.  Our guidelines say that social media should not and cannot be controled.  Micro-managing social media is the death of social media.

10:46am: Guideline Number 2: Divide and conquer.  At GGNPC we have divided it up by channels.  Someone is in charge of Facebook, another of Twitter.

[By the way, I plan to upload Mike and Veda’s presentation later this morning.  So stay tuned for that.] UPDATE: Here is Mike and Veda’s presentation for your viewing pleasure:

Social Media by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy from OpenSpaceCouncil

10:44am: Mike: “Sometimes social media is dumped on a temporary worker, a summer intern or someone else who isn’t fully connected to the organization.  That’s not what we recommend.”  They have a few guidelines:

The first is to set ground rules.  What are the dos and don’ts?  Their ground rules are to be honest, respectful, thoughtful, and ethical.  Mike recommends Beth Kanter’s blog for more information.  She is definitely a social media guru!

10:42am: Lance introduces Veda Banerjee and Mike Hsu from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.  Veda and Mike are going to talk about the whole communications package.  GGNPC is the nonprofit partner of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and a member of the Open Space Council.

10:40am: Lance: “We want to do this morning is to hear from the great people here to talk about the ways they’ve used social media.  Hopefully we’ll get ideas and ones that you can actually implement.”

Lance Knobel of Berkeleyside
10:36am: Lance is talking about how they collect stories for Berkeleyside, including Twitter.  He says that it’s not a one-way thing anymore and that news and stories are a two-way conversation now.  “The conversation is the most critical thing that we do.  We need to embrace our community.”

10:31am: Lance Knobel, a co-founder of Berkeleyside, is setting up the panel with this video from the Guarian:


10:30am: I’m sorry for the delay!  I introduced the session today and couldn’t figure out how to type and present at the same time.  There’s something tricky about being present and in front of the room, AND typing about being present and in front of the room.  Now that I’m in the back of the room and away from the mic, I can tell you that I shared with the 100+ audience that our conference is coming up on May 10, the Alt. ride which will be on June 16, and how I’ll be blogging today.  And then I introduced Lance Knobel, a co-founder of Berkeleyside.

10:00am: Good morning!  Today is March 15th and we’re holding our second Gathering of the year: the Almost Spring Gathering. This is Annie Burke and I’m the Director of Development and Engagement with the Open Space Council.  I’ll be blogging this morning with quotes, photos, and links.

Today we’re talking about social media.  Land conservation and environmental organizations are using the internet to engage with people, build movements, tell their stories, and achieve their mission.  How can we all use these tools in our work to preserve land and connect people to it?  What are the strategies we should all have in mind?  What is possible?

Our panel will include:

The program just started.  Ready?