Five Steps to Completing Community Projects For Social Change |

Do you see a problem or issue in your community or organization? Are you interested in making some changes in your community or organization? You can use the following five steps to help you guide on your journey toward social change.1) Assessment: Assessing the community or organization’s needs and resources.
a. What are a community’s resources (finances, people, physical and material resources, structural layout, community map, individual’s time);
b. What are the community’s needs?
c. What organizations are connected to and support this organization or community?
d. You can use Social Mapping: Asset Mapping and Social Network Mapping. Where are the natural and material assets located; what kinds of natural social networks already exist? What the natural pathways for resources? Where are the highest concentrations of community resources? Where are the areas of lack?
e. Identify community characteristics:
i. Aspects of material culture (dress, architecture, food)
ii. Cultural values, symbols, norms for behavior, language, beliefs/attitudes
f. For community participation in the assessment:
i. Assure complete voluntary participation
ii. Protect anonymity when you can. If not, maintain rigorous standards of confidentiality.
g. RESEARCH other similar projects to get ideas for how to proceed.2) Develop goals and objectives: These two are the guiding forces for your entire project. You will need to refer to these for each action you take.
a. After compiling the data from your assessment, you can analyze the results looking for core themes and patterns. Summarize the quantitative and qualitative data in order to discover the needs of the community. Afterwards, write goals and objectives for each of the community’s needs that you are able to address with the current project.
b. Some questions you should consider are: what problems can be reasonably addressed with the current community members and potential collaborators? Is this the right season (literally spring, summer, fall or winter) to tackle this problem? How should we prioritize projects?3) Planning: In this part, you are answering the question, how can this community be mobilized?
a. Assemble a core team of leaders that will coordinate the entire project. Keep this team relatively small: 4-6 members. The core team needs to be organized, committed and most of all enthusiastic.
b. Create a plan and timeline: Sketch out a time line with appropriate dates, spaced well to accommodate fundraising needs;
c. Make sure your plan meets your goals and objectives; revise if necessary.
d. Create teams (with community organizers, collaborators, and participants) who will tackle specific parts of the project; try to work with individual’s strengths.
i. When contacting collaborators, volunteers and participants, know the culture of your community. Do phone calls work better than email in this situation? Can we use Facebook to organize meetings?
e. Hold regular core team meetings for planning.4) Fundraising:
a. In pairs, go to local community members, national organizations, local businesses or any other potential funder and ask exactly for what you need; nothing less.
b. Take time to listen to your potential funder; most people want to give; they just want their own story to be heard first.
c. Organize FUN fundraisers, based on the theme of your project, if possible.5) Take Action: Put your plan into action to meet your goals and objectives.
a. Organize the necessary short-term volunteers and plan for work parties or work sessions, whichever your particular requires.
b. Always have an agenda or work plan and a presider. You need one point-person at each work party or work session who knows the overall plan, someone people can turn to with questions as they arise.
c. Have snacks and water. You can get these donated for your event.
d. If possible, show up with gifts for participants and recipients.
e. Hold ceremonies & rituals (Have a project Launch party, an opening ceremony, closing ceremony, blessing of land, project blessing, any ritual that your project calls for)
f. Keep it fun; You need a ‘fun raiser’ at each work party, someone whose sole job is to keep things enjoyable for the participants.
g. Applaud yourself (send press releases to local newspapers, high schools, churches). Get the word out! And celebrate your community project along the way.
h. Send periodic feedback to participants through Facebook, email, e-newsletters; keep enthusiasm high!There is one last ingredient that can make your community project especially successful and rewarding: pay it forward. Partner with the community you are serving to look for another community that needs the help of all of you. As part of your community project, together make a donation of money, resources, or time in their direction.Finally, keep your team energetic with an inspiring mission and message! Come from the heart and the urge to serve and surely social change will come to your community.

Data Visualization Basics |

This article will provide a top-level overview of data visualization, and is divided into the following sections:Definition of data visualization.
Purpose of data visualization.
The role of data visualization within the business intelligence stack. Definition of Data Visualization:
The term “data visualization” is self-descriptive, in that it literally means the visualization of data. Information is displayed in a clear, graphical manner to a user, who can then assimilate and interpret that data quickly. Of course, how efficient this interpretation occurs depends on how well the data has been analyzed and then visualized.Purpose of Data Visualization:
The purpose of data visualization is to communicate information in a clear, concise, graphical manner to an intended audience.Almost all companies deal with a huge amount of raw data, and making intelligent business decisions depends on how well a company analyzes and interprets that data. It is possible to examine that data in a textual format such as tables and spreadsheets; however, this tends to be overwhelming to the analyst, as well as difficult to interpret. Key trends may not be identified, resulting in the making of poor business decisions.This is where the visualization of data comes to the rescue: large amounts of data can be displayed (via dashboards, scorecards, charts, dials, maps, gauges, graphs and other visual elements) and almost instantaneously absorbed by the user. Key trends can be quickly identified, thereby resulting in intelligent business decisions.
The old maxim “a picture is worth a thousand words” says it all!The Business Intelligence Stack and Data Visualization:
Data visualization is actually one component of the “business intelligence stack.” Business intelligence refers to technological methods of gathering, manipulating and then analyzing business data. The “stack” refers to the following components used to accomplish these objectives:Presentation Layer:
Consists of various methods used to display data to the end user.
– Data visualization tools and elements include:
– Performance dashboards.
– Digital scorecards.
– Charts, graphs and gauges.Analytics Layer:
The analytics layer is where the data is massaged and manipulated into a format that can be meaningfully displayed and analyzed visually.
– Aspects of this layer include predictive analysis, data mining, KPI (key performance indicator) creation as well as third-party BI tools.Data Layer:
The data layer is comprised of all sources that contain the data being analyzed. –
Data often comes from OLAP, MS SQL, MySQL and Oracle databases, and even from spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel.From the information above you can see that data visualization is at the top of the BI stack. It should be noted that all three layers are critical when it comes to making good decisions utilizing business intelligence. Presenting a well-designed dashboard to end users is of little value if the data it is displaying is poorly organized. Conversely, looking at a poorly designed dashboard is of little use even if the data it is displaying has been well mined and organized.In conclusion, the visualization of data is extremely important when making intelligent business decisions. When properly done, mass amounts of data can be analyzed and interpreted quickly and efficiently, which is a good thing when it comes to any sort of company management!