By Anne Collier
Leaving all criticism in the dust because it’s more distraction than action, here’s the natural response to “Kony 2012,” the most viral digital-video campaign in history (so far): “This Thing That Happened” about Hope North, the boarding school and haven in northern Uganda for escaped child soldiers and other survivors working toward healing and reintegration into society (as of this writing with 6,342 views). The school, which its teachers say is very much in need of textbooks and computers, was founded by Sam Okello (Okello Kelo Sam), a survivor himself, who last July won the 2011 Global Action Visionary Award (at about 2:00 into the video, listen to the sweet humor in his acceptance remarks and the simple, clear message in his song for his grieving mother).
“This Thing That Happened” is a call to action that will clearly contribute to the healing that has been in the works for years. Hope North is a fully accredited boarding school. Here’s what Okello says about his intention in founding the school: “If you don’t have knowledge, then you are insecure, and insecure people are the ones who cause trouble. That’s why, when you empower someone with education, they see a future, and then you are creating hope of a better life.”
Yesterday at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, I went to a fascinating panel about “Kony 2012” organized at the last minute. Here are the panel’s notes with loads of perspective and links. The panelists were Sam Gregory of Witness, “a global pioneer in using video to expose human rights abuses”; TMS Ruge of the World Bank and co-founder of Project Diaspora; Sheryl Contee of Fission Strategy, which does social media campaigns for the likes of Greenpeace and Oxfam; and data scientist Gilad Lotan of SocialFlow, which tracks the flow of data in social media. Christie George of New Media Ventures moderated. [Here’s my previous post and that of my ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid at Forbes.com.]