Photo Booth for a Cause
Adding a personal touch to one’s anti-hunger advocacy work — be it through a letter, phone calls, or even artwork — is the key to effectively bringing about policies that protect hungry and poor people. And the world of social media provides new and exciting ways to engage one’s elected officials.
During the Wild Goose Festival this past June, Bread for the World staff members ran a photo booth that allowed attendees to personally contact their members of Congress in a creative, easy way through social media outlets. Bread staffers encouraged festival-goers to write a message to their senators or representatives on a whiteboard and then hold up an image of the member of Congress. Bread staffers then took a photo of the participants so that this image could be attached to a tweet, Facebook status, or email. Bread staff encouraged participants to use two specific, strategic hashtags in their tweets, so that people were able to follow the entire series of tweets over the course of the four-day festival.
You can use this same photo booth idea in your community! Here’s how:
1. Pick your message: Check out Bread’s website, our most recent sample letter, or contact your regional organizer for the most up-to-date message to send to your members of Congress via your photo booth.
2. Make your message creative and personal: Grab a whiteboard and marker and write your message to your members, or if you’re feeling especially creative, paint or draw your message on a board. Tweak the message to make it personal—just make sure your message is clear. At the Wild Goose Festival, for example, people wrote personal messages about creating a "circle of protection" around programs for poor and hungry people in our federal budget.
3. Capture it: Print out images of your members of Congress. Then have someone take a picture of you “with” your representative or senator and your whiteboard message to him or her. Taking the photo on a smart phone is ideal, so that the uploading and attaching process is faster.
4. Share it! If you’re tweeting, look up your senators' and representatives' Twitter handles so you can tag them in your tweet, type in the your message or an abbreviated version of it, and use the hashtag #BreadActs. If you don’t have Twitter or are looking for other ways to share your message, attach your photo to a Facebook status and tag your representatives or senators, post the photo on their timelines, or attach the photo to an email to your members.
After trying out your photo booth, encourage friends and family members to do the same. Try it with a group, or host a Bread for the World photo booth at a local event in your community. If you do so, just make sure you have the necessary supplies and information ready for people to participate. One of the best parts about using social media to engage in anti-hunger advocacy is that you can track one another's involvement.
Get your message trending on Twitter, tag other organizations or people who may be interested in your anti-hunger advocacy work, and don’t stop after one tweet! Finally, always make your message personal. You never need to be an expert, but you can demonstrate you care.
Marya Pulaski is an organizing intern at Bread for the World.
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