Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Art in Storefronts Returns to Our ‘Hood

Posted by | February 18, 2011 | Blog, Commentary, Community | 1 Comment

photo via flickr, public art in Dumbo

The San Francisco Arts Commission and some other clever folks at the mayor’s office had a creative idea for reducing the sense of urban blight in neighborhoods with vacant storefronts. Beginning in October 2009, artists have displayed works or transformed storefronts or boarded up buildings into visually stunning displays in the inner Mission, Bayview, SoMa and Mid-Market neighborhoods.

Help Open Your City

Posted by | March 19, 2010 | Announcements, Commentary, Events | 6 Comments

This past week, I had the privilege of sitting in on the great In Code We Trust: Open Government Awesomeness panel at SXSW. Alissa Black, from Open311 added great insights into how the city of San Francisco is helping to pioneer the open city government data movement.

Last week, SF released their Open311 API, a collaborative effort with other cities, non-profits, and developers. Since the release they have had a dozen requests for api keys to develop applications ranging from geo-enabled twitter clients to apps designed for most mobile phone platforms.

The Open311 API has drawn international interest, one of the first cities to pledge to use a standard Open311 API was Edmonton, Canada and developers from Mexico and Spain have requested keys to develop using the Open311 API. San Francisco’s hope is that a standard persists, evolves and generates a support community to ensure interoperability and continued innovation.

We are really keen to help lift up the good work of organizations like Open311 as they are leaders in community building where data is helping to connect neighbors to their neighborhoods and each other.

From Community Activist to Builder

Posted by | March 4, 2010 | Commentary, Events, Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Blue Avocado has a great newsletter for the nonprofit community, and they have a great article by Bay Area community activist Brenda Crawford, discussing how she’s gotten “old and wise” and plans to use her long career in community activism to convene and strengthen her local community.

At Craigslist Foundation, we are passionate about the type of work that Brenda is undertaking and believe strong communities and neighborhoods are the cornerstone of civic society. During Boot Camp, you’ll find lots of ideas and resources for building consensus among community members and strengthening neighborhoods.

I love that she writes, “my younger self might say I’ve gotten soft and tired. No: I’ve gotten old and wise.”

Trees and Communities Need One Another

Posted by | February 22, 2010 | Commentary, Community | 1 Comment

Over the weekend, Rosa Parks Elementary, a school in the heart of the San Francisco’s Western Addition, hosted a group of volunteers who planted trees alongside the school. The SF Chronicle highlighted the good work of Friends of the Urban Forest, the efforts of neighbors to beautify their streets, and the power of volunteerism to transform communities.

Three years ago, as part of Leadership San Francisco, I got to be “Principal for a Day” of Rosa Parks at a time when the school was anticipating the changes that would come from merging with the Japanese immersion program — it’s great to see it’s thriving and that families are committed to this gem of a school.

Does your neighborhood need more trees? How can we all do more to plant roots in our communities?

The Simple Wisdom of Asking for Help

Posted by | February 4, 2010 | Commentary | 3 Comments

Last week, Ami Dar of Idealist/Action Without Borders sent out a message that surprised many. Idealist is feeling the financial pinch so much that its existence is threatened. For those of us who are huge fans of Ami, his team, and their work, this was really bad news.

In his message, Ami offered a transparent view of how economic and business conditions had challenged Idealist over the past few years and how they had adapted to survive – and how that hadn’t been enough. In the end, Ami realized that Idealist’s future lay in the hands of its community, a community of passionate people who might be able to help Idealist find sustainability again, and more importantly a community that could spread the word and find more communities of support. And so he asked for help.

From the buzz in the social media, it looks like people are spreading the word. Looks like it is translating into a huge outpouring of support. So far, people have chipped in more than $140,000 to help Idealist out.

Asking for help can be a profoundly confronting thing. It can uncover all sorts of organizational dynamics and personal insecurities. If I ask for help, do I give up my ground as an expert? What if no one wants to help? No one else is asking for help – am I the only one struggling?

An authentic appeal for help can surprise us and prove those worries unfounded. Asking for help opens up new possibilities, it shifts our relationships, it creates new upsides. And it’s one of the hardest things to do.

You will notice Craigslist Foundation asking for help often in 2010. We are thinking about how our community building mission translates into a new program slate. We are constantly reinventing Boot Camp and need to know what’s going on in the field. You hold the answers. Our job is to listen. Our hope is that through listening, we will translate our call for help into services that can offer meaningful help for those who want to strengthen their neighborhoods and communities.

NYC At Your Service

Posted by | February 4, 2010 | Commentary, Community | 0 Comments

The folks in Bloomberg’s office are doing great things to lead a prominent service initiative as part of the nationwide Cities of Service effort. We love this because it’s so closely aligned with our Foundation’s ongoing participation and support of

“Last spring, Bloomberg introduced NYC Service, an office that coordinates 38 separate initiatives that “aim to improve the city through service and volunteerism.” The initiative went largely unnoticed until last month when City Hall announced the launch of a Time Bank available to all New Yorkers who choose to take part in volunteer activities. New Yorkers will be able to create online profiles at where they can list their talents and abilities and trade them with other users. Registered users will receive a “time dollar” for every hour they spend volunteering their services; these “dollars” may in turn be used to “purchase” volunteer services from another user.”

Check out more on Oh My Gov!

If you know of friends, family or colleagues in the NYC area interested in volunteering, point them to:

Catalyst for Community Vitality

Posted by | February 2, 2010 | Commentary, Community | 4 Comments

It’s essential that every nonprofit organization have something akin to a “theory of change.”  After all, we are all held in the public trust and granted special privileges and tax breaks because we are doing something for the public good somewhere.

At Craigslist Foundation, for example, we believe that engaged communities and neighborhoods are the cornerstone of our society — that where we actually live, work, and play on a daily basis has significant influence on our well being as a people and a culture.  We also believe that attention to local communities, and the public good at this level, has been overshadowed in recent decades by increased focus on communities of interest, geographic mobility, and globalization.

Our theory of change is that place-based communities and neighborhoods must be strengthened if our society is to flourish and our democracy advance — and that Craigslist Foundation can play a catalytic role in assembling the talents of key partners and collaborators capable of offering people in communities the tools and resources they need to take greater responsibility for where they live, work, and play.  This translates into a role for us in convening successful organizations and people across all sectors — nonprofit, government, business, philanthropy — to work intentionally and together toward building stronger local communities and economies.

It also translates into the creation of programs, services, and internet applications that can develop community leadership and stewardship capacities, give broad access to success stories and promising practices from one locale to another, offer people ways to articulate priorities and aspirations for their communities on a regular basis, establish simple ways to measure the impact of individual and organizational contributions to community building and progress, and provide opportunities for community journalism to fulfill its potential to lift up the assets, stories, and narratives on a hyper local basis.

The staff and board of Craigslist Foundation, along with our partners and collaborators, believe we see a significant fulcrum for change in our society — engaged communities and neighborhoods — and we have offered possible ways we can be involved in strengthening the places where we live, work, and play.  We are now eager to have input to our thinking, and to be stretched with additional ideas, recommendations, support, and constructive criticism.  Ultimately, it will take a vast and inclusive community of community builders to bring new health and vitality to one of our longest lived institutions — our local communities — and we invite you to tell us how you’d like to participate.

A View from the Boot Camp Trenches

Posted by | May 14, 2009 | Commentary, Events | 2 Comments


Of course things are percolating away on Boot Camp ’09 plans, and the “to do” list seems to be growing rather than shrinking most days. However, as a way of focusing the intention of all the really deeply appreciated people working on the program, and as a way of remembering why I do this, I am taking a moment to share what I love best about this event and the people who attend it.

This is one of the best events for creating connection that I have ever been involved with, and I have been in the event world for over 20 years. I would like to think that we have designed even more opportunity for that to take place this year, especially with the focus shifting bit-by-bit to community building. It seems to me that now more than ever we need a sense of community in our lives. Probably multiple communities. And this is never going to happen without getting out there and working on it. My experience with the past two Boot Camps that I have been involved with is that the group of people who attends is very serious about doing just that: reaching out, lending expertise, finding answers, making new business and personal contacts, getting re-inspired by the work and the words of others who share a passion for changing and improving our world.

Boot Camp 2008 VolunteersIt always humbles me, no matter how many times I experience it, that so many people give their time, funds, goods, expertise, attention, talents, ideas and suggestions to this program. And I feel grateful to be able to see it – to get to know first-hand that there is generosity still alive and well in the world, that people care about giving what they can to help others grow and succeed, that in fact when we all come together for this day we ARE greater than the sum of our parts.

Lynn Luckow’s words from February are still at the foundation of all we are juggling and designing even as I write this. We want people to come together. We want to see action that makes a difference happening right before our eyes because of what people discover and encounter at the event. We want everyone to leave inspired and connected to a wide variety of people that are also concerned with stronger communities. I feel confident that the scope and the content of the event will not just allow for that, but will almost insist on it.

Now I need to return to all the logistical details of making the day a great one – laying down the framework to support comfortable and convenient classrooms, meals, networking sessions, etc. But I hope I have been at least partially successful in saying what this all means to me and to the team who puts it together – what we hope for, what we love about this event. There is so much more than I have written here as well – it is a full, full, FULL experience, and I have only been able to express a tiny bit of how we all hold it in our minds as we work on the final weeks leading up to Boot Camp.

Gunner TwinklingThanks for reading, and I certainly hope to see you there.  In the meantime, and in the interest of community building and social action, please do not hesitate to send us any organizations and people that we should reach out to and invite for their contributions to exactly those things in the Bay Area and beyond at

Diana Rogers, Director of Events

Newspapers, Nonprofit Groups, and Social Media

Posted by | May 12, 2009 | Commentary | 0 Comments

In the latest episode of Social Good, Jessica Clark, director of the Future of Public Media Project at American University, discusses whether nonprofit models are the future of newspapers. Ms. Clark also talks with the host, Allison Fine, about some useful resources for nonprofit groups that want to improve their use of online tools.

(Running time: 14:08)

Law firms are donating employees to nonprofits!

Posted by | May 6, 2009 | Commentary | 1 Comment

As law firms suffer the effects of our current economic situation, they are coming up with creative solutions to hold onto employees – by loaning them out to charities!

“With his degree from Harvard Law School due in June, Juan Valdivieso makes an attractive prospective hire, and last summer, he scooped up a postgraduation job offer from the white-shoe firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in his native Washington, D.C.

“But as the recession deepens, budgets tighten – even at top-notch law firms. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius e-mailed Valdivieso last month that it would have to defer his employment for a year, until the fall of 2010. But the company threw him a lifeline: It would pay him a $60,000 stipend if he spent the year after graduation at an unpaid public service job. The 28-year-old is looking for work in an organization that will indulge his interest either in civil rights or consumer protection.”Boston Globe