Chloë Cheyenne: Masterclass in Activism

March 5, 2024 1:19:51
Kaltura Video

Chloë Cheyenne will be in conversation with Christian Davenport, PhD about COMMUNITYx, a digital platform for activism, founded by Cheyenne, that connects like-minded changemakers to take collective action on social justice-oriented causes. March, 2024.


0:00:00.4 Speaker 1: Well, thank you everyone for joining us in person and for everyone who's joining us online. We are really thrilled to have you here. Welcome to the Master Class in Activism, a conversation on social justice activism in the digital age, hosted by the Center for Racial Justice at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. I am Mara Cecilia Ostfeld, I'm the research director here at the Center for Racial Justice. At the Ford School and at the Center for Racial Justice, we seek a world in which people are able to achieve their full human potential, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and other categories that have been used to divide and systematically marginalize people. We train leaders here who understand the critical role of public policy in improving our world. We recognize the power of public policy to bolster or undercut our life opportunities and experiences, and we see policy analysis as a critically important tool for us to measure, reflect, and historically examine and help us define the way we move forward.

0:01:05.6 S1: As we examine the fraught histories and consequences of some of our policies and the transformative power of others, we learn a valuable lesson. Effective and just public policy can only be achieved if we bring together diverse perspectives to the table. Today we have the great honor and privilege of hosting a master class in activism conversation with Chloe Cheyenne and Dr. Christian Davenport on social justice activism in the digital age. A little bit about each of our amazing speakers today, Chloe Cheyenne is a tech innovator who is passionate about social change. She graduated from the Howard University School of Business Honors Program in 2013 and quickly received a job offer at Google. After spending some time working there, she decided to venture out and form her own company, COMMUNITYx, the social network for social change.

0:01:54.0 S1: COMMUNITYx connects like-minded change makers to take collective action on issues they care about. It's an app that addresses the gap between information and action by creating a space where people can talk about real issues that matter and mobilize people to actually do something about them all in one space. Since creating this innovative space, Chloe has earned major accolades such as Forbes 30 Under 30 and Black Enterprises 40 Under 40. COMMUNITYx has been covered by a wide range of outlets including Forbes, Cheddar, MSNBC, Fast Company, Apple News, Black Enterprise and a million more, far more than I can list in this brief intro. So we are so grateful to have you here today, Chloe.

0:02:36.6 S1: Moderating today's panel is Christian Davenport, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan as well as a faculty associate at the Center for Political Studies and a research center at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo. His research primarily focuses on political conflict such as human rights violations, genocide, torture, political surveillance, civil war and social movements. He is the author of a million articles, again, far more than I can list and six incredible books including two of my favorites, How Social Movements Die published by Cambridge University Press and Media Bias, Perspective and State Repression, The Black Panther Party, also published by Cambridge University Press. So we are really okay with having you here too. He's like a brother to me so you can make fun of him as much as you want over the course of this panel.

0:03:28.6 S1: Quick note on how this will proceed, we're going to turn it over to Chloe and Christian to have a conversation. We'll then open it up to some comments and questions and then we'll spill out into a really nice little reception in the lobby outside. So please join me in welcoming Christian and Chloe.


0:03:53.5 Speaker 2: Hello everybody. So let's kind of dive in a little bit but as many people might think of activism and kind of engagement and advocacy in specific ways, how do you think of activism generally and then specifically this idea of digital activism, how would you kind of characterize or define that?

0:04:20.1 Speaker 3: I would say, well as far as activism, I would say that firstly activists are descendants of revolutionaries. And so in that sense, activists pretty much work within the systems that exist today in order to try and create change. And what was the second part of the question?

0:04:46.6 S2: So part of your hook, part of the interest is on digital activism. So how would you conceptualize or define for folks that aren't familiar with it, the idea of digital activism? How do you think of that?

0:05:02.5 S3: Well, I think pretty much everyone here at this point is familiar with online activism because a lot of it happens through existing social media platforms. It really started on Twitter during uprisings in the Middle East like years ago and then trickled over to Instagram, Facebook and other platforms. So yeah, I'm sure everybody here is familiar with that and how people are trying to use existing platforms to advocate and build awareness around certain causes, so yeah.

0:05:36.6 S2: That's fair. Okay, so let me ask the kind of like what kind of activists are you type of question, right? So some activists are concerned with like completely transforming something, some are more reformist in orientation, but then also some focus on politics in particular, some focus on economics, some focus on social cultural issues. How would you characterize what it is that you work on?

0:06:05.2 S3: I mean, yes, I would call myself an activist, but that's not my ultimate goal. I don't think, like I would like to ultimately do something that is revolutionary. I don't want to continue to stay in this activist lane because I don't think that it's enough. But how do I define myself in this current state as an activist? I mean, we work in tech, so as a tech activist, but as a platform, we're agnostic to all causes. So we support hundreds of causes and internationally. So as far as like focusing on a specific movement or effort, we don't do that. We try and support as much as we can. Yeah.

0:07:04.8 S2: I mean, to give some sense of the range, so Chloe and I first come across one another when Paul was just a beginner who was basically kidnapped from Texas, taken to Rwanda. The daughters and myself and a bunch of other people from around the world were trying to get Paul out. And so we connected with Chloe and her app and technique and her group in order to try to figure out exactly how to work that particular thing. So the range of causes that they work on is quite large and so I wanted to give some sense of that orientation as we were thinking about stuff. The master class concept is partly a way of kind of like reflecting on change makers and change making. But I think one thing that we kind of also are curious about in many respects is this idea of the path to change making and change makers. So I think in the social movement literature, we might think of this as kind of like nature or nurture, right?

0:08:02.3 S2: Some just have a predisposition towards rebelliousness, right? There's a great Dave Chappelle episode where he's basically making a comment that he's like a chronic dissenter. Or you have this nurturing kind of element, like if you think of Malcolm X being born to parents that are part of the Garvey movement and then subsequently he becomes aware of all these other movements and then he becomes an activist. Or some kind of combination or some precipitous event or circumstance. But what would describe your pathway to activism?

0:08:32.5 S3: Yeah. For me, I definitely had no choice. I'm from Chicago, south side of Chicago. And it's, my family's direct experiences that led me to do what I'm doing today. As you know, our founding story is focused on my dad, who is black and is a survivor of an extreme case of police brutality that left him permanently handicapped. My dad was getting ready to work a night shift and Chicago police raided my grandmother's town home and opened fire on him over 12 times. And as they further searched my grandmother's home, they realized that they had the wrong address and it was a case of mistaken identity. They planted drugs in my grandmother's home in an effort to cover up the mistake they realized they made, did not call an ambulance, and physically assaulted my dad as he was bleeding to death in the hallway of my grandmother's home. My mom was hiding and was able to rush him to the nearest hospital, which thankfully had a trauma unit.

0:09:50.6 S3: And the doctors there, although very skeptical, agreed to operate on him and ended up stabilizing him and saving his life. But yeah, for the first 12 years of my life, I was like, we was taking my dad to rehab where he was learning how to walk again, regain all of his motor skills, and taking him to trial where he was facing 20 years in prison for something that he didn't do. And then throughout that time, I lost two cousins to gun violence, both under the age of 21. My uncle was also gunned down on his front doorstep by Chicago police. And so yeah, the interactions that my family has had with the police and prison systems have not been great. And they definitely had an extreme effect on my childhood. And as a result developed the way I think and the way I relate to the world. I'm not gonna lie, I was supposed to switch slides. [chuckle] So that's my dad and that's my grandma. And then this is one of my cousins who we lost a few years ago in the city, so.

0:11:29.0 S2: That's all good. I think you described that and it seems like that's an incredibly important inflection point, but from that point, you could become a health care worker. You could become a lawyer. You could say, I want to become a cop because I want to stop this from happening. So it seems like the choice activist, I'm curious, did you consider these other options or for you it was kind of clear something's wrong, I wish to intervene into something and that needs to be done in some un-institutionalized, non-straightforward, non-sanction kind of pattern that involves kind of like activism. Was that clear to you then or no?

0:12:10.9 S3: No, because the whole time, while all this was happening and while I was being raised by my parents and my grandma, again, we're from Chicago, so Elijah Muhammad is a really controversial person, but was very close with my family. My grandma was giving me those...

0:12:33.9 S2: For those that might not know, please explain who he is. You just presume everyone knows. I'm like, how many people know who Elijah Muhammad is?

0:12:42.7 S3: Right.

0:12:43.5 S2: Less than half. So I'm like...

0:12:45.9 S3: Someone else should explain.

0:12:46.0 S2: What?

0:12:48.0 S3: Yeah, audience, tap in.

0:12:52.1 S2: Leader of the Nation of Islam prior to Malcolm X.

0:12:55.2 S3: Right. So yeah, giving me books about Malcolm X, talking about Bobby Seale, so this is like who my family is. And so yeah, it was never even a thought for me to be like, oh yeah, I'm gonna join the system, to fight the system, like that wasn't it for me, so.

0:13:17.8 S2: Okay. And so was the problem that you thought that kind of needed addressing and the thing that you wanted to change, was it specifically police violence, state violence more broadly? Was it conflict in society? What was that problem set that you saw as the things that you wanted to address?

0:13:36.9 S3: It started out as police and prisons and education system. And then when I went to university and then went to go work for Google, everything just evolved. And, now again, we don't focus on one thing specifically, we just try and help as many people as we can.

0:14:03.0 S2: Okay, hold it, before we have to jump. So we go from police violence to Google. So I'm thinking police violence, sociology, or police violence, political science, maybe loosely defined, we don't really study police violence or police activity. But explain that move from interest and concern with police violence to Google, just to be clear with trajectory. As much as it is clear, right? It's just like, some things just happened, but I don't think that was the case.

0:14:37.0 S3: It's clear to me, but then like talking to you and like, Christian's had me on campus all day. And I'm like, okay, first of all, I am the least smart person in this room. I already know this, all y'all are amazing. So yeah, it makes sense to me, but I'll try and explain it.

0:14:57.7 S2: I did not work with Google. I don't know what you're talking about, but yes.

0:15:02.5 S3: I mean, yeah, so I went to Howard. I went to Howard because it was my only option. My mama told me, you'll go to community college, and my grandma told me she was like, you can do much better than that. And I just didn't know how. So one of my advisors had me apply. And I ended up getting a full ride and just going. I'd never been to DC before, I just went. And then from there, I was just like hustling on campus, meeting every recruiter, going to every info session, being there, sitting in the front, just really hustling because I knew I could not go back.

0:15:54.5 S2: Were you doing student activism while you were at Howard?

0:15:57.6 S3: Yes.

0:15:58.3 S2: Okay, what type of stuff...

0:15:58.9 S3: I was like, the first, my freshman year, I got there and I was in the School of Business and we had an honors program or whatever, and I got the school to invest in creating this community service director role, which they didn't have, I don't know why, but they didn't have it. So I got them to invest in creating that, and I was like, well, can I be the first person in that role? And they were like, had us do this whole election thing. But we did that. And so I did that for like three years. And then by my senior year, I was the president of the school. Yeah.

0:16:34.8 S2: Okay. And give me the Google.

0:16:38.8 S3: So as I said, I was like, recruiters would come on campus and I would be like hounding them and following up with them and just like...

0:16:50.1 S2: And you just so happen to have some computer skills that landed you on Google. Or maybe I'm holding Google in too high esteem. And they're just like, I imagine it's this creative incubator of intelligence and innovation and they're looking for like, it's like Top Gun, they're looking for the people who are gonna help generate a tremendous amount of money for them or something. And then they bring them to campus and then they show them all the wondrous things that, I mean, maybe I saw the Steve Jobs movie too many times, but I'm just like, I just have a...

0:17:21.2 S3: I think that's what happens when you're too smart. I hope no one here does that, because I think that's what happens when you're way too smart. Like you start looking at things and like over complicating it or thinking about it way too deeply. The way my grandma raised me, I don't look at things through that lens. I look at things and I'm like, oh yeah, I could do that. Truthfully, I'm gonna be honest. When I when I met the Google recruiter, I treated her like anybody else, 'cause I was like, cool, Google, whatever. Like I need a job, you know what I mean? So but I tried hard for every job that I applied to. But yeah, I didn't really look at it like that. But anyways, I mean, I took the classes, I did the 4.0, I did all of the things I was supposed to do to have the resume to be considered. And then, yeah, I just kept following up with her until she gave me the opportunity.

0:18:21.6 S2: So with an eye to building the digital activism start stuff, were you thinking digital activism?

0:18:27.8 S3: No.

0:18:27.9 S2: Okay.

0:18:29.0 S3: Not even. I was not thinking about anything like that. When I was still in college, I was like, again, I need a job. I need to get out of here. Send my family back some money. So, no. I didn't start thinking about that until I got to Google. Like a year in.

0:18:53.6 S2: Okay. So, part of my reason for kind of like pushing in this domain is a lot of the social movement literature characterizes activists and social movement organizations as being incredibly instrumental with regards to how they think about what they're doing. They're thinking about, okay, what are the objectives I'm trying to achieve? What's the repertoire of activities I have available to me? What resources or particular predispositions do I have to kind of use these particular tactics? Who can I recruit? Where can I find some youth to manipulate? How can I use some marketing things? So, it's very instrumental. What we forget in many respects is this human connection, this element of opportunism, this element of just happen to be in a spot for something to take place and then proceeding with it. But, okay, now we're at Google. Activism. So, how do we get back to activism?

0:19:44.1 S3: We get back to activism because, shoot, I was working there. I was there from the time the doors opened until they would kick me out the office. And yeah, I was doing all the amenities too. I was doing the massages and I was eating every meal on campus and riding the bikes and all that stuff too. But I was working really hard and I gave so much to that organization that it just couldn't sit right with me that after I did all that and my peers, who we only made up 1% of the company or less than 1% of the company, but we were still there and we were still giving our all. It just didn't sit right with me that even after all that, even after all we did, that people around us could be looking at that image of Mike Brown laying in the street and be like, so was for lunch. You know what I mean? It was just...

0:21:04.0 S2: Was that like a common vibe at Google at the time?

0:21:09.0 S3: Across the industry, you know, like Silicon Valley, like Sand Hill Road, like. It's less than 1% black. It's like less than 0.2% of people that are like women and women of color that actually get venture capital to go and start companies. It's not an HBCU. So, yeah, but that's how because that happened and people were just so easily to like move beyond it and move past it. And once I saw that, I was like, boom, like we're not just gonna sit here. And so I just started mobilizing people across the company. Yeah, that was the start of the end of my career.

0:22:04.5 S2: So secession you pull your people out. You pull people out of Google with you.

0:22:10.2 S3: No, I tried doing I mobilize people internally first. Yeah.

0:22:16.9 S2: To do what?

0:22:18.1 S3: We was trying to do anything at that point. Honestly, like get them to make a donation get them to make a statement get them to do all of the most basic things that any company should do in a moment like that and yeah, like we built a team of like basically almost every like black and brown Googler like across the company and we were having meetings like weekly just trying to think of different programming and all these different things that we could do. And ultimately like some of it got done. They ended up making like some type of donation.

0:23:07.6 S2: The group or Google?

0:23:09.0 S3: Sergey. Sergey and Larry. But yeah, it didn't end well.

0:23:22.3 S2: I won't ask about that. Okay. So okay. So you're nested within Google with a variety of individuals who have been shaken as many people in the country and around the world from police violence. And how is Google responding to you all?

0:23:38.8 S3: That's what I mean.

0:23:40.4 S2: If you talk about that, okay.

0:23:42.0 S3: That's what I mean. Yeah, the company response was just really poor. David Drummond was still the.

0:23:52.0 S2: Who's that? It's like Elijah Muhammad. I'm just like let's presume no knowledge and, yes.

0:23:56.1 S3: So David Drummond filed like Google's like founding documents from like Sergey and Larry's garage like type shit and he's a black man and so became like their chief legal officer general counsel for the company and he was one of my mentors while I was there. So thank God I had him and he was like our executive sponsor for everything that we were doing. But yeah, they had me like speak at an all-hands, a company all-hands next to Larry and Sergey and David was there but he was not on stage and the head of YouTube which was Sergey's former spouse and they had me speak and it was like a company-wide like, people all over the world like that work for Google was like tuning in and just the company response was horrible. Like the following day like people were all over like the internal like chat systems and everything like basically just tearing down the movement, tearing down the cause, saying that we don't have a place to even be talking about this. Like we're a search company like all of that stuff and attacking me personally. And that was like probably like my last week there.

0:25:33.2 S2: Okay. So then COMMUNITYx gets started then?

0:25:41.9 S3: No.

0:25:44.6 S2: Okay, what happens?

0:25:46.0 S3: So my dad, so my family's from the south side of Chicago. My dad grew up with Arne Duncan who is the former US Secretary of Education and President Obama's cabinet. And so when I left there I hit Arne and I was like, I needed somewhere to go. Like I just need somewhere to go. And at the same time like while we were doing all of that internal organizing, like the thing was it was like we were able to like map the ocean floors but we didn't have like simple police data and that didn't make sense to me. And so it was actually like very simple things that we were asking for.

0:26:29.1 S3: We were asking for resources for that we just couldn't get. So I took that when I left and I was like, you know, there's this thing like there's this thing of like everyone that I was cool with at the company wanted to be able to connect with one another. They had things that they cared about they wanted to be able to connect and there's this clear like very important like data set that's missing from like all of this. And I was like, do you have any opportunities? And he had just happened to like leave DC to go work for Lorraine Jobs who is Steve Jobs widow. And he hooked me up with like a fellowship for them. So I actually went from Mountain View to Hawaii and I was working out of O'ahu doing like a fellowship for Lorraine. And then that's where I you know, really started to dig deeper into like what could this be? Really develop like a problem statement start to like talk to other people test out different ideas. And...

0:27:42.2 S2: What did you think it could be? I mean, like literally take us to that kind of like thought process. What was the what was the problem? Was this back to the police violence?

0:27:51.9 S3: Yeah, it started out as just like a mapping project. Yeah. And then I was talking to my grandma one day...

0:28:02.5 S2: But different from like this DeRay McKesson thing, right?

0:28:05.1 S3: No, not different. Yeah. Like that was something that we were trying to do like before. No, not different.

0:28:15.5 S2: Describe the mapping project for folks.

0:28:17.5 S3: It's just like crowdsourcing like data... Well, in this case, police data from different people across the community. And I think they took in data from like people who are directly impacted or just were reporting instances. So that integrity not super high, but anyways, that was the project simply because it didn't exist. And like we had also, yeah, it didn't exist. Like we also talked with people in DC to see if they had anything like it that they were and there was nothing. So it started out as that. But then I was talking with my grandma and she was like, you know, there's a bigger opportunity to like help more people than just like those that you can relate to. And that really like she'd be saying like the most profound things like, but anyways, that was like, oh, and I kind of took that and I was like, right, like it should be like a network for change, like period, like whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you wanna do. And then that was like, that's how we built like COMMUNITYx.

0:29:43.5 S2: Perfect segue to describe what it is. You ready to talk about what it is?

0:29:46.9 S3: Yeah. Okay. So, yeah, so COMMUNITYx.

0:30:00.1 S2: I want to see the slides too.


0:30:04.6 S3: So Community X is what we call an app for change and basically what we did is like the core algorithm aims to understand who a person is, where they are, and what specific causes they care about. And then we take those data points about a person and use it to help them build connections locally within their own community and around the world. So people are able to create these like online cause-based communities. And then from there, we rethink the way content happens across like traditional social media. So like a lot of like hashtag activism and all of these things was like because people were so limited in the types of content that they were able to share on these social media platforms up until like the last two years. Because Instagram started to do more and Facebook started to do more.

0:31:03.7 S3: But anyhow we basically launched the first platform that really was like a one stop shop for any kind of like digital activism online activism tool whether it's fundraisers petitions events whatever you wanna do. So you basically build these communities and then from within that same environment you can post these different calls to action and have a feed that's like you're posting CTAs people in your community are posting CTAs and it's the same like easy interactions just double tapping to like boom petition sign donation made all this stuff. And then we track all of that activity for you as a user on your profile so that you can see over the course of your time your lifetime as a user all of the different things you've done causes you've supported and all that stuff.

0:32:04.3 S2: Okay, that was a lot. We will post a slower version of that somewhere so someone could follow 'cause that was, there was a lot of information embedded in there. I wanna start from the name and then go back to some of the functions, right? So I'm just like, why not like activistX or interactionX? What was it about community that you wanted to kind of like harp in on?

0:32:32.3 S3: Well, I just didn't think community, I didn't believe that community existed, real community existed online. And I also didn't believe that it existed in a lot of like real world situations that I was in. So that's why community and then X like, you know, Malcolm X.

0:32:57.7 S2: I thought it was kind of like community insert your community X's.

0:33:02.9 S3: It could be that. But that's not my intention but...

0:33:10.5 S2: Okay. I like the Malcolm X part. So, again, in the literature, there's a lot of discussion about social movement efficacy, like what works? How do you think about works? How do you think about, do social movements matter? How can they matter? When do they matter? You all have embedded within your app direct mechanisms to measure success or your conception of it. So what is your conception? And this gets to the kind of discussions of digital activism. What is your sense of a successful digital campaign or digital activist campaign or an activist campaign as launched through community X? What does successful campaign look like?

0:33:53.6 S3: Yeah. And this is again where the road it just diverges 'cause you're so like intellectual and like all of you are.

0:34:03.4 S2: I'm not intellectual. I wanna stop people from getting shot. I'm not intellectual. I'm like, how's it intellectual?

0:34:04.4 S3: I know.

0:34:05.3 S2: I'm like, so we can measure that. And you all offer an app that says that you're able to track different types of metrics, which one could think of as being a measure of success, right? So if you think of reaching people as a manifestation of success for an awareness campaign or a petition is supposed to have some kind of end product, but at the same time is raising awareness. So your app is raising awareness. It's facilitating mobilization. So those could be indicators of success and also stopping the police violence could be an indicator of success. So you had an interest in mapping the police violence. You have a measure that can capture contact, people passing on information, people clicking on stuff. So it seems like you have in-house a whole bunch of information about efficacy, but you're gonna call me intellectual and try to skate it. So I'm just like, what's your take on efficacy and success?

0:35:04.9 S3: And for me, it's like when... So we have like 750,000 monthly active users. We have our mobile app and we have the website We're heavily like... Our users are like 90% on the web app. So anyhow, what we do as a company as far as like growth and marketing is very different than what like TikTok and Instagram and Facebook and Twitter or whatever X, they copied us like for real. We came out of that but. So, but yeah, it's very different because like TikTok will spend millions of dollars a day just trying to get y'all to like download their app. And for us, we put zero dollars into like actual acquisition marketing. So like in our space, it's like I called it CAC like customer acquisition costs. And we have a zero dollar customer acquisition cost. And the reason why is because we took our entire like, well, so our most our latest round of funding was a seed round that was like $1.5 million round. And all of that marketing budget we took and we put it back into the community. And we did that by going to people who were coming to the website or whatever app and posting calls to action like, hey, help get my relative out of prison.

0:36:35.6 S3: Like, help me get my indigenous child, you know, return back to her tribe or help raise money for my family because my brother was just killed by police in Jackson, Mississippi. So we go to these people who are posting these actions on our app, and we help them build more robust marketing campaigns around their cause and their movement. And then we go into the community and we'll have media conferences and bring the family, and I'll be with them and we'll talk to the media to help get their message out even more. And that's where we put our money. And so when I think about success, it's like success for me is being able to be with that mother and let her know she's not alone. You know what I mean? Be with a family that needs support and wouldn't be heard otherwise. Because all these other platforms are just so noisy. And how are you gonna hear about everything? Yeah, we have metrics, we have stuff we look at. We have DAUs, MAUs, all that stuff. But nothing's more important than being able to actually interact with someone and let them know you're there to help.

0:38:06.0 S2: I mean, the pushback to some of this instrumentalist kind of research, there's pleasure activism. I'm forgetting, does anyone remember her name?

0:38:15.2 Speaker 4: Adrienne Maree Brown.

0:38:17.7 S2: Yeah. I think she's from Detroit actually. So it's just like, so she's pleasure activism is, we actually derive something. We feel something as you identified sitting with the mother or this pleasure you received from amplifying a particular message. All these things are things that should count as well as people are counting these other things. And so the folks like myself that are like, okay, we should stop. We should stop this violence business. And so the violence should go down. That's one way to look at it. Being there for the mother is another way to look at it. Being in the community and being with other people who are concerned, that's another way to look at it. And so that's a broader conception of it. So that's good per se.

0:39:00.4 S3: Yeah. I think the campaigns, they touch on all the things, but it's just that's what's most important to me. And I think that that's just also is what's lacking in leadership across every industry. But anyways, yeah, we'll have for a campaign we did in Hawaii around this leaking fuel bunker, this leaking navy owned fuel bunker that was poisoning indigenous communities and military families in Hawaii. We worked on that campaign and we supported dozens of families and we sent a briefing to POTUS who sent it to the DOD, who then announced a shutdown. So we'll work at that level too. But if you ask me what's most important to me, that.

0:39:52.5 S2: No, that's good to hear. So you zipped, you gotta slow down. I think you're going really fast. But some of the examples, the one you just gave. So it's like how did that start? How were you contacted? What did you then do, you seemed to have this iterative interaction with the communities that you're working with or the aggrieved. And so it seems to kind of go back and forth like it did with the Mississippi case, and then you're developing stuff in-house and then you're showing it to the people you're working with, then it's trotted out, individuals are working with it. Could you take us through another example maybe?

0:40:31.4 S3: So well, for us, when we started focused on Atomic Networks. And I think for any consumer technology or consumer focused, anything, Atomic Networks are crucial. And so for us, we built atomic networks within, across a core set of causes. And then we built...

0:41:00.7 S2: Help me here, what's an Atomic Network?

0:41:03.7 S3: Atomic Network is just a core tight group of people who are very focused on something, and those ended up being what we would call power users in the tech space. So we built those atomic networks across a few different causes and then built trust within them and then started, they would bring stuff to us. They would be like, we just got in contact with this family. This is what's happening over here. And then that's how we get a lot of inbounds like campaign requests.

0:41:48.4 S2: What do you think that you are not touching on at all, or could do better? 'Cause it seems like you have an element of what you're able to do is amplification.

0:42:01.3 S3: Yeah.

0:42:04.1 S2: What other things do you think that you all could do, but you're also present, right? So you've now shifted my conception of how we could think about efficacy. So being present is incredibly important in addition to amplification, in addition to addressing the reason why you showed up in the first place. But clearly as you identified one, there's other people in this marketplace of change making, and two, there's certain things that might not be achievable with the way that you're approaching it. So it's kind of hard to see one's blind spot or where you might not be as strong as you'd like to be, but is there a spot?

0:42:44.8 S3: Yeah, I mean, I think you can always do more. We can do more in terms of the families that we help. We could go deeper into different causes that we support. We could be on more campuses. There's a lot of things that we could be doing more of. Yeah.

0:43:14.2 S2: There was another slide. Yes.

0:43:20.2 S3: Yeah.

0:43:21.6 S2: Did you walk through that one?

0:43:22.7 S3: No.

0:43:24.0 S2: Okay.


0:43:27.5 S3: So this is the FTU, which is the First Time User flow for any app signup flow or whatever. Just showing how you can, there's a screen before this where it's like you enter in all the basic information and then this is a static list that we serve to our users. So we curate the causes that are available on the platform, but you can always suggest ones to us that you think are missing. And then that goes into a whole database and gets up votes and stuff. And that's how we decide what gets added as new stuff to the platform. But yeah, once you do that, you're in, and this is kind of just showing the functionality of the app.

0:44:21.8 S3: So this is a petition post where you'll see it kind of just populates in the feed like any other post would, but instead of a heart, there's a take action button. So you would press the take action button and then press sign and then keep scrolling. And then this is a user's profile where it's the things that are highlighted at the top are your impact, which is again, us tracking everything you're doing across the app like Instagram and Facebook do, except with a purpose of helping you understand who you are as a change maker in the space that you're in. And then we also have the causes for you so you can tap into each of your causes and communicate with those communities and then see everything you've posted. Fun fact, we released, and I'm not lying, hopefully you know by now, I'm not lying. We released the pinning feature eight months before Instagram released the pinning feature. Look it up. We did. And so that really upset me. But anyways, I think 'cause these two posts are pinned, so I just thought about that. But yeah, those are kind of the main screens.

0:45:52.7 S2: Okay. So you offer kind of a co-evolutionary model where someone can approach you and they're just like, I don't see this particular aspect of civil rights that you have up there. You can then add that and then they say, I don't see the actions that we'd like to take up there. And then you could add that. And so the app is interactive in the sense of it could work with individuals. As we were talking about this earlier. So imagine Ford, you imagine Ford is just like, okay, you know what? I don't know what you all care about or what you'd be willing or interested in doing. So then we could send this app or invitation out to everybody that's connected here. Everybody can then fill these things out. They'd have the thing on the far right, but then what will you be able to do is click on racial justice and then find everybody else in Ford that has that particular interest in racial justice.

0:46:39.8 S2: And then you could also look at what interests they might have or what tactics they might think might be most applicable. And so with this basically true to form, it helps you find community. And this is a very Michigan problem in many respects, right? We are so large that we lose ourselves within the mix, but this could help us find who we are and what we're willing to do and what we care about, which is the weirdest thing. First off, it's like we're going to go outside to go back inside, but that happens all the time with the Michigan kind of dynamic. But I thought that was an incredibly important aspect of this particular program in the app, and Chloe as an individual and thought that that would be something that we would just thrive with in our community. Go blue mode. But questions, it just seems like a good time to kind of open it up.

0:47:32.3 S3: Well, I did have a couple of cases.

0:47:34.4 S2: Oh my bad, yes.

0:47:35.8 S3: How are we on time? Are we like...

0:47:35.8 S2: I have no idea about time, but I'm just like, I figured Mara would signal to me that something is off.

0:47:41.7 S1: You guys have about 10 minutes before we go to the next. So if you wanna do the cases.

0:47:45.6 S3: Okay.

0:47:45.7 S2: Examples. Perfect. Yes.

0:47:45.8 S3: Perfect. Thank you. Okay. Yes. I am gonna highlight a few campaigns that we've worked on, and there are images. So if you're sensitive, I am not offended if you don't wanna view these slides. So this is one of the campaigns that we did that I kind of referenced earlier. It's called Bring Chanel Home, and this is an active campaign. So anyone who cares about indigenous rights in this room, please go to the site and take the action because this family really needs the support. So basically what happened with this case is an indigenous woman was murdered by her spouse and left behind a 4-year-old baby. And the spouse, because of the court system's lack of everything, ended up with custody of the child while he was also being charged for murder. And then gave custody over to a friend of a friend who was just a totally random person and wasn't within the tribe.

0:49:04.6 S3: This is in Alaska, by the way. So the maternal grandmother would like custody of her granddaughter, but is having to go through the Selawik Tribal Courts to try and get that custody back from, again, a non-tribal white family in Alaska that's refusing to give the baby back. And they don't even have what's called temporary custody of the child. They're just basically glorified babysitters because again, the dad is on trial for murder, and he kind of just passed the baby over before he went to prison. So anyways, she is a small child and she's with people that she does not even know, and the maternal grandmother is perfectly capable of taking care of her. When we got this case, there was no coverage about it. No one knew about it. I think the petition now has like, shoot, I wanna say I know over 60,000 petition signatures, but I wanna say like 70,000. And we raised tens and thousands of dollars for the grandmother. So hopefully when the child is returned, she does have the funds that she needs in order to support a healthy transition for this baby. But yeah, and then this is like we did a whole press thing for the family, and we got People Magazine to cover the story, to just continue to help raise national awareness around what was going on with the family.

0:50:44.1 S3: So yeah, that's Bring Chanel home. I don't think I'm gonna have enough time to do every case. So I'm gonna do the active ones 'cause this one's definitely an active campaign. This is Red Hill crisis, which has been much harder to get people to care about. And I don't know why, because what's happening, what happened to these families on Red Hill, on O'ahu in Hawaii is just horrifying. And I mentioned this is like there was just a decrepit, just extremely old bunker fuel bunker that contained jet fuel owned by the Navy that was just sitting there and just was never maintained and started leaking this jet fuel into the main Aquifer, not only for the surrounding indigenous community, but also even the military families. And so there was one day families came home and their apartments, their town homes smelled like gasoline, and they turned on the water and just every faucet was just horrible. And the children got poisoned, the adults got poisoned.

0:52:14.0 S3: They were not able to work. These are two of the families that I went out there last year in May to meet with them. And so these are two of the families, Noreen and Amanda, who both have children and yeah, Amanda's daughter, she'll just get these spontaneous nosebleeds. Oh, and also speaking your language a little bit, there's very little data on jet fuel poisoning because it happens so rarely. And so doctors are not only sort of unsure on how to diagnose and handle and treat stuff like this, but also because the hospital that they were forced to go to, 'cause these are actually two military families, was a military hospital. They weren't getting properly diagnosed because they didn't want to be culpable. So Amanda's daughter gets these crazy spontaneous nosebleeds. She has migraine, she missed months of school. Noreen's daughter developed this crazy blistering on her face and swelling on her face. And Amanda developed tumors in her brain. That's just at this point now, she's bedridden. When we did this press conference, she was able to move around, but she can't get out of bed.

0:53:40.8 S3: And Noreen has just been so busy taking care of her kids that she hasn't been able to work. So this was a really hard one. And one of the things that we do, that we've done well is build partnerships across different spaces. So we work with a lot of athletes and we work with a lot of entertainers who actually care about these issues. And thankfully for this campaign, I was able to get Kyrie to make a donation to this family. So he made a donation of...

0:54:19.1 S2: Irving, the basketball player?

0:54:20.2 S3: Kyrie Irving.

0:54:21.2 S2: Just as Elijah Muhammad.

0:54:24.5 S3: He paid for four months rent for Noreen and Amanda, and then we gave them an extra $10,000 or $15,000 to be able to help with medical bills and stuff. So he definitely stepped in to support, but this is something that families are still going through. There has been no justice, no one's been held accountable. Amanda had to move her family off the island to get the proper care that she needed on the mainland, and it's just been horrible, and it's something that we are still working on and trying to help with every day. We did again, send that letter to Biden and whatever, and they announced the shutdown, but that has only just begun, and we've been working on this for two years now, almost 2 1/2 years now. So yeah, I'm not gonna have time to go through everything. I think just those two. But yeah.

0:55:30.5 S2: Cool. Thank you.

0:55:35.8 S1: Any questions?

0:55:40.9 S3: The next case? Okay. Okay. So this is justice for native kids. I also do a lot of human and sex trafficking cases, which I don't know how much y'all know about that particular issue, but right now it's a really big issue. And I've been working specifically in Atlanta and San Diego where it's gotten really, really bad. And this was a case where a native girl was basically sex trafficked into Camp Pendleton. You're probably not familiar with that base but she was sex trafficked into Camp Pendleton and her family did not know where she was for weeks and then had seen her on a site. And then investigators were not helping with the case and the family wasn't sure why only to find out that she was on Camp Pendleton and authorities had actually known that.

0:57:01.4 S3: And so when we first got this case the family was like it was very much the beginning. Thankfully we've made progress. The girl was released and she was brought home. The person who she was with was arrested and taken off base. But at this point we're still trying to figure out the impossible. So yeah we're not still sure exactly how that happened but I will say that in cities where human and sex trafficking is getting really bad we've seen schools playing a role, cities playing a role, people within neighborhoods playing a role. It's a very serious problem. So yeah that's just is where native kids... This person is a minor so we didn't release any information about the minor themselves. This is her aunt that was representing her at the press conference that we did.

0:58:29.2 Speaker 5: Do I have to turn it on or it's on. Okay. Thank you for coming in. One of the questions I had about COMMUNITYx as an app is I think a lot of the things you've mentioned have been petitions or donations or stuff like that. Does the app connect people to in-person actions or different community organizing networks where they can directly get involved in their community one and then two is it an app that mainly individuals use to get their cases out or issues out or is it being used by nonprofits community organizing or organizations or other schools for example could use it or who's it being used by?

0:59:26.8 S3: Yeah so there's a... Thank you for the question. There's a user flow for individuals and organizations so you can sign up as either. And then what was the first part of your question?

0:59:38.8 S2: In-person mobilization.

0:59:39.9 S5: In person action.

0:59:40.9 S3: Oh yes. So there's an event CTA as well. So our set right now is events petitions and fundraisers. We're building out a boycott feature which I'm excited about. And yeah we'll continue to build out our feature set in that regard because ultimately we wanna be an end-to-end toolkit for any action. But yes our event feature has... You can RSVP to ground actions and all that stuff so yeah.

1:00:13.4 S6: Hi. Could you tell us a little bit more about creating the different websites for these causes? And also when people donate how much of that goes directly to the people that are donating to the cause? How much do the recipients get from that? Is it like a GoFundMe where they take a percentage out?

1:00:40.6 S3: Yeah. Okay. So as far as the sites, our team internally we build those out for families. And so we work hand in hand with them to get the copyright to make sure the images are right all that stuff. And then for our fundraiser feature basically we built that feature out ourselves as far as the code but we use the Stripe API to process transactions. And so we, basically stripes fees to us get covered but we don't get any profit or anything beyond that. And there's also when a user posts a fundraiser they get that notice that the stripe fees will be deducted but everything else goes to that individual or organization. Yeah there's no profit that we make off of it.

1:01:42.8 S7: Yeah. Thank you for this talk. Oh fantastic. Thank you. This has been very interesting and everything that you're talking about is super important. And I think also super heartbreaking. And I think being so close to these issues I know you described it feels good to be able to work with these people to talk to people to help console families and have this direct action but what do you do if anything to protect yourself and to sort of maintain this sort of level of mental health whenever you're constantly involved in these things that I think are really heartbreaking?

1:02:29.2 S3: Thank you for your question. Girl. I don't know. [laughter] That's why he's laughing because he knows I don't know. But you on it though. That's a great question. I don't do...

1:02:41.8 S2: I'll send you some resources but...

1:02:41.9 S3: Yeah.

1:02:54.9 S2: Yeah. I mean there's a bunch of people who deal with the human rights violations around the globe collecting that information which is incredibly important. If you remember the organization witness it's like they basically deal with people who are documenting these abuses around the globe but the people who are witnessing these violations are themselves going through all types of mental health issues. And so there needs to be some greater connection or if somebody who's like the International Red Cross or Human Rights Watch or Amnesty, they talk about these issues quite frequently. But part of the resiliency I mean taking Chloe as an example just what she was talking about here. Part of her recovery was the joy on thinking about having some issue being brought to light. And so that becomes part of the healing process itself where you realize that you're going through some horrible encounters with some folks but what they want is the thing that you're actually delivering for them.

1:03:43.0 S2: And so you're able to find the resiliency and find your health in that space. And so there's a little bit of discussion about that in various literatures but not nearly enough. And so this is where the every research project that goes to some conflict zone around the globe needs to have built into it some element of mental health. We're not as good with that as we need to be. And definitely following up on the scholars that do that type of work or the activists that are engaging in that work. But it's clearly an issue that some folks have paid attention to.

1:04:17.8 S3: Yeah. And I will say that as far as how we run the company anyone can take a mental health day at any time on our team. I just don't, but people do. And it's not like oh yeah unlimited PTO jk. It's like no you take it. And people do. But yeah.

1:04:50.1 S2: We don't do that here. Although. It's like those of us that do study these horrible things that happen to be at this institution it's more like good luck with that. There's very little and it's funny right? Not funny... Funny in the sad way not funny in a humorous way. It's like I have a list of things that I'm supposed to give to a student that is having these types of issues but other scholars or graduate students that are engaging in similar research it's like I've contacted a couple of these things on behalf of some people and they weren't exactly the most helpful things either. So I'm like I don't know that I would necessarily refer to the list that I'm supposed to give to refer somebody. So I'm like okay but then what am I supposed to do? So not clear. So then it becomes this open conversation between folks. It's like oh remember when you were dealing with that mass rape in Serbia? Okay yes. Well how'd you deal with it? And sometimes just talking about it with these other people has served as a resource I found. But Chloe has her way just not clear yet. So yes.

1:05:54.7 S8: Thanks so much for all of these stories. It's really incredible. I wanna give you permission to just say no to my question but I think about the history of the internet and it kind of reinvents itself every five years. So there was a bunch of great stuff with hypertext and then blogs and then we got some social networks and then they kind of morphed and then we had Vine and then Vine didn't take off but TikTok just reinvented it and it's exactly the same thing but it took off. And so definitely hear you when you say you developed PIN before Instagram and Elon stole your name and I think he should pay you for it. But I also wonder what you think about the role of your app in the space over time.

1:06:40.7 S8: I think it would be great if you just stuck with it and kept doing however many of these issues you can do a year and then move forward with that. And in a lot of ways that's a more human approach to the internet. This is a tool I'm just gonna use it to do some stuff. But what do you think about in terms of scalability or in terms of what if a whole bunch of people come onto your tool and you need to moderate the heck out of everything you're getting. So anything in that that you'd respond to would be great.

1:07:21.0 S3: Well what will I respond to? I think moderation is something we've talked about already so we're aware and my CTO is also we met at Google so he has his own thoughts on how he wants to approach that. I think as far as innovating on what we've already built I can say that I think it's either nuclear energy or AI that will destroy the planet. And I think AI is much more likely because it's so unrestricted and people who are really unqualified to have access to something so powerful have access to it. And so I think that's really dangerous. And from my perspective we don't need to hop on trends just to hop on trends. Everyone across the valley's talking about it now how can we use it? I don't think we need to do all that because that's not what... We're focused on the impact. So yeah there's a lot I could say about that but...

1:08:41.9 S2: I got a quick spin on that. So it's like have any hate groups used your app? They need community too right?

1:08:47.9 S3: No not yet. Okay. Not yet.

1:08:48.0 S2: But they're not restricted. They could use...

1:08:50.4 S3: Well when you sign up they would have to choose the wrong causes. They would have to pretend...

1:08:56.4 S2: So they couldn't lobby you for a cause?

1:09:00.7 S3: Yeah. Oh, well no but they would have to...

1:09:02.3 S2: I mean they could. I mean you might not approve it. Okay. I'm just trying to get how this works. Okay.

1:09:10.5 S3: Yeah no any consumer application on the internet is gonna have to face moderation issues at some point. And my CTO is gonna handle... No I'm just kidding. It's something we take seriously and user safety is something that we take very seriously. And so yeah I think I mentioned we're at 750,000 monthly site visitors now. We have not had any real problems but when it happens we are gonna deal with it in ethical and responsible way.

1:09:53.5 S2: Curious how many cases have you dealt with? So you have users but how many individual... You call this a case right? So how many cases have you had go through the site?

1:10:01.5 S3: So last year we helped almost 15% of the CTAs campaigns that got posted on the platform which ended up being, shoot 75. And yeah.

1:10:32.2 S2: Do you feel like you could do more... Related scalability question?

1:10:34.5 S3: I felt like we could do so more but I was home for two days a month.

1:10:38.1 S2: You need more people. Yeah.

1:10:42.1 S3: Yeah. I was home for two days a month up until October.

1:10:42.2 S2: So maybe that's something that wasn't communicated properly. So initially we discussed the app. Is it something that's out there on the internet that anybody could use?

1:10:52.5 S3: Yeah it is.

1:10:53.8 S2: But you actually travel a great deal to deal with a lot of these cases in person. So there's a hybrid component. Okay.

1:11:05.5 S3: Yeah. No it's got to be. We're not just putting something out on the internet just to do it at all.

1:11:11.7 S4: So you're really important in this because you're going to these places.

1:11:19.1 S3: I think. I don't think... I don't know. I can't answer that question.

1:11:23.6 S4: You had provision...

1:11:26.5 S9: Can you see the other cases? Did you have another...

1:11:37.8 S3: I mean yes I understand if anyone needs to leave but this is another case. It's justice for Damien. Again content warning this took place in a little bit outside of Jackson Mississippi and we got this case from local activists in Mississippi who this is just one of many cases that we're actually working on in that area right now. And the activists there are just having a lot of help building awareness around what's happening as far as excessive police force and brutality and just heavy mass incarceration across Jackson and the neighboring towns. And in this specific case Damien Cameron was murdered by police. This is his family that I'm sitting with. His grandmother his mother, his brother his cousin and two activists that we were working with. Yeah, police they showed up to Mrs. Cameron's home and began pursuing or chasing... Damon was in the house. They came out answered the door.

1:13:10.5 S3: They started chasing him around the home and they just yeah. So we started working on this case at the beginning and it's been two years now and nothing has happened as far... Locally or federally for this case until... Okay so when we did this press conference we got the autopsy report the day before we went to press. And the only reason why we got the autopsy report is 'cause it had been 18 months with them withholding the report. And we came in and they hadn't had anybody 'cause Jackson's really... Not enough people caring about Jackson. So not a lot of outside people come into the community. So once they found out we were coming in to do this press conference they're like okay well we're going to at least just release the autopsy report. So we got that the day before and we actually presented it at the press conference but still no charges have been filed against the police officers and there has just been no accountability.

1:14:40.5 S2: But you were there for them. So to be careful.

1:14:44.4 S3: Yeah.

1:14:44.9 S2: Your own metric of success.

1:14:47.9 S3: Monica who's right here, I talk to her once a week and she's just... She lost her son. So yeah it's just a really tough spot. And getting accountability for this case just continues to be really hard because of everything that's happening politically in Mississippi. I'm not sure how much I'll know about Mississippi but everyone from camp down and then what they're doing to Jackson just last year they basically gave a neighboring predominantly white city Dominion over Jackson so that they were able to basically elect the police chief and other officials for Jackson. So they basically... It's crazy what's happening down there. So we're fighting against multiple things as far as this case. And it's probably just gonna... It's just gonna continue to take time for us to advocate for this family. But yeah that's Damien Cameron.

1:16:05.6 S1: Okay. I think we have time for one more question. I think were you raising your hand over there? What about you, okay.

1:16:16.8 S10: Hi. Thank you for coming in and speaking to us. So I have a question related to when you come into these cases how do you prepare to come in and enter this community? Are you doing research if it's a topic that you're not really that familiar about so you can best impact the community or are you really relying on the community to tell you what they need and just go off that? I'm sure maybe a mix of both but what does it look like if you're preparing to enter into a community and make an impact?

1:16:44.0 S3: Yeah that's the biggest question for me. Every time we get a case is how do we do our best here? And yeah I mean you mentioned a couple of the things. One we always try and have a community partner or when we did Christian was our partner when we were helping with the Rusesabagina case we always try and have a community partner that can inform us beyond what the family is able to tell us or what the affected person's able to tell us. Because these spaces are really tricky and being an outsider when it comes to these things is really hard. So it's a great point. Yeah. One we always try and have a community partner whether it's an org an activist a community leader like Walt and Flo here who helped us with this case. And we'll work together. We'll just have meeting after meeting just talking through different things trying to figure out where the city is politically, what this judge be on, who this police chief is, all the different things.

1:18:02.6 S3: And then we of course talk with the impacted person or family and learn everything that we can from them. Sometimes there's an attorney involved. A lot of times we'll only take cases if there's an attorney involved. If it's an attorney we know, we work a lot with Attorney Crump. The Tyre Nichols case last year. We ran that for him. But anyhow we'll make sure to align with the attorney because that just complicates everything tenfold when there's an attorney involved. And then we'll do media prep with the family just to make sure that they're ready and we kind of go over this is what we're gonna talk about. These are the sensitive case details that we absolutely cannot talk about. If they ask this I'll step in and I'll give a non-response on your behalf be on the same page about everything. And then yeah our team is really great at just making sure that everything runs smoothly and we're able to do our best for the family. So yeah that's what I ask myself every time.

1:19:23.5 S1: Well I just wanna thank you again for coming for sharing all of this for sharing your journey some of these really personal narratives and the inspiration that you've provided us all with. Thank you all for joining us. Thank you Katrina and Angela for organizing all of this stuff for Christian for moderating. And I hope you guys will all join us outside in the lobby for some brief refreshments. Thank you guys.

1:19:45.6 S3: Thank you.