Tuesday, January 31, 2012

IMLS Strategic Plan, 2012 – 2016: Creating a Nation of Learners

Last month IMLS released the IMLS Strategic Plan, 2012 – 2016: Creating a Nation of Learners. Recently I had the opportunity to sit with director Susan Hildreth and discuss how she sees the plan shaping the future of IMLS and the nation’s museums. Here are some nuggets gleaned from that extensive interview.

On changes in IMLS’ focus embodied in the plan

Our performance improvement model is the most significant difference.  We have asked projects for a number of years to develop outcome or output measures, but we haven’t looked broadly at all of our investments—our grant projects—to see what’s really working. Now we will look at how the investments we’ve made are working and use that knowledge to shape the framework of projects that we support in the future. The performance improvement model hopefully will make our investments more meaningful and show our funders that we’re really making an impact.

On the effect the plan may have on museums in 20 years

I think the strategic plan will help move museums into a place in their communities and also on the federal landscape where they’re seen as critical elements. We know that, on the ground, museums are the heart of the community. But at the federal level we have to be able to make the case that museums are integral to the educational ecosystem of a community.

On how the educational system in the U.S. might be changing

IMLS continues to support the evolution of education from a static model—one in which we’re presenting information that the student is supposed to be taking in—to an environment where students are becoming more adept at their own creativity, their own questioning, their own learning path, developing critical thinking skills and forming a relationship with the subject matter, their teacher, with student peers.

On how museums of the future might need to be different in order to meet the needs of their communities

Museums and libraries for many years were seen as repositories for information, for content, for objects, for paintings, and as places to go and experience things in a very non-interactive way. Now we’re in a world where it’s much more about your own experience of the information, the object or the art. I think the staff in museums has to be ready and willing to accept the role of facilitator of the individual or visitor experience. In a way, it’s giving something up—you don’t control the experience anymore. You try to make it useful and helpful but also flexible so that the visitor can really get what they want out of the experience not what you want them to have. It’s being willing to really walk in the visitor’s shoes and create experiences that are meaningful to them and allow them the opportunity to develop their own understanding and their own skills.

On potential collaborations between museums and libraries

It would be interesting if a museum and a library worked together to determine a couple of collections where the museum had a lot of visual content and the library had a lot of print content that they can bring that together virtually so people would get it all in one place. It would be really powerful! People just want to know about a subject, they don’t necessarily want to say, “Well, I have to go to this museum or that library.” How great would it be to have a library with a special local collection about an author or an event, and then for the museum down the street to have pictures and all kinds of information about that same subject? Why couldn’t we mash it all up so somebody would just find out all there is to know about that theme? Doing that virtually would only encourage someone to pursue their interest at the library or the museum.

On rethinking museums’ relationship to and investment in their buildings

I think in order for a museum to really be successful and relevant to its community, it’s got to engage with young people who can begin at an early age to understand what an exciting experience museum-going is—how it enriches their life and what they can learn from being in and experiencing a museum. I know it’s very difficult to afford the buses and the insurance to get kids to museums. Are museums anticipating that ultimately they may have to take materials out from within the confines of a building into the community? That goes on already—museums have traveling shows and exhibits. etc., and many museums are already light years in thinking ahead about that, but it’s something that museums as a whole have to face.

I think it is important for museums to look at their physical assets and how they will use those assets in the next 10 to 20 years. Museums and libraries represent a huge investment in built infrastructure in our communities. If the interest in the museum itself was completely lost, that physical structure could either fall into decay or into the hands of, say, a night club or a big events space—something social but non-cultural. On the other hand, museums could take advantage of their physical assets even if they don’t necessarily have as many visitors or enough support for all their exhibits and collections. What could museums do with their physical asset to make it more of a community convening place? In the long run, they might have to give up some of the space they are using now for the collection. I am strongly suggesting that museum staff be very proactive about thinking how can we use our buildings to become part of our community so we don’t end up in a situation where, if they’re membership goes down or if funding falters, they don’t have a Plan B, and find themselves taken over by some other commercial entity.

On how people view digital assets versus real experiences

There may be individuals who say “I want to go to the Museum of Modern Art. I want to see that stuff face-to-face. I want to have that experience.” But I also think that having material from the museum available digitally could really whet someone’s appetite. I would say it’s not “either/or.” It’s like when people say “There are eBooks. Why do you need a library?” You can have eBooks and you can have a library because in a purely one-dimensional virtual world you’re never going to get kind of added value or curation. Ultimately, there’s really nothing like the real thing.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Drawn Together: Drawing Club convenes at AAM Annual Meeting

Scott Stulen is the project director for mnartists.org, one of the programmers of the Walker Open Field Program, creators of Drawing Club and a visual artist. Here he gives us a sneak peek of something to look forward to at the AAM Annual Meeting in Minneapolis Saint Paul, April 29–May 2. 

The creative process can be a private, solitary experience. Socializing within the art community can be an equally alienating activity, comprised of tedious networking at art openings and other awkward formal encounters.  In response to these challenges, mnartists.org, a project of the Walker Art Center, developed Drawing Club. The intent of Drawing Club is to use the simple act of drawing as a connective social platform for sharing and collaboration. Each week throughout the past two summers Drawing Club invites artists and the public to gather under the trees of Walker Open Field. Picnic tables are converted into outdoor drawing stations, outfitted with a generous array of art supplies. Atop the head table lays a working pool of drawings from prior weeks alongside fresh sheets of paper. Each participant is invited to either start a new drawing or choose a piece in progress from the pool to alter, edit and amend. Subject matter and materials are open; the only rule is that every drawing must contain the contributions of at least two people before it can be declared complete. The finished works are collected, documented and uploaded to the Web. While many wonderful drawings are produced, the intent of Drawing Club is to create a comfortable space for artists and non-artists alike to socialize and connect. It is in many ways the backyard bbq or local pub of Open Field—a balanced mix of regulars and new faces making work and hanging out.

The Drawing Club program is overwhelmingly popular attracting local artists and museum patrons, families and tourists. The scalability, openness and simplicity of the program make it an ideal model for recurring platforms. For instance, on busy family day Saturdays, every table is activated with paper and pencils, while the activity can condense to one station on the occasional cold and windy Thursday evening. Another contributing factor to Drawing Club’s sustained success is its roots within the local artist community. The program originated from and is managed by mnartists.org, a division of the Walker that supports the local artist community. Drawing’s Club’s weekly hosts are mnartists.org staff, who themselves are practicing artists. These rooted connections provide validity and comfort for established artists, while the format and anonymity of the process allow for participants of all levels to lose their inhibitions and participate without fear of exposing any artistic shortcomings. In a very simple way Drawing Club embodies one of the core principles of Walker Open Field program by converging the institution, artists and the public at the same picnic table.

Drawing Club at AAM

Drawing Club is bringing social art making to the AAM Annual Meeting this spring. Join fellow conference attendees and Minnesota artists in creative collaboration as part of the MuseumExpo™. Socialize; sketch, converse, debate and most of all enjoy yourself. The Drawing Club Lounge will be a perfect site to spend a few minutes or perhaps a couple hours, meet up with colleagues or just pass time between sessions. Drawing Club facilitators and host artists will be on hand to interact with participants and lead discussions. We are also working on some surprises for this special edition of Drawing Club at AAM which we will announce closer to the event.  Drawings will keep evolving during the conference so you can check back on how your contributions were integrated by other artists or view the completed drawings on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. No appointments, materials or talent is required to participate. Hope to see you across the drawing table in late April. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Horizon Report: Museum Edition

For this week’s suggested reading we bring you the Horizon Report: Museum Edition. Released at the MCN Conference this past November, this report examines emerging technologies for museum education and interpretation. I encourage everyone to take a moment to read at least the executive summary for this year’s report, it’s an accessible overview of how museums are currently, and can in the future, use these technologies.

What is perhaps most gratifying in reading these trends is seeing how many have been popping up in the blog over the past year. You just need to read Perian Sully’s post on the Balboa Park Online Collaborative’s new image uploader and Elissa Frankle’s post on Citizen History at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to get a sense of how some museums are using these technologies.

Take a moment to compare the top six to watch over the next five years to what was suggested in last year’s report.

2010 Horizon Report
2011 Horizon Report
Near-term horizon (within the next 12 months)
Mobile Apps

Social Media
Mid-term horizon (two to three years out)
Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality

Location-based Services
Electronic Publishing
Far-term horizon (four to five years out)
Gesture-based Computing
Digital Preservation

The Semantic Web
Smart Objects

It’s interesting to see how technology trends for museums, have shifted and what has come up on top. Mobiles and mobile apps are so closely connected, though now with all the abilities in location awareness (think about programs like Google Latitude where you can track the location of your friends at any moment), museums are able to tailor apps to visitor-specific locations. The Horizon Report uses the Balboa Park’s Mobile Apps and the National September 11th Memorial and Museum as examples of institutions that have begun to take advantage of the possibilities.

Another piece that intrigued me was the shift in the top “significant challenge” facing museums in adopting these technologies.

Far too few museums are crafting a following a comprehensive strategy to ensure that they can keep pace with even the most proven technologies.
Content production has failed to keep up with technology in an era when audiences expect to consume information whenever and wherever they want.
It appears that in 2011 it became more about the visitor than specifically about the museum.

My questions to you, readers:
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the top six technologies to watch over the next five years? What do you think is going to show up in 2012? And finally, do you think that the advisory board chose the correct top challenge facing museums?

-Guzel duChateau, CFM Program Coordinator

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Innovation Ignites: Announcing the 2012 Lab Museums

Cue fanfare! I am so happy to share with you the names of the museums that have been selected to participate in the inaugural round of Innovation Lab for Museums. AAM is bringing Innovation Lab to the museum field through a partnership between the Center for the Future of Museums and EmcArts, generously funded by a $500,000 grant from MetLife Foundation. I will use this post to introduce you to the three funded projects, as well as six others recognized by the panel for their excellence. 

However, I want to start by sharing some of my observations from studying all thirty-one applications to the Lab, and listening to the deliberations of the selection panel. Here are a few things leapt that out at me:
  • It seems that the biggest barrier to museum innovation isn’t financial, or logistic, or any lack of creative ideas: it is our own internal culture. Many of the applications said, in one way or another, “we have to find a way to break through existing mindsets, break down barriers between departmental silos. We have to give people an incentive to change, and get them on board.” There seemed to be a tendency for the proposals to originate in the education departments of the applicants, and often the source of resistance to change was identified as curatorial. Take that as you will.
  • Many museums either don’t know, or take for granted, their own histories of innovation and experimentation. Our knowledgeable, experienced selection panelists (who are listed in the press release) often seemed to know more about what the applicants had done in the past than was reflected in the narrative of the proposals. Did the applicants not know or not appreciate their own track records of creativity?  As we well know, those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it. Even worse, (if they forget their successes) maybe they won’t repeat it.
  • Maybe caution and innovation are antithetical. Several interesting projects were set aside by the panel as being too timid, too small to effect real change in the organizational culture. Innovation = risk = willingness to fail. And we, as a field, don’t have a culture of being supportive of failure. Sure it is nice to hear about successes, but wouldn’t you like to avoid the mistakes others have made, as well? I think AAM need to find a way to celebrate great failures. I’m open to suggestions.  

It was a struggle for our selection panel to choose among many highly qualified projects, but I am pleased to tell you that the three projects chosen by MetLife Foundation for funding, based on the panel’s recommendations, are:

The Levine Museum of the New South, for their project The Latino New South, which addresses how history museums can play a role in integrating Latino immigrants into community life. The Levine wants to develop a model that can be used in other parts of the country.

The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art for the project Beyond Museum Quality, which asks, how do we move our organizations from overvaluing accuracy and undervaluing populist perspectives to one that values both equally? What does this shift mean for the role of the curator? As the proposal notes, “Art museums in particular, are struggling with moving beyond bursts of participatory acts, to an institutional goal of engagement that values visitor participation as an essential part of the museum experience.”

And the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts project Youth Arts: Present/Future will establish a new approach and pathway for youth education, one which goes beyond merely making art to enable young people to become  “creative thinkers” and “social changemakers.”

Faced with so many worthy projects, the selection panel recommended that AAM recognize an additional six proposals as “Innovation Projects of Excellence”. These are:
  • Tucson Museum of Art: The Museum as Sanctuary: Expanding Museum Communities with Programming for Refugee Populations

It’s AAM’s hope that these projects may still be implemented in some form, even if that has to be outside the Lab format, and I look forward to telling you more them in future posts!

Watch this Blog, Dispatches from the Future of Museums and AAM’s Aviso for announcements regarding future rounds of Innovation Lab for Museums.

Go forth and innovate…

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Questioning Assumptions: Museums in the 21st Century

I hope you have been following my posts on the Forecast of the Future of Museum Ethics being conducted by CFM and the Institute for Museum Ethics at Seton Hall University. CFM and IME staff are compiling the (copious) input provide by our Oracles and over one hundred public participants. While we wrestle this into a report for Oracular review and subsequent release, I want to share these thoughts from one of our Oracles, Fred Stielow, VP and Dean of Libraries, Course Materials and e-Press at the American Public University System (APUS). Fred recently shot us some observations from his Blackberry while flying at 30,000 feet, pushing us to question our deeper assumptions and (re)start from a radically revised understanding of “museum” in the 21st century.

AAM is currently attempting to forecast some 25 years into the future. The questions in the forecast are rooted in the defining National Standards and Best Practices for U.S. Museums. My experience with the forecast to date reflects a solid exercise. The questions are appropriately phrased and the Likert scaling fits. 

Yet, something is also off-kilter—or at least for someone like me who operates virtual information systems within a fully online university. I think the forecast reflects a vision still rooted in the 19th century. In that century,  nationalistic forces (aided by an emerging mass press) enabled new social spaces for public "culture," edification and education. The idea of "museum" was soon split into independent archival, library and museum institutions.

Those creations still exist, but the underlying model and the justifications for it are changing. First-World countries no longer have the same burning need to establish and underwrite their legitimacy through public educational institutions. Equally important, we have entered a communications revolution on par with the introduction of print. The Web is not just another technological tool. It is immersive and all-encompassing. 

To project the future without an (alternate) starting point in the virtual realm simply seems questionable. The assumptions certainly are different if you start there. Applications on the Web are tantamount to publishing. They raise separate sets of ethical questions in terms of access, but also crucial economic and identity matters with ethical implications. 

The triumphal rise of Web 2.0 is similarly hard to ignore. The Web's Long Tail and community-building functions proffer a far different concept of membership than spatially-defined quarters with local identifications. 

On the Information Highway, comfortable walls between archives, libraries and museums vanish. Cultural institutions and massive projects that unite many institutions, like Europeana. There the drive is widespread digitizing and Open Access in the hopes of fostering a new Renaissance. Yet, such altruism can mask a myriad of ethical and identity issues--as well as economic opportunities. Such impacts may also merit review.

The wonk in me cries out for considerations of a near future with augmented reality. Ubiquitous computing is also on the horizon. Everything around you can become a source of interactive information and personalized for the receiver. And all of this has ethical implications.

In sum, I find the present survey adequate for what it is; however, the view from 30,000 feet suggests something more to truly address the future.

Do you have a 30,000 foot view of the future you would like to share with readers? Email me at futureofmuseums@aam-us.org to pitch your idea for a guest post on the blog, and comment on Fred’s vision below. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Advocacy Day 2027: museums fight to regain nonprofit status

I looked across the table at the poised young woman politely scanning the figures I had pulled up on the airscreen between us. “Ms. Guerrera,” I said, palms sweating, “as you can see, in the ten years since the Federal Government withdrew tax exempt status from museums, the number of museums in America has been reduced by half. Half! The 2015 National Museum Census identified 26,000 museums serving their communities across the country—the latest census found fewer than 13,000. That means 13,000 museums closed in the past decade—putting almost 100,000 people out of work, reducing the number of school visits by 20 million! Not to mention the scientific, historic and artistic heritage that has been lost to the public.”

I straightened up in my seat, looking her confidently in the eye (as I’d practiced in my training session earlier that day.) “I’m here to ask Senator Prahada to vote “yes” on the American Culture and Education Bill, restoring tax-exempt status to any museum that can demonstrate sufficient public value, while meeting the other requirements for 501(c)3 status.”

“But how would they demonstrate ‘sufficient value’?” asked Ms. Guerrera, shrewdly. “As you know, the number of institutions receiving tax-exempt status was sharply reduced in order to help balance the federal budget. Museums are nice—I like them myself! But they aren’t essential services. The hospitals kept their status by documenting the number of patient nights they provide the public. Schools report on student achievement and graduation rates. What impact do museums have?”

“I’m glad you asked,” I said with a broad smile, waving at the airscreen to bring up my next graphic. “Let me walk you quickly through the report just released by the American Association of Museums summarizing the research over the past twenty years that shows how museums contribute to educational achievement, health, the economy and quality of life in the U.S.”

I could see I had her attention…


Think this little scenario of the future is far-fetched? With government at all levels desperately seeking new income sources, museums are being cast as “luxuries” or “amenities” rather than essential public goods. Consider these troubling indicators from just this past year:

  • Thousands of charities, including museums, lost their tax-exempt status when the IRS cleaned house, scouring their records for organizations that had failed to keep up with the requisite paperwork.
  • An increasing number of cities instituted or raised the levels of Payments in Lieu of Taxes, essentially charging museums for city services such as water, sewer, and security. The Boston PILOT Taskforce considered a payment that would assign a fee to the city’s museums based on a fixed rate multiplied by the number of museum visitors. Clearly that formula treated museum visitation as a cost, not a benefit, to the community!
  • New Orleans’ city consultant recommended abolishing tax-exempt status for museums. The legislation currently being considered would settle for requiring a nonprofit (including museums) to prove it “relieves the government of a burden or provides important public benefits.” 

How can forecasting help prevent having to make the argument my fictional future self is struggling with in 2027?

Step one, spot the early signals that identify the forces—political, cultural, economic—that will shape legislative policy, and imagine where they might lead us. We take museums’ nonprofit status for granted, right now, but scanning the news shows us that assumptions could easily be overturned.

Step two, identify what we can do in the present to avert dark futures, like that sketched above, and take us on a brighter path.

Here is the important step you can take right now:

Register for Museums Advocacy Day, and join hundreds of colleagues from across the country in Washington on February 27 and 28. The training and networking provided will help you to be an effective advocate for your museum and museums in general on a local, state and national level, and you will have the opportunity to take your message directly to your elected national representatives.

And if you are interested in delving more deeply into the political future of museums, join me at the workshop I will be leading on the morning of Monday, February 27, Forecasting the Future of Policy. I would love your help in exploring the trends and events shaping the national attitude towards museums, and discovering how this can shape what we do now.

Let’s make sure when your museum’s staff attends Museums Advocacy Day in 2027, they have a happier conversation than I have in my dark scenario above.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Museum Food Services: Serving up our Missions and Eating our Words

What do visitors eat, when they come to your museum, and what messages do they take away from the experience?

We’ve devoted many posts on this blog, over the past year, to celebrating how museums can help their communities improve their health through an exploration of food and healthy eating. And We’ve spent many column inches documenting how museums are tackling issues of conservation and green design. How can we embody our mission and values in those parts of our operations devoted to actually feeding our visitors?

This is one of the themes we will explore in our free webcast “Feeding the Spirit: Museums, Food & Community” on February 17.

Thought leader Elizabeth Meltz, director of food safety and sustainability, Batali/Bastianich Hospitality Group will join us to explore how museums can integrate green design into the way they operate their food services. She’ll help us think about choosing what we serve, how we serve it and how to bring food service staff on board with these changes.

At many museums, this involves working closely with a food service contractor. In this video Chazz Alberti, national director for culinary development, Leisure Division, Sodexo, interviewed by AAM’s Susan Breitkopf, talks about the potential for making the dining room into the “fourth wall” of the museum and integrating it into museum design and mission delivery.

Chazz challenges us to consider: how can museums think about reducing the carbon intensity (carbon foodprint?) and water use of the food we choose to serve? How do we communicate to the visitor what choices we are making, and why? As Chazz points out, “wellness starts at the end of a fork, not at the top of a medicine cabinet,” and museums are in a good position to distribute “prescriptions for health” through their food services.

Register for the webcast now to ensure you receive the fabulous pre-webinar material! We encourage you to host a potluck at your museum and participate in the webinar as a group, using it as a jumping off point to explore how your museum can help improve food literacy, incorporate mission-related values into your food service and use food to reach new audiences.

This webcast incorporates content presented at the “Feeding the Spirit” symposium hosted at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Penn. on October 13, 2011. Feeding the Spirit, the symposium and webcast, is the result of collaboration between AAM’s Center for the Future of Museums, the Association of Children’s Museums, the American Public Gardens Association, Phipps Conservatory and Public Garden and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, with the generous support of presenting sponsor UPMC Health Plan and Sodexo. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It’s Up 2 You!

The best way to get your message out is through whatever format your audience is already attuned to. This is not always (big shock) a 200 word exhibit text panel. The most effective medium might be video, a blog, a game, or a graphic novel. This week’s guest blog is by Lisa Falk, director of education at the Arizona State Museum (ASM), University of Arizona, in Tucson, where she is the lead curator and project director for the Through the Eyes of the Eagle: Illustrating Healthy Living installation at ASM and project director and co-writer of the museum’s new comic book It’s Up 2 You!

The Arizona State Museum (ASM) is tackling a very hard assignment: how to talk to teenagers about obesity.

Nearly one-third of adults and children in the United States are overweight or obese and that rate is nearly double among American Indians/Alaskan Natives. Half of Native American children born today will develop type 2 diabetes, and the death rate for Native Americans with diabetes is three times higher than the general U.S. population. At ASM we look for opportunities to connect to contemporary issues, providing perspective, engagement and a safe haven for community members to learn about and reflect on how these issues affect their lives. The epidemic of obesity and attendant health problems afflicting our Native American community is not something we can ignore.

So we wrote a comic book.

This project grew out of Through the Eyes of the Eagle: Illustrating Healthy Living, an exhibit based on a children’s book series of the same name, which deals with diet, physical activity, history and culture with an emphasis on the Native American experience.

But we didn’t want this to be just an exhibit of flat art aimed at young children, so we developed a variety of exhibit elements, programs and activities that broaden the audience and localize the focus of the story. One great spin off is a comic book with messages similar to the original Eagle books but aimed at teens and with more of a Sonoran Desert look to the illustrations. Local Native American educator and artist Ryan Huna Smith worked with me to create the book with funding from the Kresge Foundation. Support from the John and Sophie Ottens Foundation enabled us to develop the PDF comic book into an interactive website and mobile app.

Ryan and I struggled with how to make the comic’s message interesting to youth, especially Native American and Latino youth, two groups hard hit by diabetes. We met with groups of teens to develop our storyline and figure out what information about diabetes and prevention to include. It turns out the teens didn’t know much about diabetes, but they knew what they liked and did not like. They did like Ryan’s Amerimanga/Japanimation style of drawing. But: no talking animals, no glossing over the hard stuff, and no black and white on the issues. They wanted reality, grey area, and to see themselves in the characters. We invited them to create their own comic strips dealing with healthy living and from this came the idea for the comic’s Scrooge-like dream sequence showing the horrors of diabetes and the joys of healthy living based in Native American traditions. The teens also helped generate the title, “It’s Up 2 You!”, expressing the story’s “big” message.

Making the comic accurate and effective, as well as attractive to the teens, required a lot of expert partners. Agnes Attakai at the UA College of Public Health helped to ensure the story reflected the right messages. Alicia Eller of the American Diabetes Association of Southern Arizona helped assemble facts and myths about diabetes and questions for a healthy challenge game in the digital versions. The Ha:san Preparatory and Leadership School recorded youth and elders speaking the parts of the characters Samantha, Brandon, Tom├ís and an elder in Tohono O’odham, Spanish and English for the digital version.

With funding and encouragement from Pima County Health Department’s (PCHD) Communities Putting Prevention to Work project, we distributed 5,000 copies of It’s Up 2 You! at our multi-cultural health fair A Healthy Celebration and to local Native and Latino organizations and schools. The comic is hosted on PCHD’s new family-oriented website HealthyPima.org and available as a free mobile app on iTunes. The Web version is available as a free download to be added to any website. A traveling exhibit of the comic is also available.

What’s the “big message” of this project for the readers of this blog? When it comes to your personal health or that of your community or your museum—It’s up to you. Will your museum choose to be a community game changer? If so, what’s the right message, what’s the right medium, and what partners do you need to make a difference in the world?