Ben Peterson

Health and Human Rights Conference 2010

This weekend on March 5th and 6th, the students of the University of Toronto International Health Program (UTIHP) hosted the Health and Human Rights Conference at the J.J.R. MacLeod Auditorium. Gathering a smorgasbord of scholars, professionals, thought-leaders, and concerned and socially-conscious youth, the HHRights Conference was a two day affair that sought to tackle the crucial but highly problematic issue of international aid and development. Asking hard questions about the current impact of aid, its current flaws, and potential solutions, the event generated truly thought-provoking and insightful discussions and conversations. Some highlights include:

1. Opening performance of "Broken Land - A Song for Haiti" by JC and Karim. I have no idea who these guys are (fellow U of T students, I presume) but what a way to start the conference! A soulful performance with equally riveting lyrics that set the mood for the rest of the evening. Have a listen to the song here...

2. Opening Keynote presented by George Roter Engineers without Borders Co-founder and Co-CEO George Roter kick started the event by sharing his experiences during his time in various African countries, drawing the link between the rather abstract theme of aid and development to its human connection. After all, as he said, the conference is "about these human beings living in extraordinarily challenging conditions who want to see change for the better". With a brief history of the development of aid and highlighting specific thought starters, George set the context for the conference reminding the audience that "we need to go beyond the idea of charity and start thinking about [aid] as opportunity, as partnership".

Read more on blogUT...

Guest Blogging Stint over at Ben's Blog - Social Media for Non-Profits

The potential of social media couldn't be any greater and more valuable than for the non-profit sector, where resources are often scarce and funding is hard to come by. So the question that plagues the minds of thought leaders in the field is “how can we tap into and harness the power of this so-called ’social media’ to help create a real, meaningful, and lasting difference”? It’s a formula that no one has quite yet perfected and one that will undoubtedly take much time to figure out.

Working at Journalists for Human Rights for a few months now, I really feel like we've made real inroads in developing a multifaceted and always evolving social media strategy. Read about the lessons I've learned while treading the unsteady waters of this new phenomenon here on Ben Peterson's non-profit management blog.

gift of rights

I'm about to start interning at jhr (Journalists for Human Rights), an amazing international media development NGO that seeks to mobilize local media in various post-conflict African countries to help raise awareness about human rights and empower marginalized populations to make a change. I thought I'd help spread the word about their latest campaign.

Founder Ben Peterson's birthday is on September 8th and instead of accepting gifts for himself, he's asking friends and fans of jhr to donate $32 for his 32nd birthday. It's an incredible initiative that has really taken off. Launched only a few days ago, jhr has already managed to raise 94% of the$3,200 goal! Every dollar raised helps fifteen more people aware of their rights. Kind of crazy how little it takes to make such a huge help support jhr by clicking here.

I was wondering what kind of strategies jhr used to yield such results and according to Ben's blog, they only "sent out one email, posted one blog, put together a short video request and issued a single tweet asking supporters to donate". Craziness! Always knew the power of social media but I've never actually worked on a campaign that made use of it, which is why I'm so stoked for this internship. Can't wait to play around with social media and discover it's super powers!