The revolution will be mail merged! The tools for good data management are at our fingertips — but will we choose to use them?
I took a circuitous path to becoming a confident, cape-wearing*, full-time-dedicated data professional. Growing up, I chose crafting, hiking, and imaginative games over the allure of screen time (adolescent reality tv being a notable exception). Little by little, data questions kept luring me in — first out of curiosity, then out of necessity. Sound familiar?
In college, I enrolled in math, computer programming and GIS spatial analysis classes to complement my liberal arts and social science curriculum. I learned that I could use logic and data reasoning to ask important political questions about the world. I designed maps and pursued research about gentrification, food systems and neoliberalism. Afterwards, I took my first job at a sustainable agriculture non-profit and accidentally took on database administration when we newly adopted Salesforce. It turns out that I loved it — and I got hooked.
Now, I am a certified Salesforce System Administrator as well as an advanced Excel user, and I join those skills with more than 10 years of organizing experience for social justice.
About this project:
In the age of Trump, social movements, artists, cultural workers, non-profits, social service agencies, faith groups, neighborhood associations – you name it! – are recruiting volunteers, clients, followers, and more! like never before. With this influx in people comes an influx in data. But we have a big problem on our hands: the data are NOT alright!
The more I meet with activists, teachers and artists in my life, the more I see a need to help people organize information so that they can put more time towards social change and less time wrangling spreadsheets. So I did what any self-respecting millennial would do in this situation… I made a facebook post! And I was stunned by the results. People from all different corners of my life responded with resounding interest in learning data skills. It made me think that the one workshop I was dreaming of was never going to cut it, and so I started fantasizing about a blog.
That’s where The Data Are Alright comes in. I believe that we need to democratize access to simple data tools and tricks, like using Excel, managing email lists, and sorting information into meaningful categories. If we can decrease the time we spend untangling messy spreadsheets, we can put more time where it counts: face to face meetings and making beautiful trouble. Because of lack of women in tech, impostor syndrome, and our own commitment to being leftist “underdogs,” we have let data-phobia and tech-phobia undermine our movements and organizations.
I will focus on simple things anyone can learn to increase data literacy and data confidence. Sometimes, I’ll write about more the sophisticated data solutions that I develop at my job. I’ll blog about Excel, Salesforce, data visualization and, by popular demand, Google Sheets (the tool we all love to hate, and hate to love). Finally, I’ll include posts about my own journey in learning new data skills. My goal is to prioritize empowerment, clarity and practicality – and I’ll also keep the tone light. I can’t wait to hear from you about what you want to see from The Data Are Alright!