Domestic Worker Safety & Dignity Project
In San Francisco, a collective of Latina domestic workers developed a social marketing campaign advocating fair pay and healthier working conditions. The women of La Colectiva not only learned to use non-toxic cleaning products, but also how to represent their own stories in the media. La Colectiva collaborated with academic and advertising partners to:
- design a successful city-wide media campaign,
- increase the visibility and dignity of the immigrant workforce, and
- speak out for social and economic justice.
Project Snapshot: Maria Aguilar
I am María Aguilar and I am from Guatemala. And when I arrived in the United States it was a frightening experience; I had no friends or family around me. But one day, while chatting with one of my friends, we saw an advertisement on a bus with La Colectiva‘s phone number, so we decided to give them a call. La Colectiva has been a refuge for me where I have learned many good things: like how to take care of my health and how to value myself as a woman.
The women gained new pride in their profession as beautiful images of strong and dignified women workers graced a 50-foot-long billboard in the Mission District and appeared on postcards and posters throughout the City. They traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to represent La Colectiva at a United Nations conference on domestic workers.
Domestic workers organizations around the country want to learn from the experience of La Colectiva. They’ve requested green cleaning resources and asked members to speak at public events and conferences. Project outreach was so successful that staff struggled to handle the influx of new jobs.
A new Website helped ease the strain. http://www.lacolectivasf.org provides bilingual hiring information. It highlights the stories of La Colectiva through downloadable campaign materials and an online gallery of images, videos and audio stories. It educates by offering links to green cleaning resources and it advocates for social justice by posting the draft California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights along with ways to take action on behalf of the Bill.
Don’t just tell a story about your project, provide the opportunity for project members tell their own story and see their own images reflected in the community. Empower project members through media making and media literacy training. Use media to stretch your thinking beyond typical approaches. Use social media to reach allies and involve them in your story.
Empower immigrants to lead by providing the training and skills necessary for full participation in the project. Support the emergence of leaders by encouraging them to take risks, be active and state their opinions. Develop respectful relationships. Make sure that everyone can attend project meetings by offering food, childcare and creating an atmosphere for collaboration.
Running a perception-changing campaign on a shoestring budget is really tough. It takes time, money and know-how to create a successful project. Staff time and in-kind contributions for this project increased by 50-150% over what was budgeted. Scale projects to match resources. Build in evaluation from the start so you can measure results in the end.
Creating and maintaining partnerships often takes more time than expected. Although more partners might bring more resources to the project, carefully consider how much time you have to manage partnerships.
Begin with the end in mind by clearly outlining specific goals. Direct project activities towards achievement of planned goals. Be flexible enough to adjust plans and goals as new opportunities arise.
Dream big. Create a campaign that will continue to influence the way your organization works once the project is over. Make networking a priority so that other organizations can learn from your efforts. Design a project that creates momentum for change at the local, state, national and international level. Become an excellent example of how to frame a message and create materials that position you, your organization and your constituents as community leaders.
Watch and Listen
New Research & Recommendations
This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.