Ben Greenberg

Developer Advocate


Ben is a second career developer who previously spent a decade in the fields of adult education, community organizing, and non-profit management.

He works as a developer advocate for Vonage by day and experiments with open source projects at night. He writes regularly on the intersection of community development and tech. Originally from Southern California and a long time resident of New York City, Ben now resides near Tel Aviv, Israel.

Roots for Advocates: Applying Community Organizing Principles to Developer Relations

“Community organizing is the work of societal transformation through key strategic principles and actions. It has through the decades given a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. We will explore the foundational principles and ideas of organizing and apply them to developer relations.

Saul Alinsky, who is considered to be the father of community organizing in the States, once described in an interview how he began his work in a new community:

“The first thing you’ve got to do in a community is listen, not talk, and learn to eat, sleep, breathe only one thing: the problems and aspirations of the community. Because no matter how imaginative your tactics, how shrewd your strategy, you’re doomed before you even start if you don’t win the trust and respect of the people; and the only way to get that is for you to trust and respect them. And without that respect there’s no communication, no mutual confidence and no action. That’s the first lesson any good organizer has to learn, and I learned it…”

The field of community organizing is the collection of strategies, principles, tactics and best practices to achieve the “trust and respect” of the people you work with and the people you serve. Throughout the decades community organizers have achieved significant social change in places around the world, and they continue to do so on every level of society.

Developer Relations can learn a lot from community organizing. In this talk we will walk through the following two foundational principles of the discipline:

* Power: Identifying it, mapping it, and building it
* Self-interest: What is it and how do we discover it?

After we have identified power and self-interest, we will then detail how to go about the essential tool in the organizer toolbelt, the 1-to-1 conversation. There are specific approaches to creating an impactful 1-to-1, and strategies to how to build after the conversation has concluded. We will discuss those strategies and approaches and apply them to our field of developer relations.”


Twitter: rabbigreenberg

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