The Global Switchboard is pleased to announce the first edition of its monthly Newsletter! This long-awaited project is one of many incremental steps in improving our communication internally and externally. It is a platform for telling our story and spreading the word about our accessibility and abilities. And it’s shared beyond our walls, to people who care about this initiative to make Pittsburgh more global. To fully appreciate the message and goals behind the Newsletter, Switchboard Project Manager and Amizade Project Director Nathan Darity brings us back to the Switchboard’s origins.
Where did the idea of The Global Switchboard come from?
The motivation for this project was and is increased visibility and belief in the power of collaboration. Nathan says, “There is a long-standing understanding among internationally focused organizations in Pittsburgh that we do our work invisibly–and we wanted to become more visible. Creating a critical mass would help us advocate and attract more funding for the important work that we do.” He adds that such organizations often find themselves working in collaboration anyway, as they often lack the individual resources to tackle larger projects.
“For years,” Nathan says, “there was discussion of a hub that unified the globally focused organizations in the city.” Ideas of launching a new organization or creating an association floated about, but nothing took. Amizade eventually decided to help facilitate the creation of The Global Switchboard in order to make it happen. They met with many organizations in the planning process, and thus shaped the Switchboard in a collaborative, democratic way that backed the message behind the initiative.
Amizade, formally located Downtown, did an extensive search for the global hub’s new home. “After searching out different options, we turned to Lawrenceville,” recounts Nathan. “Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation met us with open arms, and helped us to beautify the area around the current office and create our sign. There was phenomenal local support.” To get the Switchboard up and running, Amizade needed to partner with an anchoring organization.
Global Solutions Pittsburgh, a fellow non-profit that has been providing nonpartisan, internationally-focused education to schools and communities throughout western Pennsylvania for more than 60 years, turned out to be that needed anchor. Once they signed the lease with Amizade for the new hub space, the global ball really got rolling.
“When we launched, we had more groups than we ever imagined we would,” Nathan remarks.
The Global Switchboard is currently operating at near full capacity with 11 member organizations. However, the element of engagement within the Switchboard network goes beyond sharing space. Over the next few months, the Switchboard will continue to develop its programmatic core with the help of the new Switchboard Intern, Jocelyn Inlay.
As a platform for collective action, The Global Switchboard will continue its efforts towards taking on bigger global advocacy, wielding collective resources to take on larger development projects, and contributing to a global citizenship ethic with the empathy required to live an a just and equitable world.