Friday, February 26, 2010

Interview with Maya Worman on Our Border

The Department of Homeland Security recently launched a new social networking site called Our Border. Maya Worman of DHS kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the site.

What is Our Border?

Our Border,, is a social network maintained by the Dept. of Homeland Security that promotes direct communication and collaboration among its members by highlighting issues, ideas, and events relating to the Department's mission.

What is the goal of Our Border?

It is a meeting place for those interested in following issues, as well as those that are already active leaders in the issues discussed on Our Border. Members of Our Border can initiate or strengthen relationships within the issue areas of their choosing, collaborate with partners thousands of miles away, raise overall awareness and generate support for local efforts and events. The goal is simple: come to Our Border--talk about what you are working on, learn from your new partners, and share what works.

Who contributes to the site?

The membership is growing by word of mouth and direct invitations from content facilitators and current members to an international network of individuals, academic professionals, local and regional officials, decision leaders, emerging advocates and municipal governments--any person interested in preventing, interrupting or stopping human trafficking, or interested in learning the facts about the issue--is welcome to join.

What is your role in relation to Our Border?

I am a member of a group of DHS employees looking to develop and expand how the Department communicates with the public--through the utilization of social networks, face-to-face community meetings, and the information we make available on our main web site, The federal government is committed to providing direct lines of communication about issues that affect us all, especially when resolutions require community engagement. Our Border is one of those direct lines.

How does Our Border relate to human trafficking?

Our Border is the host for the human trafficking group. By including human trafficking outreach and coalition building in Our Border, growing networks focused on advocacy in other areas--bi-lateral cooperation, commerce, travel and trade facilitation, etc.--have access to information and discussions about human trafficking that they may not have direct exposure to otherwise.

How can people get involved/can it be used to help fight human trafficking?

Joining the site is the first step. Join Our Border and then join the Human Trafficking group within Our Border. Encourage your friends to do the same to stay updated on what is happening in the realm of human trafficking. Advocates can use the site as an additional way to communicate, promote events, grow awareness, or share ideas. The site can be used as a repository for what is happening at the community level, and as a way to build coalitions with individuals, groups and federal law enforcement partners.

What tools are available on the site?

The site is similar to other social networking applications. The content is populated and utilized by the resourcefulness of its members. Discussion forums, picture and video sharing, direct communication, document storage, etc. are a few of the standard site tools.

What do you hope the site will accomplish?

We hope the site will be a valuable resource for its members. We hope that members will log on to find out what is happening in communities like their own, learning best practices or new ideas for combating a colossal problem. We hope that advocates will utilize this tool to connect with the public and explore the partnerships that Our Border has facilitated. We hope that students and emerging advocates find authoritative facts to share with their friends, schools, community groups, and that soon people on the street aren't surprised to learn about the millions of adults and children, at any given time, held against their will in forced labor and sexual servitude.

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