Civic News
Apps / Communities / Events / Politics

We are defined by our communities: tech organizer Ian Patrick Hines

Formerly a product expert at community-organizing platform NationBuilder, Hines is now helping digital causes on a freelance basis. His message at this week's Refresh Baltimore: "You won't change the world by tweeting at people."

Ian Patrick Hines at Refresh Baltimore. (Photo by Keisha Reed)

In the short span of his career, Ian Patrick Hines has had the experience of transitioning through different communities. A fourth-generation Marylander, he has worked as a 5th grade teacher, a neighborhood liaison under Mayor Sheila Dixon’s administration and the communications director for the Maryland Department of Human Resources.
But in 2012, he left that all behind.
He moved to Los Angeles and joined NationBuilder. NationBuilder is a software platform that allows an organization and its customer base to communicate more easily. Hines helped contribute to the first documentation on the platform.
At Refresh Baltimore this week Hines delivered a talk called, “Communities Can Do Anything.” It focused on building real communities of people — rather than just “converting users.”
Here’s his process:
1. We are defined by our communities:

  • They shape our identities (much like an organization’s brand)
  • They shape our realities (“Facebook is who you know, Twitter is who you WANT to know”)
  • They shape our destinies (think Barbara Mikulski’s early activism, with her revolt against a proposed 16-lane highway through Baltimore city)

2. It’s important to know the anatomy of our communities:

  • Non-supporters: People will not always agree with your cause or movement but it is important to define who they are.
  • Prospects: These are the interested, committed people that are important to have in your corner.
  • Over time, prospects become supporters and later recruiters who will spread your message through their network.

3. We want to build strong communities:

  • Set clear goals and ask people for help. Hines stressed that measuring and reporting progress is not only important but thanking the community for helping spread your message is vital.

Community building is not only about content and metrics, he said; it’s about humanizing the process. “You have to engage people offline as well,” said Hines. “You won’t change the world by tweeting at people.”
Hines is currently a freelance Certified NationBuilder Expert & Architect who works with community organizers and organizations to help them reach their digital goals.


Knowledge is power!

Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.


WeWork approached physical space as if it were virtual — which led to the company’s downfall

The Tech Behind: How Baltimore's Washington Monument gets lit every winter holiday

Download the inaugural State of the Baltimore Tech Economy Report

Baltimore, let’s celebrate: You picked these 5 winners for your 2023 Awards

Technically Media