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by Jay Fienberg

PlaNetwork conference,'s Joan Blades, part 1

posted: Jun 7, 2003 12:53:56 PM

Blogging the PlaNetwork conference in San Francisco.

Joan Blades is talking. She is reading a letter imagining a look back from 2012, remarking what a tough couple years we had in 2003 and 2004. At that time, people came together and collaborated to turn the tide to get beyond inside politics and deal with issues. The Internet became a tool for grassroots activism. doubled its number of participants.

She is continuing listening causes like Sierra Club and Common Cause using the Internet to mobilize people. (This is still from the imagined look back, seeing these as pivotal years of mobilizing people.) More young people voting, etc. She sees these things and not being far fetched. People working together can do great things.

Given the opportunity to participate meaningfully, people come forward in great numbers. She is going talk about how came about, and about other organizations are using the Internet to mobilize people. She is going to talk about her experience of these organizations working together.

Joan is going back to 1996, during the Monica Lewinsky / Bill Clinton issue. People wanted to censure Clinton and get on to more important issues. They did a petition, and within a week, they had 100,000 people sign it. They felt responsible having had such success, and felt they had to do other things.

After the petition, they inspired volunteers to email and go in person to the Congress. They grew to 200,000 people. They had the petitions had delivers to each member of the Judiciary Committee before their vote.

In 1998, they worked on people getting out to vote. By the end of the impeachment, they had 500,000 members and millions of dollars pledged for the 2000 election. They raised $2.3 million, with average pledge being $36. Having non-rich citizens contribute in such a meaningful way changes the way politicians do their campaigns.

After the election in 2000, other groups started to do similar work. People wanted to continue, so they considered what to do next. They started doing surveys, created the action forum online, and worked to get their know their members. Worked to identify key issues for 2001.

After September 11, 2001, a peace petition was circulated. Its success led the creators of it to join with to work together.

Recent work focused on the US War with Iraq, seeking a diplomatic solution. Senators and Representatives were impressed (by citizens organized through MoveOn who came to meet with them).

Now, they are focused on regime change in the US (via voting). Contributing to Paul Wellstone, and after he died, to Walter Mondale. In 2002, they raised $4.1 million, again at an average of $36 per contribution.

They continued to focus on the war. They raised $400,000 for an advertisement in the NY Times, about 10x more then they were originally wanting to raise. They purchased TV ads and posted and billboards. MoveOn joined with other organizations in a coalition against the war. Major mobilization on many levels. Did the virtual march on Washington D.C. Over 400,000 registered calls.

Global Peace Vigil. Took six days to organize. They were stunned too in what was organized. It was 10x the number of people than registered with MoveOn. This led to the comment about their being two super powers in the world: the US and public opinion.

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