How best use the web in support of social action? That is the question being asked in theory and answered in practice by Peter Deitz and Joe Solomon at Social Action Labs. They have great ideas, are soliciting more, and have a little grant money to bring 3 -5 of the best ideas to life this summer Contribute your thoughts to their wiki here. See also. If bottom up philanthropy/activism makes any sense at all, this is what it might look like.
This type of activity, sometimes funded by hedgefunders like Soros, obviously fill a deep psychic need to belong to a meaningful movement or society. Sans tribal connections, it's perhaps the best we can do.
Some of these young people will undoubtedly learn lessons applicable to authentic community organizing.
Until they are entitled to represent constituencies engaged in social conflict, the artificial campaigns provide a learning experience useful to both careerists and budding activists. As long as they don't conflate hobby activism with the real thing, I guess there's little harm done.
Posted by: Jay Taber | July 11, 2008 at 12:40 PM
Jay, thank you. Meeting online for mentoring maybe saves cost?
Posted by: Phil | July 11, 2008 at 04:47 PM
While travel is prohibitive for many of us, the quality of mentoring online is inferior to face-to-face. Still, as an initial contact forum, it's great; some of our best interventions began that way.
Absent an alternative, it's all many have access to. There just aren't many opportunities to get experienced mentoring outside the non-profit industry.
I only wanted to point out that the framework for civic engagement is established by powers that be, and rarely do hobby activists comprehend that fact. Small donors are a godsend, but as you've noted previously, they don't write the rules of philanthropy. In mentoring, I try to prepare proteges for independence.
Posted by: Jay Taber | July 11, 2008 at 07:46 PM
Hobby activism - Alinksy's Rule 6 for Radicals: "A good tactic is one your people enjoy. If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”
Posted by: Phil | July 11, 2008 at 11:16 PM
With all due respect to Saul, effective strategies include fun tactics, and I attempt to relate how they can be incorporated into high-tension conflict.
But not all tactics can be designed for fun if one takes politics seriously. At some point courage, commitment, and endurance enter into play, and if camaraderie, loyalty and trust hasn't been accomplished through mutual effort, then the goals may not be attainable.
Determined activist citizens cannot be in it just for the fun; those who are will soon become cynical and disheartened.
Conducting corollary educational fora to prepare novices for the tough times has to be done alongside the more satisfying or amusing tactics; otherwise the participants are unprepared for the inevitable counter-attack.
I have witnessed irresponsible leaders sacrifice innocent adolescents for the their own glory and grant-generating column inches in the news, when they should have been protecting them. I don't think this is what Alinsky would have recommended.
Posted by: Jay Taber | July 12, 2008 at 01:47 PM
So far online giving fora have stuck to pretty noncontroversial topics. Giving is generally treated as a feel good effort, or as an exercise in making a new social capital market. The idea that there are dark forces in play, that they have high level backing, and that philanthropists or online giving sites, confront them is not within the bounds of current discussion. To take such an attitude pretty well guarantees marginalization.
Posted by: phil | July 12, 2008 at 02:36 PM