Listen to Confab Recording on Using Slack for Democratic Movement Building

We had a wonderfully engaging call last Thursday to learn more about the capabilities of using the collaborative platform, Slack, to further connect the D&D field and growing Democracy Movement. The call was co-hosted with our friends at the Bridge Alliance who discussed a new effort launched recently on the platform called the Democracy Movement Slack Forum and gave us a preview of the new space. If you weren’t able to join the call, we encourage you to listen to it now!

We were joined by Walt Roberts who gave the 45 participants on the call a quick tour of Slack and how the platform streamlines communication by bringing text, email, and direct messaging altogether. The way the platform is designed lends itself well to the growing Democracy Movement Slack Forum (DMFS), in how it offers space for participants to self-organize and create action together. Walt shared with us how this space was developed; growing from the Unrig the Summit 2018 conference and catalyzed by the desire to fix our broken and rigged political system. He discussed the evolution of the working title, the Democracy Movement, and how it is really a movement of many movements, across the spectrum of ideologies.

Phase two is currently in progress, in which the organizers of the Slack space are looking to bring in those groups and leaders who are doing Democracy building work. It’s meant to be a collaborative space for people to work together in nonpartisan ways and co-develop this growing Democracy Movement. If you are interested in participating in the DMFS, please reach out to keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org for the information on how to join! We’ve set up a channel on the DMFS called #group_ncdd_forum that we encourage you to join if you’re already onboard the Slack space!

Here are some of our favorite takeaways from the Confab call:

  • Slack brings an “open space” like way of self-organizing conversations and helps bring order to the chaos of multiple streams, threads, and branches of conversation.
  • The Democracy Movement is a broad term that encompasses all efforts to get our country back on track and spans the ideological spectrum.
  • The Democracy Movement Slack Forum is a collaborative work, conversation, & community space for those who seek to work together in nonpartisan ways to co-develop a big democracy movement, reduce silos & build a shared infrastructure.

We had an engaging conversation in the chat discussion and you can view saved the transcript of  it here. We recorded the whole presentation in case you weren’t able to join us, which you can access by clicking here. While access to the Confab recordings is usually a benefit of being an NCDD member, we have made an exception with this one in order for more folks to join the DMSF and co-create this movement. If you like what you experience, we’d love for you to join as an NCDD member (if you haven’t already!) and learn more about the sweet benefits of being part of the NCDD Coalition here!

Confab bubble image

We want to thank Walt, Jeremy and the Bridge Alliance team, for making this call happen! And an equally large thank you to all the Confab participants for contributing to this conversation! To learn more about NCDD’s Confab Calls and hear recordings of others, visit www.ncdd.org/events/confabs.

Finally, we love holding these events and we want to continue to elevate the work of our field with Confab Calls and Tech Tuesdays. It is through your generous contributions to NCDD that we can keep doing this work! That’s why we want to encourage you to support NCDD by making a donation or becoming an NCDD member today (you can also renew your membership by clicking here). Thank you!

See you on Slack!

Democratic-Renewal News Site Launches – TheFulcrum.US

It’s a big week of website launches for the dialogue, deliberation, and engagement community! In case you missed it, Participedia launched their new Wikipedia-like website for resources related to civic engagement and democratic innovation earlier this week. A new site launched yesterday called The Fulcrum, a digital publication that will serve as a news source for national efforts going on that strengthen American democracy. Our field knows there is great work going on across the country to improve the quality and state of our democratic republic, and this site is a great amplifier to spread awareness for this work! Check out the press release below shared with us via the team at The Fulcrum and we encourage you to contribute to this premier news source.


News Release: TheFulcrum.US Launches

Today we are launching the only news site dedicated exclusively to covering the community of people and organizations seeking to improve American democracy.

The Fulcrum is a hub of original reporting, coverage from around the country, opinion and more for readers seeking to learn about efforts to strengthen American democracy.

The Fulcrum is staffed by award-winning journalists who report on the efforts to make our democratic republic less tribal, our elections more competitive, our politicians less beholden to moneyed interests, and our officials more attentive to real evidence in policy-making so Congress may become more effective, ethical and civil.

The Fulcrum follows these issues exclusively, like no other news site. We track efforts to help government be more responsive to the Americans who want these changes. Our team decodes behaviors threatening (or protecting) the principles of the Constitution. Most importantly, we explain how you can get involved and why our democracy depends on it.

“We’re thrilled to launch The Fulcrum during this time of intense interest in fixing our country’s political system,” says Publisher and Executive Editor David Meyers, who previously held a number of senior roles at CQ Roll Call. “The data clearly shows that people care about these issues and through The Fulcrum we will help them better understand what is happening, who is doing the work and how to better connect.”

The Fulcrum’s nonpartisan political reform coverage began in December 2018 with the email newsletter known as The Firewall. Its popularity has grown, and it is now available under The Fulcrum brand, as well as our robust website filled with the latest reform-related news and opinion pieces from leaders of the reform movement. The readership includes reformers, philanthropists, reporters, editors and the general public.

While rooting for the political system to strengthen, The Fulcrum’s journalistic role is to bring a clear and unbiased eye to the debates. Doing so requires freedom from partisanship and journalistic independence from those supporting our mission. So while we are incubated by Issue One, which describes itself as “the leading cross-partisan political reform group in Washington,” we are editorially independent of Issue One and its funders.

“American democracy has become fundamentally challenged since I started covering D.C. 30 years ago, decoding policy and politics for voters,” says Editor in Chief David Hawkings, most recently senior editor at CQ Roll Call. “I’m passionate about the need for more clear-eyed, unbiased reporting that boosts understanding of the dysfunction that is threatening our collective future. We’re working together to illuminate the efforts to help our government serve the people.”

The Fulcrum was conceptualized by Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman who says, “Across the country, Americans are more eager than ever to fix our broken political system. The Fulcrum will highlight the people, organizations, and efforts that are doing this work. Renewing our republic for the next generation requires all hands on deck, and the Fulcrum will be the destination site for change-makers working to strengthen our democracy. Issue One has been proud to conceive and sponsor this project. We look forward to seeing it flourish under the leadership of veteran political journalists David Meyers and David Hawkings.”

The Fulcrum is funded by the Hewlett Foundation, the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, Arnold Ventures and the Lizzie and Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation.

You’re invited to visit our new website, and subscribe to our newsletter, on TheFulcrum.US.

Please connect with us:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/fulcrum_us

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheFulcrum.US

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/14036411

David Hawkings has been a reporter, editor and columnist focused on the policies, politics and people of Congress for three decades. Most recently he was the senior editor of CQ Roll Call, wrote the “Hawkings Here” column, and hosted a series of videos and podcasts dubbed “Roll Call Decoder.” He is a regular guest on Fox News, Federal News Radio and Newsy and has appeared as an analyst on CNN, MSNBC and NPR. Follow David Hawkings on Twitter.

David Meyers has spent the past two decades immersed in political media. He was most recently vice president of business operations for CQ Roll Call, and prior to that was the organization’s vice president of research and content development. Meyers served as director of StateTrack, managing editor for Roll Call, and ran the day-to-day newsroom operations and led development of RollCall.com. He served as president of the Washington Press Club Foundation from July 2013 through June 2015. Follow David Meyers on Twitter.

Nick Penniman is the founder and CEO of Issue One, the leading cross-partisan political reform group in Washington that unites Republicans, Democrats, and independents in the movement to fix our broken political system. He co-authored “Nation on the Take” in 2016 and was previously the founder and executive director of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, Washington director of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy and publisher of Washington Monthly.

You can check out The Fulcrum site at www.thefulcrum.us/.

Participedia.net Launches New Website – Contribute Now!

The good folks at Participedia shared with us an exciting announcement – the launch of their newly revamped open collaboration website! The new Participedia.net site operates in a similar way as Wikipedia and is open for anyone to add resources related to civic engagement and democratic innovation. We encourage you to peruse the fresh site and contribute to it! You can read the announcement below and find the original version on Participedia’s Medium site here. And since we’re on the subject of collaborative efforts, we want to offer a final reminder to join for today’s free Confab call on using Slack for connecting and building a democratic movement – register here!


Crowdsourcing Participatory Democracy

Starting today, the @ParticipediaProject will use Medium as our primary news channel. We will share relevant content about participatory democracy around the world, generated by and for our community of academics, practitioners, and engaged citizens, and we invite you join us.

As our premiere Medium post we’re excited to announce the launch of our newly redesigned, open source, open edit website: Participedia.netWe’ll give you a sense of what the Participedia Project is all about and what makes it relevant in today’s global context, and how our open source and participatory approach to website design created new opportunities for collaboration and impact.

Known as ‘the Wikipedia of public participation’, Participedia content is created, edited, and accessed by anyone on the internet as part of the Creative Commons. Our new website is designed to inform and inspire policymakers, community organizers, and citizens. We are a resource for anyone interested in the new forms of civic engagement and democratic innovation being developed around the world.

The content published by our community of users reflects important global issues. The Citizens Assembly on Brexit case entry highlights the use of deliberative public engagement on a complex and polarizing issue, and Girls at Dhabas highlights a grassroots initiative that leverages social media to empower women and non-binary individuals in Pakistan. You too can help to collaboratively document the global phenomenon of public participation by joining the community at Participedia.net, where nearly 2000 entries have already been published and edited by close to 3000 users.

Our new website is being developed using open source, transparent, and participatory methods, and has created new opportunities for collaboration and experimentation that span political and geographic boundaries. For example, the Privy Council Office of Canada discovered and engaged with Participedia on Github, a platform for open source development where our new code and ongoing design process is available publicly. The resulting collaboration will use Participedia to document case studies of public engagement conducted by the Canadian Government. As well, student computer scientists in the UK connected with our developers while prototyping new tools for the platform using our open source API. In addition to other new features for the website that will soon be released, a tech-driven engagement plan for localization is in place that will connect and empower our community to translate site content into multiple languages, and share knowledge and resources in a more accessible and inclusive way.

Participedia is made possible by a Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The project was founded by principal investigator Dr Mark Warren of the University of British Columbia and co-investigator Dr Archon Fung of Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. The new Participedia website was designed by the project’s Design & Technology Team, led by Amber Frid-Jimenez, Canada Research Chair in art and design technology and director of the Studio for Extensive Aesthetics at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Join Us!

Website: Participedia.net

Facebook: Facebook.com/Participedia

Twitter: @Participedia

Linkedin: Linkedin.com/company/Participedia

Github: Github.com/participedia

Medium: medium.com/@participediaproject

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Participedia Medium site at https://medium.com/@participediaproject/crowdsourcing-participatory-democracy-4ffe11116e84.

Don’t Miss Confab Call on Using Slack for D&D Movement Building

Friendly reminder about our upcoming Confab Call happening this Thursday with our friends at the Bridge Alliance to explore the use of the collaboration tool, Slack! We learn more about the development of the Bridge Alliance’s new joint project, the Democracy Movement Slack Forum, and discuss some best practices of the platform for movement building around civic action.

This free call will be on Thursday, June 6th from 2-3 pm Eastern, 11 am-12 pm PacificRegister today so you don’t miss out on this engaging call!reg-button-2

Slack is a collaboration platform that streamlines communication amongst members by consolidating text, email, group and instant messaging into one app. For the last few years, the platform has quickly grown in popularity as a great tool for connecting individuals and driving action.

For this Confab, we hope to explore how can Slack be used to further reduce silos amongst people doing dialogue and deliberation work and better cultivate connections to facilitate change. Our hope is that all of us who drive civic change can learn from other’s experiences with the platform to help our collective efforts thrive.

We will be joined by the Bridge Alliance and their partners, who will share more about the new Democracy Movement Slack being developed and how the experience has been so far. We’ll also ask others on the call to share their experiences or questions. The Confab will be an opportunity for those on the call who are also Bridge Alliance members to learn more about how to join the Slack group.

We’d love for folks who have used Slack or are still currently using it to join the call and share their experience. What are some of the benefits of using it and are there any challenges? This conversation will offer insight for a new effort underway on Slack by the Bridge Alliance, called the Democracy Movement Slack Forum; a co-creation with the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers, RepresentUS, and Unite America. This new project is in its developing stages now and is intended to be a transpartisan space for those in the Democracy Movement to communicate and collaborate.

Make sure you register today to secure your spot!

About Our Confab Co-Hosts 

Bridge Alliance is a coalition of over 90 organizations dedicated to rejuvenating America. With each organization focusing on a different sector of the movement, our members represent a combined three million supporters in the burgeoning field of civic reform and civil discourse.

About NCDD’s Confab Calls

Confab bubble imageNCDD’s Confab Calls are opportunities for members (and potential members) of NCDD to talk with and hear from innovators in our field about the work they’re doing and to connect with fellow members around shared interests. Membership in NCDD is encouraged but not required for participation. Confabs are free and open to all. Register today if you’d like to join us!

PACE Announces Funding for Faith & Democracy Initiative

ICYMI – There is a great funding opportunity that was just announced yesterday by the Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) to fund an initiative exploring the intersection of faith and democracy. PACE is offering $300k to support 5-7 projects that investigate the question, How can faith be a means to bridge divides and foster respect and cooperation in our democracy? Those accepted will join a year-long peer Learning Community to serve as a testing lab on key questions and share learnings. RFPs are now open and applications are being accepted until July 1st. We encourage you to share this with your networks! You can read the announcement below and find the original version on the PACE site here.


Faith In/And Democracy: A Funding and Learning Initiative from PACE

Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) has launched a pilot funding and learning initiative to invest in and promote engagement at the intersection of faith and democracy. The Faith In/And Democracy initiative will provide about $300,000 in grant support to 5-7 projects that explore this driving question: How can faith be a means to bridge divides and foster respect and cooperation in our democracy?  The Request for Proposals opens today; applications are open until July 1, 2019.

PACE is a community of funders that invest in the sustaining elements of democracy and civic life in the U.S.  “This exploration is a natural extension of PACE’s mission to deepen and enrich philanthropy’s support of democracy and civic life in the U.S.” said Kristen Cambell, Executive Director of PACE. “Faith communities have been a vibrant part of our civic fabric throughout the history of our nation.  With this project, we hope to uncover ways in which faith can serve to ease the divisions that plague our political, civic, and social processes.”

At this important moment in our democracy, many civic engagement funders and practitioners have redoubled efforts to bridge social and political divides.  This new initiative focuses on a largely unexplored connection point for bridge building: the power and potential of faith as a catalyst. In order to thrive, our democracy requires understanding, tolerance, and empathy across difference; this initiative seeks to uplift efforts to shift divisive perceptions of faith communities and build narratives about the power and potential of faith to bolster engagement in democracy and civic life.

While many institutions seek to engage people of faith in bridge-building and pluralism efforts, few organizations are funding specific interventions to engage people of faith in using their faith to support the well-being of democracy. Fewer still are considering the ways in which faith can serve to ease divisions that plague our political processes.  This pilot initiative led by PACE represents a meaningful step toward filling this gap. “We see this as a new mechanism of support to our members, as well as a vehicle for PACE to contribute learning and leadership to our field,” added Cambell. The initiative is inspired by PACE members and catalyzed in partnership with the Fetzer Institute and the Democracy Fund, as well as additional members of an Advisory Committee.

Embracing the exploratory nature of the initiative, a central aim of the effort is learning: in addition to funding 5-7 projects, PACE will launch a cohort-based, year-long peer Learning Community for those engaged with the initiative. This community will serve as a “laboratory” to test key questions about learning and impact, and enable us to reflect those learnings to funders, nonprofits, and our fields more broadly.

To learn more about the initiative, please visit PACEfunders.org/faith.  To access the full RFP and to apply, click here.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the PACE site at www.pacefunders.org/faith-in-and-democracy/.

Exploring Podcasts as Emerging Medium for Civic Learning

For folks in the New York City area, there is a cool event coming up next week that we wanted to make sure our network knew about on exploring how podcasts are being used to deepen civic knowledge and practices. The Metropolitan New York Library Council is hosting the in-person event, “Podcasts To The Rescue! An Emerging Medium for Learning About Civics, Government, and the Social Contract” on Thursday, May 30th from 7-8:30 pm Eastern. There is a fantastic line-up of speakers planned for the night, including Jenna Spinelle from NCDD member organization, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State. The event is free, but space is limited, so make sure you save your seat by registering. Learn more about the event in the post below and find the original version here.


Podcasts To The Rescue! An Emerging Medium for Learning About Civics, Government, and the Social Contract

Millions of Americans cast ballots in the 2018 Midterm Elections, but participation in our democracy was already on an upswing since Donald Trump won the Presidential Election in 2016. While 7 in 10 Americans report feeling generally negative about what is going on in the country today, Americans are also more hopeful about solving problems. This hopefulness may account for the increased interest in how our government works and what role individuals and communities can play in that process. And as ever, podcasters are responding to this interest by producing shows that tackle policy and civic engagement in a variety of formats.

Podcasts To The Rescue! An Emerging Medium for Learning About Civics, Government, and the Social Contract will feature a diverse group of podcast hosts and producers, looking at the ways each podcast engages and informs listeners on how to stay invested in the social contract.

Moderator: Matisse Bustos-Hawkes, Founder at Otro Lado Communications and former Associate Director, Communications & Engagement at WITNESS

Panelists:

  • Arden Walentowski, producer and co-host of Let’s Get Civical, a comedic and irreverent take on how our government works
  • Harry Siegel, co-host of FAQ NYC, a weekly dive into the big questions about New York City produced by Alex Brook Lynn
  • Jenna Spinelle, producer and host of Democracy Works an initiative of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State
  • Mila Atmos, executive producer and host of Future Hindsight, where civic engagement meets civil discourse
  • Allison Daskal Hausman, producer and host of The Pledge Podcast, inspiring portraits of ordinary Americans stepping up to strengthen our democracy.

Panel discussions will take place 599 11th Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10003. The event is free but space is limited.

Other panels in this series include:

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Eventbrite site at www.eventbrite.com/e/podcasts-to-the-rescue-an-emerging-medium-for-learning-about-civics-government-and-the-social-tickets-59456853048.

Jefferson Center Launches New Series on Citizen Juries

Our friends at The Jefferson Center, an NCDD Sponsoring member organization, recently shared an article on their site which offers a fantastic overview of Citizen Juries, that we wanted to repost here. The piece by Annie Pottroff answers some of the most frequently asked questions about the public engagement method, which was started in 1971 by Jefferson Center founder Ned Crosby. This is the initial post in the new blog series by The Jefferson Center to continue to dive into the Citizen Jury process – so stay tuned for more! You can read the article below and find the original piece here.


What exactly is a Citizens Jury, anyway?

We talk a lot about Citizens Juries at the Jefferson Center. After all, they were invented by our founder, Ned Crosby, in 1971. We believe they can help restore trust in democracy around the world. And they give everyday people the knowledge, resources, and time they need to create powerful solutions to our biggest challenges.

But what is a Citizens Jury? How do they work? Who’s involved? In this blog series, we’ll explore some of our most frequently asked questions, starting with Citizens Jury basics.

What is a Citizens Jury?

A Citizens Jury is a public engagement method that provides individuals with the opportunity to learn about an issue, deliberate together with a diverse group of their peers, and develop well-informed solutions to the given issue.

Juries also allows decision makers and the broader public to know what people really think once they have the opportunity to study an issue closely and weigh different options and perspectives.

Citizens Juries are typically composed of around 18-24 citizens who have been randomly selected to represent the demographics of the larger community.

Over a number of weekends, one week, or a few days, we provide the group with background information from expert speakers and stakeholders to inform their conversations. With this information in mind, Jurors deliberate and craft recommendations through dialogue and voting, which are then published and delivered to the public and decision makers.

Who are the “citizens?”

Citizen Jury participants are randomly selected to represent a specific population. For example, in the Willmar Community Assembly, participants represented their community of Willmar, Minnesota.

We invite citizens to apply to participate in the Jury via postcards, posters, direct community outreach, social media, local employment websites, and more. Citizens are selected to participate through stratified random sampling, often based on the age, race, gender, education, and socioeconomic background statistics of the target population. These criteria can slightly vary depending on the Jury. The population a Citizens Jury represents can range anywhere from a small town to an entire country.

Why might a Citizens Jury be used on an issue?

Citizens Juries are an important tool for decision-makers, organizations, and communities to use when faced with a particularly challenging issue. Often these issues are complex, technical, divisive, and can’t be resolved in a short amount of time, such as nuclear storage or climate change adaptation. Most individuals don’t have the opportunity, time, or energy in their daily lives to study these tough issues, understand the nuances, and form a strong opinion, making it difficult for decision-makers to know how the public really thinks. As a result, officials often make decisions based on their own assessment and the loudest voices in the room.

But at a Citizens Jury, participants learn more about the issue from experts and stakeholders, discuss different perspectives and considerations with their peers, and work together to create recommendations. This gives individuals the chance to confront the big challenges usually left to decision makers. Their conversations surface new ideas and overlooked problems, leading to more representative, informed, and powerful solutions.

How do you evaluate the success of a Citizens Jury?

Are Citizens Juries all the same?

Juries are specifically designed for the issue or problem at hand, and they can vary according to:

  • Number of Jury participants
  • Number of actual Juries per project
  • Jury topic
  • Target Jury community
  • Final report audience

Want to learn more about how to conduct a Citizens Jury and how to collaborate with us? Let us know below or contact us!

You can find the original version of this article on The Jefferson Center blog at www.jefferson-center.org/2019/05/what-exactly-is-a-citizens-jury-anyway/.

June Confab on Using Slack for D&D Movement Building

We are excited to co-host another Confab Call at the beginning of June, this time with our friends at the Bridge Alliance to explore the use of the collaboration tool, Slack. We will discuss the capabilities of the platform for movement building around civic action and learn more about the development of Bridge Alliance’s new joint project, the Democracy Movement Slack Forum.

This free call will be on Thursday, June 6th from 2-3 pm Eastern, 11 am-12 pm Pacific. Register today so you don’t miss out on this engaging call!

reg-button-2

Slack is a collaboration platform that streamlines communication amongst members by consolidating text, email, group and instant messaging into one app. For the last few years, the platform has quickly grown in popularity as a great tool for connecting individuals and driving action. For this Confab, we hope to explore how can Slack be used to further reduce silos amongst people doing dialogue and deliberation work and better cultivate connections to facilitate change. Our hope is that all of us who drive civic change can learn from other’s experiences with the platform to help our collective efforts thrive.

We’d love for folks who have used Slack or are still currently using it to join the call and share their experience. What are some of the benefits of using it and are there any challenges? This conversation will offer insight for a new effort underway on Slack by the Bridge Alliance, called the Democracy Movement Slack Forum; a co-creation with the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers, RepresentUS, and Unite America. This new project is in its developing stages now and is intended to be a transpartisan space for those in the Democracy Movement to communicate and collaborate.

We will be joined by the Bridge Alliance and their partners, who will share more about the new Democracy Movement Slack being developed and how the experience has been so far. We’ll also ask others on the call to share their experiences or questions. The Confab will be an opportunity for those on the call who are also Bridge Alliance members to learn more about how to join the Slack group.

Make sure you register today to secure your spot!

About Our Confab Co-Hosts 

Bridge Alliance is a coalition of over 90 organizations dedicated to rejuvenating America. With each organization focusing on a different sector of the movement, our members represent a combined three million supporters in the burgeoning field of civic reform and civil discourse.

About NCDD’s Confab Calls

Confab bubble imageNCDD’s Confab Calls are opportunities for members (and potential members) of NCDD to talk with and hear from innovators in our field about the work they’re doing and to connect with fellow members around shared interests. Membership in NCDD is encouraged but not required for participation. Confabs are free and open to all. Register today if you’d like to join us!

Ethics and Benefits of Digital Tech in Engagement

As technology rapidly continues to grow, organizations are working to understand the many impacts of tech on the shape and future of our democracy. NCDD member organization Public Agenda explores these impacts in their new report, Rewiring Democracy: Subconscious Technologies, Conscious Engagement and the Future of Politics. In the article below, they share some of their findings on the complicated nature of tech, ethical use of geo-location, and the capacity for deeper community engagement. You can read the article below and find the original version on the Public Agenda blog here.


Geo-locating Protest: The Changing Role of Tech in Social Movements – Part 1

New from Public Agenda, Rewiring Democracy: Subconscious Technologies, Conscious Engagement and the Future of Politics, explores how the latest technological trends may reshape our democracy, our politics, and our daily lives. In a series of blog posts, we are sharing some of the stories from the paper to illustrate some of the impacts on journalism, political advocacy, city planning, and other fields.

In this latest installment of the Rewiring Democracy blog series, we explore technology’s role in mobilizing movements, while highlighting an example of how micro-targeting and messaging is being used in troubling ways.

GEO-LOCATING PROTEST: THE REVOLUTION COMES TO YOUR DOORSTEP

In 2016, women in several cities began receiving pop-up ads on their smartphones whenever they went near or inside a clinic providing abortions. The ads, which had been sent by anti-choice/ pro-life organizers, offered advice to women who were contemplating abortion. These particular women had been targeted because they had previously looked for Planned Parenthood information online. This practice was ruled an illegal infringement of personal health care data by the attorney general of Massachusetts, but it is one of a number of examples that signal a new phase in the use of technology by activists.

From the Arab Spring to the Tea Party to Black Lives Matter to #MeToo, protesters, organizers, and mobilizers of all political stripes and ideologies have been using the internet to connect and coordinate their movements. Their values and goals are obviously very different, but they all face new tactical opportunities for reaching supporters and achieving their political objectives. One major opportunity arises from the way in which the internet has become increasingly tied to geographic location. In addition to the geographic information system (GIS) capacity of smartphones, the number of people who have joined hyperlocal online spaces has risen exponentially. By connecting to people where they are and where they live, activists, officials and other leaders can advance their causes in ways that are more direct and “in your face” – and in ways that leverage political power because they fit the geography of political jurisdictions.

MOVEMENT CONSCIOUSNESS

There are multiple factors that affect whether people are willing to join a protest or movement, but across many different societies and situations, the psychological reasons often seem to be the most influential. The mere fact that people are oppressed or discriminated against doesn’t necessarily mean that they will mobilize, rebel, or just speak up. They are more likely to act when they begin to feel that they are not alone, that their voices will be heard, and that their cause can achieve critical mass.

Some existing, widely-used digital technologies have helped organizers build a broader movement consciousness:

  • Photo-sharing, which is a core component of almost every major social media platform, allows people to see their movement in action. For example, many of the students who participated in “Text, Talk, Act” during the National Dialogue on Mental Health tweeted photos of their groups. By uploading, sharing, and tagging pictures and videos, people can provide visual evidence that they are part of something larger than themselves.
  • Participatory mapping, one of the first uses of geo-locating capacities of our devices, enabled people to see themselves in relation to a physical space. Protesters during the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and the anti-austerity demonstrations in Spain were able to map their locations, producing visual proof that they could peacefully dominate the streets and plazas of their cities.
  • Posting and commenting through social media, in itself, has allowed people to contribute to or even dominate the narrative on a particular issue or cause. Recognizing this new threat, many governments and corporations have created “troll farms” and other sophisticated operations to try to retake control of the narrative, amplify their own messages, and even to target, harass, and intimidate protesters.
  • Instant polling, which can be accomplished through a wide array of tools, apps, and platforms, can also be used to gauge support for particular actions and to show that large numbers of people stand behind a given cause or movement.

Organizers are using these and other tools to compel people to consciously step forward and join causes and movements. Protesters used social media posts to rapidly gather and heckle Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen about immigration policies as they dined in public restaurants. Increasingly, organizers have the capacity to use subconscious technologies, like the anti-abortion/pro-life protesters in Massachusetts, to target potential recruits and people they are trying to influence.

By bringing the revolution(s) to our doorstep, the capacity to make protest and mobilization hyperlocal and geo-locatable has the potential to make political conflict more extreme and more personal. It raises new questions about the rules of the game, the role of tech corporations in the public square, and whether these new conditions also present possibilities for bridge-building and compromise.

As notions of space and place change, can technology create new opportunities for people to connect and work together? We’ll explore this as well as who owns the public square in “Geo-locating Protest: Tech’s Role in Advancing Movements” Part 2 in the next installment of this blog series on Rewiring Democracy.

You can find the original version of this article on the Public Agenda blog at www.publicagenda.org/blogs/geolocating-protests-and-techs-role-in-advancing-movements-part-i.

NCDD Discount on Davenport Institute Local Gov’t Certificate

We’re excited to share that NCDD member org, the Davenport Institute, in partnership with the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, is offering their next professional Certificate in Advanced Public Engagement for Local Government [non-academic] from July 19-21, 2019 in Malibu, CA. Excellent for anyone involved or working with local government, or in graduate school for local government/public policy. NCDD members receive a 20% discount off the tuition, so make sure you register ASAP to receive this great benefit. They are accepting applications until the class is full, so sign up while you still can! You can read the announcement below or on the Pepperdine School of Public Policy’s website here.


Professional Certificate in Advanced Public Engagement: Three-Day Intensive Workshop for Local Government Practitioners

In an age where trust in government (and indeed in all institutions) is at an all time low, and indifference toward local government is at an all time high, the very future of local representative democracy requires leaders with a new skill – an ability to break through cynicism and mistrust and engage residents in local policy. From public safety, to city budgets and spending, to planning and environmental policies, today’s challenges need leaders who can re-vitalize public involvement and lead residents engaged in the difficult work of self-government.

Over this long weekend at the Villa Graziadio on the Pepperdine Malibu campus, mid-career professionals are prepared to lead a publicly-engaged organization by gaining a deep understanding of the context, purpose, and best practices for engaging residents in the decisions that affect their lives and communities. 

Next Certificate Offering
July 19-21, 2019: Malibu, CA

The cost of the Professional Certificate is $1990, which includes instruction, materials, and meals. Many participants secure funds for training from their employer to support their participation in this program. Limited financial aid may be available.

Applicants who are accepted to the program can receive a 20% discount when they use the code “NCDD” during registration.

You can read the announcement on the Pepperdine School of Public Policy’s website at www.publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/certificate-public-engagement.