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Grassroots Mobilizing Online

Online grassroots campaigns have moved beyond mass emailings of protest dates and petitions. New “social software” makes it possible for groundbreaking sites like Moveon.org to foster online advocacy groups and facilitate online petition-signing. Moveon’s ActionForum software allows visitors to the site to propose issue priorities and strategies; others will see and respond to those suggestions, and the most strongly supported ideas will rise to the top—meaning that the site’s users, and not just the site creators and owners, have a voice in choosing the focus and direction of the organization. At Votenotowar.org and Action Network users can follow links to tools that offer pre-written messages to their own political representatives and the media protesting the war in Iraq. At the Digital Divide Network activists can submit organizations and initiatives for inclusion on the site. Long-established organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace are also taking advantage of evolving Internet software to empower their members.

Sites like Moveon.org and the social software which enables the kinds of grassroots, online mobilizing that is taking shape have prompted observers to label networked international activism the new superpower.

Grassroots Mobilizing Web Sites

Starting out as a campaign focused on convincing the U.S. congress to drop impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, Move On has had several incarnations, most recently a formidable anti-war organization that boasts two million members. In recent months, Move On has generated, often in days or even hours, online anti-war petitions with hundreds of thousands of names, raised millions of dollars for pro-peace politicians, and launched primetime television and radio commercials. MoveOn has taken the organizing power of the internet to an entirely new level with its creative strategies, such as facilitating a candle light vigil, a virtual march on Washington and a virtual primary. As Move On becomes a major player in U.S. politics, it has bolstered the presidential candidacy of the anti-war candidate Howard Dean, and thus, many would argue, helped move the Democratic Party leftward.

Digital Divide Network
Members can submit their own feature stories, initiatives and events for publication and list organizations on the site.

Volunteer Match
This site has a virtual volunteering section with links to online volunteering opportunities, such as helping with web-site design, developing fundraising strategies, translating, and other work which can be done from home with a computer for a wide range of social justice organizations.

E The People
E The People calls itself a public forum for democratic and deliberative discussion—a digital town hall for the nation. In cooperation with over 1,000 sites around the Internet, e.thePeople promotes diverse discussion and political action, with pages dedicated to conversation, polls, and petitions.

Vote No War
The site offers pre-written messages to political representatives and the media protesting the war in Iraq, and allows visitors to email or to print addressed letters to these parties.

Action Network
An online environmental activism community, Action Network helps activists to send personalized fax and email messages to key policymakers. Action Network matches activists with their elected officials in an effort to strengthen the effectiveness of campaigns by ensuring that elected officials will only hear from their own constituents.

Save Our Environment is a collaborative effort of U.S. environmental advocacy organizations. Using the power of the internet to increase public awareness and activism on today's most important environmental issues; the site allows visitors to generate letters addressed to government representatives, using pre-written text which can be completely or partially altered.

Greenpeace Cyberactivist Page
Helps generate messages and letters regarding various environmental issues.

Venture Collective
Venture Collective is a non-profit, grass-roots venture fund focused on systemic social change; of, by, and for the people; not for-profit but for common benefit. Our mission is to enable global citizens to turn small donations into significant funding for enterprises that promote large-scale eco-social transformation.

Act For Change allows individuals to speak out on urgent issues of the day found on our news site such as gun violence and environmental degradation. We give you a direct link to the decision-makers who can make a difference on these issues-free of charge.

Seattle Community Network
The Seattle Community Network (SCN) is a free public-access computer network for exchanging and accessing information. Beyond that, however, it is a service conceived for community empowerment. Our principles are a series of commitments to help guide the ongoing development and management of the system for both the organizers and participating individuals and organizations.

Gopetition.com is an Australian owned petition hosting service provider. The site is non-partisan and we have no political affiliations. Anyone or any group can use gopetition.com to have their voice heard. The site promotes the effective organization and distribution of petitions to relevant decision makers. No fees are charged to our users to create a petition.

NetAid employs a range of tools and activities to raise awareness and empower everyday people to become committed activists for the world's poorest.

Taking It Global
TakingItGlobal (TIG) is about encouraging young people to believe in themselves and their ability to make a difference in the world. We create environments where people are exposed to new thinking, a diversity of voices, and new opportunities. Driven by youth, our goal is to foster a sense of leadership and social entrepreneurship through the innovative use of technology, creating meaningful experiences for young people around the world.

Trade Justice Movement
The Trade Justice Movement Action Exchange allows visitors to search and post notices about groups and events in their area.

Articles on Online Grassroots Mobilizing

Boyd, Andrew “The Web Rewires the Movement”

Perrone, Jane “Virtual Protesters Bombard Washington”

Hazen, Don “Moving On: A New Kind of Peace Activism”

Tarman, Glen “Digital Activism, the WTO and International Trade Rules”

Thompson, Elizabeth and Lertzman, Renee “Networking the Network”

Townsend, Eric J.S. “E-Activism Connects Protest Groups”

O’Brien, Rory, “Global Civil Society Networks Online”

Weiksner, Michael “Translating talk into action: Dean's remarkable e-fundraising success”