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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Monday, July 30, 2007

Big Tent Democrat

makes a valid point at MyDD, plus his source material is worth a full read.

Monday, July 16, 2007

a small, good thing

I'm happy and exhausted.

Howie Klein and Vicki Cosgrove and I are wrapping up the granting and disbursement phase of our program bringing bloggers and activists to Yearlykos Chicago.

17 grantees are going to Chicago and adding the wealth of their experience, their insights and their point of view to the world's largest gathering of bloggers and online activists.

I wish I could wax eloquent right now but I'm too exhausted to do much but offer this reflection.

We did a small, good thing.

In doing so we took any number of small good things and added them together. A $25 donation, an offer of frequent flier miles, a donated Yearlykos registration, a local blograiser, a willingness to share a ride, or offer up a room, the courage to put up a blog post asking for a helping hand.

I don't know what the experience of Ykos Chicago holds for us, but I do know it will be a different convention because of the sum of what we have done. The hard part is over. The interesting part has just begun.

I can't introduce the grantees tonight, I'm too fried. Managing almost one hundred online donations is no small thing. I did that myself. But...then again...that's not true.

Each donor was an email, a story, a word of thanks for the chance to give, and encouragement to make this thing work and stay true.

If I could share the last eleven days with you, the stories I could tell. These have been some of the richest days of my life. The people I've met, the places I've been. And, yeah, in large part I made this thing happen by sheer force of will. But every time I flagged, it was the folks I was working with who spurred me on. We did something really cool together. We dared to do something no one had done.

This project was a small, true thing. A labor of love with its heart in the right place...and its elbows poised to clear a space for new voices and points of view.

Politics is about bringing people together. And I did this, more than anything, because, in that light, I was convinced that Chicago in August 2007 represents an opportunity and a turning point.

The experience of every last participant in Chicago will be richer for what we've all done. But more than that. At the core of this project is something that reflects what US politics is all about: we are only as strong and the fabric of the voices that empower our votes.

That's what I wrote about in 2004 when I talked about Moshing the vote...that's what we are going to see in 2007 and 08 as a new generation emerges as the face of U.S. politics.

We did something remarkable with that insight and vision in two short weeks. Time will tell if this was the start of something, or just a serendipitous moment.

I'm pretty convinced this project bringing fresh voices to Yearlykos is a part of something much bigger. We asked...and people said yes.

That means something.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Farouk Olu Aregbe: One Million Strong for Barack Obama

Meet Farouk Olu Aregbe, founder of One Million Strong for Barack Obama, discussing social network organizing and outreach to millennials at Personal Democracy Forum:

This is where online communication and political organizing is and has been going. Take this chance to meet Farouk.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

the Last Mile to Chicago

I've been working with Howie Klein and local DFA activist Vicki Cosgrove on a national grassroots fundraising effort to provide grants to increase the regional, racial and economic diversity at Yearlykos Chicago. We've had a powerful success and raised almost $7,000 and direct grants for 15 bloggers.

Today is the conclusion of that fund drive. If you have funds to spare, your help is much appreciated.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Chris Rabb and Afro-Netizen

Chris Rabb, the blogger behind Afro-Netizen, has an interview in the current Mother Jones. It's worth reading the whole thing but this passage stands out:

MJ: Do you think what you call the digital ethnorati is going to be a significant factor in the political landscape and the upcoming elections?

CR: I have no idea, and I am not optimistic. But who's to say what the future holds? There needs to be a multiracial, inclusive agenda online for those who wear a liberal or progressive label. I think the big question is what are we doing on the Internet and to what end, because why and how black folk use the Internet is very different than how white people use it. We're less about social networking, more about information around education, housing, and health.

MJ: Why do African Americans not use social networking sites as much and focus on the information aspect of it?

CR: There may be an assumption that we're just not there. We don't really know. There are so many websites and new media sources that ask for everything. They ask for age, ideology, but they do not ask for race. MoveOn is the perfect example. MoveOn has I don't know how many million members and they've never asked their members what race they are. Which I think is kind of absurd, because to me folks who don't ask that but they ask everything else are organizations that are afraid of dealing with race. How can you possibly serve a diverse membership if you don't understand their concerns? We are progressive and our identity is very obvious and very verbose: "Oh, I'm a progressive, I'm antiwar, whatever." But why not ethnicity? At the very heart of American society is the whole creation of race. So not talking about it is very naïve or maybe something far more sinister.

So if I go to a social networking site and I'm not asked about race when I'm signing up, I'm going to have a very low expectation for connecting with people of color and African Americans in particular.

Chris goes on to talk about the reality that, in effect, segregated "channels" have already appeared in the progressive blogosphere and within the grassroots/netroots movement. In my experience organizing that is both true and not true.

On the one hand it's still a reality in American politics that if you aren't consciously working at breaking down racial walls, then you aren't working at breaking down race-based walls. It doesn't happen by happy accident.

At the same time, the millenial generation seems to me poised to break through the racial stratification that plagues the generations just older than them, including my own. The idea of holding a meeting and having "only white people show up," for whatever reason, is anathema to many millenials; they clearly understand it as not simply wrong-headed...but incredibly bad and ineffective politics. Chris Rabb's interview in Mother Jones expresses that.

2008 will be an important test of the questions Rabb asks.