PJEP Planting Seeds

October 14, 2008 | 2 Comments

Category: Activism, PJEP, Web

Laurel, Marcia and I continue to discuss the most effective way to build the PJEP 50-state network of networks.  There are about 15 of us working hard to research and facilitate the state networks as they go up.  At this point, almost 1,000 local organizations and chapters of national organizations are working through 33 states within 26 networks.  (There are several two-state networks and one three-state network.)

Visit PJEP.org to investigate the central site where state and local actions, calendar items and online campaigns (petitions, boycotts, eletters and fundraisers) are collected and collated so that grassroots activity across the country can be explored in detail.

Two logistical issues come up fairly frequently.  Programmer David fixes bugs and enhances features that already exist, or Dave creates new features.  David, Marcia, Laurel and I talk frequently about which of these three areas should be emphasized at any given time.  All three of us feel that for us to achieve our mission, it is vital to empower individuals and local organizations by providing them access to resources and connections to other individuals and organizations so that they are able to accomplish their social-change and political-change goals.  Decisions are made daily on whether bugs, upgrades or new features get attention.

The second logistical issue revolves around whether we place our attention more on new, existing state networks by maintaining frequent contact with new, local organization administrators, making sure they post their actions and use the websites to their best advantage vs. researching and setting up a new state, getting new administrators established and moving on.  Both nurturing established networks and creating new ones are essential to our goal.

Regarding nurturing vs. creating, each PJEP volunteer does what he or she prefers.  Most PJEP volunteers, men and women, are facilitating or helping states to network.  It’s mostly me setting up new states.

Florida and Pennsylvania were the first two networks to go up after Illinois and Minnesota, which are coalitions.  No other coalitions have gone up since Illinois and Minnesota.  (A coalition has a governing body or policy board and can usually endorse an issue, person or project.  A network has no governing body and no endorsement capability.)  When Florida and Pennsylvania went up, there was no person facilitating, no activist making sure everyone got his or her actions posted, no person taking responsibility for the sites being used.  The sites were rarely used.  Local administrators needed reminding, and they needed someone to post for them if they were overwhelmed.  We concluded that an ongoing presence by a responsive individual was important.  That’s the model we’ve developed.  Florida and Pennsylvania lay fallow for about six months until we figured this out.

Still, every time I set up a new state, there is less time I spend with the administrations of established states.  We have far fewer facilitators than we have states to facilitate.  One of my jobs is to maintain some kind of contact with those administrations in states we don’t have a facilitator for.  That’s almost 250 administrations.  I’m in phone contact with those folks every 2.5–3 months, far less than the once-a-month contacts most administrations receive.  I place a priority on setting up new states, which takes up most of my time.

It is my estimation that a year from now, when all 50 states are up and crises emerge that demand immediate response, states that are relatively fallow without a facilitator will be able to be engaged because a communications infrastructure with a resource delivery system will already exist.  I am hopeful that facilitators will emerge in such a situation.

For two years, we’ve been plowing fields and planting seeds.  Some fields are plowed but have few seeds planted as we wait for a farmer to come along.  Not too far into the future, the shit will hit the fan.  More than one kind of crisis is on the way.  When shit starts flying and landing in our prepared fields, that fertilizer will be the boost we need.  At that point, we’ll introduce a facilitator to an environment ready for growth.

The societal habits, trends and self-destructive behaviors that lead to crisis often get no attention until a crisis occurs.  Heinous situations go unmarked until they hit the news.  Crises are the fertilizer of the activist.  An activist can turn a crisis into a change advantage by leveraging what is being revealed by the media onto the desks of elected officials.

When the shit hits the fan, it is time to start planting seeds.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 at 6:48 am and is filed under Activism, PJEP, Web. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
2 Comments so far

  1. David Huff on October 7, 2009 7:54 am


  2. David Huff on October 7, 2009 7:54 am


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