Try to imagine a government interested in encouraging local online citizen activism. In fact, not just saying they will receive the output from online campaigns, but going so far as to support the online infrastructure for citizens trying to organise other citizens to solve a problem or asking government to change its priorities. Pretty radical.
In the UK, the e-Innovations Fund of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is supporting the Community Campaigns project (their blog) to produce the easy to use CampaignCreator tool, a local activism guide, along with support for a couple of pilot community campaigns using the tools and advice.
Over the years, I’ve scanned the e-advocacy scene. To be honest NIMBY (”not in my backyard”) campaigns led by a particularly upset citizens dominate the local scene with virtual pitch forks. What if you democratize e-activism by making easy to use online tools more accessible to a diverse range of community campaigns? I am keeping my eye on projects like the BBC’s Action Network and the open source CivicSpace platform in the U.S. along with this new UK project.
Anyway, the other week, the UK project, led by staff including Stephen Hilton and Kevin O’Malley with Bristol City Council asked me to help facilitate the online portion of their advisory group. So I am.
I am on the hunt for those involved with a few more UK-based community campaigns, like this one about the Mogden Sewage Treatment Works, and others around the world with direct experience with online activism/advocacy efforts interested in sharing a bit of additional advice. The more local the better, although global tips for local campaigners are welcome.
Simply add blog comment with your top e-activism or “off-line” local community campaign tips here and I’ll pass them along to the project. If you put some effort into it, perhaps you can join us. I will be recommending a few more inspired folks for online participation in their advisory group in early November.
Finally, those with links to the best starting points for guidance for starting or run a grass roots campaigns – both online and offline – add links to the Activism wiki page on DoWire.
P.S. If you want to debate whether or not government should help citizens increase their local influence through online campaigning (versus potentially allowing those interests with the greatest resources or political energy to dominate the agenda in a free and independent way), check out the discussion on David Wilcox’s important Designing for Civil Society blog.