It took just a few hours for one Facebook post last Saturday to launch direct actions at a dozen American airports. Jamilah King writes in Mic about how an organizer tapped into social media and long-established, highly trusted on-the-ground networks of immigrants and allies to, by day's end, bring thousands of people out in person (and exponentially more online) to protest Donald Trump's executive order stopping immigration and refugee resettlement from seven countries.
The City for All movement, led by homeless Hungarians, is a global voice on homelessness. Members are direct victims of economic and social injustice. NGOs and other allies focus on support roles. Meanwhile, U.S.-based Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) organizes and mobilizes white people to support racial justice actions led by people of color. Phil Wilmot writes for MobLab about why victim-led campaigns are winning and how NGOs can become the allies needed to help ensure success.
In our "A Big Organizing Guide to 2017", Tom Liacas examines Becky Bond and Zack Exley's book Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything. Bond and Exley, campaign advisers for Bernie Sanders's campaign for U.S. president, helped craft a scalable, volunteer-run organizing program that may be a model for many campaigns around the globe that can empower people to lead.
At first, we were a little weirded out to read about the reported effectiveness of Facebook Live in helping inform the American right wing activism. But we've seen activists and local organizers across the political spectrum testing Facebook Live and other livestreaming (though Facebook's version seems the way to reach a mass audience). Useful insights for campaigners looking to invest in Facebook Live in this story by Alexis Sobel Fitts.
U.S. activists & organizers are crowdsourcing the resistance using off-shelf software in campaigns thought up and led by individuals (not necessarily NGOs). The underlying theme of Sean Captain's story in Fast Company is that today's progressive activism looks similar to early days of the Tea Party. It also looks a lot like people power.
“Most people use social media not to open their horizons wider, but to lock themselves in a comfort zone,” said sociologist Zygmunt Bauman to El País last year. Bauman, known for his skepticism of globalisation and theory of Liquid Modernity, died last week at age 91. Our colleague Pascal Husting shared news of his passing. The uncertainty of modern individualism, a theme of Bauman's, seems apropos today.
Tanya Tarr argues that protests really do matter (!!!) in a piece on Medium countering arguments that anti-Trump actions in the U.S. and elsewhere aren't useful. Protests can be critical to long-term organizing, of course (if done right). And, Tarr writes, the cure for civic apathy is connecting with others, and nothing beats face-to-face interaction (a theme echoed throughout this Dispatch). Worth noting, we think, that many (most?) protests happening since 20 January have been started and led by people, not NGOs.
Connecting makers with marchers is one way An Xiao Mina describes the value of tangible objects in today's campaigning that we often think of as driven solely by virtual connections. It's a great piece for craftivists - or any activist. Mina writes that the Internet allows physical objects to behave digitally: a hat (whether a pink pussyhat or red Trump cap) can be remixed and distributed rapidly while connecting people to campaigns. "We have the means now, through patterns online and shipping on the road, to get these ideas and objects out to people at impressive scales," says Mina.
Speaking of physical actions that bring people together, Washington Post architecture critic Philip Kennicott writes of Greenpeace's RESIST banner above the White House that "On one level [hanging a banner] is a familiar call to action, to engagement and participation. But on another level, it is a pithy acknowledgment of the need for people to disengage from their echo chambers and communicate in real life." Kennicott notes that it's relatively easy for governments to control online spaces and real world actions that bring people together are more valuable than ever.
National parks resist and go rogue. Dozens of "alt" Twitter accounts presumably set up by employees of U.S. national parks have popped up in response to gag orders that shut down Twitter accounts at the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies.
Dark posts (aka psychometric-targeted Facebook ads) are a tool used by the Trump campaign to suppress voter turnout among probable Hillary Clinton supporters write Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus for a story in Motherboard. The tactics, also written about by Colin Delany in November, involve tracking individual Facebook activity to identify - and target ads at - discrete sets of people based on race, economics and values. It's an approach that has won data firms like Cambridge Analytica quite a lot of work.
Meanwhile, political scientist Dave Karpf is having none of this "psychometrics won the White House" line. "Targeted advertising based on psychometrics is conceptually quite simple and practically very complicated," Karpf writes. "And there is no evidence that Cambridge Analytica has solved the practical challenges of applying psychometrics to voter behavior." In other words, don't be conned into thinking there is a single tech alternative (even a complex one) to organising.
Russia just put an end to political crowdfunding by individuals. "Legal entities" can raise money but, of course, what defines legal is left to state approval.
Campaign Forum 2017 is around the corner. The annual gathering at Oxford brings together European (and global) campaigners for skill building and planning. Check out the full schedule.
Brian Fitzgerald is leading a full day Story as Theory of Change workshop in London on 21 March. "Facts are not winning," Brian notes, and this session is intended to help you craft epic stories of your work that inspire people to change behaviour and work for change.
Winning 21st century campaigns with directed-network campaigning will be the focus of two full-day trainings in mid-March led by NetChange Consulting and hosted by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation in London. Get details and check out the full list of campaigning masterclasses.
Creativity can solve big problems. The smart team at Stockholm-based Fantastic Studios is hosting their Leading Creative Collaboration training from 24-26 April. Elcio Figueiredo, a Greenpeace colleague, told us this about the session: “A spectacular resource to drive you to facilitate your meeting in an interactive and inclusive way.”
Two good digital security resources on our radar:
Not as New. Still Open.
350 is hiring: