As sound bites and mudslinging crowd out any debate over the issues, people all around the country are wondering how to reclaim politics. Can an individual make his or her voice heard? How do we find out the truth where there is so much shouting? Can local communities find a common purpose and organize to improve themselves?
Electronic networks offer new channels for action from the neighborhood to the national level. Now you can quickly find out what the government really does and organize around a cause or around a community using mailing lists, online debates, and Web sites.
Let a veteran political activist tell you how to use online networks to further your cause. Ed Schwartz has been a leader in citizen movements for more than 30 years and a major figure in Philadelphia politics for 20 years. As a member of the Philadelphia City Council in the 1980s, he won a "Best of Philly" award from Philadelphia Magazine for being an "honest politician." Introduced several years ago to networks, he now has all the accoutrements of an online presence: a Web site that serves community activists across the country, a mailing list that discusses civic values, and ties to a community network that organizes citizens across the city.
But this book is not a paean to the Internet. It deals also with the real world outside the Internet. Schwartz takes a hard look at what contemporary political movements need, whether they be about neighborhood empowerment, ecology, children, or electing candidates to public office. The Internet is not an end in itself, but a tool to wield in the constant job of organizing people. This book discusses the roles of mailing lists, Web sites, and community networks, and their relationship to traditional outlets for activism.
Whether you are a community activist, a politician, a nonprofit staff person, or just someone who cares about your community, you will benefit from the insights this book offers on how to make the fastest-growing medium today work for you.
What equipment and software you need
How to do research that will help you formulate policy and strategy
How to organize and get your message across
The role of an online network in local communities
Includes CD-ROM with Internet software and limited free online time.