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Activist Land provides tools and a pragmatic forum for the progressive activist community. It aims to complement traditional political blogs by emphasizing how you can get involved in specific issues and how to integrate activism into your life in an effective and sustainable way. Therefore, in addition to calling for action on a particular issue, it encourages people to post "activism opportunity" posts that describe the nuts and bolts of how one would, or did, take action in a particular instance.

My main area of focus is media reform. I've been working with Save Boston's Progressive Talk to help bring progressive talk radio to Boston, and I've written interviews to publicize "The Real News", an independent international news network. My secondary area of focus is election integrity. I maintain a set of Voting Rights pages with an emphasis on an election integrity timeline. I've written pieces on these and other subjects for Daily Kos and my local newspaper. For more info, see my first post. Come and join the community!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Community and Communication (and Phone Trees) by Kate Donaghue

SUMMARY: Guide to building political community with an emphasis on phone trees, written by Kate Donaghue (active in the Massachusetts Democratic Party).

Ideas for Committees - It's about Community and Communication

I grabbed this from Kate Donaghue's "Democratic Dispatch", which she sends to thousands of Democrats across Massachusetts. Kate is one of the most politically effective people I know. She really gets how to connect to both the grassroots and the establishment. I'll tell you a story sometime about how she got me to lead Kerry meetups after the Dean campaign came to a halt.

This hint could have been entitled "Phone Trees", but it is much more than that. I'm urging you to build a phone tree as a way of building community. You can use e-mail to communicate with a lot of people. But a personal phone call increases the effectiveness of your communication, by a full order of magnitude. In addition to effectively conveying the message that your organization thinks an issue, meeting or event is important enough to make a call, you build COMMUNITY when people TALK TO EACH OTHER.The mechanics of building an effective phone tree:
1) You need an administrator committed to maintaining a list and making sure that calls go out.
2) You need team leaders who are ready to call the people to whom they are assigned.
The Committee Chair determines when the phone tree is utilized. Once that decision is made the administrator sends out an e-mail to each of the team leaders. The team leader then calls the people on the list by the deadline listed.
a) The complete list for the whole committee should be sent to all the team leaders when the phone tree kicks in. The easier you make it for people to do their job, the more likely that it will get done.
b) The administrator should ask for an e-mail response by a specific time from each team leader. The idea is that the leader will say, yes, it will be done or no, turn my calls over to someone else. It the administrator doesn't hear back, then the administrator tries to reach the team leader. If the team leader can't be reached, then that team is called by someone else.
c) Each team leader should be assigned five to ten calls. The idea is that you want to encourage chatty communication, as well as disseminating information. Like in so many efforts, you need to balance how many people you want to manage. The more effective you are in getting people to take on smaller tasks, the stronger your team will be.

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