Welcome to Activist Land!

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, September 8, 2007

PWGD.org: People Who Give a Damn

Last Saturday, I spoke with Ben Melançon of PWGD.org. I met Ben earlier this year when he hosted an event for FreePress.org, a really good national media reform organization. Robin, the founder of the progressive talk radio group that I belong to, and an expert networker, had sent me his way. Although only one other person showed up to the meeting, we had a really good conversation.

Ben lives in a town adjacent to mine, so I offered to drop by his house and discuss things as we went for a walk. He liked the idea, especially since it meant he could bring along his dog Zelda. When I arrived at the house, however, Zelda was not so enthusiastic. She barked and growled and muttered. When we left the house and started actually walking, however, she was able to focus on her environment rather than her distrust of me. We headed up an old railroad line whose rails had been recently removed, and he told me about both Agaric Design, his web design collective, and PWGD.org, People Who Give a Damn.

PWGD is all about building an open-source, nonproprietary infrastructure for giving progressive organizations the ability to set up their own website, communication tools, and databases, and to communicate with other organizations. Our interests overlapped quite a bit, though Ben is more propelled by enthusiasm for open-source software (a fairly new concept to me), while I am driven more directly by frustration with the deficiencies of the existing blogosphere. We both have noticed the lack of diversity of topics and authors that results from the current method of handling community recommendations of posts. Ben had some novel programmatic ideas for avoiding this problem.

We then came back to the house and talked in the yard. By this point, Zelda, having seen that I had failed to bite her or Ben or Ben's mother, decided that I could be trusted, and morphed into The Tongue. Or perhaps she had felt excluded by the conversation, and decided "If you can't join them, lick them." In any case, she licked me seriously and methodically, circled the table, came back to cover my other leg with saliva, then fueled up with a long drink from her water dish and licked me yet again. I did my best to defend myself from the tongue bath by rubbing her under her chin so she couldn't open her mouth, but this required vigilance that I could not always maintain.

More about PWGD in a later post.

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