Lately, political decisions of ‘those in power’ have been giving rise to a myriad of protests, marches and petitions. The Action Network is a digital organising tool behind the famous Woman’s March and the People’s Climate March. And it seems this tool might just be the key to getting people’s voices heard, and their message delivered loud and clear. 

Success of the Obama campaign of 2008 and 2012 owes a lot to the software that was used. The Action Network takes advantage of a similar system that builds and manages email lists. This plays a vital role in organising events and following up on them in the aftermath of those events. The simplicity and accessibility of the Action Network is in part the reason why it is rapidly gaining popularity. As pointed out by Brian Fung of The Washington Post:  “It’s all part of a nascent movement to democratize political organizing. The idea, advocates say, is to turn what was once a domain for big-name strategists into a universe filled with amateur organizers — each of whom might be running his own e-mail list, database and petition site by himself.”

This is the kind of platform that activists of Occupy Wall Street could have benefitted from, had it existed. The movement “got a lot of attention for around two months, but then it just kind of faded, a platform like ours could have really kept it alive”, says Brian Young, a cofounder of the Action Network.

 

In our digital age, the development of “critical tools for combining online activism with offline activities” is a necessity. Even more so when the social activists are as mobilised as now. The Action Network is a tool that enables big and small organisations, as well as individuals to make the most of the events they wish to organise, petitions they wish to create. It’s a nonprofit service, developed by Corporate Action Network with support from several major unions. Partners of the action network include Malala Fund, National Education Association, Equal Rights Washington and many others. The Action Network largely relies on it’s prominent partners for funding: “Large organizations like the People’s Climate March, which likely sends out millions of emails a month, donate a few thousand dollars per month to the Action Network for use of the platform, and individuals and smaller organizations can use it for free.”

Brian Young wanted to create a place where activists would come to set up and coordinate their events, political movements with staying power. He envisioned a platform that would be “collaborative, flexible, and responsive, something that would be structured and organised at the national level, but still allow for hyperlocal organising”. And it worked!

A simple concept of an email list that The Action Network leverages goes a long way. It may seem bleak when compared to the prominence of social media and the advancements it brought. But, surprisingly, those advancements are what leaves the platforms so dear to our hearts at disadvantage, when it comes to organising large scale events: “the ephemerality of social platforms like Twitter and Facebook is antithetical to the sustained involvement that progressive movements are hoping to foster.” So, in a way, going back in time might help us create a better future.

The Woman’s March, an outstanding Anti-Trump protest, serves as a great example of a successful use of the Action Network. After the main event roamed the streets of Washington, DC,  “over 650 “sister marches” in 50 countries were organised”. This is something that we doubtfully would have seen achieved, if it wasn’t for the coordination that the Action Network provided. Next in line is the People’s Climate March, that first took place in 2014. It gathered an unprecedented 400.000 people and definitely brought attention to the issues raised. Yet, Paul Getsos, the coordinator, was not completely satisfied: “I wish that the end of the march event was stronger, and I wish that we had a plan to keep our structures in place.” Fortunately, it seems his wish will be granted. This time, the People’s Climate March is making a wide use of the Action Network. The March will take place on the 29th of April this year. So it is only a matter of a few weeks until we can see what the Action Network can do to sustain a movement. к

With the rise of this new platform, and the intensifying efforts of social activists, we may see a better world even sooner than we hoped. The Action Network truly made ‘Being the change you wish to see in the world’ much easier. 

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