Image credit: Tim Savage

We’ve got all kinds of words to describe the non-mass media work we do in the political/advocacy/activist realm:

“Grassroots.”

“Ground game.”

“Community building.”

Most practitioners agree that this stuff is important, and we’ve got stacks of research and generations of history to prove it. But what are we actually talking about? Are these all fancy ways of saying “organizing,” or is organizing something different altogether?

In order to get at this question, let’s start with what organizing isn’t:

It’s not tweeting, generating memes, running Facebook ad campaigns, buying billboards, holding rallies, publishing opinion editorials, running GOTV, collecting digital (or physical)…


The Alliance for Climate Education and OutreachCircle share a new study and compares results from another — determining that friend-to-friend outreach with increases voter turnout 3–4%.


ALEXANDRIA, VA⁠ — Everybody talks about close electoral races, but few examples are as stark as last cycle in Virginia when a tie-breaking drawing left the House of Delegates in Republican control after a painstaking vote count found two candidates tied at 11,607 votes.

Turnout in Virginia is way up in recent years, but non-presidential elections are still smaller affairs and fewer than half of registered voters cast their ballots in 2017. …


Democrats in 10 districts across Virginia have banded together to share support, strategy, and staffing as they contest districts that have been Republican strongholds. They call the effort “Rural Ground Game.”

“It’s a real David and Goliath situation,” candidate Beverly Harrison told The Washington Post. “In an ideal world, if the state caucus would provide seed money to get vetted candidates started, pay for the voter data, get you some walk cards — a rural assistance program would be transformative.”

Read the full WaPo profile of Rural Ground Game.

Support Rural Ground Game.


First, I want to say that we are stunned by Speaker Pelosi’s recent statements about Trump’s unwillingness to leave office and continued refusal to move impeachment proceedings forward in the House. It is clear that Trump is in incredible legal jeopardy and is using his powers as President to both cover up his crimes and avoid consequences. Pelosi believes that in a close 2020 election, Trump will do his best to hold onto office. This is all the more reason to push impeachment now and make it an issue against every Republican Senator up for election.


Suppose you’re ready to re-engage with an email or mobile phone list of folks who signed up for your campaign or cause but haven’t been active for six to 12 months or more.

First, I would work with longtime partner Accurate Append to validate the email and phone data. From there, you can use Facebook audiences to match a list of Facebook users who have given up on your mail or texting program. But how to engage formerly active subscribers on Facebook in such a way that they’ll reliably warm back up to you?

ActionSprout, a set of activist tools…


Getting mad about Beto’s campaign finance gamesmanship is barking up the wrong tree.

When voters start to pay attention to a coming election — particularly a presidential election — what do they pay attention to? And how is what they pay attention to different than what we political junkies, or those of us who work on campaigns, pay attention to?

I’m not just talking about first-time voters. Of course, the main news about first-time voters comes from data about young voters. The hype is real about their force and influence — which I’ll address shortly in extremely stark terms. One…


On Friday, I’d hoped to join Sunrise Movement Bay Area for a morning Green New Deal action at Senator Feinstein’s San Francisco Office. Instead, I was on an admin call and first saw Sunrise’s video of their interactions with the Senator. I was outraged and began sharing the media widely.

Asking a centimillionaire Senator to sign on to the sweeping reorganization of the U.S. economy needed to meet the challenges laid out in the latest IPCC report is always a longshot — but Feinstein is a Democrat and has a decent record on past climate legislation.

Instead, as millions…


We use the word activism loosely and flexibly. Activism can be a lot of things. It can be unorganized or barely-organized agitation. It can be spontaneous, like donating $5 to a campaign or advocacy group. It can be showing up at a demonstration, signing a petition, sending a postcard, even posting on social media. I don’t mention any of those things to minimize them. It’s philosophically impossible to distinguish doing enough from doing too little as long as one is doing something. Sometimes groups do heavy lifting for years, and one person’s small action is a feather that breaks the…


The reports of this country’s death are greatly exaggerated

Last night I had a dream that I died and was weirdly attending my own funeral sort of like the movie Ghost, but with better acting. It was touching to see old friends and new, coworkers, family, and even people I never expected to be there (read ex-girlfriends) at my funeral. Like most dreams, this one ended unfulfilled as just when I was about to hear my eulogy given by someone I couldn’t make out, I woke up. The circumstances of how and why I died elude me. I can only guess it was some incident involving bacon. When I…

Organizer Sandbox

thoughts on digital engagement and social action

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