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Yesterday, I posted a diary with some thoughts and questions about Energize America, the dKos plan to address our dependence on fossil fuels and the crisis of global warming. (For those of you who missed it, my wife and I were given an amazing opportunity to work on global climate change as a result of An Inconvenient Truth, and one of the suggestions we received was to work on Energize America.)

The diary is long and detailed and probably not of much interest for those who weren't involved in the creation of the plan.  However, one question emerged that I think bears the attention of anyone who cares about our dependence on fossil fuels or the fate of our planet:

How can the dailyKos community best utilize its expertise and people power to bring to life the great ideas captured in Energize America?  We proved that we could use them to elect politicians who truly represent the values of the American people... can we use them to shape a healthy energy and environmental future?

I'm going to be a little tangential here, but bear with me for a second:

There are a lot of disadvantages to suddenly going from energy/climate change novices to activists, but there are also advantages. And one of the main advantages of being "outside" of current efforts and not having the knowledge/wherewithal of the already converted is that we can see what's missing.

Having worked in the nonprofit world for a number of different social causes, I've been continuously frustrated by the lack of collaboration and redundancy amongst groups working towards the same mission.  And so I wonder here, with regard to energy/climate change policy, how are all these players working together? What differentiates them from one another?  Where is the united front?

Trust me, even having more time to do research and such, it would take us a full year just to read through the different proposals out there, get to know who the various players are, keep abreast of changes in policy, technology and other solutions... and then we'd have to start all over.  It's a movement, and it's fluid.  So a big missing piece, in my honest opinion, is unification and alignment.  Who is doing that?  Who is bringing the Union of Concerned Scientists, RMI, NRDC, Sierra Club, EIN, etc. together?

Connected to that, and just as important, are the need for a succinct, easy to understand, and non-threatening message for the layperson, along with a means for people at various stages of knowledge and engagement to get tools, information, and resources for being part of the solution.  There is no "portal" (to use 90s internet parlance) for this, at least as far as I know.

That's the big picture. In terms of Energize America and the dKos community, I think the best course of action is to focus on using its key strengths.  Those are:

*The fact that Energize America was developed through open discourse by "average" people, not policy specialists or special interests.  It has that populist hook.

*dKos is a large, vibrant and progressive community that has proven its clout politically.  It is now a known entity and has the oomph of true people power.

So how can we best utilize those strengths towards the cause of energy independence and mitigation of global climate change?  Maybe it's not about advancing a separate plan.  Maybe it's about using the power of its reach to advance specific goals.  Like dKos effectively endorsed and backed progressive candidates, maybe the community can endorse and back specific proposals and use the community's varied expertise to help flesh out certain solutions.  

One thing I'd ask you guys to consider is breaking down Energize America into very concrete and simple pieces and tackling each of them individually.  (This could be 20 individual Acts or packages of related Acts.)  Rather than trying to get 1,000 or 10,000 emails sent from community members to Pelosi, asking the Dems to adopt the entire Energize America plan, pick one or a couple of specific proposals to push.  

As I've heard from a number of people: The plan needs work, particularly in the financials, and so it may not be ready yet to go "public."  And people have understandably complained that my diary, just listing out some questions and thoughts in response to reading the plan, is way too long and complex to digest at once.  So, how likely is it that a great many dKos community members would feel that they had taken the time to understand and fully digest Energize America enough to endorse the plan?  But this could be accomplished if the plan was broken down into separate pieces.

The steps could be:
1. Decide what area (transportation, energy production, conservation, neighborhood/regional models, etc.) we want to tackle first.  This should be weighted based on the most critical and timely needs with what's most possible.
2. Figure out if there is an existing proposal out there that the community collectively feels is the best solution. (If one doesn't exist, create our own.)
3. Contact the makers of said proposal with any suggestions for changing/adapting the proposal, based on ideas and feedback from community members.  Let them know that we plan on launching an endorsement campaign.
4. Launch a campaign to promote the plan that would hopefully spread from dailyKos to other progressive online communities.  Set a target and deadline.
5. Engage the dKos community to contact their local/state/federal representatives to collect their endorsement of the plan.
6. Promote, promote, promote. Keep tabs on who's behind the plan (and make this public... there's nothing like praise or shame to motivate) and its legislative status.
7. Celebrate success. Take stock of what worked and what didn't.
8. Start all over again with the next campaign.

What this could accomplish, IMHO, is to use the strengths of dailyKos (both the resident expertise and the power of its collective will) to back good policy and put pressure on elected officials to make the right things happen.  If successful with this strategy, I believe people will pay attention and some momentum can be established.

Thoughts anyone?

Originally posted to princemyshkin on Sat Nov 11, 2006 at 10:49 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  thank you thank you thank you! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    princemyshkin, Plan9, kraant

    please keep posting on this --- personally, i'm looking forward to a complete series by you

    Cornbread is square, but pi are round.

    by cookiebear on Sat Nov 11, 2006 at 10:54:10 AM PST

  •  Hey my friend, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    princemyshkin, cookiebear, kraant

    Was great talking with you on the phone last week.  Now that the mid terms are over  ( yahoo we won! :-) , yesterday I got back to working on one of the ideas that I mentioned to you.  Meanwhile, I hope you get a lot of help through this post. Have a great weekend. Keep on,  Rick

  •  Thanks, Prince, and a suggestion (4+ / 0-)

    Please don't neglect, in a potential coalition of concerned groups, Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy.

    EFN-USA considers that environmental opposition to nuclear energy is the greatest misunderstanding and mistake of the century.

    If well managed, nuclear energy is a very clean energy, does not reject polluting gases in the atmosphere, uses very few construction materials (per kWh) compared to solar & wind energy, produces very little waste (almost totally confined), and does not contribute to the greenhouse effect (no carbon dioxyde).

    For EFN-USA, true environmentalists should therefore be in favor of nuclear energy. EFN-USA works at informing the public of the environmental benefits of nuclear energy, the cleanest energy resource massively available.

    Our belief is that more efficient uses of energy, and self sustainable lifestyles should be promoted on the long term, and that in the meantime renewable energies and nuclear energy should totally replace the use of oil, coal and gas, wherever possible.

    EFN-USA unites people throughout the world who are concerned about the future of our planet and want to keep it clean and protect nature, thanks to the use of nuclear energy and renewable energies in replacement of oil, gas and coal.

    EFN currently gathers about 8.000 members and supporters, with local correspondents in more than 50 countries, on all five continents, and supporters in most States in the US and provinces in Canada.

    Who are the members of "Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy, Inc." ?

    EFN-USA is a totally independent, private, non-profit environmental organization. EFN-USA is independent of any political, religious, financial, and industrial groups. We are just a group of people in favor of preserving the environment and of promoting nuclear energy.

    Nuclear energy is presently the largest displacer of greenhouse gases in the world. Most of the emissions-free energy in the US today is from nuclear power. To overlook it in putting together a comprehensive plan would be tragic. Environmentalists like Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, Hugh Montefiore of Friends of the Earth, Stewart Brand, Pacala and Socolow, James Lovelock, and a number of others have come to understand that unless we expand nuclear energy along with renewables we will not be able to make a significant difference in reducing carbon output.

    ...it always turns out that no one is in charge of the things that really matter.--Deborah Eisenberg, Twilight of the Superheroes

    by Plan9 on Sat Nov 11, 2006 at 11:11:22 AM PST

    •  A fair comment, however... (5+ / 0-)

      I think that the nuclear debate is a perfect example of why it may be best to split elements (pun intended) of Energize America into separate proposals.  Right or wrong, there are a lot of people opposed to nuclear as an option and if the choice were to either endorse the entire Energize America plan or not at all, some may choose the latter simply because of this.

      •  Good point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        princemyshkin

        I understand that among the EA crafters there was a certain amount of bickering about whether or not even to mention nuclear power. A. Siegel and Jerome a Paris understand that it has to be part of the mix but others opposed it.

        I am for whatever works to get Congress and the country into a realistic conversation about global warming.  But sooner or later we have to address the question of nuclear power.  It would help if misperceptions about it were corrected, but at present these are perpetuated by RMI and other organizations you mention.

        In the big scheme of things it seems very strange to ignore the only large-scale tool we have at our disposal at present.  The Sierra Club used to endorse nuclear power, and if the leadership ever realizes what is at stake with global warming it may come around, as other enviros have.  

        For example, Ask Umbra at Grist.

        Campaigning against nuclear power will only result in increased burning of coal to supply growing baseload needs.

        ...it always turns out that no one is in charge of the things that really matter.--Deborah Eisenberg, Twilight of the Superheroes

        by Plan9 on Sat Nov 11, 2006 at 12:11:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This diary is in keeping with (0+ / 0-)

    Devilstower's diary yesterday about the new Dem majority passing a series of brief, very specific and understandable bills -- e.g. on the minimum wage. This may be applied to energy politics with good effect because it is an issue that is otherwise overwhelming. The Diary was call 'This is How We Roll' or something like that.

    We might try to isolate a number of action-specific items from Energize America to publicize and to push to specific members of Congress.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Sat Nov 11, 2006 at 12:24:49 PM PST

  •  Don't get anal-retentive. (0+ / 0-)

    I suspect that regardless of what plan might get put into the Congressional hopper, it will undergo substantial change due to the usual-suspect political factors beyond the author's control.  So don't think you have to have the PERFECT plan before you can proceed.

    I will post other thoughts separately.

    GOOD WORK!

    -4.25, -4.87 "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein

    by HeyMikey on Sat Nov 11, 2006 at 12:55:27 PM PST

  •  While I appreciate the point of view .... (0+ / 0-)

    There are reasons for "package" ... and reasons to disagree with Devilstower.

    Having totally discrete, individual, "short" bills creates conditions where the President has effective line-item veto authority.

    Smart management of riders can mean passage of critical items which would be hard to pass unattached to other things.  

    For example, considering the reaction here, could a gas tax (or any tax???) pass without association of some sort with other things -- such as how that revenue would be used?  

    And, the point is not to pressure Congress to "pass Energize America" ... but to take it seriously into consideration as a holistic approach and set of concepts. There are several of the acts which are being looked at by members of Congress.  EA2020 will not -- and should not -- be passed as legislation as is. On the other hand, it has some ideas and linkages that could / should be part of the legislative agenda.

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