Update: Due to increased interest in the event, the registration deadline has been extended till Thursday.
There's been a lot of buzz around the ol Tubes of the Internets here in Michigan about this Saturday's upcoming Activate '08 Training/Bloggers Institute in Lansing, put on by our very own staunch supporter of the MI netroots - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm.
As one of the volunteer trainers, I'm really excited about the training, resource-sharing, and networking opportunities that will be available for those who join us, and it's my hope that after reading this post, it's something you'll consider coming to.
For me, this training is about building a Farm Team, not just for the Granholm/Cherry folks, or even for the established party system.This is really about passing along skills that are very much needed in the entire progressive world, whether it's candidates, or organizations, or just a movement.
We've already seen how hard-hitting the '08 election cycle is going to be, and this is just the beginning. As the entire progressive movement speeds up and really starts rolling, there is an increasing need for well-trained, dedicated activists both on and off-line.
Unfortunately with a very few exceptions on the national level, there isn't any set curriculum or training centers that an interested person can go to and get schooled on something like this. Most of us who participate simply spent too many hours asking friends, learning from others, or by trial and error, creating a virtually organic movement. It's a source of great pride for most of us, but there's a need for fresh voices that grows by the day.
As someone who's been working in online activism more or less for the last 7 years, I'm really blessed to have a job that I love that puts to use these skills and is a part of the progressive march forward that I actually get paid for. It's a job that wouldn't have happened if people like MichiganLiberal's founder Matt and "God-mother" Laura Packard hadn't welcomed me into the community and passed along some of these skills. I like to think I've taken what they've taught me and added some of my own experience from a non-profit/legislative liaison background. I feel that all of it operates on the "Pass it On/Pay it Forward" mentality. I've been given these skills, had my eyes opened, learned some lessons the hard way, and now it's my duty as a member of the community to pass it on and help others find a job/career that they love and helps out in the fight.
Political bloggers/online activists are an emerging group, but we're still small, and there's lots of room to grow, especially for good, well-trained bloggers who can go out and work with progressive groups, non-profits, and candidates. While we grow, we should absolutely make sure that a part of our community remains independent of the established political system, because as Madison did when he pseudonymously critiqued some of the very documents that our country was founded on, discussion and disagreement is healthy and necessary for democracy. Blogs are one of the best ways for doing this and it's something an important task that we've already shown we do well at.
While blogs like this one are some of the most recognizable forms of online activism, there are many other tools out there, some that you probably haven't even thought of, just waiting to be utilized and activated.
Ponder this for a moment - if we really want to change the political ideology and landscape of this state and nation, how do we do that without supporting future progressive candidates, government officials, etc? How many times have you looked to Lansing with disgust over some of the types of people who make our laws for us and thought that you or someone you know could do a much better job?
Let's stop pondering and wishing and dreaming and living in the Land of If Only... and let's make it happen. Let's get out there, encourage the young and the old to join our fight and when they're ready, make sure that they are the ones doing the law-making in Lansing. As with almost all people-powered movements, it starts with us, being that support system, inviting others to join us, giving them the tools and the training and helping them move forward. There's a big difference between criticizing the do-nothings and working to bring in a real progressive political infrastructure.
So, if you're serious about working towards a people-powered progressive movement and making a real difference this election season, or just towards a more fulfilling volunteer and/or career, check out some of what we'll be covering this Saturday and join us, or look out as we announce future trainings.
While the speakers list hasn't been finalized, there are going to be some of the top names in field organizers, communications staff, and fundraisers from across the state, not to mention that the Governor herself will be presenting and on hand for much of the training. Here's a sampling from the Bloggers Institute agenda this weekend. You can view the flyer here.
* Campaigns and online activism
* Types of online activism
* Harnessing the power of social networking
* Online Fundraising
* Careers in Internet Outreach/Online Organizing
* Michigan's role in Online Activism
* Why blog/Different types of blogging
* Getting started
* Research Guides and Techniques
* Using Sources
* Choosing your name and writing style
* Nuts and Bolts (technical tools)
* Promoting your blog
* Keeping the momentum going
* Top Tricks for Bloggers
Be sure to sign-up here. While it's a free event a head count is needed because lunch is being provided. Hope to see you there!