How do you build movements in the 21st century? The research for my thesis has begun, and I’m now halfway into Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. In the spirit of my thesis theme ‘collaborative consumption’, of course I’m borrowing this book from my local library that is somewhere behind those trees in the background. However, I have already felt the urge to underline and comment a bunch of stuff on the pages. Guessing the librarians would not be happy about that, so using my iPhone to take notes for now.
I definitely need to get more organized in my research, but then again, getting to know my new neighborhood, the lovely Prospect Park, changing my pale skin to a more proper color for the summer, are all high priorities for the weekends, and will unfortunately interfere a bit with my studying. Considering that I spend my work weeks this summer at Purpose, I’m hoping that will give me some valuable insights before next semester starts as well…
Purpose designs movements for social change, and works within areas like LGBT rights (Yay, same-sex marriage law in NY!), fighting obesity, trying to make the world a little bit greener, just and so on. Their focus is on mobilizing people online to take action for different causes. It’s great to be a part of the enthusiastic Purpose team, knowing that all our projects are meaningful and can potentially make a difference in the world.
Building a movement is no exact science, and whether or not something becomes as big as one would hope for is hard to predict. Right now the American Dream Movement (see RebuildTheDream.com), a response to the conservative Tea Party movement, is one to watch. Their arguments are clear and convincing – for a Norwegian social-democrat, anyway. But will their strategy be able to mobilize the American democrats under one umbrella like the Obama campaign did? Watch highlights from Van Jones movement launch speech, read these articles (article I, II, III), and judge for yourself! Unfortunately, I’m afraid Sally Kohn at HyperVocal (article I) might be right in her analysis of the people this movement is trying to reach out to:
[T]he success of the American Dream Movement depends on the willingness of progressive organizations and leaders to glom onto Van’s message. And progressives, in general, aren’t known for glomming on. Maybe it’s because we’re free thinking, anti-hierarchical types who like to create things ourselves. [...] Or maybe it’s because we’re overly analytical or even cynical, too busy dissecting any solution as imperfect to be enthusiastic about the good parts.