This weekend I was lucky enough to attned Planned Parenthood Advocates of VA’s annual student organizing conference. This year it was held on colonial Williamsburg on the campus of William & Mary, though actually we didn’t see any of the city or campus because we were in fascinating and motivating workshops all day.
I ended up there because of the intersections of a lot of things that, actually, have to do with my online social networking and my off-line political opinions. As a board member of H*yas for Choice, a former Planned Parenthood intern in SD, and a current member of the Planned Parenthood of VA and Planned Parenthood Action Network list-serves I get a lot of information about upcoming events.
Unlike the Obama campaign, which overloaded me with information way, way too frequently, all these organizations send me different messages about the same bill/candidate/issue/etc. This is pretty amazing– it makes sense though, since each affiliate group has a unique perspective based on their particular situation. H*yas for Choice also has a specific viewpoint that goes out over their list serve.
What this means for me, though, is that since I’m getting several different opinions I’m actually much more likely to do something than to just skim and delete. David Plouffe over-filled my mailbox and Facebook pages, but the Planned Parenthood affiliates and/or similar groups rarely message me on the same day, they post interesting things to their Facebook pages, and often encourage me to take action with a pre-existing community.
It helps, too, that Planned Parenthood can set up personal contacts between their field organizers and much smaller groups like H*yas for Choice. We felt like our presence, and not just because we’re a Catholic school, was actually really wanted at the conference– it wasn’t just about getting the number of attendees up, it was actually about creating an offline community from the links we’ve built online.
H*yas for Choice has a Facebook group that has links to PPAV, PPAN, NARAL, etc. All those groups, in turn, have pages on Facebook too. I’ve joined them all, but this was the first time where I felt like the on-line and offline world of advocacy was crossing in a productive and inspiring way. We left with the e-mail and Facebook/website addresses for the pro-choice groups at other DC-area schools and, I hope, that by keeping up to date on their actions via the web we’ll be able to organize some productive co-sponsored events, start friendly rivalries, and keep our motivation up.
This must be what Mobilizing Generation 2.0 means by “closing the feedback loop” (more, by the way, on this book later). I am seriously motivated and all it took was stepping away from my action alerts and sitting inside a conference, talking to real people, and being simultaneously thanked for support and asked for action… I’m ready to fight the good fight in the weeks ahead.