What are we trying to achieve with the Civic Action Center?

Stephen Rockwell • 18 March 2018
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After investing a couple years into the Civic Action Center, it occurred to me that we have not stated publicly the goals of the activism platform.  The mission of Civic Direct is to develop civic entrepreneurs who build networks that drive innovative social change.  We believe deeply that change happens when individuals with the courage of their conviction step into the public square to initiate civic action. We believe that this action is most effective when happening in a context of network and movement building in which these committed individuals and organizations act together.  This theory of change stands opposed to waiting for "great leaders" or entrenched institutions to guide change.  

We develop the civic entrepreneurs and build the network that Robert Kennedy referred to when he said: "It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a [person] stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, [they] sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." 

Our activism platform delivers on this theory of change through: 

  1. One home for civic activity:  We are committed to aggregating as much activity in one place.  Our local civic action centers have the benefit of not only local actions, but national marches and online campaigns.  The platform allows you to create and join actions and groups.  We are creating a one stop shop for activism.  
  2. Providing a social networking platform for activism: Folks engaging in activism can magnify their impact to the degree that they are connected with each other to bring about change. Connecting activists with actions, groups, and each other across campaigns and movements across issues, geography, and time is vitally important.  The nature of movements and activism is fluidity with times of emerging thenn waning energy.  We want to keep folks connected across these spikes in activity.  We also want the platform to enable the intersectionality that movements and campaigns require for inclusiveness.  
  3. Making sense of all the civic activity:  We are increasingly making sense of the diverse and increasing amounts of civic activity.  Folks are sharing before and after their protest to talk about the desired outcomes and results.  Sharing outcomes from protests and other civic actions will allow us to talk about our collective impact.  One first attempt at this type of analysis is our Activism Heat Map.  Other collective planning and analytical tools are being planned.  
  4. Empower activist and groups with tools and resources to make an impact:  We are building effective communication tools and groupware to help informal and smaller groups and organizations run effective campaigns.  This growing toolset has a bias toward simplicity and effective online organizing on mobile.  
  5. Deep integration with social media: Every action and event on our activism platform gets magnified through our deep integration with existing and growing social media presence.  As an example, If you are in Chicago and post an organizing meeting to the Chicago Civic Action Center, the platform will automatically post the event to Civic Chicago (https://www.twitter.com/civicchitown) and then tweet a reminder on the day of the meeting.  

Hopefully, this summary of what we're attempting to achieve is enticing you to get move involved.  Thanks for connecting with us and each other.  

Comments (2)

Like, Steve. I've gotten to watch these ideas, applied, grow all the way back to your Teaming for Technology project - and I am sure the roots go back further still. Love "centers of energy and daring" - needed now as Sauron seethes and tweets and tries to subvert all good action and intention - and most of all good will.

Love the promise of the Activism Heat Map too. Maybe one day we'll be able to fly over and drill all the way down to GoPro style live-action coverage of events ...

Saw the post from Civic New York tonight: No Privatization Puerto Rico - made me think of April Leaf and her Puerto Rico based Land + Heart Project and Oskar Castro who has become a sort of walking, talking clearing house for all of the actions that have sprung up in Puerto Rico to create local food security and much more - both of them with Philadelphia roots. Maybe Civic Puerto Rico is on the horizon?

Thanks for the good hard work it has taken to build the platform and start to connect the coalitions - keep up the good work my friend.

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