Last night I was hanging out with a billionare shooting the breeze about the agenda-setting power of local online communities. OK, Sergey Brin was speaking on stage and I was in the front row, but I did talk with a number of folks from Google and others including one of founders of eGroups (now YahooGroups).
This is a really big deal.
The Ashoka fellowship means I will dedicate myself full-time to E-Democracy.Org for at least the next three years – no more subsidizing my passion with my often exhausting consulting work while trying to juggle the wonderful obligations of a new father and husband.
While I’ll still speak here and there and continue to network the global e-democracy community through DoWire.Org, my focus will be the exciting spread of local online Issues Forums through an expanded E-Democracy.Org. Read or listen to my speech from Montreal for a glimpse of the emerging agenda.
Iâ€™ll zip out the official press release from Ashoka – http://www.ashoka.org â€“ soon, but join me on this journey to build the future of democracy today.
How can you get involved?
I want you to join our E-Democracy.Org team. Donâ€™t wait for someone else to build anywhere, any time democracy in your community or country, get started now with us.
1. Request Information on Starting a local Issues Forum – We are planning a virtual training program for a Class of 2007. We are considering an application to the Knight Foundation to accelerate up to 10 community start-ups across a number of countries, but ultimately our volunteer-based, extremely low cost model is spreading based on local citizen initiative..
* E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Guidebook, Presentations, Video: http://e-democracy.org/if
* Join the online group for potential forum starters:
2. Join our Advisory Committee – We need people with diverse expertise from strategic planning to fundraising to usability and every geek topic under the sun. We ask that you agree to dedicate at least two hours a year specifically to helping E-Democracy.Org. Expect a yearly teleconference call and occasional requests for advice and assistance.
* Join our online advisory group now:
3. Be a Volunteer â€“ We are launching a public workspace for volunteers. Like an open source technology project, this will be our catch-all online space for the nitty-gritty of our work. From putting out a request for volunteer assistance to upgrade our wiki or install a plug-in for our new project blog to implementing marketing plans, this will be the loud noisy place for those who agree with our mission and can dedicate at least two hours a month to the cause. No lazy lurkers allowed! E-Democracy.Org is building out a set of tools from our use of the open source GroupServer platform for local forums to new ideas like Voices â€“ http://e-democracy.org/voices that aggregate â€œtaggedâ€ civic content. We want volunteers from every corner of the globe so we can build the best global platform for local e-democracy imaginable.
* Join our volunteer forum here:
4. Give us Money â€“ Letâ€™s start simple. If youâ€™d like to make a pledge, drop us an e-mail and youâ€™ll be first in line to receive our first official donation drive message. Perhaps will make up a catchy name for the first class of donors to help us ratchet up our activities.
* Pledge to: email@example.com
Finally, a few quick thank you messages; first to my wife Laurel for all of your encouragement and faith in my efforts, second the dozens of E-Democracy.Org volunteers over the years and particularly to Tim Erickson, our mega-volunteer and sometimes contractor, for dealing on the ground with all of the increased interest weâ€™ve received over the last couple years, and finally to the UK Local E-Democracy National Project for providing the resources in 2005 to strengthen our model for sharing and the resources we used to build better open source technology into our working model with our New Zealand friends at OnlineGroups.Net with GroupServer. Because of all our combined efforts, I predict in 3 years that we will be amazed at how many communities will join us and how far our ideas and practices will spread for the benefit of people in democracies around the world.