Sunday, June 25, 2006

Response to posts on

Personal Factor Four: Organizing Real Environmental Action With The Internet Vinay Gupta

I think that the balance between weak individual action and Internet collective consciousness can be met through participation in online activism. One of the problems I face as a green consumer is that I'm going broke doing it. I can barely afford to feed my family organic foods, I have been priced out of the housing market so there is no way I can move into the green housing arena, and in order to afford eating healthy, ethically and wise, I sold my cars, so no green car. We recently found a green apartment so there's a step in the right direction, but at a higher cost than what we had previously been renting... and for less space! So I am behind the "green house, green car, organic food" effort, but it’s hard… real hard.

But I didn’t write here today to simply say I want to pursue this grand endeavor, rather to provide a cautionary tale of online activism and get an idea from the WorldChanging viewers as to the best approach given so many other like-minded efforts.

For example, labeling laws that take away what some states have worked so hard to implement are now at risk of being stripped away from them... thank you HR 4167! To date, this Bill has only passed in the House. Check here for status updates (

There are several online activist groups (listed below) who are trying to get the same thing accomplished. Is it better to have individuals contact their representatives, or for multiple organizations/groups to submit signed petitions, or to have one unified voice? The average individual is less likely to act if much effort is required on their part. Ideally, every person would have their representatives phone number on a refrigerator magnet next to the Dominoes magnet and the astrological sign magnet they picked up on a whim at the grocery store checkout line. However, I think online forms are about as much as we can expect that anyone can handle at this point.

Here’s the list and how each of the sites has handled the petitions.
Generation Green: Suggested Letter for you to send to Rep (
The Organic Comsumer's Association: Online Form (
Natural Resources Defense Council: Online Form(

I'm sure there are some others, but these are the sites that I actively pursue and receive email alerts from. I could go on and list about 100 other sites that simply list how this will negatively effect us, but that's why God invented Google and your ISP. How many other struggles are ongoing that have multiple like minded people who are acting independently of one another?

Here's another good example. The anti-war protest in DC in September, 2005 had more signs, banners, shirts and buttons than anything I had ever seen. It was literally a circus of freaks. Just because we all hate Bush doesn't mean that we can't all unify and get our collective voice across. If it's anti-war, make anti-war signs and leave the impeachment signs for the protests that take place on the capitol steps, or for when we all have had enough and storm out of our homes, out of our cars, out of our offices, and march on Washington! Hell, at least the stay-the-course pro-war march was sponsored by Pepsi.

… and speaking of EnergyStar, proposed sunset legislation could potentially remove programs like EnergyStar and Federal Support for Mass Public Transit without giving these programs the time and attention they deserve. When will other organizations jump on this and device their own plan of attack? I know you can follow links, but follow these three…

My point... online activism GOOD, duplication of effort BAD! Solidarity is key.

Given that there are so many people out there all fighting the good fight, from bloggers to non-profits, there needs to be one place that everyone can direct their online activists to. Democracy In Action ( seems to be the one place that I have found in common amongst many of my email alerts that is a resource for this very type of activity. I would think that if the label law activism sites listed above could incorporate the use of a site like Democracy In Action, it would not only help defray the cost of the service, but would also send a powerful One-Voice message to the recipient of the petitions. Not only that, but Joe Blogger and WorldChanging would catch wind of the effort and post the link as well.

So, do it but do it well. Organize the effort in a manner that all of the tag-alongs can tag along. Find out who has similar efforts underway and ask them if they are amenable to consolidating efforts. We are voices to be united!