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June 17, 2007

The Blogosphere: Already a Hotbed of Activism

I'm the national Program Chair of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF US). I'm also on the international Communications Committee and on my local branch board. In short, I've spent 95% of my activist time since 1999 in WILPF. I can wax poetic about all of the inspirational women I've met through the organization. I could tell you about all of the organizational development skills I've learned by being on the national board. That's not where my head is at. Right now I'm banging my head against this basic cold hard fact: a 92 year old organization has an extremely difficult time moving into online activism. Like many organizations, we continue to try to control the Official Statements from headquarters. Then again, the other problem we face is that the vast majority of our members are older and do not use the blogosphere nor do they have an understanding of how online activism is already connecting activists from around the world and having a significant impact on global politics and culture.

I feel like I'm standing at a crossroad: my time is severely limited. Whereas in Chicago, I had plenty of time during the workday to delve into the online world, I am now limited to time before 8:30 a.m. and after 5:30 p.m for activism (along with occasional reading during my lunch hour). Further, there is so much work to be done to strengthen WILPF and expand its influence that I often forget to keep up with the blogosphere or any other part of the online world. (I'm too busy keeping up with WILPF emails and the listserv for thyroid cancer survivors).

I guess I'm stuck with obligations to Web 1.0, and don't have a full grasp of Web 2.0. Many people expect me to translate the world of online activism for my organization, but I'm afraid that my knowledge is a tad out-dated at this point. When shall I find the time to get up to speed? Where can I look for portals into this world?

Recently, I found a fascinating portal: Global Voices. My friend, Chris Salzberg, is one of their East Asia editors. He pointed me to a great video of GV founder Ethan Zuckerman talking about the blogosphere and how it's reshaping activism.

I'm grateful to see that through online communication more people are learning the lesson I took away from my Peace & Justice Studies education at Wellesley: its not about people of the North determining the right direction for people of the South; it's about the entire human community listening to one another and working together to create change. That on the microlevel, we should allow individuals and communities to speak for themselves and that on the macro level, we must all have a voice in the decision making process. I look forward to continuing to expand my knowledge of these worlds and to garner inspiration from people across the globe.

Posted by cj at June 17, 2007 8:35 PM


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