The legacy of the Groundwire Dream Team

Adapted from a note I sent to the Web of Change alumni listserv upon hearing of Groundwire shutting its doors on March 1. I felt compelled to pay some respects… 

Groundwire (and ONE Northwest) represented something of a North Star for me when i first got into digital strategy and online organizing work… coming out of a transformational but electrifying experience messing with technology and organizing on the Dean campaign in 2003, i was desperately looking around to see if anyone else was excited about the potential for organizing and social change in a networked world, and Gideon’s Movement as Network — and Marty Kearns’ Network Centric Advocacy — were among the only things around… Both pieces heavily influenced me as we tried our hand at working with orgs and started EchoDitto.

A few years later, my friend and mentor Leda convinced me to come to Web of Change, where I met Jodie Tonita and Steve Andersen, two of the smartest and most interesting people I had ever met in our world, and they TOO were part of this amazing group of people who identified as ONE/Northwest! (the mystique was even greater to an east coaster who had never really been to the PacNW)

The incredible organizing work that Jodie did to create such a powerful Web of Change event in 2006 is why I’m still involved today.

Steve turned me on to the power and potential of data, long before “big data” was Big Data — writing pieces like this about he we can be smarter about tracking and engaging supporters. Today he’s unsurprisingly part of the leadership team at the Salesforce Foundation, helping the entire NGO sector get smarter with data.

Then i finally met the rockstars that are Jon Stahl, Dave Averill, and Karen Uffelman not too much later, only to find that the genius — and nice people — pool at Groundwire ran deeper than any other place I had encountered.

Some of the most influential and important and well-articulated thought leadership in our space has come from this team.

Know what the #1 Google search result is for ‘engagement pyramid’ (at least in my bubble) — it’s Groundwire’s incredible resource which i’m sure countless members of this network have pulled out in trainings, presentations, meetings, planning sessions — i know i have: The Engagement Pyramid: Six Levels of Connecting People and Social Change

Karen’s “What’s Your Engagement Superpower?” question has also become a staple for me.

The DIY Engagement Benchmarking Survey is a work of art in my book and has some of the best diagnostic questions anyone could ask in working with a team or organization and getting them to think about if and how they value people. Hats off to Drew Bernard who was behind Groundwire Labs and made lots of stuff like this happen before launching ActionSprout.

And Jon’s recent Engagement Organizing report continues the trend.

I’m sure there’s plenty more i’m missing, i just wanted to share a few of the big ways that Groundwire has made a difference in my life personally and professionally over the years — and, i believe, had an outsized impact on our entire community.

I’m so grateful to everyone who was part of the team and have deep admiration for the legacy you’ve left us. I’m consoled by the fact that the individuals who made Groundwire what it was will continue to do what they do best from many great new perches and have just as much (if not more) impact.

With great respect

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