Most widespread day of political action in history

This past weekend I had the honor of volunteering with the team during the final 48 hours of their global day of action on October 24, in more than 180 countries and every single time zone. It was filled with the same intensity and emotion as Election Day — complete with lots of under-slept bodies and a dank campaign office. I was thoroughly impressed, learned a good deal, and had a blast. I’m preparing a more in-depth write-up on lessons learned, but in the meantime I wanted to pull together my status updates from the day (start reading from the bottom!) as well as some of the videos i shot.  

ok, has basically turned into a porn site for online organizers. (and my coworkers have caught me sneaking peeks) #350ppm 11:49 PM Oct 26th

v cool: 200 Kayakers form giant floating 350 4 Day of Action. video: @amaser #350ppm #PDX via @350 @blakehschmidt 4:48 PM Oct 26th

RT @philaroneanu: Just about to enter the UN bldg in NYC. Going to deliver your @350 photos to Ban Ki Moon’s climate team @secgen #350ppm 1:40 PM Oct 26th

Grandiose q’s for a Sun, exploring future of citizen organizing + leaderless orgs in social change w/ @heif after ystrday’s @350 events 2:08 PM Oct 25th  

There’re few thing more beautiful to me than what @350 crew + thousands of vol organizers achieved today. all deserve much sleep. #350ppm 1:33 PM Oct 24th

RT @350 on ABC News: Boston to Beijing, Sydney to Delhi #350ppm (via @350buzz) 1:21 AM Oct 24th

video walkthrough of massive 350 Times Sq event: + smiles frm organizers after: #350ppm 6:40 PM Oct 24th cheers erupting from #350ppm HQ as global day of action photos hit homepage of NYT, IHT, Le Monde 6:05 PM Oct 24th

Photo: rallying in times sq under photos from #350ppm global day of climate action 4:19 PM Oct 24th

Photo: From times sq, proud organizers, mvmt builders #350ppm global day of climate action 4:16 PM Oct 24th

Big rally in times sq right now, showing pics of millions ppl taking action in almost every cntry to change our climate future #350ppm 4:07 PM Oct 24th

350 global day of climate action takes over TIMES SQ right now, photos frm around world. Unreal! VID: #350ppm 3:59 PM Oct 24th

this is what new organizing looks like. what’s happening behind largest distributed global action; VID: #350ppm 2:11 PM Oct 24th

athletes organizing events around the world for #350ppm global day of climate action; behind scenes video: 1:16 PM Oct 24th

McKibben re digital organizing: this is beta test of whether we can take this new arch. + make it serve some useful end 1:12 PM Oct 24th

RT @350: #CNN is SO our fav network right now: RT @Agent350: #350ppm on CNN this morning! Josh gets the story exactly: 1:07 PM Oct 24th

caught up w/ @billmckibben for realtime update on #350ppm day of action as it unfolds around the world: #350ppm 1:05 PM Oct 24th

incred photos coming in fast and furious frm #350ppm actions around the world: several of us tagging/sorting furiously 12:15 PM Oct 24th

“How long till I can get a decent robot?”

ROCKET MAN from last week’s NYT Mag (“The Screens Issue”) – Andy Samberg:

I saw a clip on the Internet of that Swiss dude, Yves Rossy, who made himself a jet pack and then flew it around like some kind of European awesome guy! If you haven’t seen it, just imagine if Iron Man and a Stealth bomber had a baby and decided to raise it in Switzerland to be a bald dude. The jet pack, much like the video phone, has always been on my childhood list of things I’ve been waiting for. And now, they’re both here. The future has arrived! Which raises the question: How long till I can get a decent robot? I don’t want any of those big white clunkers I’ve seen rolling around. I want a robot that I can really use. One that can entertain guests with political trivia and lend me money for late-night cab rides. Get it together, robot makers.

I’ve also been enjoying “The Wire” on DVD.

A few must reads

Was able to catch up on some reading over the long weekend… A few articles (plus one book) that i was really glad to read, and which I’d highly reccomend:

(1) China Invades Africa, by Richard Behar in June’s Fast Company :: This won’t look very significant from the web page, but the amount of ink dedicated to this article in print is incredible — it’s one of the longest features that Fast has ever run (or so Jake says).  And rightfully so — it may be the most illuminating article i’ve read all year, and I think everyone should read it.  Summary: it’s a well-writen but harrowing account of how China is rolling half the African continent to get at the majority of the world’s extractable, non-renewable natural resources in record time — with lots of good first-person reporting and adventure laced in. Most developed countries have little standing to ask that we don’t repeat development mistakes of decades ago, as African rulers / heads of state sell their countries down the river for personal gain.

(2) The New Organizers, Part 1: What’s really behind Obama’s ground game, by Zack Exley in HuffPo (Oct 8) :: Another great read, outlining how team Obama and the Dems have (a) returned to real field organizing but revolutionized and magnified its impact by (b) integrating web thinking — enabling and empowering volunteers to do the work that would have traditionally been done by staff.  It’s a much-refined and evolved version of the Dean campaign, where meetup meets traditional field organizing in a dramatic new way.  Zack does a nice job covering the ‘neighborhood teams’ program that the campaign has artfully rolled out across the country.  Hats off to friend and collegue Jeremy Bird who gets some well-deserved credit in this piece for all he’s doing to make the program work; he’s been in the field running states for Obama since the early early primaries and we’ll owe him a parade and a bed once Obama wins. Ready for Part 2, Zack.

(3) How the Web Was Won: An Oral History of the Internet — Vanity Fair special, July 08 :: This is the most enjoyable and complete history of the internet that i’ve seen. It’s like walking in on a private cocktail party with all the geeky greats, telling old stories about how it all came together.  But they’re not talking about little things like widgets or the BCC line — this is about how the real stuff came to be, like ethernet and the web browser.

(4) The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni — Hang on. Hear me out. I’ve had this book for two years now but it sounded so horribly and painfully boring that I could never bring myself to pick it up, despite the personal reccomendations.  Then I saw the small print on the cover: “a leadership fable”. Props to Pat for going the extra mile to write this businessy/leadership/management book as if it were fiction. Not sure why no one ever told me it was actually an enjoyable and quick read, because it is. Anyone who works with people or serves in a leadership role would benefit from this I’d imagine. Did I mention that it’s a quick read?

Cream, sugar, or social capital?

Reading the special report in last week’s Economist on mobility (Nomads at last) and dug this:

James Katz at Rutgers fears that cyber-nomads are “hollowing them out”. It is becoming commonplace for a café to be full of people with headphones on, speaking on their mobile phones or laptops and hacking away at their keyboards, more engaged with their e-mail inbox than with the people touching their elbows. These places are “physically inhabited but psychologically evacuated”, says Mr Katz, which leaves people feeling “more isolated than they would be if the café were merely empty”. That is because the “physical presence of other human beings is psychologically and neurologically arousing” but now produces no reward. Quite simply, he says, we have not evolved biologically to be happy in these situations.

You heard it hear first. Foggy monacles and vodka.

Alright, all you aspiring agents of buzz. Warm up your hot little taste-making palates.

HOTlist item #1: Vermont Vodka. Technically, Vermont Spirits. Think, the next Ben and Jerry’s. And don’t judge them on their website. The white vodka (from pure milk sugar) goes down best, but the gold (maple) is pretty damn good too. Ask for it at your local bar; it’s being distributed by Anheuser-Busch. Thanks to college friend Mary Skovsted for making the trip down from the Northeast Kingdom last weekend to introduce us to the fruits of her distilling labor.

HOTlist item #2: After a long night of vodka drinking, the possibility presents itself that a gentleman will be over-served and, in due course, engage in ungentlemanly behavior. Enter The Foggy Monocle, a PostSecret for the morning after. Brought to you by the NYC scenesters modestly featured in the blog’s header image, Dane and Jung, it’s guaranteed to be an entertaining ride. Check it out before Gawker does. And send them some content.

A gentleman may, in the course of a night’s cavorting, be relieved of his senses from time to time. In the aftermath of such situations, the gentleman may be forced to IM, email or text with his fellow gentleman to help recount the activities of the night prior, or simply to discuss how the day is going. TheFoggyMonocle believes that these conversations reveal the true nature of the modern gentleman, and by reprinting these tales of urban mischief, we celebrate the American gentleman in all his glory.

And yes, I’m slowly converting the Blogatron into a Jimmy fan-blog. Seems like the only sensible thing to do.

Snuffing the torch… and rekindling my protest flame

I’ve never been much of a believer in big marches, demonstrations, or protests. Primarily because they seem passé and ineffective, especially relative to the organizing work involved.

But the incredible work that protesters have done this week to disrupt the olympic torch relay in London, Paris, and now San Francisco has brought me hope and completely changed my attitude on the power of protest.

As an organizer, I’m always heartened by good examples of effective mobilizing, especially when they’re self-organized. But these past few days have been different — perhaps because I’m in such strong support of the effort, or because the entire 5 day+ affair caught me by surprise.

I wish no disruption to the athletes who have no doubt trained for years to compete in this year’s games, but I don’t agree with rewarding a country that consistently abuses basic human rights by handing it the Olympic Games. In the years since it was awarded the games, China squandered numerous opportunities to demonstrate its commitment to making human rights improvements.

My friend Japhet was one of the SF organizers. Your correspondent spoke with him this evening to learn more about what happened on the ground today. I was primarily surprised to learn how often the torch delegation and its massive police escort were forced to reroute (the original route was never used apparently), and how the technology being used by the protesters and organizers — mostly SMS — enabled them to apply constant pressure with great agility. Also interesting: The comm’s system in place was both heavily distributed (to gather intel on torch location) and heavily centralized (to broadcast changing plans).

So, except for anyone still hunger-striking, we’re no longer using our parents’ protest tools. The elements of a successful action, however, appear to have remain unchanged:
(1) timing — global news media is focused on the torch, so hijack the news cycle and an iconic moment (torch relay) to capture hearts and minds (ok, mostly minds)
(2) targeting — it only took a few dozen to a few hundred people to make a significant impact in SF; not tens of thousands of people marching on D.C.

Gotta love 60 Minutes

I am easily the only remaining person under 30 to religiously watch 60 Minutes each week.Which is too bad, because despite the inflated Leslie Stahl and senile Andy Rooney (a cranky wingnut blogger before his time), it’s actually a great show.

For the uninitiated, here are the 4 different types of stories that you can expect to enjoy:

  1. Profile … of the rich, famous, musical, political, or athletic
  2. Investigation … of a shocking law, practice, pollutant, or drug (FDA approved or unproven) being perpetrated on the public by the government or a corporation or both
  3. Criminal case … gone horribly wrong due to mistrial, corruption, or unfair death sentence
  4. Football (when Sunday Night Football goes into overtime)