Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Building The EAOP Network

The Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program at Antioch University New England is not just a two-year activist training program. It is also an ongoing activist network of faculty, graduates, and current students who support each other for the long haul.

This fall, as we welcome our fifth cohort of activists-in-training to the program, the EAOP has also launched an alumni blog to help keep this network connected after graduation--and we are also organizing the first of many bi-annual EAOP network weekend gatherings for graduates, faculty, and current students. According to EAOP faculty member Abi Abrash Walton, "We envision this first network gathering as a great opportunity for EAOPers from all five years of the program to get together to catch up, network, and be inspired by each other."

As an additional treat, Eli Pariser, the Executive Director of MoveOn.org, will be joining us as our guest speaker during the weekend. Eli was at the top of our list when we brainstormed possible keynotes, and we're super psyched that he will be plugging in with us for what promises to be an intense talk and discussion on organizing the "netroots" into a powerful force for positive social change.

Here is a little background on Eli. He joined MoveOn in November of 2001, after his independent, web-based petition for a multi-lateral response to the events of 9/11 received overwhelming support from the online community. He directed MoveOn's campaign against the Iraq War, tripling MoveOn's member base in the process.

Pariser was one of the co-creators of the Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest and, as Executive Director of MoveOn.org Political Action, raised over $30 million from over 350,000 small donors in 2004 to run ads, develop a powerful field program, and support various progressive positions and candidates.

Pariser graduated summa cum laude in 2000 with a B.A. in Liberal Arts (concentration in Political Science) from Simon's Rock College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He is originally from Camden, Maine and now lives in Portland, Maine. He appeared on The Colbert Report for an interview on August 10, 2006.

Abi and I both believe that by building an ongoing network of EAOP-trained activists, advocates, and organizers, we can make a stronger contribution to social change than having a program that just lets its graduates scatter with no organized way to keep in touch with each other, with current students, or with the EAOP faculty. We believe that we are all in this work together and we want to support each other long after students complete their master's program in Environmental Advocacy and Organizing. We are not just building an activist training program, we are building a small, but growing activist network that offers inspiration, support, assistance, and opportunities for continuing education for action.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Resources for Radio Activists

In the first piece I ever posted on this blog, I talked about some of the Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program's radio activism. For us, it all began when Ellen Hayes, one of our student organizers, persuaded a local college station to affiliate with the Pacifica Radio Network and then organized a volunteer committee to broadcast 15 hours of Pacifica programs each week. In my earlier post, I assured readers that in my very "next post" I would provide a list of "some alternative community radio resources in case this type of media activism might appeal to you or someone you know." Well, life got in the way and several other posts were published next, but here--at long last--is the comprehensive radio activism resource list that I promised several posts back.

Great Books on Radio Activism

First, click here for some good books on the history, rationale, and how-to-skills involved in working on progressive community radio projects, including webradio and podcasts.

Great Radio Programs

Second, here is a list of radio programs that folks in the EAOP work hard to play on our local community station every week:

Democracy Now!
Between the Lines
Voices of Our World
Earth Beat Radio
Radio Nation
Alternative Radio
This Way Out
Guns and Butter
Unwelcome Guests
Expert Witness
World of Possibilities
Making Contact

A Great Radio Network

Next is a list of good links to the Pacifica Radio Network, the little network that could. Pacifica has been broadcasting alternative, noncommercial, radio programs since 1949, when they started with one station in Berkely, California. Today, they now have close to 100 affiliated stations across the country. They offer numerous resources to local radio activists.

Basic Pacifica Network Info
How To Affiliate
Affiliates Program History
Affiliated Stations List
Network Governance Info
KU Satalite Schedule
KU Program Descriptions
KU Satalite FAQs
Pacifica AudioPort
AudioPort Manual
Network Contacts
Pacifica Radio Archives
Pacifica Foundation

Other Great Radio Resources

Finally, here is a list other good resources on radio/media activism and the potential for creating a more diverse, progressive, democratic, locally-controlled, but nationally supported, alternative and community radio system in the this country and beyond.

Public Radio News and Views From Currents
Inter-Collegiate Broadcasting System
National Federation of Community Boradcasters
Prometheus Radio Project
Grassroots Radio Coalition
Air America
National Public Radio
Media Education Foundation
Media Access Project
Americans for Radio Diversity
Alliance for Community Media
Free Press
Federal Communications Commission

I hope this information helps you all get a handle on how you too could get started in democratic community radio activism. We would very much like our students' Advocacy Clinic project experience to be helpful to an even wider group of people.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Power of Activist Study Groups

As the director of an intensive, two-year, activist training program, I start from the assumption that activist learning, education, and training improves the chances of our social movements actually winning victories. This assumption has been well documented by researchers like Griff Foley and Michael Newman, but for me this core conviction grows mostly out of my own experience.

In the early 1970s, I helped organize an activist study circle designed by a popular education group called the Philadelphia Macro-Analysis Collective. My particular “macro” group involved close to two-dozen local activists in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Our aim was to help each other see beyond our different single issues, the next demonstration, or even the next hot button issue to come along. We intuitively sensed that we needed to go beyond our urgent, but largely unreflective activism. We decided to study together for half a year to develop a more dynamic and holistic analysis, vision, and strategy to guide our work as social change organizers. It was one of my most powerful learning experiences as an activist.

Each week, about twenty of us would settle in for two hours of reports and discussions based on our readings and experiences. The learning process was participatory and lively. Topics included the global environmental crisis, ecological limits to growth, North-South relations, U.S. history, militarism, political economy, social oppression, strategic nonviolent action, and other grassroots strategies for change. The result of these searching dialogues, which we always related to the concrete challenges in our own activist work, was not a group adherence to any single political line, but a dramatic deepening in our understandings of the world, the constraints and opportunities we each faced, and the programmatic and strategic options that might help us realize our goals.

Happily, over thirty years later, a group of popular educators spearheaded by Randy Schutt of the Vernal Education Project, and involving some of the folks who started the Philadelphia Macro-Analysis Collective, is now working to update and revise the old 24-week “macro-analysis” seminar, and they are even developing information on how to adapt the new format to shorter, democratically-run, political education classes within colleges and universities.

The creaters of the new seminar format, now called START seminars (Study, Think, Act, and Reflect Together), still have a way to go to put the new manual and reading list together, but this is a project to keep an eye on and should be a great tool for political education in the coming years. Randy's group is also looking for people to help search out the best online readings for each topic to be covered and to suggest additional action-learning exercises for START study groups.

For more information, visit the Vernal Project’s draft START webpage, or write Randy Schutt. People should also check out Randy’s important book on activist training called Inciting Democracy. It was very helpful to me when I was designing the basic curriculum of the Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program.

For other study group resources, check out the Granite Earth Institute, which facilitates study circles in New Hampshire focused on five different areas: voluntary simplicity, sustainable living, deep ecology, bioregionalism, and corporate globalization. The Institute is chaired by recent EAOP graduate Steve Kowal and each of their study groups utilize workbooks distributed by the Northwest Earth Institute.