Tomorrow I leave for "Netroots Nation," a yearly conference for progressive activists.
This is my maiden voyage at the conference, first organized in 2006 by readers and writers of the highly-influential progressive blog "DailyKos." The question I leave with is "what will I accomplish there?"
There are a dozen or two interesting conferences I would consider attending each year in the academic, activist, and LGBT worlds I inhabit, if my time and money were unlimited. The decision is strictly a cost-benefit analysis: how will the time and money invested leverage my ability to further human rights the day I return?
From the looks of this conference, it appears that the answer could be "quite a lot." The question I have been dealing with the past year is how to turn online activism into offline activism. The schedule is crowded with events addressing that directly.
I feel like Hello Kitty at a Hello Catnip convention.
What is Netroots Nation about?
Netroots Nation amplifies progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate. Within that campus, we strengthen community, inspire action and serve as an incubator for progressive ideas that challenge the status quo and ultimately affect change in the public sphere.
I liked this statement of purpose when I first read it, but my next question was "what's on the schedule that will make this happen?" A review of the schedule shows there are a lot of very cool events. Here's the events I put on my to-do list for Wednesday and Thursday.
On Wednesday, there's a day-long "National Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative" LGBT pre-convention. It's being organized by Mike Rogers. Mike has been active in so many areas of LGBT activism. He's probably most well known for his activity in outing closeted gay politicians who actively oppose LGBT rights. He has worked as a fundraiser for a number of NGOs, is publisher of newsite PageOneQ, associate publisher of the investigative journalism site The Raw Story, and his own blog, blogactive.com. He's a former development director of the Harvey Milk High School, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and GALA Choruses, and was director of major gifts at Greenpeace. I don't yet know what's on the agenda, but I know that if Mike is running it, it's going to be good.
Starting on Thursday, there are two event slots in the mornings, and three in the afternoon, with about 10 simultaneous events to choose from. About 2,000 people attend, so I expect that each one will be pretty well attended.
Here's my choices for Thursday.
Thu, 07/22/2010 - 9:00am
Beyond the Tweet: Translating Enthusiasm on Twitter into Offline Activism
Your Tweets can echo beyond the Twittersphere. Join us for a discussion of tools and techniques to make messages on Twitter influence the offline world. We'll cover petitions, fundraising and how to become part of a larger network of progressives on Twitter to increase your reach.
PANELISTS: Jim Gilliam, Nate Thames, Tracy Viselli
Thu, 07/22/2010 - 10:30am
Marriage Equality: Building a Movement Online
Marriage equality took a hit in 2009 with defeats in Maine, New York State and New Jersey. However, popular consensus has been that the shining light of the Maine campaign was its online team, which included a coalition of bloggers across both the LGBT and non-LGBT blogosphere. Conversely, the lack of online to offline integration in New York and New Jersey created a significant "rootsgap" that contributed to each measure's failure. The panelists will talk about successes and failures in online organizing for marriage equality, best practices and how to build stronger ties between traditional LGBT organizations and online activists.
PANELISTS: Joe Sudbay, Adam Bink, Jesse Connolly, Julia Rosen, Michael Crawford
Thu, 07/22/2010 - 3:00pm
Make Your Own Media: Using Video on Progressive Campaigns
Every minute, 24 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube. This session will explore how nonprofits and campaigns can cut through the clutter and make videos that stand out on YouTube, while leveraging special tools to drive donations and action. It will also discuss platforms that make it easier to empower your supporters to advocate for you through video, and present examples of video campaigns that have been particularly successful in the past.
PANELISTS: Ramya Raghavan, Howard Mortman
Thu, 07/22/2010 - 4:30pm
How to Plan for Your Website Redesign
Redesigning your website can be easy and fun or expensive and painful. We'll cover content management systems (CMS), customer/constituent relationship management (CRM), writing RFPs and how to select a vendor. This panel will include a handful or organizations and blogs that have recently completed the redesign process.
PANELISTS: Ramya Raghavan, Howard Mortman
Thu, 07/22/2010 - 6:00pm
Opening Reception sponsored by American Federation of Teachers (my union!)
Thu, 07/22/2010 - 7:00pm
Netroots Nation Opening Program
In the summer of 2008, Gov. Brian Schweitzer jumped into the national spotlight with a rousing speech at the Democratic National Committee Convention in Denver. He fired up the crowd by calling for a new clean energy future, saying that four billion in tax breaks to Big Oil is "a lot of change, but not the change we need."
This summer, the Montana governor will kick off the fifth annual Netroots Nation in Las Vegas with another powerful message.
In addition to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, you'll hear from MSNBC's Ed Schultz, Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead, environmental justice champion Majora Carter, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas and AFSCME president Gerald McEntee, as well as Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford. Elon James White, comedian and host of the award-winning web series This Week in Blackness, will emcee.
PANELISTS: Senator Steven Horsford, Gerald McEntee, Markos Moulitsas, Ed Schultz, Elon James White, Lizz Winstead, Majora Carter
I'm able to attend the conference because of a National Blogger and Citizen Journalist LGBT Fellowship. I'm rooming with the amazing Gloria Nieto, another Fellowship attendee, and I expect to have a lot of interesting conversations with her. As a condition of my attendance, I will blog twice a day about the conference, so expect to hear lots more about this year's Netroots Nation.