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Upcoming: PD+ Call on Women's Online Health Activism and Planned Parenthood

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, March 27 2012

I'm looking forward to this Thursday's Personal Democracy Plus call with Heather Holdridge and Deanna Zandt for a bunch of reasons. Obviously, the "internet wave" that is lifting all kinds of social activism boats is playing a big role in the politics of women's health care these days. As one of the country's biggest providers of health services to women and families, Planned Parenthood is inevitably in the middle of all of this. A year ago, when pressure in Congress to cut off federal funding to the organization started to hit a boiling point, Planned Parenthood saw a surge in membership, with more than a million new supporters joining. And more recently, in the four-day media firestorm that erupted when the Komen Foundation announced that it was withdrawing its funding of PP's breast-cancer program, the online arena was central to the pushback.

Holdridge and Zandt are ideal people to talk to for insight about these issues; Holdridge is PP's digital director, and comes to that position with years of experience advising and guiding other nonprofit groups navigating the online environment. And Zandt is a quintessential net-activist, who has been steadily perfecting a variety of creative ways of rallying and galvanizing the grassroots around a range of issues. In the most recent instance, the Komen controversy, Holdridge was on the inside at PP helping manage the organization's online response, while Zandt was on the outside, spreading a supportive message using a Tumblr called "Planned Parenthood Saved Me."

On the call, I'm aiming to get into three related areas:
1. How PP understands and navigates its online environment;
2. How grassroots ('free agent'?) activism around women's health issues is growing and using the social web; and
3. To what extent the social media toolkit (everything from Tumblr testimonial sites to Change.org petitions to Twitter hashtags, Facebook walls and viral videos) is becoming understood by organizers and a methodology is arising for how to move rapidly around media moments.

To join in, you should RSVP here to get the call details. It's Thursday at 1pm ET.