Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Keep an Eye Out for RootsCamp, the Progressives' Post-Election Confab

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, November 16 2012

Back in 2006, the left-leaning New Organizing Institute held an "unconference" called Rootscamp with around 500 progressive organizers. One of the sessions, led by Joe Trippi, was entitled "Kick Joe Trippi."

The whole point of the session was for Trippi to confront his critics, and to hash out what went right, and what went wrong during that election cycle, an exercise that's not always easy to execute in public.

"Getting together and admitting what you did wrong is not exactly a popular activity," notes Evan Sutton, NOI's communications manager.

"Also people are pretty territorial about what they do right," since the person sitting next to you might be working in a primary against you during the next campaign cycle.

Nevertheless, NOI persevered and Rootscamp has continued since its inaugural session in 2006, and what was a sometimes awkward get-together for around 500 progressive organizers is expected to mushroom to a gathering of up to 2,000 at the next Rootscamp planned for the end of this month (So far, just over 500 people have registered.) It seems as if that sharing of what went right, and what went wrong over the past six years has paid off. Democrats enjoyed a bumper year up and down the ballot this year from winning the presidential race on down to keeping control of the senate.

In addition to celebrating, progressive organizers are planning to build on the lessons learned over this campaign cycle. To that end, some of the top staff from the Obama campaign will be leading sessions. Some of those staffers include Betsy Hoover, the Obama campaign's director of digital organizing, Toby Fallsgraff and Chris Hass, the campaign's digital outbound directors who managed the campaign's email and social media programs, Evan Zasoski, deputy director of digital analytics, Nathaniel Lubin, the campaign's director of digital marketing, and Catherine Bracy, director of the Obama campaign's tech field office.

"Almost nobody is going to have the budget or talent to replicate what Obama did outside the next presidential cycle," Sutton said. "But that doesn’t mean that aspects of it can’t be integrated. Even with the smallest campaign, you can integrate dynamic voter models just with the voter file."

Beyond that, Rootscamp this time around will act as a kind of Match.com for organizers coming off political campaigns. There will be a job fair with over 100 progressive organizations and companies looking to hire talent, says Jim Pugh, Rebuild The Dream's chief technology officer and one of Rootscamp's organizers. So far, groups that have signed up to participate include the Working Families Party, ActBlue, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, New Partners, the Sierra Club, and the Courage Campaign.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

GO

wednesday >

NDI Launches Open Source DemTools for International Development

Yesterday the National Democratic Institute launched a suite of web-based applications created for their partner organizations, mostly pro-democracy groups and political parties around the world. These “DemTools,” which are ready-to-use but can also be customized, will give organizations in developing countries some of the capabilities that political activists and parties in the United States have had for years. Moreover, since the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is making the promise to host partner organization's applications in the cloud essentially forever, they hope these applications will help usher in a period of more sustainable tech.

GO

More