CTGProject

Citizen Action & Open Source Lobbying by The Roots Project

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

After Action Report: Success!


Today members of the Roots Project delivered a copy of Crashing the Gate to every Democrat in the House and Senate. Two hundred and forty-nine offices in one day by no more than a dozen people. Last night a handful of volunteers met at PoliticsTV's office to insert personalized bookplates into every copy of the book and then sorted them by building, floor, and room number, a critical step that allowed us to complete all of our work today. I left New York City with three other Roots Project volunteers, including organizer Jay Ackroyd, from Penn Station at 5:30 am and arrived in Washington at around 9 am. We headed over to the PoliticsTV office and met up with David Grossman, producer and cameraman extraordinaire, who had already loaded all 249 copies of the book into his car. We then proceeded to the Capitol South Metro stop, where we met up with the DC/MD/VA area volunteers. Again, I don't think this action would have succeeded if we didn't have eight local volunteers handing out books with us; we had expected a smaller DC area showing.

We ran into a major problem trying to enter Rayburn HOB. It turns out you aren't allowed to give books to all of Congress at once, without one constitutent per book. A sergeant of the Capitol Police was very helpful at suggesting a way around the rules when he heard the purpose of our visit to the Hill. Fortunately for us, a friend in a high place was able to escort us in and provide a base for our operations (sorry folks, the identity of our mystery savior must remain secret).

We started in the House Office Buildings with twelve volunteers plus David Grossman, our remarkably helpful and knowledgable cameraman/producer from PoliticsTV. David proved himself invaluable at every juncture of our action - before, during, and after. Though we weren't able to start delivering books until 12:30pm, we had strong numbers and a drive to get the job done. Offices came and went, books were delivered, conversations of all sorts were struck up between Roots Project volunteers and friendly Democratic staffers and interns.

It's not surprising to say that a major obstacle in my ability to accurately and fully recount the days events is the size of our action. We delivered 249 books to 249 House and Senate offices. We started with twelve people and finished with six. I couldn't even tell you how many books I delivered, though I'd guess it's somewhere between thirty and thirty-five.

[Editorial moment: We essentially delivered the books randomly - little forethought was given to who gave to each congressperson. Not one book out of all the books I delivered was for a woman legislator. My delivery was predominantly random, yet women are so under-represented in the halls of Congress I was not able to hand over a book destined for a woman. This isn't exactly news, but it was a hard fact for me to miss.]

I also doubt we could have finished our day's work if we'd started even half an hour later. The frantic, yet fruitful, nature of the delivery process (think ants on a carcass or bees on honey) prevented us from truly taking stock of our experience as the day went on. Once we started, the action had such inertia that we never had a chance to come up for air. We didn't get to debrief or recap what was working, where our most positive experiences were, and who we'd met that was most enthusiastic. I would have loved to have the ability to get more feedback from our awesome crew of volunteers throughout the day - hopefully the next major Roots Project action budgets for more evaluation time during the course of the event.

I want to take the time to say that of all the offices I visited, the ones in which I had the most positive, welcoming, faith inspiring experiences were of North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (PA-11), Rep. Ed Markey (MA-7), and Rep. Adam Smith (WA-9). Jay Ackroyd says his most positive experience came at Rep. Louise Slaughter's (NY-28) office, not that it surprised him!

For me, though, the most positive experience came with my interactions with Rep. Pete Stark's (CA-13) staff. I went in and gave my now well-practiced schtick about our group, our action, and why we think Crashing the Gate is such an important book for politicians and their staff to read. After leaving my copy with the woman at the front desk, I left Stark's office and proceeded on my way. I didn't get far before I got a call explaining Senator Dodd had to cancel his meeting with us (more on that below). I hung up the phone and before I could move on to my next stop felt a tap on my shoulder. A young man introduced himself as Yoni Cohen, Congressman Stark's press secretary. Mind you, I'd been out of Starks office for at least three minutes and made it about thirty feet down the hall. Yoni had chased me down to talk about the book and find out more about the action. I chatted with him for about five minutes and left gratified that a congressional aide thought enough of our efforts to even attempt to follow me down the hall to talk.

Our group had three notable meetings at the end of the day.

Our last meeting was with Jay, myself, and Rep. John Conyers' (MI-14) Internet Communications Director Jonathan Godfrey. Jonathan had arranged a meeting with Congressman Conyers, but it was never able to come to fruition due to a busy schedule on his end. We had a good talk with Jonathan - but we all know that Conyers is one of the few Democrats who has seriously engaged the netroots and spoke to the Democratic base. This copy of CTG wasn't so much as an introduction for the Congressman as it was a "thank you."

Jay and I also had a long, interesting meeting with Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd's Chief of Staff, Sheryl Cohen, and Media Technology Director, Tim Cullen. Four other RPers were there at the start of the meeting before Sheryl arrived, but they had to leave to meet with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-20) (again, more below). Tim arranged our meeting -- he was the only Democratic staffer in all of Congress to reach out to the Roots Project in the last week to schedule a rendezvous between our volunteers and his boss. Our meeting was originally going to be with Senator Dodd himself, but unbeknownst to us, Dodd announced his presidential candidacy last night in the Hartford Courant. Our conversation with Sheryl and Tim was productive and engaging. Sheryl was great - a bit of a novice vis a vis the blogosphere, but wanting to learn and to get her Senator involved. Tim is exactly the sort of staffer I'd love to see in every Democratic office - tech savvy, big-time blog reader, and willing to push his coworkers on the importance of blogs and blogging. Jay and I left with big smiles knowing that we'd provided a strong and positive impression at the highest levels of a senate office (and presidential candidate to boot).

Our groups last most notable meeting was one that I wasn't present for. Four RP volunteers met with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her Communications Director, Jonathan Beeton. I can't provide all the details for it, but the meeting ran an hour and a half long! Expect some fantastic video footage (shot by RagingGurrl) of the meeting within the next couple of days...I can't wait to see it myself. I hope someone who was present will post a report in the comments, as I don't think I can possibly do it justice. Sorry readers, the best report will have to remain untold for now.

I wish I could recognize more people by name and more offices that showed our volunteers the utmost respect and interest, but again there are just way too many stories to report that I haven't heard yet. All in all, I'd say 95% of our experiences were tremendously positive. Common responses ranged from courteous and welcoming at the low end, to genuinely enthusiastic about our work, the book, and the blogosphere on whole. Many staff members knew we were coming and were looking forward to receiving their gift. The only interactions that were less than positive, to my knowledge, were negative solely for the apathy shown by the individuals at the front desk - hardly a crime when you work in the hectic environment of Capitol Hill.

I'm exhausted - this action was conceived about three weeks ago. All 249 books were delivered to every Democrat in the House and Senate less than a week after the action was announced on FireDogLake. It's been a whirlwind of emails, phone calls, blogging, traveling, and today hundreds of office visits and dozens of miles walked around Capitol Hill. But this is how open source lobbying will work. Good ideas will get put into action by people who believe in them and want to organize.

This action couldn't have happened without the hard work of Jay Ackroyd, David Grossman of PoliticsTV, Mike Link and a few others from Politics & Prose, Edgery, RagingGurrl, Paradox65, redshift, all the other volunteers who made it to the Hill today, Beau Friedlander and Margo Baldwin of Chelsea Green, Mike Jane Hamsher, Christy Hardin Smith, Pachacutec, John Amato, Glenn Greenwald, SusanG, Kos, Jerome Armstrong, all the Roots Project members who helped with press calls, and of course every single one of you who donated a copy of Crashing the Gate. I hope that I can say safely that I put some good work into this action, too.

Check out some pics from the action on my flickr feed, though most of them as of now are of pictures taken Monday night during the insertion of bookplates into each copy of CTG.

--Matt Browner-Hamlin (aka Philo)

UPDATE: WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

NEW ACTION POINT: HELP THIS ACTION OUT ONE LAST TIME!!!

Based on the suggestions of MissLaura and grrtigger in the comments at DailyKos, please do one last thing to help this action be a success:

Please, if your representative and senators are Democrats call them up and ask them to read their new copy of Crashing the Gate! Calling them today can really push this to a new level of success and show how important it is that they understand more about the netroots. Thanks!

Press Release

The Roots Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Matt Browner-Hamlin, (917) 270-7534
MAY 23, 2006 Jay Ackroyd, (917) 856-0633


CITIZENS CRASH THE GATES OF CONGRESS
Bloggers & Blog Readers Hand Deliver Seminal Netroots Text to
Every Democrat in the House and Senate

Washington, DC – Citizens from around the east coast descended on Washington Tuesday to hand deliver copies of Crashing the Gate by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas to every Democratic member of the House and Senate.

"We're anxious to build bridges between the netroots and our representatives, and we hope that Markos' and Jerome's brilliant and influential book will be an effective way to open those lines of communication," said Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake.com.

“We wanted to introduce our national representatives to the blogosphere through Crashing the Gate, so they will become more cognizant of the role blogs play in American politics,” organizer Jay Ackroyd said, “The netroots is becoming a stronger force every day.”

Two hundred and fifty copies of Crashing the Gate, published by Chelsea Green in March, were donated one at a time by Americans from around the country in less than two days. Politics & Prose, a non-partisan, independent bookstore based in Washington, provided the infrastructure to allow people to contribute copies of the book.

Crashing the Gate is written by Jerome Armstrong, founder of MyDD.com and Markos Moulitsas, founder of DailyKos.com. It has become a rallying cry for the resurgence of people-powered politics. Tuesday’s event exemplified the capacity blogs have as a political organizing tool.

The action was organized by individuals loosely associated under The Roots Project, a grassroots action network that originated on the blogs FireDogLake, Crooks & Liars, and Unclaimed Territory by Glenn Greenwald.

To date, Roots Project chapters exist in forty-three states around the country. The Roots Project has focused it efforts on the issues of government accountability, warrantless surveillance, net neutrality, preemptive military action against Iran, and the censure of President George W. Bush.

For more information about this action visit: http://ctgproject.blogspot.com

-30-

Monday, May 22, 2006

Media Advisory

The Roots Project
MEDIA ADVISORY
***PHOTO OPPORTUNITY***

CONTACT: Matt Browner-Hamlin, (917) 270-7534
Jay Ackroyd, (917) 856-0633

May 22, 2006

CITIZENS CRASHING THE GATES OF CONGRESS
Bloggers & Blog Readers Hand Delivering Seminal Netroots Text to
Every Democrat in the House and Senate

Washington, DC – Citizens from around the east coast will descend on Washington Tuesday, May 23rd, to hand deliver copies of Crashing the Gate by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas to every Democrat in the House and Senate.

"We're anxious to build bridges between the netroots and our representatives, and we hope that Markos' and Jerome's brilliant and influential book will be an effective way to open those lines of communication," said Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake.com.

Two hundred and fifty copies of Crashing the Gate were donated one at a time by Americans from around the country in less than two days. Politics & Prose, a non-partisan, independent bookstore based in Washington, provided the infrastructure to allow people to contribute copies of the book.

Crashing the Gate is written by two of the hottest Democratic bloggers. It has become a rallying cry for the resurgence of people-powered politics. Tuesday’s event will exemplify the power blogs have as a political organizing tool.

The action is organized by individuals loosely associated under The Roots Project, a grassroots action network that originated on the blogs FireDogLake (firedoglake.com), Crooks & Liars (crooksandliars.com), and Unclaimed Territory (glenngreenwald.blogspot.com).

To date, Roots Project chapters exist in forty-three states around the country. The Roots Project has focused it efforts on the issues of government accountability, warrantless surveillance, net neutrality, preemptive military action against Iran, and the censure of President Bush.

For more information on this action visit: http://ctgproject.blogspot.com

WHO: Concerned citizens, blog readers, and their elected representatives in Congress

WHAT: Hand delivery of Crashing the Gate to every Democrat in the House and Senate

WHEN: 12pm-6pm – Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

WHERE: Rayburn, Longworth, and Cannon House Office Buildings, Hart, Dirksen, and Russell Senate Office Buildings
# # #

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

250 books have been donated...On to delivery!

We did it.

Netroots activists have donated 250 books to The Roots Project's "Crashing the Gate" action in less than two days. Thank you to everyone who donated a book and to everyone who has volunteered to help deliver them to Congress. Thanks to Pachacutec, Christy, and Jane for continuing to give our action top billing at FDL and special thanks to Jerome and SusanG for posting about the action on MyDD and DailyKos today. Thanks to Politics & Prose for hosting the sale and giving us such a great discount.

Before we deliver the books to our Democratic representatives in Congress we'll be taking a few steps to ensure that this action has a lasting impact in the halls of Congress.

First, we will be inserting personalized book plates into each copy of "Crashing the Gate" with a brief explanation of why the book was donated and who donated it. Every time a senator, congressperson, or their aides open the book they will know that it was donated by The Roots Project, citizens who want their representatives to wake up to the importance of the netroots and join our movement.

We will also be reaching out to senators and representatives to schedule face-time during the course of our deliveries. The good folks of PoliticsTV will be filming our day of action and hopefully we're hoping some elected officials will be able to receive our gifts in person and on camera. Whenever possible we will have our volunteers delivery copies of "Crashing the Gate" to their representatives.

We will also be reaching out to DC's traditional media. We want to give them the opportunity to cover a real grassroots action that originated on the blogosphere. Unfortunately we do not currently have access to a DC area media blast fax list - if you have access to this information and would like to share it with The Roots Project, please email "mbrownerhamlin AT goowy.com"

We're going to have about twenty volunteers delivering books on our day of action. There are 245 offices that we need to go and we'll be breaking down into smaller teams to cover the most ground. We're hoping to do the delivery next week - if you would like to help, email "jay AT ackroyd.org" or IM me on AIM at MattFreeTibet.

The volunteers will be split in five groups of four and directed to the different House and Senate office buildings. They'll have the personalized books and a specific set of offices that they'll be visiting. With 245 gifts to deliver, we expect the action to take a full day. Right now we're looking for volunteers who can commit to working - and walking - for eight hours. Once we have our volunteer staff lined up we'll do our best to incorporate individuals who are only able to visit their representative's office.

Thank you all for your support thus far and for everything the netroots will be doing to support this action moving forward.

--Matt Browner-Hamlin & Jay Ackroyd

Monday, May 15, 2006

Crashing the Gate

UPDATE: 4:45PM WEDNESDAY -

ALL 250 COPIES OF CRASHING THE GATE THAT WE NEED FOR OUR ACTION HAVE BEEN DONATED!

I am breaking the links below to prevent further sales. Thank you all so, so much for your rapid response and your support.

--Matt & Jay

There are some commenters over at Kos who are confused by the ordering process. Just follow the instructions. Every book marked Instore pickup WILL go to the project. We're sorry this is cumbersome, but we did want to involve a local indy bookstore. Feel free to email me with questions. Thanks!!

Here are the instructions from Politics & Prose for donating a book to the CtG
project:


Politics & Prose will be offering all participants in the FDL-Crashing the Gate action 37% off the retail price of the book. All participants should select the "Instore Pick-Up" option and then enter their credit card information. All sales are processed by our bookstore staff -- so the discount will be given when they ring up the sale, and will therefore not be reflected on the online total but will be reflected on your charged total when you receive your bill. Your cost will be about 16 dollars, not the 25 dollars that shows up on the ordering page.



And here's the link (link removed upon success!).

To volunteer to deliver books to Capitol Hill, send email to jay@ackroyd.org or send an instant message to the AIM screenname MattFreeTibet.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Updates Below


The Roots Project has begun to make the influence of the blogosphere felt through off-line actions. We have called local radio shows, written letters to the editor, delivered rubber stamps to Arlen Specter, and met with our representatives in Congress. Every day, Roots Project groups around the country are developing new tactics that will become the playbook for open source lobbying. FireDogLake has announced the next Roots Project action, one that I've been helping put together!


It's time to invite the Democrats in Washington to join OUR party. What better introduction to the netroots to provide our representatives with than Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulistas Zuniga's Crashing the Gate. It is our hope that by introducing politicians to the blogosphere through Crashing the Gate, they will become more open to and more cognizant of the role blogs now play in American political discourse -- and how we're becoming a stronger force every day.


The Roots Project is going to hand delivery a copy of Crashing the Gate to every Democrat in the House and Senate on behalf of everyone who believes our elected representatives should be aware of the importance of people-powered politics.


What we need you to do is to donate a copy of Crashing the Gate by following this link (link removed, we've succeeded!). Politics & Prose, an independent bookstore in DC, has agreed to sell the book to us at a 37% discount. Once 245 copies of the book have been donated, we'll take them directly to our representatives.


We also need volunteers to help us deliver the books. If you're interested in helping out with the delivery, please email "jay AT ackroyd.org". You can also IM on AIM at the screenname MattFreeTibet.


Update


Terre has posted the announcement at DailyKos. Please go recommend the diary so we can get more visibility.


Update 2


Success! At 4:45pm Politics and Prose informed us that all 250 copies of CTG that we needed have been donated. Thanks to any Emboldened readers that took part in this action.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

First post

This site is for coordinating Crashing the Gates and other follow on Netroots events.