Saturday, August 07, 2004

organic activism

I just attended an amazing event. 60-70 young Lubbockites randomly descended on one of the bigger parks in the city just to meet new people and discuss any issues that they cared to discuss. The flier for it went something like this:

saturday, august 7
5pm - whenever
chips, drinks, charcoal provided
bring: -what you want to grill
- an instrument to play
to bring us together
to discuss the future of our town

This is the future of politics in America. The young woman who started this event did so as the result of a "wouldn't it be neat if" conversation at a coffeehouse. Invitations spread by word of mouth and random leaflet-scattering -- rumor has it that the idea's originator was handed one of her own fliers by someone she didn't know! There was general hanging-out mixed with pockets of politically charged conversation. About a dozen people each brought a little bit of food to share. A friend and I, both deputy voting registrars, registered 25 new voters at this event (though my friend deserves most of the credit!) and convinced several to become deputized themselves.

Why is an event like this successful? (1) It's a party, for party's sake if you want it to be. Politicking is "optional" and not in-your-face; more people will come as a result. (2) The setup is maximally distributed. No one person or group is responsible for it, and it occurs in a public space. This means that it's impossible to procrastinate, mess up, or burden one person/group with too much responsibility. (3) Word of it also spreads faster because the publicity, now in the hands of fate and of each attendee, takes care of itself. It's a house party on steroids: a neighborhood party where everyone is invited.

The event will happen again in a month. I believe it can only grow bigger and better each time as we approach November 2.


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