|Published by NetAction||Issue No. 11||January 6, 1997|
In NetAction Notes No. 9, I pointed out a few of the many useful online resources available to Virtual Activists. This issue of NetAction Notes contains another "sampler" of Web and E-mail resources, with an emphasis on research tools that grassroots activists and organizations may find useful for policy advocacy. I've also included some examples of the types of resources that activists are developing at the local level, and more pointers to useful books. As always, I welcome feedback from readers about other online resources for political activism, and will continue to pass along this information in future issues of this newsletter.
For those who missed NetAction Notes No. 9, all past issues of the newsletter are archived on the NetAction Web site, which also features an extensive listing of activist resources: www.netaction.org.
Most activists know that thoroughly-researched facts are important to effective public interest advocacy, regardless of the issue. The following is a sampler of research-oriented Web sites that Virtual Activists can use to get the facts on a variety of issues.CLEAR
The Clearinghouse on Environmental Research and Advocacy (CLEAR) is a Washington DC-based non-profit that monitors and reports on the anti-environmental "wise use" movement, www.ewg.org. CLEAR is a project of the Environmental Working Group, a policy and research organization that uses the Internet to share information with activists. CLEAR provides environmental activists with the facts they need to counter misinformation about environmental policy and science, and about the impacts of environmental law on the economy and private property.
CLEAR recently added new information on the anti-environmental "wise use" movement to its Web page. The site includes a searchable databases of "wise use" groups by state, including funding sources and the names of staff and board members. The CLEAR site also has an archive of past issues of A CLEAR View, CLEAR's semi-monthly bulletin on the "wise use" movement.
CLEAR can be contacted at , or by phone at 202-667-6982. CLEAR's electronic bulletin on the "wise use" movement is distributed twice a month. To subscribe, send a message to with the word "subscribe" in the subject line.EBIC
The Environmental Background Information Center (EBIC) helps non-profit organizations with corporate research, in most cases without charge to the organization, www.envirolink.org/orgs/ebic/index.html. Staffed by grassroots activists and professional investigators, EBIC was founded to give environmental activists access to background information on corporations involved in environmentally dangerous projects. EBIC's staff also helps link activists in different communities who are monitoring the same corporation. EBIC is located in Pennsylvania and can be reached by phone at 814-867-7341, or by E-mail at .Securities Fraud
The Stanford University Law School has a Web site with extensive information on businesses and corporations involved in securities fraud. The site, securities.stanford.edu, lists companies named in class-action securities fraud lawsuits, and includes the allegations, the company responses, and contact information for the attorneys on both sides of the dispute.Immigration
For activists working with immigrant communities, there are several web sites that provide information on the naturalization process and services available to immigrants. The sites are not intended to provide legal advice.
Sites with general information include:
Sites with information for specific populations include:
Policy.com and Intellectualcapital.com are free commercial Web sites that offer background information on a wide range of public policy issues. Both sites are updated weekly.
Although Policy.com is specifically directed at writers and analysts, activists may find the site useful as a starting point for research on a variety of issues. Policy.com, www.policy.com, contains current policy papers from leading think tanks, advocacy groups and government officials. The companion site, Intellectualcapital.com, www.intellectualcapital.com, is a bi-partisan electronic magazine featuring opinion pieces by policy experts from think tanks, government, and media.Volunteer Opportunities
Impact Online, www.impactonline.org, is a Web site that links people interested in volunteering with organizations in need of volunteers. Activists looking for a volunteer opportunity can search the Web site by name of the organization, area of interest, and geographic area.
Impact Online also makes it possible for grassroots groups that don't have the resources to set up their own Web site to establish a presence on the Web.
Non-profit organizations can set up a free Web page that includes contact information, a mission statement or description of the organization's purpose, and information on volunteer needs.
Thanks to the global nature of the Internet, Virtual Activists can reach far beyond their own communities to form networks around common concerns, develop strategies for coordinated action, and share information. But the Internet is an equally powerful tool for grassroots activism within a community.
Here are some examples of how activists are using the Internet to empower their own communities:Fayetteville, Arkansas
Jeff Erf, , modified OMB Watch's RTK.Net database on environmental pollution to make this excellent resource more accessible to activists in Northwest Arkansas who were not experienced Web users. The modifications include options specifically for Northwest Arkansas. The Fayetteville, Arkansas Community Bulletin Board is at www.cei.net/~jerf/ and the modifications to RTK.Net are found by following the link to "Search Various Databases for Information About Northwest Arkansas."San Francisco, California
Richard Petersen, , has created a "San Francisco Activism" section on his z San Francisco Web site at www.zpub.com/sf/sf-act.html. The site includes links to community resources and information on issues of local concern, as well as links to several Bay Area organizations.
Also linked to this site is Ken Cheetham's San Francisco Bay Area Progressive Directory, www.emf.net/~cheetham/index .html, which features a remarkable listing of approximately 1,000 local progressive groups and a calendar of events and activities. The site is indexed so that information can be located by keyword, alphabetically, or by calendar date.Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Members of Visually Impaired Pittsburgh Area Computer Enthusiasts! used an E-mail distribution list, , to organize a coalition of local blind consumer groups in support of library access for the visually impaired. The disability rights advocates were concerned because the Electronic Information Network, a cooperative effort among about 50 Pittsburgh-area libraries, failed to provide library access to computers for the visually impaired. The group also used the BLIND-L discussion list, , to organize around the issue.
Readers have provided information on more books that may be of interest to Virtual Activists:Internet Activism
"Electronic Democracy," by Graeme Browning of the National Journal, was recommended by Shabbir Safdar of Voters Telecommunications Watch, www.vtw.org/. You will find information about the book online at www.onlineinc.com/pempress/. "Electronic Democracy" can be ordered online by contacting or by telephone by calling Pemberton Press at 203-761-1466.Internet Fund Raising
"Direct Connection's Guide to Fundraising on the Internet," by Howard Lake, is written from the UK perspective. Lake has been a fund-raiser for organizations such as Oxfam and Amnesty International, and the book is based on research he has conducted on Internet fund raising since 1992. The book is published by Aurelian Information, Ltd., and more information is available online at www.dircon.co.uk/books.
Lake also created UK Fundraising, www.fundraising.co.uk, an online resource primarily for UK fund-raisers, but with information relevant to fund-raisers in other countries.
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