Inaugural AYM Summit and Egypt’s Shabab April 6 Movement
If you follow Movements.org at all, you've noticed that our network is made up of grassroots activists from around the world. At our summits, and here on this site, the goal is for people to share information with each other so that they can more effectively tackle campaigns for social change. Much of what I do is work on improving these training resources and facilitate the sharing of best practices among activists. As an example, on our private listserv there have been some questions lately out of Cameroon and Nigeria about how best to set up a campaign to monitor elections. On the list, we—me, Mark Belinsky of Digital Democracy, Ken Banks of Frontline SMS, Juliana Rotich of Ushahidi, and a few others—were able to get some helpful information out to these folks. Movements.org is first and foremost about making it easier for activists to connect with each other and get the information they need.
The Shabab April 6 Movement, which was at the inaugural summit in 2008, is one of the grassroots groups that has played a role in this network of activists. As is mentioned in a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks and cited this week at The Nation, Newsweek, the New York Post and ABC News, April 6 was able to connect with other grassroots activists - who they remain connected to - at this event. That gets at the real value (hopefully!) of this website and the annual summit: helping activists to learn from each other by providing a platform and offline events that facilitate information sharing.
At the 2008 event in NYC, members of the Obama campaign new media team shared what they had learned with activists—here's the first part of that workshop (for the rest go here):
And Oscar Morales of Colombia's No Mas Farc, who connected with April 6 at the event, spoke about the lessons he learned in launching a campaign on Facebook to get people all over the world out on the streets and protesting against the FARC:
As the cable mentioning April 6 in the context of this event notes, the chances didn't look good for the movement in 2008. They didn't look so good, for that matter, a mere month ago. Why did protests in Egypt ignite now and not before? All we can say for sure is that this month's protests come from nowhere but the Egyptian people; just as Tunisia's demonstrations came from nowhere but the Tunisian people; and to try to attribute it to anything else would be patently false.
In the coming months, you can count on Movements.org - now officially launched - to put together interviews and case studies as we try to understand what's happening in the Middle East, why it happened now, and what lessons can be learned for the future.