Monday, May 12, 2014

Success is Often About Constituency Building

I learned about constituency building from my friend and colleague, Bill Hoagland. In the late-eighties and early nineties, Bill was the Hydrogen Energy Program Manager for the U.S Department of Energy.  I first met Bill at a symposium on hydrogen energy held at UCLA in Los Angeles.  I ended up teaming up with him to do documentaries and educational videos about hydrogen energy.  In 1993, we started a non-profit group called, Hydrogen 2000.   Over a dozen years,  we produced video material that was distributed world-wide.  The media work we were doing on hydrogen outreach at that time was groundbreaking.  Hydrogen 2000 accomplished some things and made some headway, but our success at building the constituencies needed for a transition to a renewable hydrogen economy was modest at best.  It turns out, we were just ahead of the times. Hydrogen is emerging prominently as part of the clean energy agenda of the European Union.  Many of my entries in this blog report on hydrogen and renewable energy development.

One thing I took from my years focused on hydrogen was my appreciation of the critical importance of constituency building.   More recently, I have come to believe the American people must aggressively resist the corporate oligarchy our nation has become.  The best way forward I know, given that priority, is to support a group called Move to Amend.  It's entire reason for being is to champion a Constitutional amendment that says Corporations are not people and money is not speech.

So I decided to become associated with MTA, with the idea that I might make a contribution in the area of constituency building.   Media messaging must be created that very specifically reaches out to every kind of  group or cause that counts American voters as members.  It will take more than one or even a handful of motivated filmmakers to elevate Move to Amend 's Constitutional agenda.  

Take organized labor for instance.  I would like to see two minute outreach videos tailored to each of the major national labor organizations.  SEIU, CWA, ILWU, UAW, etc, etc. I would like to see these messages embedded in the web home pages of every union local in America. Many union leaders and workers are already on board. Millions of others would surely support a Constitutional Amendment,  if aware.

All citizens,  of every age, gender orientation, or ethnicity  have a stake in the fight with corporatists and oligarchs..  Environmentalists, educators, students, religious groups;  people with all types of  life affirming activism are natural constituents for Move to Amend. The more media outreach is done  with these various, diverse constituencies, the faster we will reach the groundswell needed to  affect real change.

David Delk,  leader of the Portland chapter of Move to Amend, recognizes the importance of media outreach. He was willing to work with me to develop a series of  short videos for the internet.   An initial cut of our first one,  Citizen's Amendment, has just been posted.  The link is  It's the first of three we're doing. 

These videos are full of aspiration, despite their very modest, even home baked production values.   I would love to inspire a firestorm of video creativity, by dozens, hundreds, even thousands of  filmmakers.  We want them to apply their skills and passion to the process of  constituency building for Move to Amend.

Move to Amends'  webpage  indicates  they are looking for a person to handle media outreach.   Let me say, lest there be any misunderstanding, that I am not a candidate for that job.  It should go to someone young  and energetic, who has a record of creativity, especially with the emerging social media.  Once that person is in place, I hope she or he will broaden MTA's outreach and engagement with independent filmmakers.  I also will urge them to launch  a library of video b-roll with creative commons licensing.  I'm willing to contribute video material to such a library. I'm sure others would as well. Quality b-roll  is an important part of  a large share of the activist videos that are made. Having such a library on line would be a huge added motivation for filmmakers to champion Move to Amend.

I have no illusions that the little video pieces we are dong will win any prizes. They are modest by design and execution.  What I hope to see is a swarm of young, talented, social media savvy people get on board with this.  Move to Amend needs them. The world needs them.  Let's  get things rolling.  We needed to be at critical mass with Move to Amend's agenda yesterday.  Times a'wastiin'...

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