Garanimals Blog

April 10th, 2012 at 5:00 am

The People Speak via Change.org

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

We hear these words often and at times they might sound cliché, but in reality, we need to participate in making our world a better place. Without input from the public, legislation is passed or unfair practices remain in place that do not serve the best interests of those affected. In turn, a loud enough outcry can move mountains.

A time honored way to show dissent for unfair or unrealistic practices is by petition. Gather signatures from the people most affected by the regulation, let those in charge know how unpopular it is, and hopefully you influence change for the better.

In the past, a petitions meant physically gathering signatures from individuals. It required paper documents, person to person contact and in order to get large numbers of signers, a lot of footwork.

Today, thanks to the internet and a choice of options, we can easily create petitions and gather signatures electronically. Depending on your networking reach, gathering thousands of signatures can happen quickly and easily. Recently the proposed internet piracy legislation, SOPA, threatened internet freedom under the guise of protecting media copyrights. Within a few weeks, Google reported that its petition against SOPA had gathered 7 million signatures! Washington took notice, and not surprisingly, the legislation did not pass.

I found that inspiring. Too often, the public is not aware of legislation being passed that affects our way of life. Rules are changed, decisions are made, and regulations put in place that can be detrimental to the those on the receiving end.

Recently, as my school district was facing another year of budget cuts, we took a hard look at the state funding formula that has been historically unfair to our town. It looked like the committee that could potentially help rectify the situation was unwilling to address the disparity, so a group of committed citizens got together and decided to create an online petition.

It was actually quite easy. We used change.org, which offers a simple process for creating and initiating your petition with tips for publicizing it and information on how to get the results directed to the right people for action. There are templates you can follow and a responsive help desk for questions and tech support.

Once you’ve created the petition, you have a link that you can share via a website, email, Facebook or any other online method. You can watch the numbers as the signatures come in.

While you can download name, city, state, country, zip code, and time and date of signing, you cannot access the email or street addresses of your signers. Keep this in mind if you think you will need that information. There is an option of becoming a sponsored partner, which will enable you to build your email list, but without that, you only have access to the names.

It’s very empowering to see support grow for something you care about . And with this support, we are getting attention focused on how our town gets its educational funding and are continuing to press for change. And I’m happy to report that we’re making progress.

Just another one of the many reasons I am so grateful to have the power of technology at my fingertips.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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