Hi-Tech Advocacy in Action
Thanks to cutting-edge technology, online advocacy campaigns are not only possible, but they can bring an issue located hundreds or thousands of miles away right to constituents’ backyard in ways that direct mail can’t.
The “I Love Mountains” campaign is a perfect example of this. A collaboration by local, state and regional organizations across Appalachia working together to end mountaintop removal, a type of coal mining where the tops of mountains are removed and mined for coal, I Love Mountains is operated through iLoveMountains.org, a site produced by Boone, N.C.-based environmental organization Appalachian Voices. It uses cutting-edge technology to inform and involve visitors in their efforts to save the mountains.
How does it do this? One of the coolest involvement features of the site is the pledge sign-up. When visitors fill in their name and contact information pledging to help stop mountaintop removal, they’re taken to a “personal impact page” that displays each person who has pledged as a dot on a map of the United States. A pledger can pass the word on to friends and invite them to pledge, and then their page will chart the number of friends that have been invited to support the campaign, and the number of friends their friends have invited. The personal impact page also shows the top 10 most active participants and the number of friends they’ve passed the word on to. These names link to each pledger’s personal impact page and, from there, connect to the personal impact pages of any of the friends they’ve invited.
“You can actually see the network of your influence spreading throughout the country,” Mary Anne Hitt, executive director of Appalachian Voices, says.
The site also includes an audio download of Willie Nelson singing Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind”; two YouTube videos — which also are posted on Flickr — showing mountaintop removal in action and its environmental impact; and downloadable Google Earth maps and satellite images marking areas where mountaintop removal has occurred.