Went to my first political rally event yesterday after 5 years living in the District of Columbia. It was a meet and greet for Wesley Clark's campaign, I was shocked by how grass roots things are right now.
I received an email about 10 AM requesting some help down at the Capitol dropping of letters and Clark bars to congressional offices. Went down to check it out, met with one of his campaign managers. Naturally, the talk turned to tech - I asked him if he needed any volunteers to help organize Web intiatives. He points to this kid and explains how well equipped they already are. This kid got a whole email campaign set up and ready this morning (!).
Anyways, within 20 minutes I was given a stack of letters and told to go hand them out in the Cannon House Office Building. Left with a group of 3 other people, none of whom had ever met before, and we started handing stuff out, shaking hands in congressional offices, and feeding hungry staffers candy bars (BTW, there is no exaggeration around the legendary hunger of congressional staffers, even the republicans were gobbling up these Clark bars. One person offered to talk to her representative about a statement on P2P if we gave her one).
When I say grass roots, I mean this is people going out to set up a movement by themselves with nothing to get them started. While I knew what this meant, there is a difference between knowing about it and seeing the process up close. To think there are people who do this day-in-day-out for no money, this idea makes me appreciate the work these people do.
I was just thinking how great it would be to develop software to support these kinds of movements. This would be a great open-source deal. Something that lets you track and manage mailing lists, does some project planning, and keeps contact lists.