New site offers a home for citizen democracy

New site offers a home for citizen democracy

The thriving Wellington social entrepreneurship scene, characterised by organisations like Enspiral and Loomio, has produced another contender with the official launch of the citizen democracy initiative ActionStation.

ActionStation aims to help people take action on social issues and promote 'people power' as a way to hold politicians to account. It pushes traditional notions of activism through new means like technology, says national director Marianne Elliott and will help extend democratic influence beyond the general election in September.

"Your opportunity to have an impact doesn't end on 20 September. That's just the beginning," she says.

Similar movements offshore, like Avaaz, Get Up, 38 Degrees and Move On are most effective when they find the most impactful time to make change in areas members find important, says Elliott.

"They're making the most of the connected online community. They're the ones that develop a strong sense of the issues their members care about and look for the critical moments to have a impact."

Action Station will initially survey members on important issues, then design petitions and campaigns they can support. Later, people will be able to start their own campaigns.

Members can also use the network to get in contact with decision makers in their area and get involved in "creative offine activity" powered by the crowd, she says. That might mean putting up a billboard funded by lots of people contributing a dollar.

ActionStation has garnered about 5000 members in a slow buildup to its official launch and hopes to extend that to between 25,000 and 30,000, then double that.

ActionStation bills itself as a vital piece of democratic infrastructure for 21st century Aotearoa and is a non-profit which relies on small donations and in kind contributions.

The website was built by technical director Jesse Doud who works with Enspiral Craftworks.

The people who starred in the launch video come from popular culture and "believe politics is too important to be left to politicians", Elliott says