Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Zack Rosen, founder and director of CivicSpace Labs. CivicSpace is a Drupal-based platform that is being billed as a, "grassroots organizing platform that empowers collective action inside
communities and cohesively connects remote groups of supporters." Translated that means open source collaboration software to help people connect so they cann campaign and press for change. "The" public sector platform. Or if that's not clear, I guess knowing it's the 2nd generation of software written originally for the Howard Dean for President campaign, and you get the vibe.
This is one of the coolest projects I've ever run across! Collaboration software for all the people trying to change the world for the better. Of course "the better" depends on your notion of what needs fixing, and over coffee we also discussed people on "the other side" (my words) using CivicSpace to do fun stuff like organize to squash women's rights or keep "those people" from threatening our communities with "their lifestyles." etc. But that's fine too -- let the best organized pushing the soundest principles win! Enough of that -- not my typical blogging topic...
People are using this stuff too. Currently the live sites page lists 147 sites. The model is to create the software as open source, and then sign up ISPs and consultants to host at costs low enough for cash-strapped grassroots orgs to afford. Zack's recent CivicSpace as a Platform post discusses some of the issues they face going after such a broad customer base, but I agree that this is doable because there are many passionate and capable people to tap. It helps at this stage to have funding, which they do (some foundations and a Bay Area VC), and conviction, which I can say that Zack has in spades.
CivicSpace is looking to grow the community so if you need this service or want to get involved, check it out.