A few days ago, I posted an excerpt from an editorial by two Yale students (David Manners-Weber and Justin Kosslyn) who, inspired by the Obama campaign rhetoric, put out a challenge to their peers to take action in their own neighborhoods. (Incidentally, there's a new site called The Point, which is designed to help people issue challenges, to others. I'll do X if 10 other people do Y.)
The Yale article intrigued Princeton graduate student Arvind Murugan, who wrote about the article on a few listservs which were, in turn, read by Philadelphia area residents who started collaborating through emails and impromptu meetings to launch a grassroots movement dubbed Obama Works. ObamaWorks is a means to create visible public service projects and inspire collective action.
On March 1, Philly residents will hold a "Philly Sweep" and it is expected that other neighborhood clean-ups will take place around NYU and Yale, too. As one of the authors wrote me, "I couldn't be more thrilled to let you know that, with the help of people I've never even met, words are getting turned into action."
Manners-Weber goes on to say in his email about my earlier blog posting: "In your post, you wrote of "people collaborating to improve their own social conditions." Well it looks like folks are starting to do just that - within 24 hours, 100 people signed up to participate in the "Obama Philly Sweep," where volunteers will be cleaning up the streets around the Graduate Hospital area."
Here is their press release:
Philadelphia, March 1, 2008... Within only 24 hours, 100 supporters of Barack Obama signed up for the first Obama Philly Sweep, which kicks off at 2227 Christian St. in the Graduate Hospital area on Saturday, March 1st, at 1:00 pm. Street cleaning tops the agenda for this community service event - signaling the start of a new breed of political campaign that brings volunteers together around a constructive purpose. The Obama Philly Sweep is the first local event hosted by Obama Works, a grassroots organization currently taking shape in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Obama Works intends to implement Barack Obama’s message of change through community service projects. According to organizer Amirah Naim, the group is “working to transcend our differences and transform our country.”
Obama Works will sponsor additional clean-up efforts in other Philadelphia neighborhoods prior to March 24th, the voter registration deadline for the Pennsylvania primary election. After the primary, Obama Works will continue to develop and organize a variety of community service outreach projects.