DFA Organization Framework

The DFA can start expanding now. This is not too early. If we are serious about taking back the White House in 2008, we need to be thinking in terms of also taking back the Congress in 2006. President Dean deserves a Congress he can work with.

2008: Some Themes
2008: Some Thoughts
Dean 2008

The challenge is to effectively organize hundreds of thousands of volunteers. The MeetUp/LinkUp has to be at the core of it all. My model says 10 to a MeetUp. As soon as the number hits 20, that MeetUp/LinkUp group splits into two like amoeba. Each has an Organizer. The Organizers have an After MeetUp/LinkUp. That is also 10-20 in size. The person organizing that is a Senior Organizer.

Let's crunch a few numbers. Say a place like New York City, if there are 2400 members, that is 240 MeetUp/LinkUps, and 24 After MeetUp/LinkUps. And all those 24 Senior Organizers could have an After After MeetUp/LinkUp the following day.

This is just a framework. In that, if 50 people show up for one MeetUp/LinkUp, is that against the rules? No. There are no rules. This suggestion is Open Source like Linux, people decide locally how they might want to modify it for local needs.

But this 10-10-10 structure is designed to make sure every member is personally known well by someone in the leadership. This is about Face Time. In small towns, there might be only two or three MeetUp/LinkUps.

And I am not sure we want to bid farewell to the MeetUp.com website. True, now Organizers have to pay but, hey, they are a business. And $20 a month, that comes to $2 a person. Think of it as beer money.

On the other hand, the in-house LinkUps are also a great idea. It is probably more encouraging for people to show up when they don't have to pay. I don't know if there is a message there for the MeetUp site: become ad-based. Or they might get bought up by a company like Yahoo. Like Flickr got bought. Getting bought up is also a business model: that is what Chaitime.com was gunning for.

So you have this 10-10-10 structure for each town and city. Beyond that is screen time. The point being members should not have to drive around out of town to be effective. Unless they really really want to.

The Leader of every town and city gets together at a state level. And that getting together is online: talking online is free. A Leader has as many votes as there are MeetUp/LinkUps within his or her jurisdiction. So the NYC leader might carry 240 votes, the Bloomington, IN, Leader might carry four votes.

Then there is a committee of 50, one per state. That too is online. Should there be voting, the same rule applies at this level also. A state has as many votes as it has MeetUps. Or it could be one vote for every 100 MeetUps, or a thousand.

Why is the MeetUp/LinkUp so key? Because we are emphasizing Face Time.

This is the one person, one vote mechanism. Then there is the one voice mechanism. That part people can self-organize. There are plenty of free online options for people to express themselves in text, audio and video.

Imagine there are a million members who are part of this structure. And each has a blog. And they are all talking. That brings forth a central challenge: to create a superblog, a blogalaxy.

Here's an example: NYC Bloggers. There would be a 50 state map. Heck, it could be a world map. And people could list their blogs by geographical specificity. Not just their town, but by zip code or something, or neighborhood.

Another would be the DFA Link itself. The DFA Link would be organized by MeetUp/LinkUps. And on the profile page, there would be space for one to link to one's blog.

A third would be to organize a blogalaxy where the best blogs and blog entries surface to the top. There would be an online voting mechanism. Any DFA Link member could submit their blog or blog entry, any could vote. And you are an approved DFA Link member only if a MeetUP/LinkUp Organizer says so. And of course people could migrate. If you move from one state to another, your profile migrates with you. And there would be blog entries on specific policy issues.

DFA Link will have to come up with many more tools for the Town/City Leader. There should be a mechanism to award activity points to members. So there is a spectrum. At one end are the near inactive ones. At the other are the super active ones. All members are not equal. And there could be ranks for members like scouts do. You go up as you earn more points. And the tools should be all online, at DFA Link.

But separate from this one person, one vote mechanism, a think tank like stuff will have to be organized. That is totally about One Voice. Here people will have to have certain qualifications before they are in. This is also self-organizing. But there is a barrier to entry. Say all Nobel Prize winners are automatically in. Everyone with a Ph.D. maybe. I don't know. Anyone approved by the state leadership, with the leadership having an annual quota. Groups constantly thinking on every policy issue.

The policy suggestions of this think tank will still be subject to democratic approval, and ordinary members are not barred from coming up with policy ideas. The whole idea behind this transparent organization is that the best ideas could come from anywhere.

Some of the organizing principles still are:
  1. One person, one vote, one voice.
  2. Total, transparent democracy.
  3. Non-violent militancy.
  4. Face time, screen time.
These are early round thoughts. Need a lot of polishing. Feel free to chip in in the comments section.


dino reyes said…
I can see the groundswell of activity. Groups like http://www.DrinkingLiberally.org using bulletin board systems allowing for self-created low level organizationing are breaking new ground across the nation.

the democratic insurgence has begun!
Anonymous said…
Comment from Dan Jacoby.


This is partially a response to your blog (link below), and partially an idea to boost future DFNYC Linkup attendance.

The vast majority of "members" don't attend a Linkup on any given month, at least not in NYC. We have 12 Linkups, with a total of maybe (maybe!) 200 attendees -- more likely around 100 -- out of 2,400 members. How do you determine when a particular Linkup has enough attendees to split?

My bet is that attendance varies greatly with the nearness of a major
local political issue, like a truly contested election. I know that
our Meetup attendance over the summer was significantly higher than it is now. Why? We had endorsement votes on three major campaigns. Now, there isn't a "sexy" issue in front of us.

We need to let attendees know what's going to be discussed at the
upcoming Linkup, and get their interest ahead of time. If our members know in advance that something specific will be discussed, and they have
an opportunity to gather their own thoughts prior to the Linkup so that
they can contribute, they will be much more likely to attend.

Anonymous said…
Dan. Great insights. Some I would like to add.

Members get an email from Heather/Tracey a day or two before a LinkUp. Would it not be a good idea to include the agenda of the LinkUp in there? Currently people show up and they get handed the print agenda.

If I for one were to see the agenda two days in advance, I might read up on them, do some background research, look around online, and be prepared for a more informed participation.

Another idea. All those newsletters that Heather/Tracey write, what about archiving them online? All of them.

Third idea. Blogging all events we do. So there are writeups on all past events, photos, maybe video clips for the important ones. All those could be externally hosted for free and only linked to from the DFNYC site. I am already doing a little bit. But I am only one person, it is so easy to do. Each event could have a designated volunteer blogger.

I think if more members see how much fun we have at our events, more are likely to show up. And I think those who show up will like the "attention." We all become minor celebrities. When we show up, cameras start flashing. :-)

Idea four. Each event should have at least 10 minutes of dance music. :-)

We really are trying to be the model DFA chapter. Do events, blog events is my suggested motto. And when we blog our events, that might inspire DFA chapters across the country. They might get to participate, if only indirectly.

The other day I bumped into this comment by a West Virginia Deaniac in the Blog For America archives. Someone told her she looks like Heather Woodfield, and she was so very excited!

I think we need to realize we are the role model DFA chapter. I testify to that personally. Being a newbie DFNYC person.

First week with DFNYC I sent an email to Heather: "I can't believe you have a photo with Dean." Now I have a photo with Dean.