Want to read some authoritative short publications that concisely debunk the "official line" that the U.S. government and the mainstream media are putting out regarding the pressing issues of our time? Or maybe you know someone who ought to add some alternative perspectives to his or her reading list? I recommend the literature published by the Open Media Pamphlet Series. -- jc-e

A timely note -- Spring, 2003:

I think that any U.S. citizen who exercises his or her right to engage in or support peaceful activism ought to be aware of how this freedom is currently threatened. Read what the American Civil Liberties Union has to say about the "Domestic Security Enhancement"/"PATRIOT II" bill.

November, 2006:

I am hoping that the return of a Democratic majority in Congress will translate into greater governmental responsiveness to progressive concerns in various areas. I believe it will be more important than ever that our elected representatives hear from us on important issues so that they can fulfill the popular mandate for humane, responsible government that brought them electoral victory this month.


Skip the Yammering, Just Take Me to the Links!

As we all know, there is a lot that is very wrong in our world. The more one looks, the more one learns, the more outrages one sees. But positive changes do occur -- sporadically, inconsistently, incompletely, and often not without reversals and impediments. But sometimes real progress does happen -- people and animals are rescued from unspeakable fates, unjust laws are blocked or repealed, a little piece of the ecosphere is protected, truly beneficial programs are instated . . . . And when good things happen or bad things are stopped, it is often related to members of the public having raised their voices.

The good news is that if you have good access to the Internet, it has never been easier to raise your voice! Website-driven email, auto-faxing, and petition centers may or may not be the most effective way to get those in power to listen to your concerns. But they are an unparalleled mechanism for quickly, efficiently, and frequently submitting well-timed messages to the appropriate people regarding issues that you feel strongly about.

Most of the websites on this page offer plenty of information and perspective for you to digest, if you wish to read up. But if you're at the point with a particular issue where you know where you stand, these sites are an ideal "express lane" to getting your messages out. The online organizers have done most of the work -- they've monitored the situation, including the tracking of pending legislation, public comment periods, and other factors which determine when a particular issue can be most effectively pursued. They know who the appropriate decision-makers are for each issue, and they know (based on the ZIP code you input) who your Congressional representatives are, complete with email/fax info. Most sites allow you to compose or customize your own letters, but if you know you're in agreement with what the "default" letter says, you don't even have to take the time to compose. A few clicks, and off goes your message. Most of these sites will even remember you for return visits (if you choose to enable this), so you don't even have to re-enter your address. Some will keep track of which actions you've already taken. And many of them will allow you to sign up for email "alerts", so that you know when your action is most needed. The result of all this is that, in just minutes, you can add your voice on a number of critical issues.

These sites vary in design, functionality, etc. Some have many current actions and seem to be added to constantly; others feature a small number of actions and/or don't introduce new actions that often. Some offer a mixture of completely-online actions and traditional letter and phone campaigns. I've included sites that seem to offer at least some "instant" actions. But there are usually opportunities to go further, for those with more time and energy to devote.

I have tried to organize the sites I list below into broad categories. Please be aware that, depending on your political and ideological positions, some of these "causes" may be more controversial than others. These sites represent causes that I, personally, want to support, and some of them may not match up with your personal ideology or agenda. I hope that my notes will be helpful, where applicable. But please understand that these are just my "thumbnails" -- I do not represent any of these organizations, and I do not consider myself an expert on any of these issues. I'm just a "user" trying to help my friends get involved!

One other disclaimer: I have collected these websites as what I believe, based on my admittedly-sometimes-superficial impressions, to be generally legitimate, informed, public-interest-driven organizations that provide web-based activism frameworks on key issues. I have not evaluated them for the purpose of recommending that one give, or not give, monetary donations to these various organizations. Obviously, this would bring in other considerations -- how exactly the money gets used, percentage of administrative costs, etc., and this is beyond the scope of what I'm doing here. (For guidance in that regard, you may want to consult an organization like the American Institute of Philanthropy.) Nor can I necessarily vouch for all the tactics, ideologies, affiliations or connections of these groups, as I cannot claim to have investigated these. I offer these links from the point of view of someone looking to communicate with public and private decision-makers regarding vital public issues. Inclusion of a link on this page does not necessarily imply endorsement of an organization, its larger agenda, its practices, or the actions (whether planned or unpremeditated, organization-sponsored or otherwise) that might occur in the context of the group's activities or sponsored events. I would not knowingly link to any organization that plans, promotes or engages in violence, destruction, or illegal practices, and links from this page must not be construed as endorsing any such practices, or the organizations that engage in them, should someone better informed than I find evidence of same.

And now, the list of websites. Thank you for acting!

[Links verified/updated November, 2006.]

This first group of websites offers actions in a variety of categories, generally falling under the umbrellas of what I'd loosely describe as "public interest advocacy", "global peace and fairness", "basic needs, rights, equalities and freedoms", and "people/animals/ecosystems over profits".
Working Assets Act for Change
Sierra Club
Oxfam America
Public Citizen
Union of Concerned Scientists
Common Cause
Friends Committee on National Legislation
This is the only organization listed on this page that has an affiliation with a religious group (as far as I'm aware). As an atheist, I normally seek out strictly secular organizations, not wanting to mix religion with my politics. The agenda of the FCNL, however, represents such a strong advocacy of what I consider to be good societal values (encompassing nonviolence, as well as the commitment to meeting human needs and promoting socioeconomic equality) that I include this site here. To omit it might, in my opinion, rob us of what seems to be an excellent legislative advocacy site for promoting disarmament, demilitarization, and nonviolent conflict resolution. (For more information, visit What Is FCNL?)

In addition to Amnesty International-style human rights campaigns, I'm including here sites concerned with hunger action, civil liberties, and worker rights.

Here are four slightly-different Action Centers run by Amnesty International, to help you speak out against torture and other human-rights abuses, with respect to both individual cases and policy-level concerns:
Amnesty International Action Center
AI USA Action Center [1]
AI USA Action Center [2]
AI Business & Human Rights Action Center
AI OUTfront! Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Human Rights Action Center
Human Rights First

You also may wish to check out Human Rights Watch for those kinds of actions.

American Civil Liberties Union
Human Rights Campaign (works for "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights").
American Rights at Work
United Farm Workers

Humane Society

The NEXT GROUP of sites focuses on EQUAL RIGHTS for women,
along with support for CONTRACEPTIVE availability,
comprehensive SEX EDUCATION,
the struggle against OVERPOPULATION,
and PRO-CHOICE activism.
One might argue that these issues should not all be lumped together; but since most of these sites do offer actions on an assortment of the above issues, I find I must replicate this grouping here. If, as I do, you support contraceptive access, comprehensive sex ed, and a woman's right to choose abortion, in addition to your belief in equal rights for all genders and sexual orientations, then you will probably feel at home at these sites. But if your opinions do not fully coincide with those I've outlined here, then proceed with caution.
Feminist Majority
National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League
National Organization for Women
Population Connection
Population Action International

The scopes, missions, and tones of these many sites vary somewhat. But there is also quite a bit of overlap, inevitably.
World Wildlife Fund Conservation Action Network
Natural Resources Defense Council
Environmental Defense Action Network
Defenders of Wildlife
Earth Island Institute
National Parks Conservation Association
National Audubon Society

CLICK FOR CHARITY! You click, the sponsors donate.
Paul Harrison of the World Pantheist Movement has set up a super-site to direct people to the best one-click-makes-a-change sites. These are reputable websites where your daily mouse click instantly directs sponsors to channel funds toward acting against hunger, rainforest devastation, homelessness, wildlife extinction, pollution, disease, etc.

Back to: Hilary & Jonathan's home page

This page created June, 2002. Revised January, 2007.