By Rachel West, MSW, LMSW Director of Community Development
When working in advocacy or staying astute of current issues in public policy, finding good advocacy resources can be challenging if you are not sure where to look. Below are five resources that I find helpful in my work. These particular resources help me manage and prioritize issues in which I would like to focus, and I believe they will be helpful to you.
POPVOX I think I may be falling in love with this website. POPVOX allows you to easily find legislation and vote on whether or not you support the bill. You then have the option of sending an email to your legislator about your position, which you can choose to personalize if you have a story to tell related to the issue.
POPVOX also shows you how many of their users have voted for or against a bill and what positions they took. You can use POPVOX to find out what legislation is in Congress, what is going on in your state or district, find out about groups or non-profits and where they stand on pieces of legislation, you can even install POPVOX’s widget on your blog to direct readers to a particular issue.
e.politics This is a great blog for information on online advocacy. Topics cover tools and tactics involved in online campaigning.
Epolitics.com is an attempt to fill that gap with a realistic look at the world of doing politics and advocacy online. I’m not interested in glittering generalities about the potential of digital networks in the political sphere but rather in the nuts and bolts of actually using the web, email and related technologies to try to change the world. (source)
e.politics is a must for anyone doing community organizing or any kind of campaign work.
Govtrack.us This tool enables users to track legislation in the United States Congress and in state legislatures. You can read bill summaries or the entire text and receive email updates about legislation as it progresses.
THOMAS Operated by the Library of Congress, THOMAS enables users to find info on bills, resolutions, congressional activity, congressional records, schedules, calendars, committee info, presidential nominations, treaties, and government resources.
Thomas is a must for anyone needing to do research on public policy.
ElectNext I’m going to have to let ElectNext describe what they do:
“We summarize deep, disparate, dangerous (well, maybe not dangerous) political data sets to create simple profiles that describe who these guys and gals running our country really are. We know how they talk about issues vs. on what they actually spend their time legislating and how that compares to their sources of funding. How cool is that?
And, best of all, we put those profiles directly in your news! Right in front of your nose, in the precise moment you’re already reading about a political person, or issue, you care about.” (source)
Are there other tools that you use in staying abreast of public policy issues?
photo credit: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML via photopin cc
Rachel L. West is the Founder of the Political Social Worker, a blog dedicated to macro social work and politics. She holds a BA in History from SUNY Stony Brook and an MSW from Adelphi University. She is a community outreach and engagement specialist. Rachel resides in New York State, and she is available as a consultant and coach. You can find out more about Rachel at The Political Social Worker at (politicalsocialworker.org).