In the days and weeks following the 2016 Presidential election, people in our South Sound region and all across America got to work organizing, protesting, developing resources, planning actions, networking, and creating websites and Facebook pages. In the Spring of 2017, Olympia Indivisible’s original web developer Nono Burling was working on a calendar for their website. At the same time, Carolyn Roos was creating a calendar for the website of the South Sound Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
As they tried to populate their calendars with events of interest to the Olympia/South Sound progressive community, they quickly discovered the difficult, tedious and labor-intensive problems associated with maintaining a calendar by copying events. Copy errors occurred. But the alarm bells rang loudest when the date of one event changed. It was nearly impossible to identify which of many calendars was the correct one and which belonged to the original organizer.
All across the South Sound, precious volunteer time was being wasted entering data unnecessarily and duplicating efforts. Worse, a copied event (where details were manually entered) has no connection to the original calendar. If an event creator changes details of the event such as date or location, the copied event would not be updated.
And when a calendar of events is not accurate, it is useless.
Let computers do most of the work
Enter the idea for an interactive community calendar. Over the past year, work on the calendar evolved to become a larger project, Citizen LocalMotive, whose mission is to connect local activists working for peace, social justice and the environment. The Community Calendar at LocalMotive.org was created as a way to have a central real-time calendar. But Citizen LocalMotive is becoming a central resource that can support people in the South Sound to participate in shaping their region and the world in a variety of ways. The site already offers links to local actions; lists organizations and groups, as well as contact information for government entities; includes information about current provocative issues, and, as they say, much, much more.
Not just another calendar
The Community Calendar at LocalMotive.org is not just another calendar where other groups’ events are copied. Rather, for most events, the calendar software imports the event details automatically. Once a link to your event has been created, the software checks back once a day (until the event has occurred) to check if anything has changed. If an organizer changes the time of an event on their original listing, our calendar will catch that and update automatically. If a featured speaker changes, the Community Calendar listing of the event will update with that change. Any changes get updated.
Today you will find events on our calendar from more than 50 organizations. We regularly check calendars of organizations listed at http://localmotive.org/organizations/#OrgsOnCalendar The calendar includes environmental groups like 350 Tacoma and Zero Hour, social justice organizations like CIELO, PFLAG and SURJ, political parties and organizations, like the local Green Party, Young Democrats, Our Revolution, and Indivisible groups. You’ll find events for special interest groups such as Moms Demand Action and Thurston Gun Sense on gun control, and much more. Almost every day there is an event posted. Organizations that would like to have their events listed on the Community Calendar should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Take action with Citizen LocalMotive
Besides the calendar, LocalMotive offers a way to help organizations distribute the actions they develop. An Action at http://localmotive.org/actions/ is about a very specific issue. It can be something like calling your Senator that provides a script with talking points and contact phone numbers. It can be something like attending a rally for the ongoing Poor People’s Campaign at http://localmotive.org/event/wa-poor-peoples-campaign-action-linking-racism-poverty/. Some actions propose opposition to a corporate merger or to another despicable nominee by the Republican Administration. Many actions are local, such as participating in Olympia’s sea level rise survey. Notice on the right side bar of our Actions page, that we categorize actions by topic and region. Go to SUBSCRIBE on the main menu and sign up to receive notifications of the Actions as snippets, headlines, or full stories.
Many of our Actions come from Olympia Indivisible’s great research work in their Call to Action (http://www.olympiaindivisible.com/call-to-action), which comes out every Sunday. Contact email@example.com if you have actions your group would like us to publish.
Connecting to organizations and resources
LocalMotive provides a list of many organizations and groups in the South Sound region at http://localmotive.org/organizations/. Click on the name and you are linked to that organization’s website or Facebook page. As we discover organizations, we add them to this list and add their events to our Community Calendar.
There is also a Topics feature where we explore context and go in-depth on difficult subjects. Here you can find compiled references on topics such as gun control and voting systems,—for example, ranked—choice voting.
Our resources at http://localmotive.org/resources/ include links to help you find more information or take action. For example, we have compiled links to policy makers and government bodies, including federal and state congresspeople, South Sound city councils, county governments, conservation districts, school boards, neighborhood associations and tribes.
Can’t attend a hearing but want to submit testimony as if you were there? At http://localmotive.org/wa-state-capitol-legislature/, you can find instructions for submitting testimony to a legislative hearing from your smart phone from the Capitol parking lot on your way to work. Find these resources and more at LocalMotive.org.
There are several opportunities for further development and resources that can grow out of the community calendar. One is a local venue database. Imagine an online resource that catalogs all the locations (or venues) in the South Sound where events can be held. It would include information as to the facility, the number of people that can be accommodated, and the contact person. We don’t yet have that resource available, but as event details are fed into our calendar, it automatically collects information about venues. With a little programming assistance, we can improve the operation of this function to make the venue database a reality.
Another opportunity for the future is to be able to dynamically link your calendar to ours. This would allow us to “push” specific updates from the Community Calendar to your calendar based on your interests. With this capability, we would achieve a system of linked calendars, with the LocalMotive Community Calendar serving as a hub. All calendars in the system would thus stay up-to-date and be synced with the calendar of the original organizer.
A word about LocalMotive’s origins and how to help
Currently LocalMotive is a two-woman operation started by Carolyn Roos, using WordPress and creating the calendar using “The Events Calendar” by Modern Tribe. Carolyn maintains and improves the website on the technical side and, along with Mary Watt, adds content. In the past, two volunteers helped out with posting content, primarily “Actions.”
If this project and the resources it can offer interests you, consider joining the team. They are looking for help with tasks involving Python programming (writing scripts), review and editing, writing actions and articles, or other ideas. They are also interested in partnering with other organizations to explore ideas. Contact Carolyn and Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ins and outs of managing events on the LocalMotive Calendar
When you click on the +iCAL EXPORT button you will get the option to open the event with your personal calendar, such as your Outlook or Apple calendar. If you don’t have a personal calendar installed, choose to Save the event and the event information is saved to your Downloads folder. There are various ways you can use this file. You can email it to others to invite them to your event, for example. When they click to open it, they will have the option to save it to their personal calendar. As another example, in your Google calendar, add the event by clicking on Add a Friend’s Calendar / Import / Select File from Your Computer. In Outlook, click File /Open / Import-Export/Import an iCalendar File / Next — and navigate to the event file in your Downloads folder.
Interview on KAOS Community Radio