And The Winners Are…

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 18:13

Contribute to BlogPac Now, and Build Progressive Infrastructure

Five weeks ago, BlogPac put out a call to "find the five best new, grassroots progressive infrastructure projects in America, and provide those projects with the money, exposure, and connections necessary to get off the ground." Originally, I had scheduled the announcement of the winners for the contest on Thursday, August 2nd. However, due to the sheer volume of submissions, over 100, and to the high quality of many of those submissions, it took us a much longer time to reach a decision than I had originally envisioned.

Now, at long last, the wait is over. It brings me great pleasure to announce the winners of the first BlogPac Progressive Entrepreneurs Contest, in the order in which their submissions were received:

Chris Bowers :: And The Winners Are…
First BlogPac Progressive Entrepreneurs Contest Winners

  1. Precinct Map and Voting History Online Application, submitted by Chad Lupkes, 46th District representative of the King County Democratic Party in Washington State. This is a project to map every precinct in the state of Washington, along with providing information on how each precinct voted in key elections. Over time, this project has a goal of expanding across the entire nation, and I think it could also potentially be used for letting people know which precincts nationwide need someone to be the local precinct captain. In other words, this project has the potential to map every precinct in America, and make that information available to Democratic and progressive activists nationwide. The project has already mapped every precinct in King County, Washington, and you can see what this look like by clicking here.

  2. The Candidate Source internet video project, submitted by Brian Amos on behalf of Candidate Source is a project to transcribe and catalog political content found on video sharing sites like YouTube, including stump speeches, debates, and interviews.  It will be launched on September 1st, and create a free, large, fully searchable database of political video featuring speeches and interviews with both Democratic and Republican candidates. Anyone will be able to search for video by the candidates who appear in it, topics discussed, or quotes contained in it.  Once launched, progressive activists will be able to find particularly eloquent or explanatory speeches from her or his favorite candidates, and also to check for inconsistency in opposing candidates. Further, bloggers, mainstream media, or even an average citizen will be able to easily compare candidate stances on a certain issue. This project will help further engage people-powered activism in American politics.

  3. Black Agenda Report, submitted by Glen Ford on behalf of The Black Agenda Report. The Black Agenda Report is a weekly magazine that turns a critical eye on African-American institutions, and also one of the centers of the emerging African-American blogosphere.  Black Agenda Report has created the political space to critique Black institutions, while also projecting an internationalist worldview that is rooted in the most progressive currents of historical African American thought and practice. It has also engaged in institution building of its own through Congressional Black Caucus monitor, the first and only organization to methodically grade Black congresspersons based on the standards of the historical Black Political Consensus. With broadband usage among African-Americans skyrocketing, providing more sustainable funding to the Black Agenda Report will help it become an important, online center for the progressive blogosphere over the long term. The BlogPac grant will help put the Black Agenda report on secure financial footing over the long-term, as well as help launch the Black Agenda Review of Books, which will add yet another dimension to the political dialogue.

  4. Blogging the Statehouse, Jersey Style, submitted by Jay Lassiter on behalf of Blue Jersey. One of the nation's premier local blogs, Blue Jersey, currently pays a blogger, Jay Lassiter to directly cover political happenings in the state legislature in Trenton. Even though he does so with quality that is on par with, or superior to, any other journalist in New Jersey, currently Jay is paid a very unprogressive salary of $600 a month. The BlogPac grant will allow this position to become sustainable over the long-term, and also allow Blue Jersey to pay an intern to assist with this first-rate, state level blogging work.

  5. BlogsUnited, submitted by Kid Oakland on behalf of Blogs United. In case you are unfamiliar with the organization, BlogsUnited describes itself as follows:

    BlogsUnited is a currently unincorporated online organization by and for local and regional progressive bloggers and online activists with 250 members.  We exist to provide a useful and relevant source of information and communication for progressive bloggers working locally. BlogsUnited is committed to serving local and regional-oriented progressive bloggers and blogs. We currently do this through a Wiki, a Google Group, social networking nodes on Facebook, DFA link, and a nascent Soapblox Blog. Our organizing ethos puts an emphasis on inclusion, openness and economic, regional and ethnic diversity. Yearlykos 2007 provided the first face-to-face meeting opportunity for this organization and also involved BlogsUnited taking the first steps towards organizing itself as a legal entity.

    Supporting an organization like BlogsUnited, which exists entirely to support and expand the progressive blogosphere, is something BlogPac could not be happier to do.

  6. Additionally, even though only five winners were originally slated for this program BlogPac will present an award to the submission, SoapBlox Security Upgrade, by pacified of SoapBlox Network, Inc. However, instead of coming directly through the Infrastructure Contest, it will be part of the 50 state blog network program in which BlogPac has engaged in over the past seven months. Almost all of the more than 40 local blogs in the network operate on SoapBlox, and at BlogPac we would be remiss if we did not work to make sure that these local blogs are safe from malicious, online server attacks. We need to keep emerging, local progressive communities online, and that means making sure that SoapBlox is not only operational, but that it has rock solid defenses.

With so many great ideas, choosing these was by no means an easy decision. In addition to congratulating the winners, and thanking everyone who submitted and entry, I want to thank the judges and transcribers who worked so hard to help make this project a reality.

Also, I don't want this contest to be a one-off event. Over these past five weeks, I have seen so many great proposals, that I wish we had money to fund them all. There are were proposals to help more bloggers receive health insurance, to allow any individual to produce and test micro-targeted progressive political advertisements, to produce a series of videos to train grassroots progressives about how campaigns work and how they can find work on them, to connect freelance progressive activists to progressive campaigns and organizations, to produce a national progressive political events calendar, to grow numerous local and topical blogospheres and activist scenes, to build archives of professional and user generated progressive television advertisements, to build progressive radio, to better track progressive legislation in Congress, and much, much more. Dozens of the submissions we received deserve a chance to take flight. These are the sort of ideas that can further strengthen the progressive movement by making virtually all activists in the movement more politically effective.

However, as you can see from our our most recent FEC filing, the truth is that BlogPac only had $25,943 in the bank on June 30th. Also, we have spent some money since that time in order to maintain operations, including putting together this contest. These six grants alone total $20,665 (different organizations asked for different amounts of money), and thus will basically drain us of funds. No matter how many great ideas there are, there is only so much we can give right now.  We are giving everything we have, and unless we raise more money, we simply cannot fund anymore of the great ideas coming from the netroots.

So, in addition to congratulating the winners, today I am asking you to become a stakeholder in the effort to help seed the progressive grassroots. Let's make this contest a regular event held at least every other month, and keep building progressive, grassroots infrastructure. By contributing to BlogPac, you ensure that the infrastructure all activists in the progressive movement need to be more effective is being built. By becoming a regular contributor of $10 a month or more to BlogPac, you guarantee yourself a regular vote on how we will distribute these grants in the future. In every subsequent contest, as netroots stakeholders regular BlogPac donors will have a vote to decide which projects receive half of the grant money in these contests.

Congratulate the winners, and become a netroots stakeholder by making a regular contribution to BlogPac. Raising $5,000 today would be a great start, as it means we could give out one more full-size grant. 

Update (8:45 pm eastern): We currently have 9 new donors, for $261 (some of those donors are recurring, so it is actually a little more). That is a start, but I know we can do better. Please, let's keep this going, and build more progressive infrastructure.

Update 2 (10:40 pm eastern): 18 donors and $715. Thank you so much! Things are starting to pick up. Let's keep it going!

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wow (4.00 / 2)
this is what i would call a movement! congrats to all.

Isn't it great? (4.00 / 2)
And this is just the beginning...

[ Parent ]
Those are all excellent initiatives (4.00 / 2)
  And I'm happy to see them get some funding. If the netroots can impact political discourse, our next step is to impact political funding in creative and productive ways. And all five winners fit that bill. Heck, we ALL won.

  Chris, thank you for doing this -- and thank you for subjecting yourself to what must have been a brutal selection process.

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

the most brutal part (4.00 / 3)
Was realizing all the great ideas we didn't have money for right now.

Thanks for the words. We are going to keep working to get more done. I don't care how much work it takes--I want to keep building infrastructure. Hard work is one thing, but hard work leading to concrete projects and accomplishments is very, very satisfying. 

[ Parent ]
Great Work (0.00 / 0)
guys, just signed up for my recurring yearly contribution.  It was quick and easy, who wants to join me :)

[ Parent ]
Great job (4.00 / 3)
The grantees are all amazing. And the ideas that came in all sound really great too.

Thanks to Chris and everyone who put in so many hours to make this happen! I'm happily giving a Blog PAC donation now...

I hope everyone else will too!

Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards.

Sweet (0.00 / 0)

And I just can't agree enough--these really are great, aren't they? If only I could show everyone all of the submissions--that would realyl knock people's socks off.

[ Parent ]
Ideas to get more funded (4.00 / 1)
Two ideas that come to mind is pick three more that you could specifically fundraise for via BlogPAC. Would make it more compelling and would show people why contributing is so important right now.  2nd idea includes working with other progressive funding sources. I know that NPC is doing a grant program as well (deadline for application is today btw....). While that is their thing, they might be open to a joint venture specifically around the blog related ventures....Echo Ditto's 'Since Sliced Bread' project might work too, they originally did that for any idea on anything but they might do an online blog version if it made sense.

As I'm typing this it occurs to me that I would love to see a Progressive Idea Bank where all of these ideas could be archived and searchable....

[ Parent ]
Good ideas (0.00 / 0)
And I imagine we will do something very similar. I have also seen the progressive idea bank proposed before, and this could really turn into that, especially with the voting mechanism.

[ Parent ]
thanks Chris (4.00 / 5)
and on behalf of the members of BlogsUnited I want to thank everyone whose donations to Blog Pac made this grant possible.

Your generosity is appreciated...and will be put to good use!

I know you will (4.00 / 4)
Your record shows you can really get results, and I have no doubt you will continue to do so.

BTW, I don't consider it generosity. You earned this by being so awesome.

[ Parent ]
Thank You BlogPac (4.00 / 3)
And Chris, and the judges, and all the individuals who have supported BlogPac, and all those involved with making this competition a success. From all of us at Blue Jersey, thank you.

you are welcome (0.00 / 0)
And thank you for kicking so much ass

[ Parent ]
Blogpac (0.00 / 0)
Blogpac does us proud!

Am I correct in assuming you will be tracking the sucess/impact of this investment so that it can be used as an example to attract further donors?

I can't imagine why this would not attract interest. In reality, this really a small investment to make for the return these projects are going to provide for all Democrats. Fantastic work!

If teaching is so easy, then by all means get your degree, pass your certification test(s), get your license, and see if you can last longer than the five years in the classroom 50% of those who enter the profession never make it to.

Oh yes (0.00 / 0)
We would be foolish if we didn't keep tracking--and helping--these projects get off the ground. Lot of latitude will be given of course, and we won't ever demand control over the projects, but we intend to make sure to measure the success of these grants.

[ Parent ]
this r00lz (4.00 / 2)
More than 100 projects. Man, I have to say this is the kind of thing that makes me think we are going to win. We have this Cambrian explosion like diversity of ideas that are crazy and brilliant and all combinations thereof, and we're figuring out how to move resources towards them (if slowly, for now)... I just don't see anything like that on the other side. Nicely done - we're going to throw a few coins in the bucket but I'm looking forward to more of these.

thanks BlogPAC (4.00 / 1)
My only question is whether in the future there could be a public application process on the off-hand chance that some big donors might see their cherished issue and throw down some coin to help out a proposal that wasn't funded.

On twitter: @BobBrigham

P.S. start the BlogPAC 501c3 (0.00 / 0)
Bai's book hits in a few days, now is the time!

On twitter: @BobBrigham

[ Parent ]
Yes indeed (4.00 / 1)
Future contests will be more open, and we will also work to show these ideas to larger donors and orgs. If we can't fund everything ourselves, we will still find a way to get it done. But I still want to fund as much as possible directly from BlogPac. As a PAC, we can do almsot any project. We also are fueled by small donors. Both of those make us a great funnel, I believe. By the netroots, and for the netroots.

[ Parent ]
By the netroots, and for the netroots (4.00 / 1)
It really warms my heart to see how far BlogPAC has come. Back in my day, the slogan was, "Waging Politics Online" and BlogPAC was focused on just doing traditional politics on the internet. But now it has blossomed to provide the seed money for the most critical infrastructure investments. You should be proud.

On twitter: @BobBrigham

[ Parent ]
Thanks... (4.00 / 1)
For bringing this opportunity to us.  Please continue to bring opportunities like this to us and letting us know about other chances to earn grants.  We (Florida Progressive Coalition) didn't win this one, so we need to know about more sources of funding!

And we will work to help you find them (0.00 / 0)
FPC is a great org, and I want to help it get even bigger.

[ Parent ]
great idea and execution! (4.00 / 1)
Great idea, Chris, and great job making it happen.

Are you planning on posting the winning applications?  I think it would help future applicants to see previously successful applications, as well as be a model of transparency.  Also, posting a runner-up or three would be nice, too.

end the occupation of Iraq

there will be lots of follow up (0.00 / 0)
This is only the beginning. We will work to get resources for more ideas, especially those that did not receive the first round of grants, believe you me.

[ Parent ]
Well done to the winners (4.00 / 1)
As for us "losers", my applications included (to help the PNW Topic Hotlist stay afloat), we need to forge on.  One hope was that public exposure could help open up more funding doors.  My immediate question regarding future BlogPac Progressive Entrepreneurs contests is if we'll have to re-enter each new contest?

Also, do the judges have any pearls of wisdom or commentary regarding ideas and projects that missed the cut this time around?  Thumbs up or down.

Thanks again for organizing this.  Every time I talk to party organizations that want to engage with the blogosphere I suggest they find ways to help fund us, whether through advertising or grants.  We're not asking for much so every little bit goes a very long way.

On The Road To 2008: Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Thanks BlogPac! (4.00 / 1)
Oh why god why?!? why not us!!!  But really, great work Chris (and the rest of the projects and project reviewers).  I sit on a committee that has to do this type of reviewing and it is heart-wrenching and difficult work.  We at
The UpTake look forward to re-submitting as soon as the option is available.  Until then, full-steam ahead!


The UpTake

-jason The UpTake

Honored to be part of this movement... (4.00 / 1)
Thanks for continuing to build a true movement, Chris and all here at Open Left.  You're the real deal.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- Martin Luther King, Jr

way to go! (0.00 / 0)
Chris -- excellent selections, great idea!
thank you. post-YK2, this is soooooo refreshing.
keep up the great work.

Impressive winners! (0.00 / 0)
And I'll be the losers were almost as impressive.  BlogPac is doing a wonderful service to the grassroots.  When ideas are just getting off the ground, even a small amount of support can help them take off.  That's what you guys are doing, giving that little push.

I'm a Soapblox user and a Blogs United member, so I'd like to personally thank you for helping those organizations.  They are doing good things.  Hugs from Alabama!

Join the conversation at Left In Alabama.

Bravo! (0.00 / 0)
congrats to all the winners, and thanks to the judges and blogpac for running this contest.  as one of the people who entered a submission, this was a lot of fun.  i hope to see much more of this kind of thing in the future!

Is SoapBlox Open Source? nt (0.00 / 0)

Appears not (0.00 / 0)
As far as I can see it's a closed, hosted application, which is one of the reasons we're not using it. Looks like a nice environment in other ways, though. 

Steve Hanson

[ Parent ]
My thoughts exactly (0.00 / 0)
I don't need the hosting, but the app looks like exactly what I need. If I could get Scoop in the current version running on I would but the scoop site doesn't seem to have been updated in a year.

I do find it a little strange that a netroots effort would sponsor something that is closed source and not available for download. I appreciate the business model, but it feels like it should be open.

[ Parent ]
Congrats to the winners! (0.00 / 0)
Lots of good stuff here. I'm going to put up a short post about this at Show Me Progress, which might bring you a few more donations. You'll continue to get my recurring donation - y'all deserve it!!

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

nice work (0.00 / 0)
If they're all as good as the one I'm familiar with, the Black Agenda Report, you did an excellent job.  It's a very good project.


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