Smart Protest: The Rise of we20

If you thought the G20 could change the world, try the
we20--the people's answer to the G20 group of nations. The grassroots organization announced the launch of its website at we20.org on Sunday, enabling individual people and groups anywhere in the world to host their own G20 summits and formulate plans for economic recovery.

According to a news release, we20 offers a refreshing alternative to the street violence and protest surrounding the G20.


"It's large-scale community involvement in planning the world's economic revival. People visiting we20.org can organise their own meetings, in their own communities, to draw up action plans - local, national or international - to fix economies.  We20 plans are voted on at we20.org and the top we20 plans have the chance of appearing on the official G20 London Summit website.

we20's twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Communities are growing fast, plans have already been submitted to we20.org from the UK and Sweden, and we20 meetings are pledged in USA, Australia, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Sudan, Thailand, Nigeria and the UK, representing communities in the media industry, local government, students and healthcare workers. As the we20 movement grows, it's expected that thousands of we20 meetings will take place around the world through 2009, with a goal of the first thousand to take place by the end of April 09.

The website at we20.org acts as a facilitator and hub for these meetings. Visitors to the site can find an existing meeting or set one up to discuss and agree on a local, national or global challenge, or to read and vote on plans from other we20 meetings. Each we20 user gets 20 votes to award to the best recovery plans. The organisers of we20 hope to help favourite we20 plans become future realities as we20 develops.

The we20 concept was hatched on January 6 this year by a group of volunteers in London who want to help people through the recession. The site was then developed entirely by voluntary contributions to become the start of a resource which its organisers hope will grow to be a public engagement platform alongside the G20.

As a body, we20 is independent and neutral. The plans proposed on the site belong to the groups which propose them.

Paul Massey, an internet lawyer from London and one of the volunteers organising we20 in his spare time, says: "The we20 initiative is a neat idea to help people organise their own G20 meetings of up to 20 people. There is speculation about what the London G20 Summit will achieve but we've already seen we20 meetings produce some great action plans to fix the economy. we20 sees the G20 Summit as a rallying call for everyone to work together to pull ourselves out of this economic mess."

He continues: "There's no restriction on the challenges addressed and the plans formulated by people's we20 meetings. They may be directed towards, local, national or global issues, from the IMF, World Bank or climate change to local economic issues such as redundancies, plans for local shops, sports teams or growers' initiatives. we20 is driven by volunteers and word of mouth, and we are constantly amazed by the support we are receiving from across the board."

Part of the inspiration for we20 arose from Barack Obama's use of the internet, demonstrating how ordinary people can make change happen by connecting on the internet and then meeting face to face.

Massey concludes: "After the G20 Summit, we20 will assess its impact in consultation with members, continue to encourage the implementation of we20 plans and work towards future goals including the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit. we20 hopes to strengthen the policies produced by the G20, ensure transparency and encourage good governance. Whatever comes out of the London G20 Summit, we20 looks set to stay as a force of community empowerment for the longer term."

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