March 19th, 2008

Dear Commercial Alert

By Scott Heiferman
Scott Heiferman's Notes

Dear CommercialAlert.org,

I’ve subscribed to the Commercial Alert blog for a long time because I’ve long cared about authentic community and increased commercial bastardization of culture. In fact, that’s a big reason why I started Meetup. Thanks for doing what you do.

Seeing my own organization appear on the feed today, I want to make clear Meetup’s commitments. Meetup Groups, which are local groups self-organized by adults, only have sponsors if they choose to have sponsors. It happens organically, arranged on their own, for example. We’re in no position to tell a self-organized community that they can’t have a sponsor. We want there to be transparency and fluidity between sponsors and the Meetup Groups—with the Meetup Groups in control.

More importantly, we see the potential (and current reality of) sponsors strengthening these community groups. In other words, if sponsors want people’s attention, they must earn it—and have the group choose it—by helping the group do what they want to do. We believe in the power of self-organized groups. Even the most efficient organizations (groups) need some funding or support, so let them take it from a sponsor on their own terms. This isn’t like saying “hey, the people choose to consume that commercially bastardized media”—rather, “the people choose to form organizations, and now that they’re organized, they can receive offers-of-sponsorship from their position of power.”

At Meetup, we stand for the balance-of-power shifting towards the people. By helping them self-organize, they’re more powerful in their relations with commercial entities. I hope we have a world where the “commercial assault that is corrupting our culture, health, education and government” shifts because there’s significantly more authentic community group-formation.

Above all, the best way to “protect communities from commercialism” is to actually spark and sustain real people-powered community groups.

Thanks for listening, and keep up the good stuff with Commercial Alert.

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