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Hey, Steve, rather than sleeping pills, how about a fund for high-quality
regular coffee beans, to contribute to that insomnia?
 
In other words, I agree both with the content and spirit of your post --
while we may be reasonable to have concerns about whether or not telecom
regulation efforts will take into consideration the needs & rights of the
individual, there's little need to suspect a secret agenda. The motives of
the big telecom players are right out in the open. They're in it for the
money. While we can envy their access to Members of Congress (MCs),
better to spend our energy creating pressure for our own views.
 
Grassroots lobbying efforts **do** work. Case in point -- the (albeit
temporary) relative success in persuading MCs to continue funding for
public broadcasting, for the next 2 years. (I'm no Pollyanna, and believe
that funding will go away soon thereafter, but it gives public
broadcasting a little time to plan its future.)
 
True grassroots activism across the country is what changed the minds (and
votes) of those MCs -- letters, faxes, calls, and in some cases, emails
from constituents saying they valued public radio & TV, and wanted federal
funding to continue.
 
Stations were also good at working with local media, mostly print, to get
favorable editorials and space for op-ed pieces on the topic.
 
Steve's right, it doesn't have to be expensive to mount a grassroots
campaign, but it sure takes time & energy. Now I admit, it does help to
have a broadcast station to help get the word out, but those editorials
and op-ed pieces came from one-on-one work with local editors.
 
I also admit that unlike fans of public radio or TV, it's difficult to
identify a group of constituents for brand-new or as-yet-unspecified
services, like community computer networks. That's where the obvious
partners come in -- local school authorities, library directors, local
government folks, local small businesses, etc. -- everyone who stands to
gain from a telecommunications system designed to provide broad, low-cost
access to all individuals.
 
One final note, as you enjoy your Independence Day weekend. In the fall,
public TV will begin presenting a variety of series and specials exploring
democracy -- what it means to a wide range of people, and how it's
practiced.
 
One series slated for distribution by PBS in October is called THE
AMERICAN PROMISE, 3 one-hour documentaries filled with stories about
grassroots democratic action on many different topics, from across the
country.  As we say in Public TV Land, "Check local listings for the
broadcast date and time."
 
*************************************************************************
Susan Prince <<[log in to unmask]>> | KVIE (Public TV), P.O. Box 6
TV Programming/Software Specialist   | Sacramento, CA 95812
                                     | 916/929-5843