Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our First Year

It’s our birthday. One year ago this month Keystone Progress sent out its first email action alert. That email informed the public about the upcoming huge increases in electric rates. Nearly 2,000 of us took action, forcing our elected officials to begin to look at solutions.

From that first action, Keystone Progress has grown to be the most powerful progressive organization in Pennsylvania that you’ve never heard of. Our email network has grown to include 200,000 members. We have generated thousands of stories in the traditional press and online media, reaching an audience of millions.

Keystone Progress was founded with two goals: 1) help grassroots activists use cutting-edge internet and new media to organize online at the state and local level; and 2) assist progressive partner organizations with message development and earned media strategies to promote a progressive agenda, counter right-wing misinformation, and hold public leaders accountable.

By all accounts, we’ve met and exceeded those goals. And with your help we can do even more in our second year. Contribute today by clicking here:

Here’s a sample of what we accomplished in our first year:

I. Generating Hard Hitting Communications and New Media Year-Round:

When citizens take action, they make news. With the help of our active network members and tested research, we take action to develop a clear progressive voice and generate press on targeted issues of importance at the state and local level. Combined with the creative use of new media, including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, we change the public dialogue and promote progressive ideas while holding public leaders accountable.

· In less than a year we’ve grown our network to 200,000 subscribers—the largest online progressive network in PA. We’ve used that network to generate over 100,000 letters and emails to elected officials.

· Our YouTube videos have received over 3 million views and have been featured by national and international news outlets including CBS, MSNBC, BBC, Agence France Presse, Huffington Post and innumerable blogs.

· Our videos drove the national story on hatred and racism in the McCain/Palin campaign. Our cameras documented what the networks weren’t covering, showing racist signs and chants at McCain rallies, including the famous “Monkey Man” video (see photo below).

· KP exposed “Joe” the “Plumber” for being a paid shill for corporations opposing the employee Free Choice Act. He admitted that he hadn’t read the bill and didn’t understand it in our exclusive interview.

· We created a campaign around Senator John Eichelberger’s comments that he is “allowing” LGBT couples to exist. Thousands of Pennsylvanians signed our petition helping KP to become the leading straight ally on LGBT issues in PA.

· Keystone Progress discovered the Obama assassination ad that ran in the Warren, PA newspaper, presaging the violence and threats in the anti-healthcare reform movement. That story ran worldwide.

II. Providing PR and Online Support for progressive partners:

While many people know of our online activism, few know about the ways we support our table partners with communications and online organizing Some of the ways we assist our progressive allies: 1) develop messages and generate earned media, 2) increase capacity by activating our network members online in cutting-edge outreach, and 3) enhance the voter file by sharing information we learn about voters through our online actions. To ensure success, we identify and support the most credible surrogates and third-parties spokespeople.

· KP has developed pro bono media campaigns, written news releases and generated media stories for a variety of progressive organizations including the Alliance for Retired Americans, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Healthcare for America Now, Planned Parenthood Advocates, SEIU Healthcare PA and others.

· We have conducted training for hundreds of progressive activists across the state on issues and techniques to help create a progressive future in PA.

· Keystone Progress has developed unique online tools to spread the word about our own and our partners’ research. is an online game designed to show the difficulty in balancing PA’s state budget. Specter Scorecard lets people see at a glance where Senator specter stands on progressive issues based on his votes.

· Keystone Progress maintains a news service for bloggers and other new media. We regularly send out news items to our new media network of over 100 progressive bloggers in PA. The new media stories generated by our news releases have frequently resulted in the traditional media picking up the story after the bloggers have created a buzz.

III. Building Online to Offline Grassroots Network at the State and Local Level:

Described by the Washington Post as “one of the most ambitious efforts in grassroots organizing at the state level,” we engage people year-round online to offline. We are assisting our partners in building a power base of networked citizens who are making change happen. By focusing on issues that cross party lines, we’re reaching beyond the “choir” to expand the base for progressive causes.

· KP has developed a unique way to build our own network and our partners’ lists by doing collaborative emails. We have sent out blast emails using both our name and a partner’s to cross-fertilize our lists and to be more effective in our outreach. This approach has added thousands of new members to our partners email lists. Some of the organizations that have taken advantage of this service include HCAN, Education Voters PA, Equality Advocates PA, Presente, Service Members Legal Defense Network and Working America.

· Keystone Progress monitors right wing sites and passes along important information to our partners. When an anti-healthcare organization planned a bus tour across PA, KP sent the information progressive organizations and individuals. The result was more pro-reform people showing up than anti-reform people at most stops.

· Our netroots and grassroots approach has resulted in real change. In just the last few months we had winning campaigns, convincing Governor Rendell to support civil rights investigation in the murder of Luis Ramirez and persuading Senator Specter to oppose the Thun Amendment.

Like what we’re doing? Then help us continue our work with a generous contribution today. You can contribute securely online by clicking here: or by mailing your donation to Keystone Progress, 641R Penn Ave., West Reading, PA 19611. Contributions are not tax deductible.

Your contribution will be used to:

· Continue the work we did in our first year.

· Hire new staff. We want to have a full-time writer and public relations expert to work with our partners, helping them to communicate their message more effectively. We also need a full-time tech person who will help us develop and maintain new tools for us and our partners.

· Build new online tools. Our new website will allow small, local progressive organizations to have access to state-of-the-art technology that they could not afford on their own. It will give progressive Pennsylvanians a unique opportunity to network and communicate. Look for it in the next few months.

· Create new and innovative opportunities for organizing.

Your immediate gift of $100, $250, or whatever you can afford, is vital to continuing our important work. Please make the most generous gift you can so we can continue the work of building a permanent progressive majority in Pennsylvania.

In Solidarity,

Michael Morrill
and the Keystone Progress Team

Friday, August 7, 2009

Violence at Town Halls is the same as on last fall's campaign trail

This video, including some of the footage shot last fall by Keystone Progress, shows the same tactics and rhetoric by the "Birthers," the "Teabaggers," and the fringe from last fall's presidential campaign. Now they are turning their focus to helathcare and the town halls organized by members of Congress.

Don'l let this angry minority hijack reform.