One of the first spin-off ventures to come out of NewPath is Paction. Dan Howard, a member of NewPath, conceived the idea to address his own frustration with the shortcomings of traditional letter-writing activism. Dan envisioned an online solution that would make such campaigns easier to organize from their inception and easier to participate in once in place. He wanted to create something that would make activists (and ordinary citizens) feel more connected to the process.
One day, Alex Sirota, NewPath's founder, and Dan were chatting over a coffee. Dan happened to mention his idea. Alex felt that it was a sound one and suggested it be the focus of a “Product Storm” session at the next NewPath meeting. The format was simple. Dan prepared a couple of pages explaining his vision and the void such a site would fill. He then sent this out to the NewPath mailing list before the meeting. At the meeting, he was given the floor for half an hour (although we believe it was much longer than that!) to outline the idea to the group verbally.
A lot of excitement was generated during that meeting, as participants could see the value such a project could deliver. New ideas were brought up, potential problems highlighted, and potential solutions to address those problems were explored at the same time. Interest was deep enough that several people came to a follow-up meeting expressly to talk more about Paction. A core group of people stayed together after that and these people have continued to work on the project by planning, researching and developing the product.
NewPath provided a great forum for the discussion of an idea like this because there is so much entrepreneurial spirit in the group. “ProductStorm" was really an excellent way to turn a simple idea into an active project and to build a lot of momentum around it. What began as a concept has flourished, and no doubt, will continue to flourish.
We look forward to more developments at Paction.org where grassroots advocacy will have a voice.
If you are a member, you like this framework and you have a project, contact us with your ideas.