Activate Iowa compiles statewide political events for progressives

Protesters unfurl banners on the pedestrian bridge over Riverside Drive in Iowa City on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. — photo by Zak Neumann

As the election season dragged on last year, Iowa City political activists Ellen Lauricella and Emily Silliman spent endless hours online searching for relevant and reliable news.

“We also found that we were spending a lot time on Facebook, scrolling through posts, trying to figure out all the events we wanted to participate in,” Lauricella said. “And we knew a lot of people were doing the same. There really was no information infrastructure for progressive politics in the state.”

Lauricella and Silliman decided to try to fill that void, and earlier this year launched their own website, Activate Iowa.

“We have the most comprehensive list of progressive events [in Iowa] online. We also pull together news stories from a variety sources,” Lauricella explained. “We put it all on our website, so everyone can access all that information in just one spot.”

Lauricella and Silliman’s goal is to provide information covering all of Iowa.

“Right now we have about 50 or 60 events throughout the state on our site. We have all the town halls, for example,” Lauricella said.

For the moment, the site is just focused on providing information, although Lauricella said that in the future, Activate Iowa might expand into organizing political events as well.

“We do try to point people to organizations that are involved in activism, like Indivisible or Action Iowa, so they can get involved if they want to,” Lauricella said. “But right now, we’re all-volunteer effort, with just four volunteers, so we want to focus on creating a good informational infrastructure.”