‘It’s like a Netflix for political action’: ActWorthy, an Iowa City-based website for political activism, is being launched

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ActWorthy launch event

MERGE — Monday, Jan. 15 at 6 p.m.

Kinnisha Entsmingu addresses the reaction to racial incidents at the University of Iowa. This was one of multiple incidents in the past year. Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. –photo by Zak Neumann.

ActWorthy, a new Iowa City-based website for political activists will be celebrating its launch with a party at MERGE on Monday.

“Our mission is to make effective grassroots political action simple,” said Ross Katz, the site’s founder and CEO. “We provide a free feed of political actions related to the issues you care about in the community where you live. And we make it easy to find, follow and build relationships with activist organizations and candidates who are fighting your fight.”

Activist groups and political candidates will be able to use the site to list events and encourage people to take actions.

“For them, it’s more like a Facebook that puts the activist organizations and candidates at the center of the platform,” Katz said. “Those are the only people who have profiles on the platform.”

“Citizen-users,” as ActWorthy calls its users who aren’t organizations or candidates, will be able to focus their feeds to their individual interests.

“You can filter them for which issues you care about and which type of action you want to take—if you want to call, email, however you prefer to take action,” Katz said. “As we get more actions on the site, and you take more actions, we’ll have tools to learn which actions to recommend to you.”

“It’s like a Netflix for political action.”

“We’re still in our beta phase at the moment, but in the coming weeks we’ll be rolling out features to help you understand which actions in your community are the most popular, which are the actions in your community that match the issues that you’ve indicated that you care about, and which of the actions in your community have been endorsed by the activists and organizations that you follow,” Katz explained.

Iowa City and the Eastern Iowa Corridor will be the focus of ActWorthy at first. Katz said he hopes to expand the site’s focus and reach to the rest of the state, and eventually, the rest of the country.

“There’s just so much going on in this community, if the only benefit of this website is that it helps Iowa City to have a better way for people to coordinate political action, then that’s a beautiful benefit,” Katz said. “What I’m really trying to do is develop a system that can work for Iowa City, and in so doing, develop a system that can work for the entire United States.”

The choice of Jan. 15, which is the Martin Luther King Day holiday this year, for ActWorthy’s launch party wasn’t accidental.

“Our values are nonviolence and nondiscrimination,” Katz explained. “The opportunity to have a launch event on Martin Luther King Day, to both celebrate the launch of ActWorthy and celebrate Martin Luther King’s legacy and what he stood for, is something I was really excited to do. We get to celebrate his birthday and commemorate his life, and push forward the legacy of nonviolent political action he stands for.”

The launch party is free and open to the public.

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