PRESS ADVISORY FOR:                                                 CONTACT:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009                                                    Emma Mackinnon

                                                                                             Alia Dastagir 


Meetup to Blanket Inauguration-Goers with a Half Million Nametags, Seeks to “Turn Crowd into Community”


National TV Ad Plus Massive Street Operation to Promote Community Organizing


Huffington Post, Cosponsor, to Feature Nametag Operation at Pre-Inaugural Ball


A large-scale street operation on Inauguration Day to blanket the crowd with a half-million nametags and a brief guide to community organizing is being planned by Meetup, the group that pioneered the use of the internet as a tool for community organizing. Meetup plans to release a national television ad the following day, January 21st, to promote community organizing and echo Obama’s call to service.  The nametags are designed to be an invitation to do more than watch: inauguration-goers are invited to participate, with a reminder that “change starts with a conversation.” Organizers of the campaign say they intend to “turn the crowd into a community,” offering an immediate way to answer President-Elect Obama’s call for finding common ground and giving people clear next steps for how to continue to organize and work for change after inauguration.


Meetup has convened a team of 150 for the nametag operation, distributing more tags than there were tickets issued for the event.  The project is co-sponsored by Huffington Post and will be featured at the Huffington pre-Inaugural ball on Monday evening.  The nametags will be available for download and use at Inauguration-related events anywhere in the world on


“Obama’s was the most participatory Presidential campaign ever,” said Scott Heiferman, founder and CEO of Meetup. “People got involved at every level, giving their time and money to become a part of something, to help make the change they wanted to see. And most of them got involved through the internet. The idea that the internet, rather than alienating us from each other, can instead be a tool to bring people together, inspire offline action, to build real-world community, is the basic idea behind Meetup.  It’s what millions of our members do every day.”


Meetup considers community organizing as a concept that goes beyond politics, arguing that it doesn’t matter if people are coming together to organize for universal healthcare or if they’re coming together because they love rock climbing, because the basic act of organizing and building community changes society.  “Community organizing is about taking responsibility for improving your own life and the lives of others,” Heiferman said. “It’s about recognizing, as Obama said time and again, that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Wearing a nametag, introducing yourself to someone new, making a connection – they’re small gestures, but they are the building blocks of community.”

[media note omitted -ed.]