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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Inside “Gamechanger Salon,” The Left’s Action Network

By: Nathan Schacht, Brian Sikma

An extensive membership list and a calendar of events offer insight into a leftwing network first revealed by Media Trackers last week. Gamechanger Salon is a members-only Google group run by Billy Wimsatt for forward thinking and top-level political activists on the Left. Members of the group include senior level political hands at NARAL, the SEIU, the AFL-CIO and Planned Parenthood, among dozens of other groups.

Media Trackers first uncovered the network in records obtained through an open records request filed with a University of Wisconsin professor. The membership list released today is far more detailed than the list released last week, and the calendar offers insight into the group’s plans for coordinated action in the future.

Wimsatt, the moderator of Gamechanger Salon according to a member policy manual, currently works as chief ideas officer at Gamechanger Labs, an incubator for leftwing political and social action with the motto, “R&D for the movement.” In 2008, Wimsatt worked for the Obama campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party, according to his LinkedIn profile. A former columnist he is the author of several books and contributed columns to the Huffington Post until 2012.

In 2010 he co-wrote a column about voter guides for the Huffington Post with the controversial Van Jones, who resigned from the Obama Administration in 2009 amid outrage over his advocacy for a convicted cop killer and signature on a petition saying the Bush Administration willfully allowed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to happen.

The detailed version of the membership list contains names and group affiliations for members, as well as brief biographies and contact information for some members.

A book club section of the list contains recommended reading material and occasional quick reviews of the books explaining why they are important for liberal activists and organizers. Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church makes the list because, as Wimsatt notes in his review, “it’s a F#$@ING BRILLIANT and provocative book about the art and science of organizing that in part shows on many levels why right-wing evangelicals are organizing circles around us (even though much of what they’re selling is snake oil).”

Another book that Wimsatt recommends to the membership is Mockingjay, the third and final installment of The Hunger Games series. According to Wimsatt’s review, “Third Hunger Games Book. People say it’s great and complex parable of revolution – and it will help us get ready to leverage the next 2 movies better.”

Other portions of the extensive membership document recommend movies, songs, television shows, recommended websites and blogs, and goals for the online Gamechanger community. Two of the goals listed are “Recruit 200 key community-based organizers, especially women and people of color,” and “Recruit 100 key diverse bloggers, movement journalists, and pundits.” Another goal involves theorizing about a “TED-like conference for folks.”

To facilitate interaction among the groups represented in Gamechanger Salon, a calendar detailing upcoming events is maintained with ample notes about the importance and focus of each particular item.

For August, two training events and a festival are on the calendar. On September 23, liberal groups appear to be working on holding a day of action registering voters ahead of the mid-term election in November. A “Trick or Vote” event is scheduled as a national action step on October 31.

The full calendar that Media Trackers obtained from a non-password protected link (that has since been closed) and the full membership list are below.

Gamechanger Salon CalendarGamechanger Salon member list (Excel file): Gamechanger Salon
Gamechanger Salon calendar (PDF): Movement Calendar – Calendar 2014