We the People: Announcing White House Petitions & How They Work

From the White House blog. Posted by Macon Phillips on September 01, 2011 at 07:00 AM EDT

Something exciting is coming to WhiteHouse.gov. It’s called We the People and it will significantly change how the public — you! — engage with the White House online.

Our Constitution guarantees your right to petition our government.  Now, with We the People, we’re offering a new way to submit an online petition on a range of issues — and get an official response.

We’re announcing We the People before it’s live to give folks time to think about what petitions they want to create, and how they are going to build the support to get a response.

When will it be live? Soon.  If you want to be the first to know when the system is available, sign up for an email alert.

Here’s a video we put together to explain what it is and how it works:

Here are the basics:

Individuals will be able to create or sign a petition that calls for action by the federal government on a range of issues.  If a petition gathers enough support (i.e., signatures) it will be reviewed by a standing group of White House staff, routed to any other appropriate offices and generate an official, on-the-record response.

How many signatures? Initially petitions that gather more than 5,000 signatures in 30 days will be reviewed and answered.

There’s another aspect to this meant to emphasize the grassroots, word of mouth organizing that thrives on the internet.  At first, a petition’s unique URL will only be known to its creator and will not show up anywhere else on WhiteHouse.gov.  It’s up to that person to share it in their network to gather an initial amount of signatures – initially 150 — before it is searchable on WhiteHouse.gov.

As we move forward, your feedback about We the People will be invaluable, and there are a few ways you can share it.  Numerous pages on WhiteHouse.gov, including the We the People section, feature a feedback form.  In addition, you can use the Twitter hashtag #WHWeb to give the White House digital team advice and feedback.  I’ll also try to answer questions when I have time today — you can pose them to @macon44.

Finally, while We the People is a fresh approach to official, online petitions, the United States isn’t the first to try it; for example, the United Kingdom offers e-petitions, and this work was very helpful as we developed our own.

Macon Philips is the White House Director of Digital Strategy

Chicago North Side

The Chicago North Side No GMO group’s first meeting was June 1, and we had a second meeting in early July. We pooled money for a quantity purchase of IRT publications and divided into pairs for leafleting. We discussed finding suitable buttons and/or tote bags with a “no GMO” motif to wear/carry while leafleting. We started a Yahoo Group, shared with the South Side group, to communicate with each other, and encouraged others to join us at http://groups.yahoo.com/search?query=chicagonogmo.

We decided to meet on the first Thursday of each month, at different locations.

Our minutes are at our Yahoo Page: http://groups.yahoo.com/search?query=chicagonogmo.

For more info: jdlevin[at]bright.net.

From Hawai’i

Do you know that Hawai’i is ground zero for GMO crop experimentation? We have more permits for open air field tests than any other place on Earth.  Chemical companies such as Syngenta, Pioneer/DuPont, Dow and Monsanto are experimenting with herbicide resistant and pesticide producing transgenic crops such as corn, soy, sunflower, rice, and papaya.
These tests are occurring near our schools and neighborhoods.

The chemical spraying is polluting our agricultural land, rivers and ocean. Since these permits are granted at the federal level, there is no local right no know what is being tested or where.

Hawai`i SEED is a statewide non-profit coalition of grassroots groups composed of farmers, doctors, scientists, lawyers, concerned citizens, and Native Hawaiians.

We are working on five islands to educate the public about the risks posed by genetically i organisms. We are dedicated to promoting diverse, local, healthy and ecological food and farming that supports real food security for the Hawaiian Islands.

We Have Successfully:
*    Stopped the importation of a bio-pharmaceutical algae into Kailua-Kona through an Earthjustice lawsuit.
*    Worked with Native Hawaiians and taro farmers to move the University of Hawaii to relinquish its three patents on taro and to agree not to genetically engineer Hawaiian varieties of taro.
*    Launched a GMO papaya cleanup campaign, empowering farmers and gardeners by providing them with contamination test kits, teaching them how to save GMO-free seed and sharing cultivation solutions that are alternatives to GMOs.
*    Shepherded an agreement among the Hawaii coffee industry stating that they do not want GMO coffee grown in Hawaii at this time.
*    Sponsored annual Hawaii Island and Kaua’i seed exchanges, encouraging home production of food and increasing the food security of our islands.