An email list for Boston area activists
by Charlie Welch,
act-ma co-founder (updated 10/14)
In 1996, act-ma was born as an email list for promoting local events in
the broad "peace and justice" community of greater Boston. It was an
attempt to popularize the use of the already well-developed email list
technology in support of progressive activists. Currently, about five
messages per day are posted to the list, and now the list has an
associated web page where all announcements are
stored and available for review. act-ma is moderated by a group of about
five volunteers who take turns screening the
messages to ensure that they fit the stated guidelines.
Act-ma has the strength—and weakness—of not being affiliated with any
major organization. Being independent, it has built up a wide base of
users and carries announcements from a variety of organizations in the
area. But because no strong ongoing organization has adopted act-ma, it
has grown more slowly than it would have otherwise.
Act-ma was an attempt to promote activism in Massachusetts, and has
evolved through several incarnations. act-ma actually started as a
conference/bulletin board within
was the largest and most active subset of the
Institute for Global
Communications (IGC). "Beginning in 1987, the IGC played a formative
role in bringing advanced communications technologies to grassroots
organizations worldwide working for peace, human rights, environmental
sustainability, women's rights, conflict resolution and worker rights."
The original act-ma conference, which was actually named act.usa.ma, was
one of several regionally-oriented conferences with a similar name
structure. It was limited to registered IGC subscribers but it built up a
core of users and helped spark interest in a more general-purpose email
list. In the fall of 1996, a series of meetings sponsored by the Latin
America and Caribbean Solidarity Association (LACASA) explored ways of
using the Internet. The act-ma email list was formed as firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1999, IGC refocused its efforts and passed its several hundred email
lists to a commercial service called Topica. At that point, the list
TecsChange was actually the first of several organizations that put
out an email announcement on the list.
In early 2007 we moved the list to its own website because of a number
of technical problems with the Topica mailing list. The listings
from 1999 to early 2007 are still available at the
old Topica Listings Site.
In general the list has grown over the years, it reached a peak at the
start of the Iraq war, but because of problems with the Topica Web Site shrank
* An automatic cleanup of dead email addresses was responsible for the
The Act-MA website has also added a
links page that lists other
local event calendars and the
radio page that lists local progressive radio
Act-ma has become an important resource for progressives in the
greater-Boston area. We encourage you to use the list and tell your
friends about it. Help make this resource more useful for everyone.
Calendar and a
number of the local progressive radio shows regular monitor Act-MA and use
the information for their own announcements.