Install a Widget. Build a Movement.

Sblog_Network_Widget.jpg

Today we are launching the Streetsblog Network "Action Widget." The Streetsblog Network, as you may already know, is a collection of about 200 bloggers from all around the United States who focus on livable streets, sustainable transport and smart growth issues, usually with a local focus.

The Action Widget is a tool that members of the Network, or anyone else, can install into the sidebar of their blog using the code found on this page. Network editor Sarah Goodyear will update the Action Widget regularly with legislative alerts, breaking news and top stories from blogs participating in the Streetsblog Network. Above are three examples of how the widget would have appeared last week as the House of Representatives debated the transportation portion of the stimulus bill. 

One of the things that’s become clear to me watching the Streetsblog Network grow is that these bloggers represent a vibrant and potentially powerful national movement pushing for fundamental change in the way we do transportation policy here in the United States. It is both a strength and weakness of this movement that its most active and committed members — the people in the trenches fighting for better biking facilities, new light rail lines and less automobile-dependent cities — tend to be focused on local issues to the extreme.

One of the big goals of the Streetsblog Network is to get livable streets advocates to take a moment to lift their heads from their important neighborhood-level work and take note of the fact that 2009 is going to be a watershed year for federal transportation policy, and they need to be involved in shaping that policy. If they’re not, then the policy-making will be done by the business-as-usual folks, the Road Gang who, incidentally, can not find 200 local bloggers writing enthusiastically about the shovel-ready road widening on the outskirts of town. The Highwaymen have no such grassroots movement behind them.

So, we hope that the Action Widget can help progressive transportation bloggers to keep their readers
informed, mobilized and connected to other local activists and to the action taking place on the federal level. If you have any feedback or questions about the Action Widget, we really want to hear it. Do you need help installing it? Does it work on your blog? Would a certain change in design or function make you more likely to use it? Please shoot an email to tips@streetsblog.org and let us know what you think.

Likewise, if you prefer a more static "badge" rather than a dynamic widget, scroll down the page. We’ve designed a bunch of those as well.

  • Okay, I’ve got one up on my site. I thought Blogger would give me a hard time, but it was pretty straightforward. I just added an HTML widget and pasted the text into it.

  • Cap’n: It actually looks a little broken in my browser. Does it look OK in yours?

  • Cap: Forget my previous question. Our designer Andy Cochran made some fixes so it looks right on your web site.

  • Sorry, Aaron, I can never forget. And I’m used to everything on the Web looking a little broken. But yes, it definitely looks better now. Thanks, Andy!

  • What about a Twitter network for timely calls? And widgets with phone numbers or links to phone numbers in them, next to quick points to make on the issues at hand?

  • One thing that’s been difficult for me, is knowing when a vote has already been decided or if it’s still viable to call. And is it still worth contacting congress after votes have been decided? Seems like it might be. I can’t see anything being too written in stone these days. So I’d love to see widgets saying:

    1] what the issue is/current status

    2] number to call

    3] most pertinent point to make

  • thanks for providing these, guys (and helping to build community/awareness around these issues via such great content on streetsblog.org). happy to link back here…

  • thanks again for providing the widget and all your great community-building/advocacy work in general.

    as a web developer it irks me (and can be quite problematic) that the Action Widget code does not validate. can we make the code valid xhtml? i’m seeing essentially 3 errors to deal with:

    1) add the ‘type’ attribute to the script tag

    2) remove the noscript content… i’m not sure the rationale for this common practice with widget-type code… the preferable approach would be to print the “noscript” content just like any other, with a unique class/id which the script could then hide — any reason not to do that here?

    3) remove the ‘border’ attribute from the img tag. probably fine to leave the border for noscript browsers, right? otherwise, what about a style attribute instead of border?

    just askin’

  • arh1,

    Thanks for this feedback. This is too technical for me so I’ll make sure our developers take a look at it and get back to you if necessary.

  • @arh1: We updated the widget with your recommendations. Thanks for the feedback!

  • excellent, guys! thanks for humoring we web geeks.

    my points 1 and 3 above are resolved. fwiw, point 2 still breaks validation (the script appears to alter the markup to wrap the noscript content in a paragraph?), but actually there i was thinking less about validation and more about general scripting best practices a la the second bullet on Chris Heilmann’s post here: http://www.wait-till-i.com/2005/06/21/six-javascript-features-we-do-not-need-any-longer/

    anyway, i appreciate the responsiveness and am proud to use the widget. and i got a chance to ride my bike today — woo hoo!

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