MESH Frequently Asked Questions

What are MESH’s Goals?

We want to “Think Globally, Act Locally.” We want to help President Obama succeed. We want to increase the connections among like-minded people in our area. We want to make a positive contribution to our communities.

How can I join MESH?

Send an email to joinmesh@bittsburgh.com with your name and contact information.

Why just the South Hills?

To be honest, the main reason is that we live in the South Hills and we volunteered at Obama’s South Hills office. (But of course people that didn’t work on the campaign can still join). But there are other good reasons. We want to be local and for us local means the South Hills.

Also, once you cross those rivers the roads get confusing! Just kidding. We aren’t scared of the big city. No, really.

What municipalities do we cover?

We don’t want to pin that down too hard. A lot depends on who is willing to work where. Generally we would think east of 79, south of 51, mostly in Allegheny County. But feel free to color outside the lines!

How does MESH decide on projects?

Initially, it will be a few of the founders’ ideas, just to get things rolling. But MESH will be a place where good ideas can get support. Who decides what is a good idea? That’s currently an open discussion on our forums. We want people to champion their ideas. But there also has to be some kind of filter and some setting of priorities and scheduling.

A good project should be: concrete, helpful, informative, productive, progressive, economic, patriotic, green, empowering, unifying, enlightening – pick any three! For now, we hope it will just be obvious to everyone what to do next. We certainly don’t want to get in the way of someone who has good ideas and is willing to back them up with hard work.

Why not work through the Obama organization?

We are doing exactly what President Obama suggested we as citizens do – organize on a local level. We honor Obama by imitating him. But that includes not taking any orders from Washington, even if they come from Barack himself!

Why not work with the Democratic committees?

MESH is intended to be at least nominally non-partisan. Of course, currently most of our members are Democrats and our projects will often reflect those ideals. But we really want to connect with moderates of every party. An echo chamber doesn’t help anyone. Another reason is simply that MESH spans multiple communities, so no one committee would even have jurisdiction.

But the main reason is that party committees are election oriented. MESH is not intended to be a platform for getting specific candidates elected. Of course there’s nothing stopping MESH members from working for whomever they like. But MESH itself will not be a campaign organization. Will MESH endorse candidates? That’s an open question for now. Make your voice heard in the forums.

On the other hand, MESH members are certainly political and they want an avenue to affect politics and government. MESH can also be a conduit for politicians to communicate with the more active segments of their constituencies. MESH could certainly work with progressive politicians on projects that enhance their stature or reputation. If a side effect of a project is to enhance a good politician’s career that is a good thing.

The bottom line is there is no neat separation between issues and elections. If we scrupulously avoided all impacts on elections we would probably have little impact on issues too. So the reality is that we might as well embrace our power and responsibility rather than avoid it.