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Ben Rowswell

Students Find Their Weapon of Choice In The Fight Against Gun Violence
Spokane Protests Go Digital, Taking Local Activism To The Next Level

Spokane, WA: A new mobile app is rapidly becoming the weapon of choice for students in Spokane fighting for better gun laws. The software created by tech start-up Betterplace has already enabled those taking part in the local March For Our Lives protests on March 24th to mobilize more effectively and in greater numbers than expected. The app has also boosted the campaign by giving supporters worldwide an easy way to help.

Most importantly, Betterplace aims to solve the biggest problem facing all campaigns:  how to keep the pressure up, after the march is over. Around 30 marches are planned across Washington State, as part of the biggest student protest in U.S. history. By using this app, the Spokane chapter of the march hopes to pack a political punch mightier than the city’s size would suggest, creating lasting changes in their traditionally Republican state.

Betterplace employs crowdsourcing technology, coordinating micro-tasks from
hundreds of users, who collectively produce a strong impact. Decentralization is a central feature - in Spokane, the students themselves decided how the technology would help them, gathering advice from leaders of the Women’s Marches, and deciding which tasks the software should propose to citizens – everything from creating signs, to distributing flyers, to negotiating with counter-protesters.

“The app literally puts power in the hands of citizens,” says cofounder Ben Rowswell.  “As the first peer-to-peer platform for civic action, Betterplace will unleash an exponential increase in engagement, doing for activism what eBay did for commerce, and what Wikipedia did for shared knowledge.”

“Betterplace is a dream come true for campaigners,” says Cynthia Hamilton, a veteran activist and leader of the January 2018 Women’s March on Spokane. “I’m encouraging all our activist, advocate and cause-focused organizations to get the app, since Facebook doesn’t safeguard our privacy like this app does.” She added, “The gun lobby usually out outmaneuvers and outlasts its opponents, but with these students and their phones it may have finally met its match.”

Betterplace is a software company based in Toronto, Canada. Founded in 2016, the company is devoted to helping citizens take civic action in the digital age. It is the first company to apply both machine learning and blockchain technology to power civic activism.