A Web of Power

On Jan. 1, 2010, a group of four undocumented students embarked on the Trail of Dreams, a 1,500-mile march from Miami to Washington, D.C., to call for passage of the Dream Act, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented students who serve in the military or attend college. At the end of their first day of walking, a member of the team tweeted a message to the group's few Twitter followers: "VERY TIRED at the end of this first day, but going to bed with a smile and fully inspired."

Because their Twitter stream is synched to their Facebook page, they immediately received responses of empathy and encouragement on their Facebook wall. "It's worth the work ... long way to go but y'all are not alone," wrote Elder Eduardo Canul Montero. "We are with you and we thank you!" said Deborah De Santos. And Naomi Florentino-B offered: "As a Dreamer, it hurts too much not to be with you during this walk. However, in prayers and spirit, my support follows your steps. Be strong."

Gaby Pacheco, one of the Trail of Dreams marchers, says the online followers were an incredible source of strength. "They walked with us every step of the way," Pacheco says. But Twitter and Facebook were more than just lifelines to family, friends, and supporters; they were also strategic online organizing tools. By the end of their journey, Trail of Dreams had more than 6,600 Facebook fans and 1,500 Twitter followers. With a single tweet or Facebook post, thousands of co-activists could be called upon to contact their members of Congress, attend rallies, sign petitions, and circulate emails. This made a huge difference, according to Pacheco.

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July 2011 Sojourners
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