Interview with Joan Blades. Reprinted from The Moon Magazine.
In 1998, Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, co-founders of Berkeley Systems, a software company, drafted a one-sentence petition they hoped would end the public blood-letting and disruption of government that had resulted from President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. The President had been accused of the affair in January, and the country had already endured nine long months of acrimony when Blades and Boyd wrote: “Congress must immediately censure the President and move on to other pressing issues facing the nation.”
(As a reminder, this was the year India conducted three atomic tests, and Pakistan, in retaliation, conducted five; U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed, prompting a U.S. attack on suspected terrorist bases in Sudan and Afghanistan; and Iraq withdrew from cooperation with UN arms inspectors.) Blades and Boyd sent the petition to fewer than one hundred friends and family members and within a week had gathered more than one hundred thousand signatures.
That was the humble beginning of what became the largest, best-known, and best organized progressive organization the United States had ever seen: MoveOn.org.
Eight years later, Blades teamed up with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner to co-author The Motherhood Manifesto: What American Moms Want and What to Do About It. The two women simultaneously co-founded the organization MomsRising and dedicated it to “bringing millions of people, who all share a common concern about the need to build a more family-friendly America, together as a non-partisan force.”