Cyber-Pioneers Fight for Tenant’s Rights and Political Reform


It seems so long ago that activists didn’t have online message boards, e-mail alerts, and flash animation to tell the world about tenants’ rights, governmental reform, community gardens . . . Remember thumbtacks, cork boards, and rented church basements? Tonight the eminences behind several issues-oriented websites emerge in meatspace to discuss how they’re using the Internet to change the status quo. The five panelists include cyber-pioneers and upstarts: John Fisher’s website,, has helped renters solve housing woes since the Age of Usenet. Ronin Amano’s Rent Wars ( uses animation to turn the drudgery of Housing Court into a swashbuckling, D&D-like battle that pits the good guys against slumlords. Ann Graham’s People for Open Government backed an ordinance, which voters approved last year by a nine-to-one margin, limiting “pay to play” political fundraising in Hoboken. Elizabeth Johnson, a community food educator for, and Mia Scanga, whose focuses on Jersey City government, round out the program, which is moderated by Internet Society of New York president David Solomonoff and will take place in a venue that owes its very existence to activism: Villagers saved this architectural gem from the wrecking ball in 1961. Imagine if they’d had the Internet back then; we might be having this forum in the original Penn Station.