Thu, 2000-09-21

Unique website motivates women to take an active role in improving the world, issue by issue

New York, NY-Working from the premise that political and social change is possible through the efforts of individuals on a grassroots basis, Oxygen has successfully created, a unique website intended to empower women to express their viewpoints through action. allows women easy access to comprehensive information about a variety of issues, and helps them channel their opinions and views to other women, elected officials, candidates and others both like or opposing views. Oxygen selected Black Hammer as their site developer to meet their ambitious vision for this project.

Black Hammer, a five-year-old firm, is a Silicon Alley New Media developer noted for its award-winning websites, CD-ROMs, web games and interactive kiosks. Employing their expertise in information architecture, graphic design, programming and strategic planning, Black Hammer used the wealth of rich content provided by Oxygen to the best advantage. The finished website puts the visitor on a socially significant journey to activism that is also immensely enjoyable for her from the moment she logs on.

Says Black Hammer co-founder and President Matthew Schlanger: "With a short deadline, and the breadth and scope of what we were trying to accomplish, there were a lot of challenges. Fortunately, we worked with two amazing women in Senior Vice President Cheryl Mills and's Executive Producer Dori Berinstein, whose vision, tenacity and integrity helped bring the project together." "Working on something of such value that has potential for significant impact was a rare privilege," he adds.

"There is nothing like on the Web," comments Black Hammer's Marni Kotak. "This site is a new phenomenon: a community-driven arena that provides women with whatever they need to become more informed, involved and outspoken. This website has the potential to become a national lightening rod for women to learn, to share, and 'fearlessly' stand up and be counted." Kotak also believes will attract many more women onto the Internet.

Says Schlanger: "Right out of the gate Oxygen's excellent reputation is a big plus in attracting visitors and ensuring success. Our mandate from day one was to create a suite of features that would offer a rich personal experience to every one of the women who comprise their core audience, and hopefully millions of others nationwide who will enjoy and benefit from"

One of the most innovative features of the website is the sidebar Black Hammer devised and developed for, which they call FIRA. An acronym for FACT, IMPACT, REACT, and ACT, FIRA is a navigational device which is also intended as a metaphor for the advocacy process and appears throughout the website. These links connect the visitor to a broad base of national and local news, government contact information, forums, discussion groups, polls, organizations, and much more. Each area has a mission: Fact is intended to inform, Impact is intended to reveal the local impact of issues as well as reveal those who have made an impact, React enables the visitor to be heard, and Act is about taking action to help effect change.

In addition Black Hammer created several tools for the website including scribble boards which are accessed through numerous "Be Heard" links. Here visitors are invited to react by entering comments that relate to the pertinent issue. Also visitors can send e-cards to candidates, friends and associates, and can form their own special interest groups on and offline. As a way of further encouraging participation, Oxygen will send any women who requests it a ACT kit.

Black Hammer's Schlanger, speaking of the site's effective use of the Internet as a venue for advocacy, states: "We were thrilled to develop a solution for Oxygen which truly utilizes the interactive nature of the web., driven by the FIRA interface concept, helps women find their voice in the most dynamic and positive way. FIRA distills the advocacy process into four simple steps, so that it may be easily accessible to individuals not ordinarily involved in public policy. Women are educated on how advocacy works and empowered with the easy-to-use tools to take a stand."

Continues Schlanger: "Black Hammer wraps our collective mind, artistic talent and expertise around all our projects. In this case we added a strong measure of heart and soul. For us, was a rare opportunity to merge business and advocacy. We were given the chance to push our creative and technical boundaries to create a web experience that would improve the world in which we live, empower women, and make a difference in a great many lives. For us, helping to develop was an honor."

Black Hammer Productions is an interactive media company based in New York City. Black Hammer is a leading developer of software, web sites, interactive marketing and trade show exhibits. For more information on the company, please visit