Category Archives: organizing

I believe that we will win

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Across the country, people are marching, calling, emailing, suing, resisting in every possible way. And it is working. Here are three ways to know that all the effort you/we are making DO HAVE AN IMPACT. We will not win easily. We will not win quickly. We will win ground one inch at a time, and the cost will be high, but we will win. So – testimony from Pennsylvania, a list of wins and partial wins, and Winona LaDuke on Native American resistance to pipelines. Continue reading

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Water is life

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Eryn Wise, with her niece.  Courtesy photo

“We are caretakers,” says Eryn Wise. “We are life givers. We are keepers and protectors of the sacred. I think women more than most people understand the connection to water. Simply because we are born from it and we carry it inside of us to give life to others.”

Women have stood at the center of the Standing Rock water protectors since the beginning. The water protectors began their first encampment, Sacred Stone Camp, on April 1, 2016, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. They insist that the pipeline violates indigenous and treaty rights, as well as endangers the drinking water of people who live on the reservation and millions more downstream.  Continue reading

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Why I’m marching – but not today

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Sunday morning sermons: My farmer dad used to listen to the radio version of Sunday morning talk shows and then give the politicians a piece of his mind. We affectionately called his responses “Sunday morning sermons.” This blog post follows his example,  reflecting on what I will do to resist this presidency, this fascist tendency in America, this awfulness without end. Every minute brings a new plea on social media: go here, protest there, call this Senator, email that legislator. I cannot do it all. No one can. So I try to find a balance: protests, writing, emails, reading and thinking, talking to people. If you are struggling with the same decisions, read on. Continue reading

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Staying sane in crazy times

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November 9 was awful. This week feels even worse. Are you feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, or panicked? Do you find yourself crying, hyper-ventilating, or sick to your stomach? Yeah – you’re not alone. And for all of us who need a reminder, here are some coping mechanisms from friends and experts — some ways to take care of yourself and still keep fighting. Continue reading

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Two days, two marches, one message

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Today’s Women’s Marches seem destined for history books, with half a million marchers in DC, 60,000 here in St. Paul, and hundreds of other marches around the country. As I walked to downtown St. Paul from the march, a man at a bus stop called out to me: “They shut down Michigan Avenue! Way to go, y’all!” If the whole world was watching, we gave them a picture of widespread resistance to the new regime. Continue reading

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Because this is OUR country: Myrlie Evers Williams on Martin Luther King Day

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Myrlie Evers-Williams at the Missouri Theatre in 2015. Photo by Mark Schierbecker, published under Creative Commons license.

She heard the shots ring out, that long-ago summer night. Inside the house, she heard her husband’s car pull up, and then the shots that killed him. One of the bullets came through the living room window, into the house where she and their three small children waited for a father who would never walk in the door again.

At today’s Martin Luther King Day breakfast, Myrlie Evers Williams recalled that night, Continue reading

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Dave Snyder’s very good idea

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Dave Snyder on MNA picket line (photo courtesy of Dave Snyder.)

In this increasingly awful political climate, I resolve to write to or call a politician every week, even when it feels like throwing words into the wind. Beyond words, I resolve to put my body on the line, some line, some march, some meeting, some protest, once every week.

One difficulty comes in choosing who to call and about what, with emails and Facebook messages and texts pouring in, each of them urgently asking me to contact Congress about X, where X is some godawful cabinet appointment, some threat to civil rights, some new move to roll back health care coverage or Medicare or workers rights or consumer protection. Dave Snyder is a friend, an organizer, and a very smart guy. With his permission, I want to share one of his recent Facebook posts, which offers a very good idea about making activism effective. I hope someone or some organization picks it up and runs with it. Continue reading

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Words matter

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Tish Jones, courtesy photo

As long as she can remember, Tish Jones has loved words, loved writing and loved being on a stage. A self-identified student of hip-hop culture, she traces her passion for words to African diasporic cultural practices, including the griot, hip-hop, jazz, funk, bebop and blues. Now she’s a poet, spoken word artist, and the executive director of TruArtSpeaks – an organization she founded to cultivate spaces for youth and community, especially through hip-hop and spoken word. Continue reading

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Stand up, speak up, show up: Resistance for a new year

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Looking toward the new year of 2017, I resolve to resist. Again. Still. Forever.

Resist hate. Resist racism, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism.

Resist greed. Resist privatizing Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security and prisons and probation and schools and social services. Resist taking away the very limited gains won under Obamacare. Resist defunding Planned Parenthood. Resist pipelines and fracking and environmental destruction in the service of private profit.

Resist repression. Resist limits on free speech and academic freedom and freedom of ALL religions. Resist defunding of public defenders and restriction of the right to an attorney. Resist registering people by religion or nationality. Resist mass deportations and denial of asylum.

Figuring out what to resist is easy. Figuring out how to resist is tougher. Maybe if I were 16 or 26 again, I could do it all: write letters, sign petitions, door-knock for voter registration and get out the vote, march in the streets, choke on tear-gas, risk arrest, stay up all night writing briefs for federal court challenges to suppression of civil rights, and show up in court the next morning.

I’m not young any more. I don’t have the same energy. And I’ve been broken more than a few times. I get up and keep going, but I can’t go as far or as fast as I once could. (Or thought I could.) Continue reading

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Looking for light on the longest night

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Photo by L.C. Notaasen, published under Creative Commons license

At this year’s winter solstice, the darkness seems worse, deeper, more threatening. The Seasonal Affective Disorder, in which lack of light brings on depression, can’t hold a candle to this year’s Systemic American Dysfunction.

Light marks solstice, from pagan fires on British hilltops to Scandinavian Yule logs to Hanukkah candles and Christmas trees. Like lighting candles against the long winter night, I’m offering stories of hope to shine through the post-election darkness. Continue reading

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