A 'Madison Moment' in New York City

"Hey Wisconsin, you all started this!” was a constant refrain for us yesterday at the Occupy Wall Street Community and Labor march, where the Job Party and Democracy for New York City teamed up to form a ‘Cheesehead contingent.'

Indeed, as exhibited when you talk to Occupy Wall Street-ers, the sense of solidarity between Wisconsin and Wall Street is very real. Moreover, as the latest and largest events precipitate, New York City is truly having a ‘Madison Moment’.

Not that this wasn’t expected. At the start of our day, Wisconsinite super star activist Jenna Pope and myself explained the inherent connection between the movements in the Cheddar and Empire states to Laura Flanders on Free Speech TV:

This was further made manifest during the march, where the Wisconsin-esque enthusiasm and tactics bodes for so much more to come. Likewise, our Wisconsin gear was praised with a genuine and emphatic sense of appreciation.

In the thick of the rally, Jenna reacted to the constant ‘thanks you’s’ she was receiving, and to the burgeoning Madison / New York City movement relationship at large:

Although our cheeseheasd and blue-fist shirts always elicit a positive reaction, this time it was different---not only in terms of the number of comments, but the degree of gratitude as well.

Yesterday, tens of thousands of New Yorkers discovered the sheer democracy-inducing glory of taking part in a true-blue movement. They now not only have a sense of a kindred spirit with Wisconsin, but of a shared experience as well, as seen in the photos from our Flickr set of the march.

It’s often said, but bears repeating: this is all but a building thing. It has never felt so true.

29 reactions Share

Wisconsin and Wall Street

The Wall Street occupation has been an inspiring phenomenon, albeit difficult to explain.

What really made it click for me though was watching how the pictures and videos taken at the rally were distributed online. There is an inherent connection betwen the media and the action, as what happens on the ground is recorded for posterity and swiftly sent out through social media to an insatiable audience of activists desperate to be inspired.

The more time spent in the occupation, the more content came out, and the more creative and inspiring it got. As it spread, more and more people were persuaded to activate with this added incentive of being able to make their own content. Merely continuing the occupation turned it into a mutually reinforcing endeavor, as the longer it exists the more people that can make a higher caliber of content.

I also realized that I had witnessed this occurring in real time before, but not in an Arabic or Spanish dialect.

Rather, I and so many others experienced this social media explosion of entertaining organizing in our all-American Madison occupation, and these plugged in millennial activists were undoubtedly rabid consumers of this highly engaging activist content.

It seems pretty clear to me that there would not be an occupation on Wall Street if there was not an occupation in Madison, and I don’t think many would argue otherwise. And it did not happen in isolation, as evidenced by how New York has collectively been watching Wisconsin oh so longingly, striving for a movement like it of our very own.

No, not watching passively, but in ardent solidarity. As the Cheddarsphere blog Dane101 depicts:

Wisconsin is patient zero for a solidarity protest movement that's spreading across all 50 states, and arguably, internationally. New York has been one of the leading carriers of that movement since the start of "the Wisconsin moment" in mid-February.

It appears that this mentality has taken hold, and that much more so now that New York may be experiencing its own “Wisconsin moment”.

In my mind, this makes it even more integral to activate Wisconsinites, as just by alerting them to how they have inspired #OccupyWallStreet will reinforce their incentive to activate. This is because as they do so, it will be that much more inspiring for those on Wall Street who once again hear word of it through social media.

I've seen this operate in this fashion before, actually. It was during the equivalent of a test run for the Wall Street occupation with an encampment protesting the Mayor of New York City's caustic budget cuts.

This 'Bloombergville' occupation was directly inspired by Wisconsin's 'Walkerville', and when I would roll through I would take some of the cheeseheads we’ve been using since the Job Party’s first Wisconsin solidairty rallies to make videos to spread to Wisconsinites via social media.

The results of connecting activists in New York and Wisconsin speak for themselves, as both Bloombergville and Walkerville residents alike appreciated and inspired each other. In fact, they were elated at the chance to say so, and word of it spread particularly amongst the occupiers who could most use the emotional boost.

Based off this enlightening experience, this weekend I put on a Wisconsin blue fist shirt and and headed to Wall Street to talk to anyone who stopped me to comment.

While there, I not only found fans of Wisconsin activists, but some elite Wisconsin activists in the flesh!

And in the model described above, I made more of these short videos of Wall Street folks talking about Wisconsin, once again with the hopes of leveraging their experiences in this inspirational fashion.

I merely asked them to describe this sense of an encovering solidarity between occupiers in New York and Madison, the results of which you can check out below:

25 reactions Share

#OccupyWallStreet has a #WIunion star on loan

These are the kind of activists that the movement from Wisconsin has wrought:

when we got there, some people started to march on the actual street and not on the pedestrian walkway. The police did NOTHING to stop them, so the protestors continued to march. I had been directed by other protestors to get onto the walkway, and after doing so, I realized there were people on the street level. I then threw my backpack and sign over the fence that separated me from the street level, climbed onto the fence, and jumped down about 10 feet to join the other protestors who were down there.

I realized that by doing this, I was putting myself in a position to get arrested. But, like I said, I came here to tell the story, and what better way to do that then to be IN the story?

That is an open Facebook note from 20 year old Jenna Pope, who also dove into the New York welcome she got on the Brooklyn Bridge this Saturday in an interview on the Sara Shultz Show radio program.

So why should #OccupyWallStreet be so elated to have her here? Well, I’d go so far to say that it’s people like her that make me so certain that Wisconsin is truly the home of the fight back in the class war against working families.

I first met Jenna this Summer during a social media training and strategy session that Cheddarsphere blogger Bluecheddar had organized in Madison’s historic ‘labor temple’ in anticipation of the final GOTV weekend for the state senate recalls.

After asking Bluecheddar about youth leaders within the movement, she immediately and enthusiastically directed me to her.

Jenna is something of a celebrity figure in the Madison activist community, as she especially exemplifies the creative energy overflowing from Madison’s student-heavy liberal bastion of a community.

Before the uprising, Madison was most famous to young people for its massive Halloween festivals. As the movement commenced, Jenna was inspired to run with this by creating a costumed alter-ego: Solidarity Batman.

This caped crusader was prolific throughout the Capitol occupation, and rarely misses an occasion to take action to this day. Likewise, Wisconsin’s own Dark Knight is also a constant force in social media organizing (@BatmanWI on Twitter) where she is always sending out news and media content from her latest activist awesomeness.

I caught up with her again on recall-eve, where she further explained what she has been up to:

So #OccupyWallStreet people, get excited, because you have a true blue #WIunion star getting down and dirty in NYC before heading to DC for the October 6 action in Freedom Plaza.

In the meantime, Gotham City has got a Batman on loan. Let’s take advantage!

12 reactions Share

#p2NY & a #p2 for every state: localizing the progressive umbrella tag

Twitter is a truly unique medium for organizing, yet as much as progressives have gained from it, there is still much further to go to leverage its full potential.

This latent power is especially evident in the way we use hashtags, where events from Egypt’s #Jan25 to Wisconsin’s #WIunion have given every tweeting participant the power to amplify their activism.

These tweets from activists and every day people on the ground are organized topically by the hashtag, but there remains a problem: How does one know what hashtag to look for in the first place?

In practice, people can be alerted beforehand, or find out from participants in their twitter feeds in real time. What we’re suggesting here is a way to further streamline this process.

Fortunately, we already have a strong progressive foundation on Twitter to centralize our information and organizing: #p2, the “progressive batchannel”.

#p2 was co-founded by Tracy Viselli and Jon Pincus in 2009 as a progressive umbrella-tag based on diversity and empowerment. It has been a massive success since -- so much so that it has been a victim of it.

This is because there is so much diffuse traffic on #p2 that its capacity to shine a light on diverse voices who would otherwise not be heard is limited due to the depth of content.

This brings us to our suggestion.

Chris Keeley of New Deal for NY & Community Voices Heard and myself via the Job Party propose that progressive tweeters target their progressive tweets to a local hashtag in addition to the national umbrella of #p2.

Specifically, we’re suggesting that NY progressive tweeters employ the #p2NY tag for local content so that local organizers, bloggers, and every day tweeters will have easier access to it .

This is a model that could easily be applied to all 50 states, of course (#p2NJ, #p2CA, #p2TX, etc).

#p2 has always been a foundational work in progress, from the original precedent-defying #p2 launch tweetings to the TweetProgress directory and onwards.

Moreover, #p2 was first spawned by the foundational model of the feminism 2.0 tag #fem2, and has been the impetus for new offerings building off of it like the One Union #1u tag.

The proposal to use #p2NY is directly in this progression. We see it as extending the power of #p2 to be a “batchannel in the sky” in a much more hyper-local manner.

The rubric of a #p2 umbrella over a state-based framework is readily understandable, and will make it dramatically easier to direct progressives to the local information most important to them. Plus, only adding the state’s abbreviation keeps a character count exactly equal to conservatives’ #tcot.

Jon Pincus closed his latest post on lessons from #p2 with a call to arms to further develop progressive infrastructure on twitter, as the upside is huge. As he asks, “What are we waiting for?”

There certainly remains an untold amount that could be done, and it couldn’t be a more important time for progressives to, well, progress.

13 reactions Share

Grimm Hears from Angry Cheesheads

This afternoon we took the Wisconsin Fight Back local to Rep. Michael Grimm's Staten Island office.

The energy and enthusiasm was strong, as New Yorkers demanded that their congressman create jobs now as opposed to supporting the slashing of the social safety net inherent to the Paul Ryan budget.

The Wisconsin inspiration was real and palpable, and the connection to Paul Ryan intrinsic. The Wisconsin fight back is similarly being taken local in almost all of the town hall outbursts nationwide, as it is the nihilistic cuts of the Ryan budget that has inspired such activation. We just addressed it directly and made the Wisconsin-spirit of the event more overt.

Moreover, as Wisconsin has taken the town hall model up a notch in light of Ryan refusing to hold a free one, we followed suit by bringing the town hall to Grimm---including unemployed constituents of his walking inside to apply for jobs! Grimm followed Ryan's lead in not holding any town halls where he could be held accountable to his constituents, so we wanted to make sure he also heard from those he purportedly represents who are suffering direly from the jobs crisis.

Like Ryan in Wisconsin, Grimm in New York now has to dodge angry cheeseheads in his back yard.

Check out some of the pictures below, the full flickr album, and stay tuned for video. Let's keep strengthening the fight back, On Wisconsin!

14 reactions Share

Taking the Wisconsin Fight Back Local

As is increasingly the case, Wisconsin is a harbinger for what is to come from the progressive movement on the national scene. Fortuantely, at home in the Cheddar State, the ongoing invisible town hall revolution has been taken up a big notch.

There, Paul Ryan’s refusal to provide constituents with a free means to meet with him has been met by protesters bringing the town hall to him at all four of his Wisconsin offices. Morover, it has included a multi-day, multi-office sit-in for jobs from unemployed members of his district. Ryan is now dodging angry cheeseheads left and right, even calling the cops on those he purportedly represents who are suffering direly from the jobs crisis.

This is all too fitting, considering how central the Ryan Budget and his efforts to cut the social safety net have been to the angst at most of the town hall outbursts. With the upcoming super committee vote, it couldn’t be more timely either.

The super committee represents Ryan’s best shot yet at codifying his hopes and dreams of ever more corporate welfare at the expense of even a semblance of economic security for working families. The Tea Party and Republicans at large are all in lock step behind him too.

In this vein, I couldn’t be more encouraged by efforts to take heed from Wisconsin and follow their inspiring tactics. Namely, by Fighting Back uncompromisingly for what is right.

In New York, Congressman Ryan Grimm is being confronted with this spirit. Of late, this includes a paralleling of the ‘Where is Paul Ryan’ framing from the sit-in organized by Wisconsin Jobs Now. Like Paul Ryan, 'Where is Michael Grimm' is similarly apt considering he has also been MIA to his constituents:

Moreover, in the Empire State, we will be paralleling the Wisconsin fight against Ryan that much more by bringing the town hall to Grimm.

Tomorrow, a coalition including the Working Families Party, MoveOn, and the Job Party is staging a rally at Grimm’s Staten Island office. Of course, we'll be bringing some Job Party cheeseheads to help visualize the Wisconsin spirit. And also similarly to Ryan’s district, this action includes a contingency of unemployed folks taking action to hold Grimm to account for his inaction on the jobs crisis.

It will be a great time and just comeuppance, but this is all also undoubtedly a building thing. We need a strong foundation to bring that much more ardent of a fight to Grimm and Tea Partiers across the country, and taking Wisconsin’s lead with focusing on Ryan at this crucial time couldn’t be more symbolic or impactful.

Sybmolic, becuase if Paul Ryan has his way, he would be a Scott Walker on the national stage.

Impactful, because the Ryan budget is nihilistic and un-American. If we don’t fight back against its insidiousness, it is looking like Ryan will make major strides in his goals to dismantle the most essential services for working families.

As it is in Wisconsin, the time to fight back against Ryan on a national scale is now. Fortunately, as Rep. Grimm will see tomorrow, we can fight back against Ryan through our local congressmen who are following his lead.

10 reactions Share

Paul Ryan Sit In & Town Hall Protests Gain Momentum

The Where Is Paul Ryan? protest and sit in conducted by unemployed constituents of his is now in its 4th day, and momentum is growing. As per usual, Wisconsinites are taking the fight right to him, as illustrated by Wisconsin Jobs Now:

Rep. Ryan’s tax cuts for corporations and the rich continually make the jobs crisis worse while his budget cuts hurt the people who are struggling just to get by. Rather than filling his schedule with fundraisers and meetings with his rich corporate donors during this crisis, Ryan owes his jobless constituents face-to-face meetings at no charge.

The jobs focus is particularly prudent considering how callous it is to charge the unemployed especially for access to their representatives.

Moreover, these protests of Republican congressmen in relation to town halls is “truly widespread” according to Chris Bowers. And this “invisible town hall revolution”, as Dave Dayen has termed it, is getting bigger and bigger. However, there is a roadblock that Andy Kroll of Mother Jones recognized in that politicians left and right alike have eliminated town halls in order to avoid having to respond to constiuent rancor.

Fortunately, in additon to the fantastic work organizing where there are town halls from Rebuild the Dream, MoveOn, and Democracy for America, organizations such as the Working Families Party are working on alternative creative recess events. These highlight the vacuum from a would-be town hall, which is highly encouraging in light of the impact of the Paul Ryan sit in.

In that vein, not only have the sit ins and protests spread to a second office of Ryan’s, his staff are clearly feeling the heat:

Things have become very contentious, office staff have ordered the stoppage of all filming and that the activists leave the premises after filling out a form to see if they can learn about whether they get to meet with Ryan in 10 days. If that sentence was confusing, you’re not alone.

In light of this, Wisconsin Jobs Now asks an important question:

Has it ever been so hard for the unemployed members of a congressional district to meet their representative and talk about how to create jobs?

Considering the calamity of our unemployment crisis, this is as emblematic a portrayal of the ongoing intransigence on jobs as could be.

We need to Create Jobs Now, and we need to make our voices heard until we can make our politicians do it. If you can, go find an American Dream event either through MoveOn or Democracy for America's Don't Kill the Dream, or host your own!

As they say in Wisconsin: Forward.

64 reactions Share

Social Security Turns 76 Today

I had a great time today at an event today the Working Families Party held to celebrate the 76th birthday of Social Security.

Despite it being a national program, the party had a local feel. It was targeted at Rep. Michael Grimm for voting on the Ryan budget, and the issue at large was brought back home through speeches from local political figures and residents alike.

This was a refreshing change from the abstract manner in which it's being addressed with the Super Committee, as the true impact on people's lives never seems to be at the forefront. Lives will be further damaged and lost if these cuts go through, and the American Dream itself suffers along with it no doubt.

In that vein, it was all too fitting for The Michael Grimm Reaper to show up:

It's good to see politicians called to account for even having the temerity to dare to slash the social safety net in this time of crisis! The rationale for it either dissolves into a desire for ever more Corporate Welfare, or just a straight up nihilistic desire for more suffering.

Fortunately, as the ongoing sit in at the office of Paul Ryan himself illustrates, the Wisconsin fight back will continue to be a point of inspiration as we forge ahead in the class war engulfing working families across the country.

2 reactions Share

Wisconsin: Home of the Fight Back

There has been much concern trolling about the state of the movement stemming from Wisconsin after Democrats did not fully flip the senate.

Well, I’d like to help deflate that speculation that much more, as someone who feels the pain after canvassing my Wisconsin senate district for Sandy Pasch, and who experienced the bitter disappointment of her loss that night at the Madison Capitol. I even had to break the news to Ed Schultz that she passed on pursuing a recount...

Yet, as discouraging as all this was, the negative pundits and optimistic opponents do not understand the very nature of the movement. More than anything, Wisconsin is about having the fortitude to FIGHT BACK, which is a flame no electoral defeat--or even victory--could extinguish.

Just on the face of it, “only” winning two state senate seats in deep red districts shouldn't sway the principled stance behind the inspiration to activate. And as John Nichols explains, the recalls have struck a serious and substantial blow to the authority of Scott Walker-ism inside the state Capitol. Plus, there is added cause to be optimistic about a recall of Walker, and delight to be had watching him squirm now that he is on the defensive.

But the meaning of Wisconsin’s fight back extends much further. What’s being built there is not only a foundation for the future in Wisconsin, but nationally as well.

“As a dress rehearsal for 2012, Wisconsin will persuade national Dems not to refrain from sharp populist messaging,” explains Greg Sargent. Markos further fleshes out why this is so:

Remember -- these are white working-class districts in the "heartland". These aren't "coastal elites" or brown people, who the media discount as irrelevant. These are the people Democrats lost big time in 2010 leading to huge GOP pickups. A strong populist message brought huge numbers of them back.

The populist class war messaging exposing those who only care about corporate welfare is working. Not only for the democratic party, but on a movement level.

The principled and unwavering stance is the key building block, with the electoral energy extending off of it. The desire to fight back, more than anything else, is driving this shift in Wisconsin.

The flame has absolutley not gone out, as seen in today's sit in for jobs at Paul Ryan’s office. And more unapologetic confrontation will only make it burn brighter.

As the historian Rick Perlstein prescribes, “The Republicans will call it “class warfare.” Let them."

Don’t fear the fight back. Take heed from Wisconsin and history alike, and take it to them.

5 reactions Share

Are You Ready for Some Recalls?!

The Wisconsin State Senate recalls are finally upon us, and the Job Party has teamed up with our blogger friends from the great Cheddar State for coverage and media activism.

Unsurpisingly, I look to John Nichols for context on why Wisconsin, and today, is so important for the country. In Madison's Capital Times, he writes of what was happening exactly 100 years ago in Wisconsin:

Wisconsin established the standard by which other states were measured. It was the most innovative, the most humane, the most responsible and, above all, the most politically progressive state in the nation. And the ideas that came from Wisconsin formed the underpinning for the labor, farm, civil rights and social justice movements that would eventually come to the fore two decades later, as Franklin Roosevelt imported University of Wisconsin professors and veterans of the state’s legislative and political battles to forge a “New Deal” for America.

It's time to revitalize this tradition beyond any shadow of a doubt! The recall couldn't be more important, and these Republican State Senators are roadblocks in the way of progress that need to be pushed aside.

Fortunately, the progressive movement is thinking big and has picked a fight to build progressive power. Today is a day to display our might.

6 reactions Share

← Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  Next →
Job Party: because America needs 15 million jobs NOW

Donate Now