Wednesday, April 27, 2005

May Day will Certainly SUCK!!

Honestly, I've never been a fan of May Day in any of its forms. I've mearly participated as a viewer. It has been a spectacle for me, but a spectacle that I appreciated for what I think everyone took it for: whatever you make of it.

No one person or group defined May Day, so it turned into one big smelly hippy, anarchist thingie that would just happen. Pretty cool, I guess if you're a hippy with a drum or a anarchist. Anyway. This year the Freakin thing is planned and sponsored. Sponsored by the wobblies, yes, but still...
On Sunday, May 1st the Industrial Workers of the World and the Olympia Workers Association, joined by working class organizations all over Olympia, present International Labor Solidarity Day, at 12 noon at Sylvester Park in downtown Olympia.

For over 100 years May First has been celebrated as International Workers Day: a day for working people to celebrate and remember the power they have when they stand together. 100 years ago workers exercised that power and won the 8 hour workday. In the 20th century the power of labor solidarity won workers victories like the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Now those rights have become so standard we often take them for granted. We celebrate May Day to remember those who died at the hands of business and government to make the worker's life better. Still, a workers life is hard in Olympia but we still have the power to stand together to fight for the rights all working people deserve: job security, health and child care, and a living wage. Come celebrate May Day at Sylvester Park and stand up for workers rights. By standing together the workers of Olympia are more powerful than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Come to the park at noon to hear speakers, the music of Harry Levine and Margaret Fortune, and meet local working class organizations. Make picket signs at the park and join us as we take back the streets for the Workers' Solidarity Parade, leaving at 2:00.

Monday, April 25, 2005

May Day Will Suck



Or that is what I expect. After hitting high water marks in 2000 and 2001, the yearly rebellion fest has slowly petered out to the point that it is really super lame. I used to get ramped up by this point, all worried about what might happen. But, I'm not even worried this year, It will be lame.

Otherwise, here is the announcement for the planning meeting of the spontaneous event.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Kari tracked this down for us:
"I just spoke face to face with Scott Heiferman. Scott hosts the NY Technology MeetUp at the Apple Store in Downtown Manhattan where I'm sitting right now. I asked Scott, point blank, if the $9 was instituted to help them from going out of business. Basically, he said that if they didn't do something -- sell banner ads, etc., -- that, yes, eventually, they would go out of business. They felt that if they had to generate revenue to stay in business, it should be a small fee that would come from their member-supported community."
But, still the charge will get in the way and the DNC should so something, create a meetup type tool at democrats.org. I've liked meetup.com since Dean for America used it in the early part of 2003 to basically launch their campaign, but with the $19 a month charge by next year, it has outgrown its usefullness as a political organizing tool.
Lots of discussion going on at the Dem Meetup Hosts yahoo group right now. Plug into that and you'll get a good dose of how we might be able to reach past meetup.com. The most hopeful email I've gotten today was from Ralph Miller:

To: DemMeetupHosts@yahoogroups.com
From: "Ralph Miller"
Subject: [DemMeetupHosts] DNC and MeetUps
I understand that there are plans at the DNC to relaunch their website in June. The revamped site will likely include tools that will enable us to schedule our Meetups directly.
-r
Another good suggestion came from Jon Garfunkel who suggested CivicSpace as a replacement for the tools curretnly offered by meetup.com. Are there any other existing tools that we can latch onto?

Good all around guy Kari Chisolm, and fellow Western Dem, followed up on my Kos postings at his politics and technology website. I'm pretty dumb for not enlisting Kari's insight in this discussion earlier.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

With meetup.com probably going bankrupt, its time for the DNC to step up to the plate.

http://www.democrats.org/contact/

The Democratic Party needs to come up with a similar, grassroots tool like meetup. There are more people than we know that want to get involved in the party, but county and local party meetings are not the place for them. Meetups are a great forum to tap into these great people.

We need to push the party to make sure we use these meetings to build the grassroots and help grow and invigorate the party!

Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga (of dailykos.com fame) replied to my post on his website and said this:

"MeetUp is going out of business this is their last-gasp desperation attempt to stave off bankruptcy. I'd focus on finding an alternative solution."

So, now we know. The questions are:

1) what will that alternative be?

2) will the DNC help make it happen?
Some replies to my DailyKos offering on Dem Meetups:
Raising your own money is one of the most important organizing tools that a local organization can do. If you like what meetups are doing for you, raise the money and do it yourself. That's how political power is made. Don't ask the DNC or anyone else to do it for you.
And...
Don't hold your breath. They won't, especially since that $9 charge goes up to $19/mo. beginning in January 2006. Meetup is an independent org and using party funds to subsidize groups there is NOT a good solution.

I am an organizer for my local DFA meetup, and we are having this problem, too. DFA has agreed to pay the $9 for all DFA groups for next month only to allow us some breathing room and transition time. But, the consensus (though not unanimity) among Meetup hosts seems to be to get out of meetup entirely and create a new system. I see you mentioned Dean's Get Local tools, but those don't really cut the mustard and replace the function Meetup provides. Thus, emphasis now is on creating a new system tailored to political grassroots organizing needs.

Thus, either the Dem Party needs to follow DFA's suit (and with Dean as Chair, that is entirely possible... much more possible than the party paying for people's meetup fees), OR you should consider consolidating Dem Party Meetups into DFA meetups in the new system. I'm sure some wouldn't like the latter option, BUT it is something to think about and might help consolidate the base and eliminate some duplication of grassroots effort.
lastly...
Dem and DFA Meetups should have merged ages ago.

The message Dean brought us was "take back our party"...so why are we still meeting separately?

Anyhoo, re the $9, soon $19. If it was a yearly or semi-yearly fee, that's one thing. Meetup's got to make some money. But charging this per month, and charging the longstanding organizers, is too much. They're going to suffer some serious attrition. Do you think the organizers of the witches meetups or anarchists meetup - or socialist meetups, for that matter - are going to pay a monthly fee to host their own meeting?
My Reply:

I understand about how passing the hat leads to some ownership of the meeting for those that come, we were already doing that by dedicated ourselves to a more stable paid room ($24 a month), rather than a less stable free one. But, the $9 and eventually $19 just to use meetup.com is too much!

Alos, not that I don't like DFA, but I think there needs to be a local grassroots meeting for the Democratic Party. The DNC needs to do something.

Either support us through meetup.com or offer an alternative.
I posted this at Kicking Ass, the DNC blog:

At the Democratic Party meetup in Olympia WA, we've been passing the hat every month to cover our rooms costs, and this month we passed the hat some more to cover the $9 meetup.com fee.

For those who don't know, meetup.com used to be a free service, but they started this month charging group organizors $9 a month. This isn't a big fee, but for a usefull organizing tool like meetup.com, its too bad that $9 goes to a company and not the party we're actually trying to organize for.

I've been working with my county party to get some support from them for the group, but you know what would be great?

Either the DNC pick up the cost for organizing Democratic meetup groups OR they provide a tool similar to meetup.com, such as Dean's GetLocal tools. Either way, I don't see meetup.com charging organizors as the long term solution, it will just quicken organizor burn out and the death of some or our more marginal meetups.

The meetups, at least in Olympia, have been an important tool as a "gateway" forum for less connected Dems and liberals. By coming to this one meeting, folks can plug in as much as they want. The DNC should either support meetups financially and with staff or provide an alternative.

Monday, April 18, 2005

I've been posting over at Westerndemocrat.com, and been meaning to cross post this entry here. Its about David Kemmis and "This Sovereign Land," one of my new most favorite books:

Kemmis
In the last chapter of “This Sovereign Land,” Daniel Kemmis makes the observation that Western Republicans have the inside track on the issue that will ensure political dominance for one party in the region: whether any political party can be seen as being the source of collaborative efforts that will eventually exert local and regional control over public lands in the West.

A cynical Republican will answer, “Of course it will be the GOP. Republicans, not Democrats, trust people to make their own decisions.” This is at least true to the point that national environmental groups don’t trust local collaborative efforts, but rather courts and the federal bureaucracy to do the right thing.

But, in the “Death of Environmentalism,” Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, argue that the national policy focus of the current stock of environmentalists, rather than a broader focus on progressive issues, has backed enviro groups into a corner, making them a stale and unsuccessful special interest.

The same focus on national issues that has marginalized environmentalism today is the same focus that has kept them from trusting and recognizing the good in collaborative efforts.

Also, Kemmis fails to address to what point and for what reasons Western GOPers support cooperative efforts. I would argue that their support only goes so far as to use collaborative efforts as a battering ram against federal control of lands, not to supplement that control with local and regional control.

By removing the federal government from the scene, and not allowing any real control by local communities, governments and watershed groups to fill in the vacuum, the space would eventually be filled by commercial interests. Westerners still would not control their landscape, the control would have moved from Washington DC to New York City.

Also, what are the chances that the Western Republican Party could abandon their dependence on the Western Myth of self reliance over cooperation?

To really create a cohesive policy of the homegrown Western sovereignty that Kemmis talks about, you need a party of politicians that believe that good, purposeful government can do good things.

The really cool thing about this post is that Kemmis himself ended up responding. I didn't end up looking like a complete idiot, btw:

My argument in the last chapter of This Sovereign Land was not that Republicans had captured the inside track on small "d" democratic politics in the West, but rather that Democrats risked ceding that ground to Republicans if we didn't re-examine some of our basic operating assumptions.

I completely agree with Emmett O'Connell that the Republican commitment and track record in this arena is shaky and vulnerable, mostly because the GOP remains far more committed to serving its corporate supporters than to any fundamental empowering of ordinary westerners.

But, as O'Connell quite accurately points out, Democrats have also been prevented from fully embracing grass-roots western democracy by our own close identification with another set of interests. Clearly, one reason Democrats had lost so much ground in the interior West before 2002 was because the party label had become all too closely associated in all too many western minds with a particular brand of national environmentalism - namely, the zero-cut and cattle-free brand. The result was that, over the course of a decade or so, Democrats had essentially abandoned our populist base in the rural West.

But now there is good news on two fronts. First, western Democrats have begun to stake out a genuinely western (and at the same time genuinely democratic) position on public land and resource issues. Second, the national environmental movement has itself moved into a new phase of self-examination, with the publication and discussion of Shellenberger and Nordhaus's "Death of Environmentalism" paper. While that paper doesn't directly address western issues, it creates an opportunity for western Democrats to begin saying clearly that we not only value these extraordinary western landscapes that we inhabit, but we also value the communities that have been built on those landscapes and the ways of life that depend on them.

I won't extend this comment by developing that argument any further here, but I did take a stab at that last spring in a High Country News article (http://www.hcn.org/servlets/hcn.Article?article_id=14674).

It's exciting and encouraging to see all the discussion that's now occurring about rebuilding the Democratic Party in the West, whether on this site or among those who last year created Democrats for the West (http://www.democratsforthewest.org/). Keep up the good work!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Over at blatherWatch, they're having a discussion on who could be some local talent competition on 1090 AM.

In the tradition of Pat Cashman, sort of, I'm going to nominate John Keister. He already has an infrequent spot on KCTS Connects and tons of history on Almost Live and the John Report with Bob. We know he can fill air air time. And he would be a thousand times funnier than Rush, John Carlson or Kirby

The only question is his politics. I would assume he's a "typical Seattle liberal," but that is only a guess based on his historic bashing of the Kent Valley and the east side of the mountains.

By the way, if you're up that late, the only other time to catch John is after SNL on Sunday mornings with classic Almost Live.