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The Thursday Problem – why we can’t slow down

There has been a bunch of good news in the campaign to block unqualified candidates like Herschel Walker. Our effort has been acknowledged and appreciated as well, so here is the report.

Good News

As of Dec 1, these are the betting pools on the Georgia Senate Runoff election as forecasted by PredictIt with over 1 million bets placed for this race so far.  Warnock is leading (85%/15%)

Please note that before the midterm election, Walker’s chance of winning was 65%/35%, then it dramatically flipped after the election.  My read is there were several factors in this dramatic reversal

  • Walker numerically lost the midterm election to Warnock
  • Republican Governor Kemp was not on the ticket to bring out voters
  • Walker received 210,000 fewer votes than Kemp in the November election 
  • Since the senate is not in play, those who were voting for Walker for GOP control (but were not excited about the candidate) now had to say they wanted just him

This is good news, but it doesn’t mean we can assume the election is already won. We’ll keep flyering and canvassing and more, because none of us want to see 2016 happen again- win or lose, we’ll know we did everything we could to help re-elect Reverend Warnock. And just like this prediction poll was wrong about Walker winning the midterm, or that there was an 85% chance Hillary Clinton would win, it could be wrong. 15% chance is about the chance of a day being Thursday.  Thursdays happen all the time.

Black turnout outpacing Midterms

6 days into early voting, over 16% of the registered population has turned out to vote and 29% of the people who voted in the recent midterms, these numbers are encouragingly high.  But what is especially important when comparing the racial identification of the voters, Whites are way down and Blacks are up 10% in turnout so far in the runoff.  This alone (if the trend continues) would doom Walker.  Blacks voted 89% for Warnock in the recent midterms, Whites voted 67% for Walker.

There is a reason for some of this racial disparity.  The big primarily Democratic Atlanta metro counties (where half the state’s population resides) had early voting on Saturday. Many smaller, poorer, redder counties chose not to because of the expense (or because they assumed the Republicans would win the court case block voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving).  So Democrat heavy areas got a head start, but as the days of early voting have progressed, this 10% higher Black voter turnout than ???White??? during the midterms seems to persist.  

For those of us in the field this is quite inspiring information which is never available in most states because they dont track it and rarely available this quickly.  I wish there were more we could thank the Georgia Secretary of State for.

It also does not help that Walker is running a terrible campaign, independent of the many scandals and seriously foolish statements (“I have always lived in Georgia” and I want to be a werewolf”). Walker decided to take 5 days of the runoff period off, for Thanksgiving.  That is a big piece of a 27 day campaign. And let’s not forget that Walker “described himself as living in Texas during (a) 2022 campaign speech,” and in fact still registers his $3 million Texas home as his primary residence- for the tax break.  

The Warnock campaign alternatively is energized, outspending Walker in ads, working with churches, college  groups, unions, LatinX and other immigrant communities.  Obama comes today and speaks, Michelle has recorded some robo calls.

The Walker campaign has asked Trump not to come to Georgia. 

Nice Words

We have been working with all 4 of the free ride services for the campaign.  Each has it’s own advantages, territories and strengths.  Especially, those with limited “ground game” are excited about working with us to compliment their virtual promotion approach.  The largest free ride service in Georgia for the runoff is Plus1 Vote.  They described us nicely in their pitch deck

Page 19 of the Plus1.vote Pitch Deck

And while this is uplifting good news, it is important for us to keep going full speed, to avoid the Thursday problem.  Walker is down but definitely not out and we can not risk a long shot win in 2022 which mimics Trump’s surprise win in 2016.  

So if things look good, why are we working so hard?

It is critically important to remember these election laws have been designed for Republicans to win, and that 2020’s runoffs were a statistical outlier- Republicans generally win runoffs in Georgia. 2020/21 was an exception because of the tremendous effort that went into that campaign.  The Georgia runoff system was created by (mainly) white politicians to dis-empower the “Negro bloc voting” (direct quote). How do we know this? Because Denmark Groover, who proposed the runoff system admitted decades later that “I was a segregationist. I was a county unit man. But if you want to establish if I was racially prejudiced, I was. If you want to establish that some of my political activity was racially motivated, it was.”  The runoff time has been cut in half.  

Greg Palast (perhaps the best reporter on election fraud in the US) also warns that the 2020 voter suppression law was designed to basically eliminate mail-in ballots which were 2:1 in Warnocks favor.  Those long lines and wait times you are reading about, that is significantly Warnock voters who are discouraged from voting.

If you can help our efforts please do support us in these last critical days.

Join the Air Team for Georgia

It is cliché to say “the internet has changed everything”, yet it is foolish to not examine how these changes should translate into changes in our behavior.  For the Georgia Senate Runoff campaign, thinking about how folks far from us might use the internet to help is a daily occurrence.  Here are our current ideas:

  1. Basic social media support.    The easiest and cheapest way you can support us is to post things on social media.  We would love for you to post our fundraiser but if you have any connection to Georgia at all, what would be really great would be for you to post the link to info about Free Rides to the Polls, printable flyers, resources for voters, and other voter support information.
  2. Help us find volunteers.  We are working with a growing group of in state volunteers to distribute information about free rides to the polls.  These volunteers fall generally into two groups. Partisans who want to be publicizing ways to get Warnock to win and non-partisans (often affiliated with churches) who want to just provide public information encouraging folks to get to the polls and how to get there for free. We provide both pro-Warnock and non-partisan resources when publicizing free rides
  3. Share our materials with people in Georgia. We can organize volunteers to put up flyers, hand out info for free rides, and remind people to vote- but you’re welcome to do so independently as well. We provide print-ready files for posters, flyers, and business cards on our website here. Currently those materials are available in English and Spanish, and we’ll be adding other languages as they become available. Speaking of translations…
The Flip Project developed, promoted and/or translated these posters
  1. Translations– In 2020 we translated runoff voting materials into more than a dozen languages. While we likely won’t surpass that number this year, we’d certainly like to try! And if you have good contacts with language groups in Georgia, we would love your help with distributing translations via social media. If you’re interested in translating then something either comment on this blog post or get in touch with me at paxus@twinoaks.org
  2. Become a dispatcher.  Some of the rideshare groups we are working with don’t use Uber or Lyft, but instead dispatch volunteer drivers to get people to the polls.  This means calling and checking people are ready for their rides and making sure drivers can keep their connections or get usefully re-assigned.  
  3. Hustle money for us.  I know it is uber boring, but we still find that every dollar which comes in helps us do more things to get people the polls*.  And our team is still expanding (with Zi arriving yesterday).  Here is the GoFundMe link which you should send to that rich relative of yours who always talks about how people should do something to stop the Trump madness, well now would be a great time them to do something.  Please post GFM link on your own social media, you would might be surprised how generous and engaged your friends are.

* And for our donors who are reading this as part of an update, we are especially grateful for your support. We launch these efforts unsure we can pull the money together to cover all our costs and we have been very happy with the response. Thanks for taking a chance with us, it looks like it is going to pay off. Record early voting, record young people turn out, tremendous enthusiasm for the campaign.

The price of independence

Professional political campaigns at the US Senatorial level must protect themselves from the many “helpful” constituents who want to waste their precious time with their under formulated notions of how to win their race. For a quasi-independent political group like our Flip Project it is quite hard to convince the official campaign to give us any time. The lovely out-of-state volunteer campaign coordinator is happy to put all people on their door to door canvass. But if we want to do something other than that, their hands are tied. For us, the price of our independence is we need to out perform door to door canvasses.

This year, with a very short campaign duration (thank you Georgia’s new “election integrity”/ voter suppression laws), we have chosen to promote free rides to the polls as what we think our volunteers can deliver that will be the most effective way to get out votes. We are producing assets, like the Spanish language poster below, with a QR code that lands or our splash page, which gives out information on free rides (with ride services or friendly volunteers), polling locations and election protection practices.

We are scrambling to get these assets translated into almost every language, except Vietnamese which broke for Trump in the most recent presidential election. We support everyone’s right to vote, and especially we want to promote voting among non-English speaking citizens, and we promote the languages we are especially excited about. At this point, we only have enough enough money to do poster and other physical promotional materials in English and Spanish. The other languages likely to see translated assets for this election are Mandarin, Hindi, Arabic, Bangladeshi and possibly Pakistani, these will be promoted over social media by our air team. In the 2020 Georgia runoff, we did translations of election materials into 13 languages.

2020 Presidential results national results by ethnic group.

Turns out there are a bunch of studies showing the correlation between access to a car and voting. The above graph shows the somewhat shocking thing which happens in the US, and even though we might not like the behavior, we can not deny the behavior. People who don’t own cars are on the order of 30% less likely to vote than people who do have a car in their household. [What i found interesting in this, is that the absentee ballot use is basically unchanged, where i had thought people without access to cars would significantly increase their use of absentee ballots – but they don’t and instead they often simply do not vote.]

Our high tech partner in free ride share is plus1.vote and their findings shocked us a bit. They found that social media campaigns for their services were far less effective than their other techniques. One of their techniques is to use geographic and demographic data to locate prospective free ride candidates and then push the free ride directly into their Uber wallet. Then they don’t even have to mess with a promo code, they can simply push a button and they will get a free ride to the correct polling station for their pick up.

Looking for high Democrat voting with low auto ownership

We are also digging into the data to find the best places to promote free rides. There is very granular census data we have gotten for free, which combined with political data gives us the ability to look at locations in metro Atlanta which have high Democratic voter preferences and also low car ownership – the sweet spots for free ride to the polls services.

Flip Project Ground Team L to R – Paxus, Jacqueline, Vicky, Spiderman (aka Mark)

We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner of the project staff in Georgia now (several more folks are coming up). In a beautiful coincidence, the Indian restaurant we went to dinner at overlooked the Hosia Williams Mural (seen in the background of the above picture). In 2020, we help revitalize this mural, we had a GOTV artwork competition near here and several of the current staff met for the first time in this location. For this all out-of-town group of activists, this spot feels like coming home.

There is still time to support this campaign and a significant need. I am also humbled and thankful for the many friends and family who have donated and insured that we can keep this project going. This is a very close race and perhaps our effort will be the piece that pushes us to a win, as we helped in 2020 Georgia senate runoff.

Canvassing for Warnock

Canvassing with Warnock 

As a door to door canvasser, your better days are the ones when you get to tell someone at the door something that they might really be able to use.  I canvassed with Warnock last week, and it was definitely a better day.  I had two pieces of useful information.

The first is that I distributed a little calendar of the upcoming runoff special election.  It showed the dates for early voting and gave QR codes for the closest polling place.  I was happy to give out this card, and a handful of people, in the 42 houses I knocked on doors in East Atlanta, were happy to get the information.

But the thing which got the most response was when I told them that if they voted early, their names would drop out of the call-back rosters and that they would get few phone calls and emails!  This seemed to ramp up the enthusiasm for a shortened early voting period.  [As part of the wave of “election integrity” legislation passed by Republicans, the runoff campaign is half as long in its total length, it has fewer days of early voting, fewer drop boxes and has more restrictions on in-person and absentee voting.]

As an enthusiastic canvasser, you have to think about your audience.  If your prospective voter is over 60, it is more likely they want the physical address written down, of which there is a place for on this form.  But most of my younger voters were happy to be directed by the scan code. Thus, I could save the literature, which had the polling places and addresses on it, for the people I spoke with who wanted just that.

The first house I canvassed was one of the fanciest.

We encourage everyone who works for the Flip Project to spend time canvassing, because we want them to know what outreach methods they are outperforming.  Our work on promoting free ride-shares, especially in non-English languages where we have good translators and existing assets will get more people voting than the half dozen Georgia residents I talked with on that brisk morning.

Why Georgia

In 2020, it was obvious. We had just finished campaigning in Maine to unseat nationally unpopular Susan Collins. Our team was exhausted, but we knew control of the Senate would rest on the results of the 2 Georgia runoffs. We decided to bring part of our Maine team (and a few new friends as well) to Georgia, where we won, twice. Our calculated gamble saved us from two more years of Moscow Mitch McConnell’s gridlock.  

In 2022, it is less obvious. As the smoke clears on the midterms, we know several things: 

1) The polls were wrong and there was no red wave.  

2) The Democrats maintained control of the US Senate. 

3) It still makes sense nationally to return for this year’s Georgia runoff to get that 51st seat.

“But if we have the Senate, and the Republicans hold the House,” you might ask, “Aren’t we just looking at two years of legislative gridlock? Why bother?” 

There are three main reasons. 

  1. First off, judicial appointments are determined by the Senate, and do not require a House vote. Unlike the 50 seat situation where the VP must constantly break ties, 51 is a real majority that is harder for the endlessly obstructionist Republicans to slow down.  As we know from a collection of recent judicial decisions from the reversal of Roe v Wade to letting Trump off the hook for his crimes, judges matter.  Experts tell us that the 51 seat majority will significantly increase the number of federal judges who get appointed. Currently, with both parties having equal numbers on every committee, every judicial vote has to go to the full Senate where VP Harris breaks ties. With 51 seats, majority control of all committees goes to the Democrats.
  1. With 51 votes, we don’t have Joe Manchin as de facto president. Currently, the even 50/50 split means big legislation (like Biden’s Build Back Better bill) can be held hostage by a single Senator. This happened with Biden’s infrastructure bill, Manchin killed it and delayed passage of the much smaller package by almost a year.

Manchin protects Oil Companies profits over his constituents 

  1. Truthfully, a bunch of these senators are quite old and one may well die during their term (and/or retire due to illness or scandal). This would spark a snap election in some states which will again determine control of the chamber, while in others the governor may appoint an interim replacement to fill the seat until the next regularly scheduled statewide general election. Some states require that the interim senator is the political party as the senator leaving office, but not all of them. The 51st seat is vital insurance that we won’t be in this bad situation yet again in a few months – or still worse. 

Soooo…. We’re coming back to Georgia in force. 

We’ll be drawing from a number of successful techniques learned in 2020. We aim to do things that are more effective than door to door canvassing, and reach people who might not open their door to a stranger/canvasser. How impactful? In 2020, along with our partner Block Power, our ATL VoteTree activation helped deliver 24K votes. With a 93K vote margin in the Warnock race, our collective effort represented 23% of the vote.

Like last time, our nimble boots-on-the-ground team will be guided by the Warnock campaign, nonprofit strategists, and will be well-positioned to capitalize on opportunities as they arise. We aim to deliver sticky art/music activations and blaze a path to the polls by empowering free rides to the polls in multiple languages. It’s the kind of bold, creative stuff that creates big buzz and big impact.

In the face of a cacophony of noise and profound voter fatigue, the days of knock-and-drop canvassing are over. We’re returning to Georgia to help take the Warnock campaign to the finish line.
And We. Will. Win.

We’re grateful for introductions, energy, and of course, your financial support– and for the next few days, an anonymous donor will match your contribution. Thank you!

If you want to volunteer your time please write quickly to paxus@twinoaks.org or better 541-505-0803

We’re currently looking for new people to help with:

Remote (air team support from your home)

  • Fundraising
  • Demographic and voter data analysis
  • Social media campaign

Ground Team in Atlanta

  • Street theater and public events
  • Door knock with the Warnock campaign
  • Distribute posters, flyers, signs, and business cards reminding people to vote, and how they can get a free ride to (and from) the polls, especially in non-English speaking parts of the city

QuinkFair Program

Running Program QuinkFair 2022

(not all confirmed*, times in flux)  

* All of these presenters have indicated that they want to do a workshop.  Some have specified these things, others are just known for these things and we are guessing.

Friday Sept 23, 2022

Schedule 

  • 10am – Gates officially open / Orientation
  • 12pm – Lunch
  • 1pm to 5pm – Afternoon Workshops
  • 5pm – Welcome and opening ceremony
  • 6pm – Dinner
  • 8pm – Talent Show – Jade as MC
  • After the Talent Show – Dancing with DJ Arrow Chrome
  • * * Temple of Oracles open into the wee hours of the morning

Afternoon Workshops 1pm – 5pm

Saturday Sept 24, 2022

Schedule

  • Morning- yoga with Sarah Haley 
  • 8am Breakfast
  • 10 am Meet the Communities 
  • 12pm- Lunch
  • Temple of Oracles open all afternoon
  • 6pm- Dinner
  • 8pm – Effigy Burn fire spinners and dancing with Rio as MC
  • After Burn – Conscious Cuddle Party hosted by  Wolf
  • ** Temple of Oracles open into the wee hours of the morning

Workshops start at 1pm

Sunday Sept 25, 2022

Schedule

  • Morning Yoga with Coach Jade
  • 8am – Breakfast
  • 9am to 12pm – Sunday Morning Workshops
  • 12pm- Lunch
  • 1pm QuinkFair closing celebration, ritual and farewell
  • 2pm – 5pm Open Space Workshops and other possible events
  • 6pm- Dinner
  • Temple Burn

Morning Workshops – 9am to 12pm

Afternoon – Open Space Technology by you (you can present your own workshop)

Monday Sept 26, 2022

  • Morning – Tours of local communities
  • 12pm – Lunch 
  • 2pm- General attendees depart, some volunteers stay to help clean up

If this is compelling to you there is still time to buy tickets, until Thursday morning. We also have

discount and scholarship tickets available, call 541-505-0803 for more information.

QuinkFair DC Dumpster Dive 9/19/22

My stock advice to activists on what campaigns they should pursue is “join the one where the people working on the issue inspire you”. Next week i get to follow my own advice. There are lots of different approaches to dumpster diving. My favorite is risking getting quite filthy combined with making it a fun adventure. This is where Peaches shines.

Peaches is always happy to lead people new to dumpster diving into the art. They have reliable places they know in the DC metro area, but there are always shifts, old sites converting to compactors and new ventures opening up that are often more wasteful than their established counter parts. On our last dive Peaches took us to pop up convenience stores which throw out all manner of products, we scored 30 boxes of 10 vape pens, with a retail value about $3K.

Peaches = Good divers are light on their feet

If you are not comfortable jumping into a dumpster, there is still a way for you to help out. Specifically, when the dive is finished at 3 or 4 AM you can be part of the crew which processes the treasure we have hauled in. This includes sorting, cleaning, compost handling and in some cases cooking.

All of this is being staged out of Casa Peaches in NW Washington DC quite late Monday Sept 19th and very early in the morning on Tuesday Sept 20th. Here is the Facebook event, and if you are not on Facebook, but want to come (especially if you need a ride) contact paxus@twinoaks.org

Box, gloves, head lamp, poker stick – a well-equipped diver

If you are still trying to decide if you want to come to QuinkFair (Sept 23 thru 26), here is the draft program.

Transformus Post Office

Glow in the dark croquette

Transformus is a regional Burning Man influenced event which used to be on a glorious site near Asheville, NC and has moved to a different beautiful place near Masonville, WV. Rick from Happy Hill came for the first time to this location and observed things i never would have noticed. Specifically, that the huge fields were not actually a monoculture, but a complex mix of different types of plants as part of a sophisticated wildlife and field management program. There is a huge need nationally for this type of soil regeneration and specifically Rick pointed out that they had planted Asclepias which are critical for supporting monarch butterfly populations.

Hammocks research is always part of our work
Dash’s happy place

Transformus was the first time i really got to see Dash (our new conference intern) shine. Dash is a gifted cook out of Boston who is helping to organize the Communities Conference and they put out impressive meals on the Camp Contact stoves. No matter where people were in the sprawling Tranformus campus, pretty much everyone made it back to camp around mealtime, despite there being a lot of great food all free at the festival.

Our neighbors had a durable climbing dome
Jade beside fire breathing 3 headed beast
There were inspiring multi level hammocks.
Ali relaxing at Camp Contact

Jason Taylor is a hero of mine. A Louisa local who did not discover the communes til he was a teenager, he is now an integral part of holding them together. From building the replacement Llano kitchen (after the actual Twin Oak tree fell on it and crushed it), to repairing the Twin Oaks sawmill and kiln, to repairing and running the seed packing robot machine at Acorn – Jason is our favorite handy person who keeping the communes operating. Jason is the site manager for QuinkFair, last year in that role he manifested all manner of elements from designing and wiring the solar system to leading the effort to build and burn the effigy.

At Transformus he led the screen-printing workshop, using Acorn’s new screen-printing device. This was a test run for the Communities Conference where we plan to print dozens of participants’ clothes (as we successfully in some years ago).

Postal recipients did strange things to get their mail

In the above picture Jason is paying for his postage due, by stuffing a huge pineapple top in his mouth. Which requires me to explain a bit about the post office.

The post office is a Burning Man inspired activity, which we ran at Transformus back in 2013 when i was a dual member at Acorn. Burning Man influenced events discourage the use of money internally (as does QuinkFair). Instead of monetary transactions they encourage cultural and comic exchanges. So to get a inter-festival letter sent, you need to pay into the post office with perhaps a skit or a joke or a dance. Similarly, your incoming letter is “postage due” and the postal carrier may try to get you to perform out of character. Asked to “read something that moves you”, a postal customers name Snax who was working registration at Transformus read the section of the Velveteen Rabbit on being real and started crying during their rendition – momentarily all activity stopped at the busy registration to witness this dramatic rendition.

The power of a post office funologically, is it can bring a little culture bomb into a camp. Another postal recipient asked for one of our “Daring” cards and got. “Make out with someone you have never kissed before, consensually, for 30 seconds starting now.” The dare was heard by a lovely person named Freefall, who after a short discussion about risks and STIs, they kissed. Somehow the 30 seconds recommendation got blown threw.

Postal Challenge Cards – back sides

One of the modifications we tested on the regular post office format is we developed a number of postal challenge cards. These including Daring, Beautiful, Funny and Wild Cards. This allows the postal customer to think about what type of way they want subsidize the mail service by delivering a tiny cultural performance of these different types.

An unlikely pair – Sarah Hailey of Happy Hill and Spacious of Camp Contact

Spacious is the principal organizer of the Camp Contact theme camps within several regional burns and at the big burn in Nevada. To the untrained eye, his principal contribution is a tremendous amount of specialty hardware – kitchens, giant shade structures, domes, chill spaces, solar powered refrigerators, drinking and cleaning water systems, showers, bikes, trucks, hand tools and much more. If you are a decerning organizer, you know that the inter-personal stuff is more complex than even the most sophisticated of these inanimate objects: lovely attendees, who can’t afford camp fees or telling prospective participants who make people uncomfortable that they cannot be part of the camp or figuring out how to cover an internal camp task which someone promised to take responsibility for, and then they flaked on it or dealing with people who promise to pay their camp fees and then do not or getting exhausted campers to break down many structures before the rain hits at the end of the event or figuring out just how much the camp attendees are open to building without deciding not to build it or not to come back to the next camp ‘cos it was too much to build.

Camp Contact would not exist without Spacious, the hardware (as complex as it is) is the easy part, creating a harmonious, financially viable, well-equipped camp with a bunch of diverse participants who are not always reliable – that is the heavy lifting of an organizer.

Early attendee at star viewing benches.
QuinkFair and Communities Conference organizers (L to R) – Kelpie, Orion and Jade

Perhaps because i am so disorganized, one of the things i appreciate in other organizers is being nimble. Being regularly interrupted and still being effective, being able to change plans gracefully on short notice, rapidly adopting to the shifting variables are all signs of a nimble event organizer. Orion Posey is the son of one of my favorite activists Susan Posey and the generous traveling electrician Milo MacTavish. Orion was supposed to be performing in a play near Norfolk, a few days before Transformus, but the play got cancelled and Orion reached out to me about being a conference intern. He agreed to come to Transformus, without really knowing what it is, but knowing that their festival activities would be secondary to the networking and outreach work we wanted them to do. Orion delivered a bunch of mail, dispersed a number of fingerbooks, acted as an ambassador from our events to workshops on topics we are interested in. With Twin Oaks population the lowest it has been in years; we can use all the help we can get, and Orion is the addition of a nimble set of hands.

Camp Contact at Transformus 2022

If you are interested in our small regional burn in Virginia Sept 23 thru 26 – check out QuinkFair:

If you are interested in intentional communities, consider our Labor Day (Sept 2 thru 6) event, the Communities Conference:

Call for Presenters -Twin Oaks Communities Conference

Should you offer a workshop at the Twin Oaks Communities Conference? [deadline Aug 1, 2022]

Twin Oaks Communities Conference (TOCC) is looking for some compelling workshop presenters on the topic of intentional community.  Perhaps you are asking yourself “Am I a talented workshop presenter?”  Here are some ways you can tell:

“Truth is in the room”: What we’re looking for are interactive workshops that draw from the participants and the collective truth from the room. We’re hoping for workshops that introduce participants to ideas that they perhaps have never considered before or advance beliefs which are challenging or engage everyone in the space, including the presenter. We’ve found that open-ended questions and role plays are methods that work well with our participants.

29597573_10156247620047365_7772699634743048174_n.jpg

The room has no walls, but the truth is still in there

Flexible  We’re looking for workshop facilitators that can sense the energy level of the participants. Does it look like a playful group? Perhaps games and simulations will be helpful.  Is this a serious (perhaps intense) group or topic? Maybe perhaps a Q&A or a hotseat format will benefit. Conversely,  perhaps the opposite prescription will work – the serious and intense folks could lighten up with games. The point is that you as the workshop presenter want to build a good connection with your participants and tailor your presentation to the group you have before you. You could do a go round (if there are less than 20 people) and ask everyone for a single sentence about why they are in the workshop. Their answers will help guide you to adjust your presentation for their level of expertise and their areas of excitement.

Flexible is key

Reflect on Impact: Is it possible that you are going to share an exercise that will engage your participants beliefs or behavior? Is it likely they will be amused and entertained?  We’re looking for workshops that will lead participants towards a greater understanding of themselves and how they present in community.  How can we have more healthy and transparent relationships with fellow communitarians? How can libraries of shared material goods be created so we are living more sustainably and cooperatively? Can we be in romantic relationships with more than one person, in the same place? What are the details we can learn and share to live together more cooperatively?  Perhaps not as fun as a beautifully illustrated atlas or teaching haddocks (or goldfish) to jump through hoops, but definitely a bigger takeaway.

Fish thru hoops

The conference itself can provide some chairs, and, with advance notice, some sound system, but we’re in quite a rustic environment. Your powerpoint presentation, for example, might need technology that will take a while for us to assemble. If you cannot provide what is needed for your workshop, please let us know well in advance. 

It’s important to us to maintain the low cost and low overhead for this conference, so we cannot afford to pay you to present, although we can provide approved presenters with a free or reduced cost ticket.

If you are convinced, here is the Call for Presenter form to complete,  and the deadline for submission is Aug 1st.  If you just want to buy a ticket and come to the event here is the link.  If you want to read about how to get the most out of this conference check out this article.  If you would like the irregular updates about this event you can either write to conference@twinoaks.org or RSVP on the event facebook page

Apologies in advance if you are really into teaching fish to jump thru hoops.

https://www.howspace.com/resources/how-to-facilitate-a-workshop#activate

It’s time to get arrested

The Supreme Court is the triumph of the Trump administrations authoritarian desires. Rights are being stripped by religious zealots who lied during their confirmation hearings and should be impeached, but wont be. You are frustrated, you are angry, you want to do something, but you are not quite sure what to do. Please note new information about bail from Angie at the bottom of this post.

It’s time to get arrested.

For many folks, this will seem counter intuitive. How can getting myself thrown in jail help anyone or anything? It just seems like a waste of time, money and a hassle.

It turns out it is one of the most effective tools mass movements have to change the political tide. It has been used effectively around the world, even in some of the most repressive regimes. In the US, the end of the Vietnam war, the death of new nuclear construction and getting the right to vote for both women (1920) and POCs (1965) in the US relied on civil disobedience to win.

If you want to dig into the logic and practice of civil disobedience, I encourage the excellent Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which goes deep into both how and why.

From the Boston Tea Party to Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt March, and from suffragists’ illegally casting their ballots to whites-only lunch counter sit-ins, civil disobedience has often played a crucial role in bending the proverbial arc of the moral universe toward justice.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

But if you are willing to consider this option, i want to encourage you to go to this Saturdays action defending abortion rights in DC. Here is some of the more practical advise, i shared with Oakers who are organizing this action.

Who you get arrested with matters. The Women’s March organizers have an arrest training and orientation on July 8th at 6 pm in DC.  Folks interested in this should fill out the form of the principal organizers.  and plan on being there in person.  If you get arrested with or near the black bloc who are breaking Starbucks windows, your police experience will likely be much more headachy and physically difficult. Try to stay with other protesters the night before (avoid the temptation of hanging with DC friends not involved with the action).

The key piece of information, especially for people who have not been arrested before is the overwhelming experience of this choice is boredom and some confusion. You will spend lots of time after you are arrested waiting to be processed, sometimes in a hot police vehicle.  You will spend a lot of time in holding cells.  You will be told to wait often with no indication how long.  Your cell phone will be taken from you (typically) once you have been processed and usually (but not always) any reading material you have. Often you can smuggle a zine or some other pocket sized reading in. This is recommended to help cut the boredom.  And of course make friends with other arrestees.

Bail is complex. If you do need it, it is designed to insure you come back for your court hearings. When you do, you get typically get your bail money back (or 90% of it if you use a bail bond person). Angie is the queen of bail, she is copied on this message, supportive of this action and will have useful contacts on bail bonds services and how not to get stung by them. 

For 90% of non-violent actions in DC there will not be a need for bail money, assuming arrestees are willing to identify themselves to get released and go thru the legal system.  DC mostly has a “catch and release” policy around non-violent protesters – usually you are released with a summons to appear before the court. There is a high chance you will get a fine or community service at your court hearing, because you will almost certainly be found guilty – but this is not bail.  And thus not needed at the time of arrest.  

Separately, the organizing groups will likely have lawyer services available to folks risking arrest.  You should get their legal contact info and write it in marker on peoples arms. Also you should have a TO support person who is not getting arrested and is in DC and their number should also be put on peoples arms, with instructions to call when folks are released. 

While it is pretty easy to get arrested (block any intersection and refuse to move when the police arrive). After some hours of processing and being held, they will quite likely release people (who have identified themselves with id) on their own recognizance without a fine. Remember holding people is expensive for the city, they don’t want to feed you and also they don’t want the jails overwhelmed by protesters.  They also don’t want you once released to go back and immediately get arrested again, so they will often hold folks until most of the actions are over.

They will hold you and not release you if you refuse to identify yourself.  People wishing to do this type of action (refusing ID) should talk with action organizers to see what support and advice they offer.  I discourage people from carrying full wallets into arrest actions – instead ID, a metro card plus $20 or so, recognizing this will be taken from you at the time after you are processed (as will your wallet if you bring one). 90% of things confiscated from arrestees will be returned by the police.

People who require daily medication need to know they will be separated from their meds for at least hours, possibly an entire day if there are many arrests and lots of on going actions that the police/the city don’t want you to return to. People should not assume the police are going to be either reasonable or accommodating around getting your meds to you once you have been arrested and separated from them.

Wear comfortable clothes and while the action will likely be hot, your holding cell experience will be air conditioned (often set very low) and folks should dress accordingly (typically using layers). Skip jewelry. 

I personally discourage people from resisting arrest, especially on their first arrest action. Mostly because it is frustrating (you can’t do it for long without serious hardware) and the DC police are experts in compliance holds and you will feel disempowered by how quickly they are able to stop you from resisting and are likely to face more serious charges. 

If people want to “hit harder” then instead of arrest and release I recommend hit and run actions (this is not civil disobedience).  And if people are interested in this I have other contacts to offer.

Organizers have to make sure you have sufficient support people (not risking arrest) to accommodate how ever many people are getting arrested. The most important thing here is getting folks after they have been released. Especially for people who are getting arrested for the first time, the terrible part of the experience is not over until there is a friendly known face checking in with them after release.  This means some support people must be willing to stay until everyone is released, this could easily be 2 AM on Sunday.  [Here again I am assuming people want to ID and return for trial or pay the fine, refusing to ID can leave you in jail for days] assuming you have multiple vehicles in the city, a 3 arrestees to 1 support person is a good ratio. Several of the DC detention facilities are not near the metro, so getting people back can be slow or frustrating, every arrestee should have a metro card (which works on the buses) with over $5 on it.

It is wise if support people have something nice to give people when they get out – candy or some other appropriate treat.  Getting arrested for the first time often changes peoples lives, in slightly unpredictable ways. Some will never do it again. Some will realize it is their calling. Nearly universally it will result in detainees disliking and not trusting the police more.

Support people need to realize there is an important emotional part of their job. Even short stints in jail can mess people up. Mass actions arrests usually do not have you in solitary- so you might end up in gender segregated general population. If gender is unsure to the police, they will generally use the gender listed on your ID to determine where you are detained.  Police will not respect your selected pronouns.

It is important to remember that these are very popular actions. This means if you don’t bring a phone – every other person in DC will lend you theirs if you say “Hey I just got arrested defending abortion rights and I was hoping to borrow your phone to call my support people to tell them I have been released”.

As an organizer people are going to want to know that you are going to take care of them in their on going legal hassles. This means getting rides back to DC for court stuff (typically two trips) and labor credits for that work. Here I would assume you will be able to accommodate folks, we have in the past.

And while getting arrested is a fine, desirable and noble thing. People should take the decision seriously and not be shamed in anyway if they chose not to do it and attend the protest or do support work instead. Especially people in fragile or compromised mental health circumstances or who are likely to be traumatized by physical boundaries being disrespected by the police should consider support roles instead of arrests.  There will be many more options for getting arrested in the future – this is a long haul campaign.

If you are getting arrested for the first time for a protest, try to stick near someone you know and like who is also getting arrested – for the same crimes as you. Generally this will mean you have company and someone to talk with.  This does not always work, you can be separated for all kinds of reasons.

People need to be ready for police to completely change their behavior on short notice. They can be friendly and accommodating one minute and the next they can be pushing you around or using unnecessary force for no apparent reason. The police are not your friends in this situation- even if they mostly have been in your life before.  That said, DC police are better than most in dealing with NV protesters, because they have so much experience. 

A note from Angie:

Two big things- first, whenever possible (especially if you’re working
with low bail amounts), it’s better to post cash bail than to use a
bail bondsman. Bail bonds usually cost 10% of the bail cost, and you
do not get that back- even if you’re found not guilty, even if the
charges are dropped, that money is a set cost that the bail bondsman
receives. OTOH, cash bail is also a risk, especially if someone other
than the arrestee is paying- if the person doesn’t show up to court
dates then the bail may be forfeited. Think about who is paying the
bail ahead of time, have a plan for how you’ll deal with $50 bail vs
$500 bail vs $5,000 bail. And obviously, a 10 person bail of $50 is a
different burden than a 2 person bail of $500.

Second- there may be other, more violent protests going on in and
around DC this week. That kind of thing can impact how smoothly (or
not) your nonviolent arrest action goes. Cops are people, they get
tired and worn out and stressed (1312 tho, don’t get me wrong). If DC
cops are dealing with violent protestors on Wednesday, Thursday, and
Friday, the might be harsher on nonviolent protestors on Saturday.
The big one I’m watching is the trucker convoy, now called the “1776
Restoration Movement”. they have been in DC on the national mall since
the morning of the 6th, are violent, some are registered sex offenders
(including one who pleaded guilty to child molestation of a kid under
14),  and they’re all facist religious bigots. A few have been
arrested. The situation is fluid and changing fast.

A few of the 1776RMers know about the Saturday action, some many
attend, most are instigators and shit stirrers. If the action is near
the mall then it’s a major concern, if not it’s probably not as big a
deal. If you want more info let me know.

Best of luck with your action, and if I can help or support let me know!

Angie