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The importance of the Right Allies – Serenity Community

When the nation was exploding in protests over the murder of George Floyd, some skeptics, perhaps tired of the nations inability to hold Trump for any of his many crimes, said “these protests won’t change anything”.  They were wrong.

Viewers of mainstream news could be forgiven for thinking the big effects were removal of confederate statues and the confederate symbol from the flag of Mississippi and NASCAR races.  And i fear the biggest effect of the Trump presidency is that many news sources now focus more on telling us what we will get upset about, rather than what is actually important.  

The Floyd uprising changed policing in America.

However this short list misses most critical reforms and changes, many of which took place shortly after Floyd was murdered.  Some terrible laws were cancelled, including A 50 in New York which protected criminal bad cops by hiding their disciplinary records and complaints filed against them.  Colorado stripped cops of qualified immunity. LA cut over $150 million from the police budget and redirected it to other community servicesOver a dozen police chiefs were forced to resign, including in large cities like Atlanta, Tucson, Richmond and Louisville.  Police chiefs almost never resign suddenly or are fired.  Letitia James, the Attorney General of NY State made history by being the first AG to sue their own police department for use of excessive force.  At one point, i started to track all the things which had actually changed because of this uprising, it ended up being overwhelming by it and i quit.

Serenity Community – circa summer 2021

The communes also changed.  There were disruptive internal protests at these intentional communities about systemic racism and there was a lot of education of white communards about how despite their best intentions they were maintaining racist systems.  And in part because of these internal  protests POC members of communes started more seriously considering options which had only been discussed before.  Importantly, a number of BIPOC community members realized there was a need for a  BIPOC led income sharing community near the cluster of communes in Louisa county.  And so Serenity Community was born.  

OG Serenity

While Serenity (taken for the name for the starship in the Firefly TV series) is still forming, it is already making good things happen.  One of the things we are especially excited about is that Serenity has taken on the difficult task of dispersing scholarship (discount) tickets for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks who need economic assistance to come to QuinkFair.  Recently, has also agreed to take on the granting of scholarship tickets to other economically disadvantaged participants.  

And while they have been actively dispersing scholarship tickets, there are still more people who want to come to this event than can afford it. If you could help grow these scholarship funds it would be quite helpful.  If you are on Facebook, you can donate at this fundraiser or you can venmo 541-505-0803, be sure to include a note “QuinkFair Scholarships”

George Floyds death forced America to admit it had a systemic racism problem and while these important changes are to be lauded, we know the real work lies in front of us, but i am glad and excited to have the talented and energetic Serenity folks help in crafting a more fair and equitable world.

Quink Books – Open your mind

Good festivals build on people’s excitement, this is why so many events are designed around performers and their personalities.  But there are lots of other excitements which are available. 

 As we have been talking about quinks more, people keep asking for examples – and especially what are common quinks?  Things that don’t require the heroics of breaking a toxic relationship or the mastery of enlightenment.  

Wolf (on left) coordinates fire and flow arts for QuinkFair

Wolf suggested Quink books.  Almost everyone has read a book that has changed their life in a way which they look back on positively now.  These books hold a power and story for you and as organizers we want to bring that to our event.

On Friday Oct 1st at dinner we will have the participants of QuinkFair bring copies of their favorite books to dinner with the intention of discussing them, why they changed their lives and seeing if that is a message someone else in the group needs to hear.  

We ask that people consider bringing a copy to give away.  [If that’s not doable (financial challenges, difficulty finding a copy, etc) then you could also print the title and author on one side of a 3×5 index card and write why it was so important to you on the other side.  We’ll take photos of these cards and share them on the QuinkFair blog, as well as on Facebook.  ]

These are the three clear quink books for me and a sentence about what i took away from them:

The Dispossessed

That anarchist societies don’t make problems go away, they just shift how they are discussed and decided.

Be the revolution

Woman at the edge of time 

Was a compelling smack in the head about how my blindness to gender and racial inequity did not exempt me from at least learning about them and hopefully doing something about them.

The Fifth Sacred Thing

This book taught me that a good author can have me crying by page 4.  It showed exhausted heroes who looked a lot like people i loved.  And it showed our type of consensus decision making in impossible situations sparking effective non-violent resistance.

One of the most often used images to depict utopia comes from this book

What are the books that changed your life and why?  Can you provide copies for others to learn the things you did and perhaps other important lessons?

QuinkFair is a transformation celebration borrowing from several festival cultures and striving to spark positive and healing experiences.  It takes place on beautiful private land in rural Virginia in the town of Mineral on Oct 1 thru 4.  Tickets are still available

bring the books that sparked a quink thought

For some event participants this has been a lovely exercise, they get to go to their favorite used book store, shop for the books which help them become who they are and then bring them to the event and press them into the hands of someone who you hope has a similar strong resonance with the book.

A Festival with Homework

This is an ambitious event. We are striving to create a temporary community celebration where we positively change the lives of participants.  This experience strives to strike the delicate balance between joyous celebration and transformative self reflection.  We want you to have a crazy good time, and we also want you to walk away from the event a wiser, wilder, and more inspired person.  

To this end we are trying some unusual things: this festival has homework you need to complete before arriving. We are asking everyone to bring a very specific type of memory.  A rememberance where you made a choice and things in your life improved. It could be a little thing, standing up for yourself or taking a small risk. It could be a large thing, like breaking an addiction, falling in love or reaching a spiritual enlightenment. Reflecting back on the lock downs, how are you different in an improved way and how did that happen?  This memory will be the core of a story we want you to tell.

Homework for a festival?

What the talented storytellers explain is that the way you improve your story is to often retell it.  And this is also the way you understand your own story.  But we are often discouraged from telling these types of stories culturally because they are immodest.  Yet especially in these extraordinary times, modesty is dangerous and we need to honor and herald these heroic choices.

What event is this?  QuinkFair is an event on October 1,2, 3 and 4.  It is located in Mineral Virginia to be close to the communes of Louisa county.  A festival inspired by many other events and cultures including the rainbow gathering, burning man, and the intentional communities conferences.

The story we are asking you to develop is about a quink from your life, a quink is roughly defined as the opposite of trauma, where after some identifiable event your life improves or you experience a healing.  When people share these positive stories we observe two important things happen.  The first is that you think more about these experiences and pay attention to how they might happen in your future life and how you might best ride them.  And secondly, these are intimate stories of (in part) how you became who you are and this vulnerability brings intimacy with the group.  

Beyond crafting a story, we are asking folks to consider presenting about their quink experiences so others might learn from their paths.  Examples bondage class, group building with challenge course material, or try your hand with divination at the Temple of Oracles.  We discourage the term audience in favor of participant and co-creator or maker.

We borrow from other festival cultures and are strongly committed to both a high consent culture and a decommodified one.  Consent culture means we have a shared respect for bodily autonomy and feel safe.  For example, one of our the consent examples on the QuinkFair website suggests to “Ask open ended questions- for example, avoid saying “It’s okay if I hug you, right?”  Instead try saying “I’d like to hug you, how would you feel about that?”

Decommodified cultures don’t use vendors internally: no vendors, no service fee,  no barter, no corporate sponsors, no money based markets, and nothing for sale.  

Can we guarantee you will have a quink at this event?  Certainly not, but we do have both clever guides and powerful tools to help you find at least where you might look for your future quinks.  We also have intentional communities and especially (income sharing) communes coming to present themselves, so perhaps your Quink will be leaving your straight job and moving to a commune in the country?

Tickets are on sale here

See who is going from Facebook

Lots more info about this event at www.quink.org

We have a strict “vax or test” covid policy, please understand it before you buy tickets.

QuinkFair origins and inspiring festivals.

July is Smoking Spreadsheets

As regular readers know i name my months.  It is a practice i started when i was in the Czech Republic because the English translations of the Czech month names are so interesting and different from our month name origins.  

I am calling the July 2021 “smoking spreadsheet” which is a reference to the second set of books which were discovered and implicated Alan Weiselberg, the Trump organizations top money man.  [Two pieces of clarifying information about this name.  In fraud cases, a second set of books (which in Trump Organization’s case were stored in the form of a spreadsheet) designed to conceal compensation is basically a confession. And “smoking gun” refers to incontrovertible and clinching evidence of a crime.  Thus we have smoking spreadsheets.]

When i was younger, at the end of Trump’s term, i drafted a blog post of all Trump’s legal problems, because he was starting to get off on charges and i had not seen anyone keeping track of all the different cases against him.  The project was overwhelming.  It will likely never be published as a blog post, but you can read the draft here.

But this smoking spreadsheet is especially damning, because of the shoes that have not yet dropped.  One big shoe is Ivanka.  Ivanka was paid both as an employee of the Trump Organization and as a consultant to the same organization, this is not done and she did not properly pay taxes on these significant compensations.  The NYT has already reported on this, but Cy Vance Jr is not leading with this, because it would be much easier and less explosive to start with an unknown faceless technocrat instead of the darling daughter of a controversial high profile president.  But just like the illegal smoking spreadsheet has a tab implicating Weisleberg/CFO, it also has a tab confessing for each of the kids.

Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr has not said anything about Ivanka, but he is also meticulously building his case against Trump, trying to go for all the bigger fishes.  It seems extremely unlikely that the only person guilty of criminal conduct inside of Trump Org was Weiselberg, and thus the mostly unreleased smoking spreadsheets almost certainly will implicate other people, especially Trump’s kids.

Donald Trump (C) delivers remarks with his children (L-R) Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump during the grand opening ceremony of the new Trump International Hotel October 26, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Who will be loyal?

The Dark Side of Communes

I have 10 minutes today to present on how communes can help us move away from money centric economies. I love this topic and have quite a bit to say about it. So much to say, that it does not all fit into the time i have.

I think recruiters have an obligation to talk about the shadow sides of the things they are promoting. Here is the slide i did not have time for on the disadvantages of commune life in general.

  • Press your buttons
  • Sharing work, home, and money with a large group can be intense
  • Less autonomy (health care, kid care, snap long distance trips)
  • Less Privacy
  • Romantic breakups can be harder
  • Insular – reduced access to urban culture
  • Small social circle
  • Dramatically reduced chance of getting rich
  • Maybe shunned by family and old friends
  • No 401k (although there is phased community retirement)

Most of these points are self expanitory but i want to elaborare on the first one. Joining a commune is going to push your buttons. If you know what your buttons are, then you are signing up for a personal growth class by joining.  You will be confronted with this and have to grow, or suffer.  But the second possibility is that you do not actually know what your buttons are, and then coming to the commune can be a difficult and disorienting wake up call.  You could find out that you are crazy jealous and the partner of your dreams is polyamorous.  You could find out that you need much more alone time than you thought (because it had not been much of an issue before, because it happened “naturally”) and you need to adjust your schedule accordingly.  Maybe you like to make your own choices about which brand of shampoo or kind of desert you want, this could require some adjusting.

There are lots of advantages to living in a commune, but contrary to other peoples reporting, we have no illusions that this is utopia.

It maybe better than how you are currently living, but it ain’t no utopia.

My complete slideshow on Decentering Money

Poor Comparisons

I often find people comparing Hitler to Trump and i find it quite problematic.  It displays an ignorance of history that US Americans are famous for and it elevates Trump’s impact in a way which feels problematically inaccurate.  So let’s just dive in:

Genocide:  Hitler is responsible for killing millions of Jews, Romani, disabled folks, and other ethnic and religious minorities.  Beyond those murders, millions were tortured, enslaved, and raped.  Trump banned people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, tried (with varying levels of success) to build a souther border wall, and called Mexicans rapists.  Trump sent unmarked Federal Troops after BLM and antifa activists there were a handful of fatalities.  

Press: Hitler’s Ministry of Propaganda closed 3/4s of the nations newspapers and all we under strict editorial control, Nazi controlled press dominated almost all media.  Trump referred to the mainstream media as “fake news” but was unable to bar reporters he did not like from the White House press corps.  He can take credit for the birth of terrible news sources like Newsmax and One America Network, it is unclear if these will survive the lawsuits which have been brought against them by voting machine companies. 

Military expansion: Hitler drove the growth military to over 30% of the total population (over 22 million people), as well as indoctrinating children through the paramilitary organization known as Hitler youth.  Trump’s military growth was flat compared to GDP and never reached Obama’s highest spending levels.  Trump created the Space Force division of the military, which will likely just get folded back into the Air Force where it mostly came from.  The US active military is less than 1% of the population (about 2 million people).

Homophobia:  Hitler’s Nazis put 100,000 LGBT folks into concentration camps, destroyed scholarly work on sexuality and banned gay organizations and burned progressive sexual institutions.  Trump banned new transgender soldiers joining the military, and appointed anti marriage equality supreme court justices.  Biden reversed the transgender ban on his first day as president.  Trump’s supreme court is his most lasting legacy.  

Dictatorship:  Hilter’s party took complete control of the government, all other political parties were disbanded and outlawed.  The Nazi’s ruthlessly killed hundreds of political opposition within Germany.  Trump lost the House, the Senate and the White House and was unable to get a single one of his appointed judges to rule in his favor.  Trump’s supporters’ assault on the Capitol was uncoordinated, fanciful, ill conceived, and destined to failure.  Hitler burned their Capitol and pinned it on the communists and used that to seize power.   Trump got crowds to chant “lock her up”, Hitler did it.

Fascism:  Hitler seized control of the entire industrial infrastructure of Germany, this is what fascism used to mean.  Trump claimed to be a businessman and capitalist.  He moved resources away from the government and towards corporations and established wealth.  Hitler built a ruthless, dedicated and effective secret police network.  Trump diminished the power of his intelligence services by regularly replacing their heads and firing generals he did not like.

Military Action:  Hitler invaded 20 countries.  Trump bombed Syria and assassinated an Iranian General.  Trump withdrew the US from support of the Kurds in Syria and started the withdrawal from Afghanistan.  Trump supported proxy wars in Yemen and Palestine.  

Death:  Google sez: “Some 75 million people died in World War II, including about 20 million military personnel and 40 million civilians, many of whom died because of deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease, and starvation.” Without Hitler as the charismatic leader of the Nazi party, that probably would not have happened.  Trump can take significant responsibility for spikes in mass shootings and racist police killings and assaults, the murders and suicides associated with Jan 6th failed insurrection, unnecessary starvation and abuse on the southern border..

As terrible as Trump was, Hitler was a whole different class of monster. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is world-war-2-deaths-to-a-country-population-percentage.png

Minimizing the impact of Hitler by comparing it to Trump’s antics is something someone from the US is more likely to do than someone from Europe or Asia.

What is important and similar in these men is that they both succeeded in driving a significant fraction of their population into doing destructive, damaging things, which are not in their best interests.  He held rallies which, visually and content-wise, bear some similarities to rallies in Nazi Germany.  QAnon has not gone away, the Proud Boys are seeing a spike in recruitment.  Nor is the 2020 election defeat of Trump anything like the 1945 demise of Hitler, this threat is active and must be addressed.

Like Hitler til the end, Trump has not significantly been held responsible for his failures and crimes.  Recent raids on Giuliani will put tremendous pressure on him to flip on the former president. Trump may yet face the music.

Edit help from Angie Tupelo

Madness is not a Unifying Strategy

[A shorter version of this blog post first appeared on the Flip 2020 website]

The administration, which continues to assert that Mexico will pay for the border wall, may be finding the limitations of madness as a political strategy. 

Trump spoke to a good-sized crowd at a tiny airport in Georgia near the Florida border.  The purpose of the rally was to support the two Republican senators running to save their seats in the January 5th run-off election.  

Valdosta, GA airport with an estimated 10K person crowd

Trump spent much of his speech complaining about how the election had been stolen from him and how Gov Kemp had refused to overturn the election in Georgia for him. He played OANN tapes of detailed “vote stealing” activities in various states including Georgia.   He notably did not condemn the Republican operatives who were encouraging people not to vote in the runoff, calling them “his friends.”

Trump spoke for almost 2 hours.  He let the candidate speak for 2 minutes, while they were on the stage together, during which the crowd shouted “Fight for Trump” in the same cadence as their previous favorite “Lock her up.” The fans message is clear, take Georgia’s electoral votes for Trump, or suffer the consequences.

“You know, you’re angry because so many votes were stolen. It was taken away. And you say, ‘Well, we’re not going to do it.’ We can’t do that. We have to actually do just the opposite,” Trump said. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines Orwells term Doublethink as “the acceptance of or mental capacity to accept contrary opinions or beliefs at the same time, especially as a result of political indoctrination.”

If you attended this rally, you left with two messages.  The senators are not doing enough for Trump.  These senators deserve your vote.

Some Trump followers who believe these claims of massive voter fraud are advocating for boycotting the Georgia Senate runoffs.   Because this race is within just a couple of points – without Trump actively unifying his base, even a tiny boycott could sink the GOPs chances to hold either seat.

This is a photo of the Sidney Powell and Lin Wood “Stop the Steal” rally in Georgia where Republican participants were encouraged to boycott the upcoming runoff elections, unless they overturn the states electoral votes going to Biden.  Here the message from Trump’s friends is unequivocal “Don’t vote” and from the size of the crowd, if I were a GOP operative working in Georgia I would be worried.  And in case you have not seen the clips you should know this was an enthusiastic crowd.

This rally creates an impossible situation for Loeffler and Perdue.  If they demand the election results be overturned they spark a civil war inside the party where “conventional” Republicans like the Secretary of State Raphenperger and Gabriel Sterling (who famously demanded Trump to control the threats of his supporters) are disenfranchised.  Or they stop short of these demands and the enraged Trump supporters follow the advice of Wood and Powell and boycott the election because they have not earned their vote.  Either way, because of the razor tight margins the way incumbents are likely to lose.  Trump held this rally not to support these candidates, but to threaten them to do more for him or risk losing his full support.  For in the end this narcissist in chief cares only about his own king making capacity and not about who controls the Senate or anything else.

————————————-

The Flip Georgia project is the legitimate daughter of the Flip 2020 project which operated in Maine through the general election. Out of state activists, organizers and street performers are working with locals groups to register voters, canvass door to door and raise voter awareness of the critical runoff election on Jan 5th.

We still need financial assistance to do this timely work. Please support us as you can.

Georgia Air Team

You have likely seen people from across the country asking on social media what they can do to help the Georgia senate runoff elections.  The most frequent answer is “Phone Bank and Donate!”

The Flip 2020 project is dedicated to a more varied (and we believe more effective) set of responses to this question.  Specifically, we want you to join our Air Team.

The Air Team is currently supporting the clerical work, outreach, and analysis of the Georgia race.  

We need support with voter registration efforts, especially of high school and college students- One current push is to reach eligible student voters. We have created two graphics- one to reach people who will be turning 18 before election day, and one to reach Georgia college students who may still be registered out of state but live in Georgia and can change their voter registration to GA. Both groups must be reached before the fast-approaching registration deadline of Dec. 7th! 

Which schools will be in session in person after the Thanksgiving break? If they are not coming back, then putting up a physical poster is useless and then the question shifts to “which student group will distribute this to their members by email or social media?”  Who from those groups will help us?  There is research of social media trying to find influencers who might help promote these messages.

Much of the outreach for this is remote, and you could help in many ways including  finding contact info for high school administrators in dem-friendly towns and counties, finding contact info for aligned college groups like the Sunrise Movement, or writing op-eds for local Georgia newspapers. Check out our full list of possible air game tasks on our website at Flip2020.org/Georgia-Air-Game.

Air Team folks would also write back to locals who are writing us with questions and requests for posters.  This is the help we need today.

We need help navigating the social media landscape.  Are you a Tik Tokker or social media guru?  How do we build teams of people with similar interests on these giant facebook groups? How do we promote our art resources page on Facebook?  Are there outdoor venues where we can covid-compliantly reach out to people, public events or public spaces? Do you know how to do research on who is accessible as an influencer on a social media platform?

We are also keeping track of canvasses which are opening up in Georgia.  After several initial messages discouraging folks from out of state to come to Georgia, now both Democratic candidates and the voter registration and counter suppression group Fair Fight have decided that they want out of state folks to at least do a door to door canvass in Georgia.  

This is just the beginning of the things that an Air Team can do, as well as translating posters and other materials into Chinese, Vietnamese, and other languages (we have Spanish, Korean, and Japanese already).  If you want to help us flip the Senate here in Georgia and need to stay in your home state, send a message to flip2020project@gmail.com, leave a comment below, or through our website’s Contact Us form

An Action Everyday

This blog post originally appeared on the Flip 2020 website

We have been in Maine for just three days and we have done a different type of action each day.  The plan has always been to do at least one action a day, plus social media, networking to local groups, and fundraising to make the whole project work.   And after months of planning, it was very satisfying for this plan to actually be working.

After getting negative results on our covid tests, the starting Flip 2020 team moved from Vermont to Maine on Friday, Sept 18, 2020.   We had found out about a Black Lives Matter march and rally in Ellsworth, which is a town of just 8,000 people.  We did not expect much of a crowd in this small town in a state which is 95% white.  We were wrong.

Over 100 people showed up to an action which was principally organized by two talented high school seniors. This spirited march and engaging rally shows that racial justice is not something to just talk about in Maine; people are taking it quite seriously, which is great news in our efforts to flip the Senate away from the Republicans.  

The nature of the Flip 2020 project is that we are always looking for how we can add our content to events that other people have organized.  In this case we simply asked the young organizers if Tew could speak to the crowd, to which they quickly agreed with the following results:

I had never seen Tew speak in public before, and I was nervous as he jumped up the small hill to address the almost all white crowd.  Within seconds my emotions shifted.  He was personable, he was raw and authentic, he talked briefly but forcefully about his experience being a black man in Donald Trump’s America.  But he did not let the crowd down. He ended up beat about the hope that these types of actions gave him for really the first time in his life and called on the assembled group to realize that this was the very beginning of the tide turning in this troubled country.

After the action we went to dinner with the organizers.  We learned that weekly rallies, (and starting this week marches), have been happening in this small town since the execution by police of George Floyd on Memorial Day.  We heard stories of their harassment by pro-Trump hecklers and of their plans to do more, despite the opposition.

Saturday is the big Farmers Market day in Maine and on Sept 19 we worked tabling with the Lisa Savage campaign in Cumberland, Maine (in the Portland area).  This was where we learned first hand about how friendly and reasonable Maine is.  Typically, when you hang out in the parking lot of a farmers market doing political work you spend the day hearing different excuses as to why people can’t possibly talk with you.  Cumberland was not this way at all.  Generally, people were happy to take our small fliers.

Lisa for Maine Leaflet

A surprising number of people stopped and engaged with us, often for long conversations.  We had several conversations in which we felt like we really landed and people said they were changing their voting strategy because of our conversation.  Maine has a slightly complex, but extremely fair ranked-choice voting system, which is the subject of an upcoming blog post.  In essence, ranked choice voting prevents the type of third party spoiler situation which so often plagues independent party runs for office.

We got to work with Kelly, who is the field director for the Savage campaign.  If you are ever going to run for office, you need someone very much like Kelly.   Campaigns have a tremendous number of moving parts, including a slew of hard-working volunteers with a wide variety of skills, preferences, and availability staff need to take into account.  Kelly’s spreadsheets have spreadsheets and her upbeat personality and quick wit make her the perfect person to model how to approach people at a Farmers Market.  Kelly plans to move to Washington after the November election and continue to work for Senator Savage.

Charles changing minds in Cumberland, Maine

On the way back from the Ellsworth rally on Friday we learned of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing.  It was a body blow to all of us in the car, who had just come off a very hopeful action.  Everyone understood that the already high stakes of this election had just gone up again.

This informed our actions on Sunday morning.  When our team met we discussed how we were going to show up at the vigil planned for downtown Portland that night.  Facebook said 400 people had RSVPed to this event, which would make it one of the largest crowds we were likely to see in our time here.  

But vigils are tricky in terms of doing political work.  You need to be very careful to not run over the spirit of what is happening.  You don’t want the event organizers or the participants feeling like you are disrespecting what they came there for.  We went through lots of different ideas:  should we create an event after the vigil, do a piece of street theater, order a bunch of pizzas and try to strike a conversation with participants as they left?  In the end we decided all of this was too intrusive and went with a more subtle approach.

We would hand out a postcard, something commemorative of the great justice’s passing.  We ultimately decided we would do an original piece of artwork depicting RBG on one side and a description of our group and Ranked Choice Voting on the other. We did not have that much time and we had a bunch of things to do, so we split up our task.  Spencer would do the original artwork, I would write the text for the back of the postcard.  Tew and Charles would scout the city of Portland, for where we could be in Monument Square to be effective but not intrusive.  We needed a banner that we could use not just at this event but at others as well. Tew and Charles considered a dozen options before converging on the one we chose.

Charles seizes control of the means of production

Cars went out, keyboards hummed and pens made quick work of what turned out to be a pretty impressive piece of original artwork, especially given that there was only 30 minutes to do it and basically no room for mistakes.  The Staples staff was surprised when Charles took over their offices to complete our banner, but as is our way, we were gone before anyone kicked up a fuss.

Spencer’s quick rendition of RBG

We made it to the rally and read the mood of the crowd.  Several speakers talked about how RBG would want us to follow her lead and fight tirelessly for democracy in the face of rising authoritarianism.  We started offering folks the small postcards. Some people were clearly bothered by anything being given out at a vigil, but because the artwork was respectful, compelling and timely, the vast majority of people we silently approached were happy to take this piece of memorabilia and Tew quipped we would be up on refrigerators throughout the Portland area.  In 40 minutes over 300 postcards had moved to the hands of happy recipients, including all of the event’s speakers.

Tew and Spencer on the long ride home

In the car home, we did our regular micro evaluation.  What worked, what didn’t and what we would do differently next time.  What worked was this group which barely knew each other, pulled together as a team, had folks with strengths doing what they were good at and we easily rejected dozens of bad ideas with no one’s ego being hurt for suggesting something we did not agree on.  What did not work, was that my text on the back of the postcard was a bit long and thus the font to get it printed was smaller than we would have liked.  What we would do differently next time would be to get to the event earlier and build more of a connection with the organizers.

But what was clear, was that after actions everyday for our first three days, we were on a serious roll. Tonight we’re off to prepare for another BLM action in Bucksport, another small settlement which is showing up in a big way for racial justice.  If you are looking for a ray of hope in these troubled times, it might just be in these surprisingly active tiny towns in the North of Maine.  

All Eyes on Georgia

Usually in tight presidential elections, the focus is on Florida.  More polls are taken there, more rallies are held there, more money is spent on advertisements there.  Rich with electoral votes and a highly split electorate, Florida can make or break the top race.  But Florida is shifting from purple to blue.  This is in part because the 2018 referendum added a Florida state constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to ex-felons.  This added 1.5 million people to the voter rolls, most of them Democratic.  [I was fortunate to be with a collection of communitarians in Tampa in 2018 working on this referendum.]

But 2020 is not a usual year, as you have no doubt noticed.  This year all eyes are going to be on Georgia, because it is quite likely to surprise most of the nation with an expensive senate race and may delay knowledge of which party controls the Senate until  2021.

georgia peanuts.jpg

They are going nuts in Georgia

If you are tracking the election closely, you know two of Biden’s top VP choices are from Georgia (more than any other state except California), Stacey Abrams and Keisha Bottoms.  If there were fairness in the world, it would go to Abrams, who was literally robbed of the Governorship of this state by Brian Kemp. Kemp as the Georgia secretary of state  purged the election roles of 670K voters, in 2017 mostly POC  and then won the election by 50K votes and became governor.  Abrams did not concede her “loss” and went on to start Fair Fight 2020 which works to stop voter suppression, just like this.

bottoms and abrams

Georgia Powerhouses could be Vice President- Abrams and Bottoms

But sadly, apparently the Biden campaign has not been returning Abrams calls.

If you are a deep election geek (as i am becoming these days) you know that there are actually two Senate seats available in Georgia in this upcoming election. One seat is up for a regularly-scheduled election, while the other is up for special election due to a resignation.  Thus the term of the Senator who fills this special election seat will only be 2 years long, but it might just determine which party controls the US Senate.

But what you likely have not heard is that the special Georgia election is really a “top two primary” which unless one of the candidates acquires over 50% of the votes (which is quite unlikely given the crowded field)  it will spark a 2 candidate runoff election in  January of 2021 which might hold control of the US Senate in the balance.

surreal clocks without hands

A trip to the political future

Let me tell you a story, based on probabilities and guessing.

It is the day after the election, Nov 4th 2020 and most of the election results are in.  Biden has won both the popular vote and the electoral college by a comforting 65 points beyond the 270 needed.  It is unclear whether Trump will respect the win and at this point he has not yet conceded.  Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Joni Ernst were all able to hold onto their incumbencies for the Republicans, by tight margins.  Political novice Tommy Tuberville forced out Democratic incumbent Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama to raise the bar for flipping the Senate to 4 seats.

The Democrats did well in Colorado and North Carolina wrestling seats from incumbents.  And former Montana Governor Steve Bullock took the Republican seat from Steve Daines.  Georgia repeated its primary fiasco  and incumbent David Purdue eeked out a 1% victory over Democrat Ossoff, in an election mired in too few polling stations and the deeply suspicious purging of the voting roles of over 100K voters, mostly in the Atlanta metro region and thus disproportionately POC voters.

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Savannah primaries 2020

And as it looks today (Nov 4th) the Democrats have picked up 3 Republican seat in the Senate, bringing the final tally to 49 Democratic Senators and 50 Republicans.  The 100th seat and the determination of which party controls the Senate is on the shoulders of the Georgia special election, which is actually a top two primary also known as a Nonpartican blanket Primary.  In this free for all fight, with candidates going after members of their own party as well as the opposing one, Rev Raphael Warnock lost to incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler by 2 points, despite Loefflers insider trading scandal.

But Loeffler’s narrow lead does not matter.  What matters is that Loeffler and Warnock were the top two vote getters and thus will runoff against each other on January 5th 2021, which is two days after the new Senate is scheduled to be sworn in.

Warnock and Loeffler Georgia Special Election.jpg

Challenger Rev Warnock versus unelected incumbent Loeffler

In this likely fantasy, the result of this critical tie breaking race will not be known for 2 months. after the general election  These two candidates, who most people have never heard (incumbent Loeffler was appointed just 5 months ago to finish the incomplete term of Johnny Isakson), will become the center of attention in a race which determines if Mitch McConnell can maintain legislative gridlock for two more years.

gridlock wall break

I am happy to be working on the Flip 2020 Campaign which is organizing covid compliant canvasses, that might even go to Georgia.  If you want to get involved, leave a comment below or email the Flip 2020 project.