Category Archives: Activism

What it Takes to Build Movements

I find it interesting to hear the sentiment that one person built or builds a movement.  I see it differently.

Throughout history there have been movements for numerous causes.  They have usually grown out of the concepts, ideas and inspiration of a collection of individuals or one individual who dedicated their lives/life to ending injustice. The ideas blossom into inspiration which in turn creates a domino effect of various forms of the ideas into movements. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between movements and organizations, so we have to dig a little deeper to discover the inspiration behind the creation of the organization.

Here are a some examples of movements that have grown out of concepts, ideas and inspiration, with links provided to read more details.

Food Not Bombs

Food Not Bombs was born out of the concept  of feeding people, not war. FNB started after the May 24, 1980 protest to stop the Seabrook Nuclear power station north of Boston in New Hampshire in the United States. The people that started Food Not Bombs shared their first full meal outside the Federal Reserve Bank on March 26, 1981 during the stock holders meeting of the Bank of Boston to protest the exploitation of capitalism and investment in the nuclear industry.” Today there are Food Not Bombs groups all over the world.

Boycott Movements

Boycotting, Divesting and Sanctions are concepts that have long histories in a variety of forms,such as Fossil Fuel Divestment, the British Anti-Apartheid Movement / InternalResistance to Apartheid .  The original “Boycott Movement” was founded in London in 1959 at a meeting of South African exiles and their supporters. Members included Peter Koinange, Claudia Jones, Steve Naidoo and Ros Ainslie. The Boycott/Divestment/Sanction (BDS) movement was organized in 2005 by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

Green New Deal

Green New Deal is a concept that was given prominence by journalist Thomas L. Friedman. Green New Deal has taken on a variety of platforms by numerous groups and individuals, inlcuding Van Jones, Jill Stein, Colin Hines (Green New Deal Group),The Green Party of the United States and The European Green Party.

Non-Violence

Mahatma Ghandi is credited for the inspiration that ended the colonial occupation of India. He gained notoriety due to his British education and ability to articulate to the issue of non-compliance with the demands of the colonizers.  His vision and bravery inspired a movement of actions by the people that ultimately resulted the end of British rule. His influence is the catalyst for many peace and justice organizations today.

Civil Rights

Civil Rights Movements are numerous throughout history. An example is the Civil Rights Movement for African-Americans in the United States in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is largely credited for leading the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968. His visibility and outspokenness influenced and resulted in a mass movement of non-violent direct action by millions. Dr. King’s vision is carried on by numerous organizations and individuals promoting the concept of non-violence in activism.

Dr. King also organized the Poor People’s Campaign  which is an economic justice and  human rights campaign for poor Americans of diverse backgrounds, spurring a movement that has grown and continues today.

The list is endless. There is the Occupy Movement , Black Lives Matter, Human Rights Movement, Animal Rights Movement,  Victory Gardens, etc. Again these are just a few examples, for the purposes of invoking thoughts on what it takes to “build a movement”.   Not one person for sure.

An example in my own life is an annual event that I help organize, inspired by a similar event in another part of the county – our Annual Community Coat Exchange – the day after Thanksgiving, which (strategically) is also Buy Nothing Day (another movement that inspired the Coat Exchange nationwide). We have been doing this each year for 13 years.  If we all do our part – our small part – in the larger scheme of things, we are inspiring ever increasing social justice movements globally. It takes many people to build and idea into a movement.

What are you doing these days in your part of movement-building?

Aging: A Continuum of Growth, Part 1

My growing up culture involved living and working around the elderly. My grandmother, a nurse, administrated a county nursing home for the low income elderly and before that she administrated a home for the indigent aged. I have beautiful memories of accompanying her on her rounds and I loved conversing with the residents. Through my grandmother’s actions I learned to appreciate the stories, passion and general companionship of my aged friends. Most of all I learned respect for people of all ages. My mother, also a nurse, upheld and modeled this culture as I grew up. I actually ended up working my way through college as a nurse’s assistant in a nursing home. Even for the most non-functional bed-ridden patients, I would treat them with respect as I cared for them, including talking to them even if they could not talk back. I would often volunteer to work holidays in double shifts so that my colleagues with children could have some time off – and I loved the work and being with the residents during those holidays when their families did not show up to visit.
In my first 20 years of life, I experienced life, love, compassion, energy, illness, dementia and death. Most of all I experienced the model of intergenerational relations that influenced my continued growth.

Fast forward to my adulthood where I have spent all of my career working with youth, the other end of the spectrum. Through my experiences, I have learned to love and respect the energy, passion, love, creativeness, inquisitiveness and yes the rebellion – along with the challenges they face – of my students (many of them are grown up now and have children – in some cases adult children!). I have loved teaching them, providing housing and food for some of them who were abandoned, playing with them, getting to know their families, helping them apply for college and find jobs and becoming their friends as adults and watching them continue to grow.

Early in my activism life, I came to know and respect Indigenous Elders. Within the community of my Indigenous friends, I have experienced a wealth of knowledge and passion for the life that is given to us from our Mother. I have witnessed the culture of appreciation, community and respect between the generations.

I am blessed. I have a rich repertoire of memories and experiences that span the age spectrum that continue to shape me as a person. As I grow into elder-hood, I appreciate the lenses I have been afforded through my experiences. One of the most important things I have learned, and have vastly improved upon but still struggle with sometimes in moments of my own heated emotions, is the art of listening, even when I don’t agree. And not just to listen, but to sit back and reflect on what I have heard. Often It is not easy to do this.

My hopes and desires regarding the figurative passing of the torch is that we all – of all ages – work together and harness the collective love, passion, energy, wisdom, caring, ideas and fortitude to continue the work to protect life on our planet.

Ch..ch…changes

I like to think of myself and my family as responsible shoppers and users of products.  After all, we make our own laundry and bath soap.  We grow a lot of our own food.  We shop at thrift stores.  We hang our clothes out to dry on the line in warm weather instead of using the dryer.  We do not drive to work. We recently invested on solar panels. We do not use pesticides or herbicides in our yard. We do not shop at Walmart and seek to patronize locally owned businesses. The list goes on.

But it’s not enough. Still, changes need to be made.

I have been an online customer of Amazon since 2003.  That’s 15 years of online shopping.  From the convenience of my home I have ordered books (I love my Kindle), gifts, household and personal items at great prices and with Prime membership I’ve save a lot on shipping costs.  If I need to return something I have been very satisfied with the easy process of doing that.  This way of shopping has suited my schedule as I can shop at any time of the day without driving.   A win-win.

Or is it?

Over the last few years I have become increasingly aware of some things about Amazon that have created a bad taste in my mouth.  I learned about a year ago that Amazon will build a facility in Salt Lake City.  What an economic advantage!  More jobs, right?  Right, except…..the jobs are 30 hours a week at 10 dollars an hour.  Sound familiar?  What other huge corporation does this?

I have also learned the Amazon recently bought Whole Foods.  I have read that Amazon is quickly becoming an equal competitor of Walmart in the acquisition of grocery stores and other companies.  Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, is the richest person on the planet, with a worth of $100 Billion. Recent predictions are that there will be around 500,000 employees by the end of the year.  If you take just half of the wealth of Bezos and divide it between 500,000 employees (future number predicted), that comes to roughly 100,000 dollars in wealth per employee in wealth. Imagine if Bezos gave that half of his wealth to his employees….

An August 2017 article in USA today describes the job growth that Amazon is creating.  But….

The breakneck growth of Amazon is “upending” the retail industry, which accounts for one out of every eight jobs in the USA, says Stacy Mitchell, co-author of a recent report that concluded Amazon eliminated about 149,000 more jobs in retail than it has created in its warehouses.

“Amazon pays its warehouse employees 15% less on average than the prevailing wage of other warehouse workers in the same region, and it is experimenting widely with ways, such as temporary and on-demand employment, to erode job security,” Mitchell says.

The article also describes the troubled history Amazon has with the labor force, resulting in labor disputes.

Amazon is also creating its own shipping business, which will have a significant negative impact on the US Postal Service, which has been a contracted delivery service for Amazon.

The increasing information that is exposed about Amazon’s continued expansion in taking over the retail world at the expense of human beings and their ability to support themselves has resulted in my decision that I will not longer support Amazon beginning NOW (actually a few days ago….). So, I have made a personal significant change for 2018 and hopefully forever in my shopping habits.

I have unsubscribed from my Prime membership. I have deleted my payment method.   I have made sure that all my ebooks (most which I got for free) for my Kindle have been downloaded to multiple devices, including on the hard drives on two computers. I will no longer purchase anything from Amazon. I will be deleting my account once I am sure there are no lingering things that need to be resolved.

I have been investigating and have found socially responsible book stores that have ebooks available for my devices, including open source and activist bookstores.

While I still have work to do to change some of my habits overall that affect the planet, I feel good about no longer patronizing a retail giant that has no interest in the planet or all its life.

Goodbye Amazon. 

 

 

Bea Gaddy and My Wish

Bea Gaddy doesn’t have anything to do directly with our Community Coat Exchange.  Bea Gaddy has everything to do with inspiring me to serve our community.

As a younger woman growing up in Frederick County, Maryland – about 50 miles west of Baltimore, I would watch with intrigue each Thanksgiving as the local news would air the piece about the huge Thanksgiving Feast organized by this amazing woman – Bea Gaddy. ( I have linked to her story and other sites below.)

Each year I would continue to be inspired by the stories published about Bea Gaddy and her efforts.  I would think to myself “I want to be like her when I grow up.”

I learned in 2005 about a community event in Rhode Island held every year the day after Thanksgiving – the Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange.  Inspired by it, I organized Utah’s Annual Community Coat Exchange held each year the same day, the day after Thanksgiving.  Each year of its existence I see that our Utah event is growing by leaps and bounds.  It is amazing to me the outpouring of support by people from all over for this effort.

And now Coat Exchange events are held coast to coast – with events in Kentucky and Oregon, in addition to the Rhode Island and Utah events.

As I have been reflecting on this event,  I have come to realize, on a small scale and relevant to my world, that my wish has come true, thanks to everyone in my life who has influenced me – my amazing and wonderful husband, my parents, my grandmother, my siblings, my children, my wonderful friends, and others in the world who have inspired and influenced me….

I have grown up to be more like Bea Gaddy.

My desire  is to continue to grow and serve our community in ways that all people will benefit from educational efforts such as the Community Coat Exchange. I hope that others feel inspired to serve the neighbors in the communities in which they live.

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Bea Gaddy Places:

Bea Gaddy Bio

Bea Gaddy Women and Children’s Shelter

https://i1.wp.com/www.nathanielturner.com/images/New_Folder/bee.jpg

 

 

This article is originally hosted at: https://coatexchange.org/serving-the-community/

While written in the past, I post this each year.  Everything in it still stands.  Peace.

Dee’s Green Party of Utah Party Office Candidate Speech

On June 24, 2017, the Green Party of Utah held its state convention. Candidates for party offices were elected and Dr. Jill Stein was our guest speaker.

I was elected to state delegate to the national Green Party and as a state Grassroots Coorindator.  This is the speech I prepared, part of it was earmarked for an acceptance speech, but we ran behind so I did not get to deliver it in person, so I offer a slightly modified version of it here.

———-

Good afternoon , my name is Deanna Dee Taylor and I am a candidate for Grassroots Coordinator and  National Delegate. The following words, written by my husband Tom, hang on various walls in my home and serve as a daily reminder of what I believe.

I pledge allegiance to ALL life

in its interdependent diversity;

and to the Planet upon which it exists;

one World, under the sky, undividable

with harmony and balance for ALL.

I want to talk to you about the sunflower.

There is a project called the Fukushima Sunflower Foster Parent Project, launched in 2011 about two months after the nuclear power plant disaster. The hope was that sunflowers could be used to cleanse radiation-contaminated soil, as reported following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear crisis. But it was determined that sunflowers actually had little effect on removing radioactive contamination, so Team Fukushima decided to focus its efforts on reviving the economy. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous, as reported in the Japan Times in 2015.

The project distributed more than 12,000 bags containing 5 grams of imported sunflower seeds to schools, businesses, groups and individuals.

Ten tons of harvested seeds were returned the following year and were then used across Fukushima to grow sunflowers, make edible oil and process used sunflower oil for fuel. As a result, people came to visit Fukushima, helping to restore the economy. The project helped to create jobs, restore businesses, and build tourism through a charter bus system that developed the use of biofuel, processed from waste sunflower oil, to power some of its route buses.

Team Fukushima represented the desires of its people to restore life from disaster through the sunflower, which is also the international symbol of nuclear disarmament and of the Green Party. As a Green Party National Delegate, I plan to represent the members of the Green Party of Utah to the national Green Party in an effort to be active in the movement to restore the interests of our people TO our people, from the disaster of our political climate today.

Since I was a small child I have loved life. I have always felt a kinship to the planet. This passion has led me down many wonderful paths as I have grown. One of those paths led me to the Green Party 17 years ago. Today I formally reaffirm my commitment to furthering the values of the Green Party through my active participation in the Green Party of Utah, and through the example I strive to live each day in alignment with the Ten Key Values. My hopes and desires for the GPUT are to see it develop as a viable party in Utah to truly represent the will of the people of this state and offer REAL choices to the state’s voters of candidates who hold the interests of the people, of the environment, and of all life, ABOVE everything else!

Most of all, my heart is with our Mother who provides us the air we breathe and water we drink, and to whom I owe my existence.

Having served as Green Party National Delegate in the past, I am familiar with the role and responsibility of Delegate to fully represent the will of the GPUT membership on all issues discussed and up for vote at the national level. I fully intend to serve on the membership’s behalf to the National Committee of the Green Party and to ensure that the values upon which the Green Party is built, are a priority.

In the words of Petra Kelly, founder of the German Green Party – the FIRST Green Party – and leader in the disarmament and social justice movements- “If there is a future, it will be Green.”

Well, that future has arrived, Green Party of Utah! And we ARE green and growing!

“Land Grabs”? Look at the Utah Constitution

(This is a version of a post I wrote in ***2012***.  Some things never change!)

Efforts to seize the land in Utah that is protected from development by the Federal Government are continuing by Utah legislators and others. This has been an ongoing controversy that is gaining momentum with the election of Donald Trump to President of the United States. Utah legislators are doing everything in their power to persuade Trump to rescind all Monument designations.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Back in 2012, an article in Utah State University’s the Utah Statesman,(which is no longer available) on this very same subject quoted Morgan Philpot who was planning to run for Governor in Utah as saying that Utah needed to demand the feds to return the land to Utah.

“Our governors, in times past, have behaved like geographic-area administrators for the federal government,” Philpot said. “They are not. We are a sovereign state. That is our land — stolen from us.”

The 2012 article also quoted political science department chair from USU who says that the documented verbiage for control of the land when Utah became a state is being misinterpreted:

“Some members of the Utah Legislature believe a part of the legislation that allowed Utah to join the U.S. — the Enabling Act of 1894 — requires the federal government to dispose of lands it currently controls inside state boundaries.”

“I just don’t think that’s an accurate reading of Section 9,” Lyons said. “I think they’re taking it out of context.”

Lyons said the enabling act states even after Utah gained statehood, the federal government would continue to own a substantial amount of the land inside Utah boundaries.

“The national government owned this land as a territory prior to the creation of the state of Utah,” Lyons said. “The Enabling Act delineates tracts of land formerly in national government control that are ceded to the state of Utah … then it says, ‘But all the other federal land is ours and Utah has no claim to it.’”

Back to Philpot’s 2012 statement….Who is “us” ?

Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune
Bears Ears buttes sit high over the surrounding canyon country in San Juan County. The formations are at the heart of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument.

This sentiment continues in 2017. Utah’s Congressional Representatives are violating the Utah Constitution by pursuing the act of “retuning the land to ‘us'”. the most recent iteration of this controversy is over the desgnation of Bears Ears as a National Monument.

The notion that protected Utah lands should be in the hands of Utah’s government for economic growth is preposterous. The only people that lands should be “returned to” are the original guardians of the land (that really belongs to all life) – Native Americans.  Until that is agreed upon, the land should remain in its protected state from any type of development.

Hell-Raisin’ Women Series: “You’re Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell”

As I age, I realize I still have a lot of growing up to do. There are many women I want to be when I grow up.  Granny D. is one of them. I have long admired Granny D. and the work she did in her later years.

Granny D spent her late years raising a little hell. “You’re Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell” is the title of Granny D’s book about her hell raising. At the age of 90, in the year 2,000,  she walked across America – 3,000 miles from California to D.C., to deliver her message to congress, where she was arrested at the U.S. Capitol, along with others. Her  message was to request that elected officials stop the corruption of big money influencing elections in the United States.

Granny D’s statement when she appeared before the judge after that arrest:

In my 90 years, this is the first time I have been arrested. I risk my good name –for I do indeed care what my neighbors think about me. But, Your Honor, some of us do not have much power, except to put our bodies in the way of an injustice–to picket, to walk, or to just stand in the way. It will not change the world overnight, but it is all we can do.

So I am here today while others block the halls with their corruption. Twenty-five million dollars are changing hands this very evening at a fund raiser down the street. It is the corrupt sale of public policy, and everyone knows it. I would refer those officials and those lobbyists, Your Honor, to Mr. Bob Dylan’s advice when he wrote: “Come senators, congressmen, Please heed the call. Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall.”
Your Honor, the song was a few years early, but the time has now come for change. The times are changing because they must. And they will sweep away the old politician –the self-serving, the self-absorbed, the corrupt. The time of that leader is rapidly fading. We have come through a brief time when we have allowed ourselves to be entertained by corrupt and hapless leaders because they offer so little else, and because, as citizens, we have been priced out of participation and can only try to get some enjoyment out of their follies. But the earth itself can no longer afford them. We owe this change to our children and our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. We need have no fear that a self-governing people can creatively and effectively address their needs as a nation and a world if the corrupt and greedy are out of their way, and ethical leadership is given the helm. Your Honor, to the business at hand: the old woman who stands before you was arrested for reading the Declaration of Independence in America’s Capitol Building. I did not raise my voice to do so and I blocked no hall. But if it is a crime to read the Declaration of Independence in our great hall, then I am guilty.
Read Granny D’s statement in its entirety here.

After this  monumental year Granny D spent her time hell raising in a variety of ways, including running for U.S. Senate.  Granny D was truly an inspiring icon in our country.  Her energy, passion, love, and hell raising is  missed – but her spirit, and the spirit of her work, will live on forever.

(original post at Dee’s Dotes)

This is the first in the series “Hell-Raisin’ Women”.