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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Indigenous Peoples' Day at Standing Rock

from RoZ:
I want to share the story about today’s dinner, served to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota. These are the people who are trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline DAPL from happening. This dinner was put together by people in the food world, and others from all over the country, to feed all the people who have gathered at Standing Rock. We honor and support this effort to stop the pipeline from destroying their sacred water and land, plus burial sites of their ancestors.

I’m not sure about the whole timeline of everything that happened to pull it all together, but I can tell you what I’ve read and done, along with a lot of other people, to help make it happen. Like many people, I’ve been staying informed about what’s happening to stop the DAPL and donated warm things for people who are staying out there all winter.

My first clue about the dinner was a story in our local paper about a woman, who is starting a new restaurant in the area. Someone that Adrian knows in Indiana, also in the restaurant world, mentioned that she was making soup to take out to Standing Rock for a Thanksgiving dinner. The woman was concerned about traveling out there with perishable ingredients to make the soup for 500-1000 people. She didn’t have refrigeration and it would be a long drive. Since she was coming through the area on her way there, Adrian offered not only space in the walk-ins overnight, but put the word out that she would ask the community to come help make dinner rolls for 1,000 people. I read about this last week and made the call to volunteer to come make rolls on Tuesday.

When I arrived I saw a couple other Berniecrats who were helping, too. There were probably about two dozen people working at one time. Several people were mixing the dough. There were three stainless tables where four people per table were making dinner rolls and putting them on a tray. Several people moved trays from these tables to the ovens, A couple more people worked the ovens. Adrian washed utensils in the sink while keeping an eye on the whole thing. There was a little background music, but it didn’t intrude on the great conversations that were going on. What a great way to build community and help the cause.

That evening I heard a story on NPR about a woman in Philadelphia, Judy Wicks, the founder of the White Dog Cafe, an early Farm to Table restaurant. She organized a 50-person brigade to provide a hearty Thanksgiving dinnerfor the water protectors, although she wasn’t sure if the Thanksgiving meal offer would be accepted since lots of native people consider it a day of mourning. She was reassured by a former Standing Rock tribal chairman that “everyone is welcome to be among us.” What began as one woman’s plan to feed about 500 people turned into a larger number of chefs and celebrities that are involved in the Wopila Feast (Wopila means thank you in Lakota). They are hoping to feed up to 10,000 people during the holiday weekend. That’s when I realized that those of making those dinner rolls were part of a movement to feed these wonderful people who are taking a stand to defend our Mother Earth.

There is another aspect to Standing Rock that also needs to be shared. While doing research online I came across this story about the building of MakagiOti – the Brown Earth Lodge. This is a straw bale structure that is being built as a community center and kitchen. The plan was to have it finished by this weekend for the feast, as a temporary structure until it is converted to a permanent structure in the spring.

Stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is important, and we need to thank these people who are literally putting their lives on the line to protect their sacred water, ancestors and land.

Please check out the links above and below, especially Ways to Help Standing Rock Water Protectors fight the good fight.

Stop the war on peaceful protestors

This plea for your money, outrage, and action from Mark Taylor of the (late) Daily Call:

Dear Friends:

As people gather for the Thanksgiving holiday there is a brutal obscenity being carried out in our name at the Standing Rock protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project in North Dakota.

Police forces have ramped up their brutality by dousing land and water protectors in streams of water in 22-degree temperatures, targeting people's faces with "non lethal" plastic bullets and intentionally targeting the testicles of men with the plastic bullets. Sadism has now overtaken the "law" enforcement drones doing the bidding of their corporate bosses in the oil industry.

Earlier this week a police fragmentation grenade nearly took off the lower arm of a 21 year-old young woman at the demonstrations. Police blocked ambulances from reaching those injured at the site (one could consider this a war crime). It took over 6 hours to get that grievously wounded young woman to medical care and despite the care she has received she may yet lose her arm.

The non-tribal police forces at Standing Rock have been clearly infected with a kind of mass evil - Native Americans refer to such a thing as Wetiko. (You can learn more about this phenomenon in a book by Paul Levy.)

The brutal irony of this state sanctioned violence on behalf of corporate interests during this week of the annual Thanksgiving celebration of the first gathering of Pilgrims and Native Americans is the height of national hypocrisy. (The Pilgrims would have starved to death but for the generosity of nearby tribes.)

Please consider making a donation to the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund to make it possible for some level of representation and sliver of justice for our brothers and sisters who are facing the state-sponsored brutality being carried out in our name.

If your local law enforcement agency is participating in the genocidal abuses in North Dakota make it known you do not approve of your tax money being used for oppression of fellow citizens. 

To local, state and federal law enforcement officials involved in this ongoing travesty know that we recognize your abusive behavior as the fascism it is. What you are doing and the sickness in which you act has nothing to do with "protecting and serving" the citizens you have taken an oath to protect. You have aligned yourself with criminals; you do the work of criminals. You bring shame on your departments, defile our Constitution and we citizens see you for what you are: the forces of fascism.

For an update on the situation in North Dakota and a powerful interview with the father of that maimed young woman go to:

Please pass this appeal on to your contacts.

Please, friends, do not compound the injustice being perpetrated this holiday weekend by ignoring what is happening; we cannot turn away. An injustice to one is injustice to all and silence in the face of injustice is consent. 

Please join me in making a donation of any amount you can afford to the Standing Rock legal defense fund.

My thanks to all of you.

In solidarity,

Mark L. Taylor

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Last night, some local Dems became upset when some other local Dems tried to elect a board that was slightly different from the old board. The "new" Dems' slate included four people who are already on the board, one person who was on the board last year, two people who are long time Dems and Dem canvassers, and one "new" Dem, articulate and experienced in environmental and social justice campaigns, who was elected to be a delegate at the national convention in July.

This slate was hardly a nudge from the status quo, but, while the old Dems say they understand the need to "reach out" to others, apparently what they mean is that they will seek new ways to market top down ideas to those who have dropped off the bandwagon, but they do not want to make changes in the leadership that has been driving people off the wagon in the first place. We'll reach out. You stay over there.

My opinion.

What if instead of having parties for every occasion, the party went to, listened to, learned from, and invited current non-party voters to join? If people are invested in a group - are important parts of the process whose experiences and ideas are respected and listened to, and who are welcomed to help plan and lead - then no amount of Koch brothers' money can turn them into against-their-interests voters.

What if people from the diverse communities of the county were invited to JOIN the party and help shape the programs, platforms, and agendas instead of just invited as speakers?

What if the party supported and facilitated community forums so people could voice their greatest concerns and suggest ways to equitably address them? And those plans could become part of the party's platform and part of candidates' priorities?

Last night's meeting seemed like a very minor attempt to slightly adjust the bent and focus of the local leadership to begin to address some of the issues identified at every level of the Dem party.  (See Paul Soglin's analysis, for example).

If we must be hostages on a party bus (and apparently we must as anyone who runs as or votes for a "third party" candidate quickly learns), and if both are driving toward the cliff, isn't it imperative for the captive passengers to try influencing the speed and trajectory of the bus they're on?

Here is a very good article about including people (even seeming to include people) and the consequences of not.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dec. 1 at Wells Fargo

In case you missed it, private contractors related to Blackwater and "law enforcement" officers attacked peaceful protestors on unceded Sioux land with water cannons, rubber bullets, and mace in sub-freezing weather today.

Amy Goodman has it covered on Democracy Now!


Dear fellow DAPL protestors,

Another protest is being organized for Thursday, December 1 at Wells Fargo Bank in downtown La Crosse.  Please see event information below and RSVP if you can attend.  Please share event link with your friends and on Social Media!  Thank YOU!

On November 20, the police violently attacked peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, sound grenades, and sprayed them with water cannons in subfreezing conditions. Hundreds of people were injured.

In response a coalition of groups at Standing Rock are calling a Global Day of Action on December 1st.  The main targets are financiers of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the police departments that have been brought in from across the Midwest to brutalize water protectors.

The financial footing of the Dakota Access Pipeline is in jeopardy if they do not complete the project by January 1st. If this deadline is missed, a majority of the stakeholders with contracts to ship oil through the pipeline will be able to renegotiate or cancel their contracts. This could be devastating to Energy Transfer Partners and the other pipeline companies behind DAPL.

With its vulnerabilities exposed, our solidarity efforts are needed now more than ever.

#NoDAPL #DivestFromDAPL

Please note:
Due to the short amount of time to organize this will not be a programmed protest with speakers. We will gather and take part in a walking protest with signage and pass out informational fliers to Wells Fargo customers and pedestrians.  It would be great to have people sign up for shifts so we can stage an all-day protest from 9am - 5pm.  Please indicate which time period you'll be attending on your RSVP.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bernie on Thom Hartmann

Bernie will be a guest on the Thom Hartmann show for 1/2 - 1 hour Wednesday morning. Thom’s show runs from 11am-2pm CT, and he’s been telling listeners that Bernie would be on during the first hour.

For many years, Thom hosted a “Brunch With Bernie” segment every Friday at 11, where Bernie would take calls and answer questions from listeners. This is how we (and many other people) became familiar with Bernie. 

This will be Bernie’s first appearance on Thom’s show since (AFAIK) before the conventions.

“Listen live” page is here:

Monday, November 14, 2016


Last week, several of us attended a local conference on community resiliency. While the focus of the conference was a little broad (it began with a sustainability slant but seemed to end as more of a disaster preparedness workshop), organizers invited participants to imagine challenges that would threaten a family's, community's and country's resilience.

All manner of threats were listed from exploding oil trains to severe weather events, but, aside from a joke made at one of the round tables, I don't think anyone actually expected a real life Zombie Apocalypse to be the most imminent threat to our community.

As Donald Trump's administration begins to take shape (even as the Clinton popular vote lead continues to grow) it appears to resurrect the ultimate Greatest Hits of the very worst villains from the past thirty years.

If that weren't bad enough, many hate group watchdogs are pointing out that Trump's advisors will include many with strong ties to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. "President-elect Donald Trump's decision to appoint Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist in the White House has drawn a sharp rebuke from political strategists who see in Bannon a controversial figure too closely associated with the “alt-right” movement, which white nationalists have embraced."

The bad news goes on and on. And, unlike the Brits who have a last minute chance to pull out of their rash Brexit vote, unless something very unusual happens between now and the certification of the electoral college vote in January, we are going to need to shore up our resilience.

Resilience: ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

For a community, to me, this means having duplicate or backup systems in case of disruption (food, transportation, health care, education, etc). It means having plans to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us and watching out for and stopping, blocking, or removing continuing or new threats.

So, how can we prepare for the coming Trumpstorm? With an even stronger Republican fist around the throat of our state government, what systems are likely to be at risk? Public education? Transportation? Health insurance? What can we do to build parallel systems that are not dependent upon unreliable ideologues looking to win in a contest to slash the social "safety net?"

Who are are vulnerable populations? With the rise in hate crimes against everyone who is not white, straight, and male, how can we all come together to ensure the safety of everyone in our community? How will we respond to incidents of hate speech (obviously, these have not just magically started happening with the election or even the candidacy of Donald Trump) or worse? Some have suggested wearing a safety pin, following the lead of anti-Brexit Brits who want people to know they stand against racism and hate.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (if you are not a member, why not!?) has published a guide we all should brush up on: Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide. And the ACLU (again - member? if not, why?) is ready to fight a rights-busting Trump administration at every turn. 

During last night's 60 Minutes interview, Donald Trump seemed surprised that his candidacy and election seem to have sparked an explosion of harassment, threats, and violence. He told people to stop. Not very convincing.

I think we need to continue pressing for every Trump supporter, including the two rich guys in La Crosse (who owe some of their success to taxpayer subsidies) who have donated to and raised money for Trump, to repudiate all acts of hate, racism, and violence done by Trump supporters.

There's more. What are your thoughts and ideas? Come to the potluck on Thursday. Let's talk.

But really, join those groups, wear a pin, work with others to make sure we are all safe, don't let the bullies win.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thanks to the thousands of you that tuned in on Friday, and for all the hopeful and insights comments shared.
The session tackled questions like:
  • How does our work across movements change under a Trump Presidency?
  • How do we relate to people who supported Trump?
  • What's one clear next step for people listening to this call?
Huge thanks to the speakers for making this a conversation to remember. It means so much that leaders across movements for climate justice, for Black lives, for immigrant justice, for Muslim communities, for economic justice, and more could join together in this moment. Find out more about their work and ways to plug in here:
With Trump as President-Elect, there's no denying that our jobs are harder now. It's tough to grasp fully what the coming months will bring, but I think Friday’s conversation was an important step toward understanding where we are, and imagining a new path that we can -- and will -- blaze together.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Important meeting coming up

City of La Crosse, Wisconsin                                       
Meeting Agenda 
Sustainable La Crosse Commission

3rd Floor Conference Room
City Hall, 400 La Crosse Street    
Thursday, November 17, 2016                                             
4:30 PM

Special Meeting

Call to Order, Roll Call

1            16‑1119           Approval of October 20, 2016 Minutes

                                                       Attachments:  Hyperlink

2           Public Comment

Agenda Items:

3           Update on filling citizen committee member vacancy (business

4           Proposed work group for deciding how to prepare the 2017 indicator
                   report ‑ Nichols and Tyser

5           Work group breakout planning session

               ‑ Confirm members:1) Alternative transportation (Giese, Gaul, Lenard, Johnson); 2)
                  Waste/recycling (Cornforth, Thompson, Bertrand, Tyser)
                 ‑ Review goals/schedule for spring 2017
                 ‑ Review tasks: Identify leader, specific topic(s) of interest, 1‑2 presenters
                  ‑ Review ideas, finalize spring schedule

Next Meeting Date/Agenda Items


Notice is further given that members of other governmental bodies may be present at the above
scheduled meeting to gather information about a subject over which they have decision‑making

Requests from persons with a disability who need assistance to participate in this meeting should call
the City Clerk's office at (608) 789‑7510 or send an email to, with as much advance notice as possible.