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.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Our job is not to accommodate the corporate state ...

Here's a very great Chris Hedges speech given this past weekend at a Jill Stein event.

"Our job is not to accommodate the corporate state, our job is to destroy it."

Here's with some great analysis.

Here is Fusion's Trumpland. Here is Michael Moore on DemocracyNow! talking about his show, Michael Moore in Trumpland. (You can watch his film at iTunes.)
What next? In Wisconsin, we continue the Republican "trifecta" and the fight against the trifecta. Nationallyy, is hosting a conference call on November 11. Sign up here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Potluck 11/3/16

We had another fun potluck dinner last Thursday. Good discussion and food all around as always. There are two things I wanted to recap on local politics and policy.

Lewis talked about Participatory budgeting and its history in the city of La Crosse. I don’t want to get into a lot of detail as it can be complex, but the simple explanation is that the city sets aside a chunk of money each year to be spent in neighborhoods in La Crosse, and the neighborhood decides how to spend it. The neighborhood is in charge of organizing and planning the projects with help from the city officials and workers. This sounds like a great way to get our community involved in what is happening in La Crosse and harness political will. Participatory budgeting is already set up in La Cross through 2017, with 1.5 million dollars split between 2 neighborhoods. If we want to see this practice continued, we are going to have to push at city hall to make sure they know that it is wanted.

Which brings me to my second point: Running for local office. All 13 chairs of the common council are up for election in this April. I myself am planning to run for the council, and I am going to need help from this community in canvassing and getting the word out. If anyone else wants to run, don’t hesitate to do it now. There will never be a good or easy time to start filling these offices up with trustworthy people, and with the elections wrapping up today there will be a big void in media that we can fill in.

This Saturday, there is a workshop from 9 to noon on how to run for local office with Jess Thill and Patrick Barlow at the Main Street library. If you have ever thought of running for office, or if you want to learn how to best support another community member in a local race, come out and learn more. You don’t have to commit to running, but this is valuable information that you can pass on to others as well.

The next potluck will be November 17, starting at 6:00 pm. This potluck will feature a Citizen’s Climate Lobby meeting starting at 6:30. The meeting should be about an hour, and there are about a half dozen of us who regularly show up. If you aren’t interested in the CCL meeting, you can probably sit in the other room and socialize separately for an hour or show up late. For those of you who don’t know about CCL or have never attending the meeting, we are the biggest citizen-based lobby in the country pushing for a non-partisan carbon tax at the federal level. CCL is the epitome of a grassroots organization and has been growing rapidly since they started 9 years ago. Since they are non-partisan, some of you may feel that they don’t push far enough. However, I have learned a lot of valuable lessons from their approach, and we all need to learn to work with the conservatives and centrists in our communities if we expect to see change on a large scale. I will send out the monthly phone call they host. It is typically quite interesting, as they always have a guest speaker that is typically a skilled scientist, politician, sociologist, psychologist, or organizer.

Last but certainly not least, keep your ear to the ground for Standing Rock, and continue to stand with them in any way you can. There is a postcard send-out going on, a divestment campaign, a protest scheduled on the day of action of the 15th, and I am continuing to work on setting up a fundraiser with others in the community. This is a watershed moment, and we have the momentum, truth, and people on our side to finally put our foot down on the the fossil fuel industry and turn the tides in the fight for a clean, sustainable planet. If you really stand with Standing Rock, you need to actually get out of your chair, not just sit back and watch.

Monday, November 07, 2016

NOVEMBER 15 - NO DAPL event in La Crescent



Nov 15 #NoDAPL Day of Action at Army Corps of Engineers

10:00 AM at Army Corps of Engineers Field Office
1114 S Oak St, La Crescent, MN 55947

Indigenous leaders are calling on us to take to the streets and disrupt "business-as-usual" one week after the election to demand that President Obama’s Army Corps of Engineers and the incoming administration stop the Dakota Access Pipeline -- and all those after it.

On Tuesday, November 15th, join a massive day of action in solidarity with those at Standing Rock, and demand the Federal government and the Army Corps reject this pipeline.

The Army Corps fast-tracked the Dakota Access Pipeline without proper consultation, and as a result, bulldozers are approaching Standing Rock as we speak. But with coordinated, massive demonstrations across the country, we’ll make it clear that this powerful movement will not allow the Obama administration or the incoming President to sacrifice Indigenous rights, our water, or our climate - they must reject this pipeline.

This day of action is one of many calls for solidarity actions targeting not only the Army Corps, but stakeholders at every level -- including the banks who are funding Dakota Access and the companies building the project.

This is one of the most courageous stands against a fossil fuel project this country has ever seen. Together, our movements stopped the Keystone XL pipeline almost one-year ago today, and an even bigger movement is rising up to stop Dakota Access and all fossil fuel infrastructure.

We know that elections and individuals alone don’t create change -- movements do. That’s why we’ll continue to fight until native sovereignty is honored, indigenous rights are protected, and our communities, water, and climate matter more than fossil fuel profits.

This is a movement-led day of action, taking leadership from indigenous groups active in the Standing Rock struggle including Indigenous Environmental Network and Honor the Earth. We encourage local action organizers to reach out to indigenous and frontline leaders in your community and work together in planning and organizing, reflecting that this moment is about social, climate, environmental, and economic justice - with a centering of indigenous rights and de-colonization.

Participating groups include:
  • Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)
  • Honor the Earth
  • National Nurses United
  • Hip Hop Caucus
  • BOLD Alliance
  • Greenpeace USA
  • Rainforest Action Network
  • Oil Change International
  • Our Revolution
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • Powershift Network
  • Earthworks
  • Food and Water Watch
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Sierra Club
  • and more

Sunday, November 06, 2016

November 10 = Speak up about our community

From a friend - citizen action required! The post mentions Karen Ringstrom, a local activist who worked on electronic billboards and oil trains before she passed away last year.
I am writing to give you a nudge about a community event that is coming up on Thursday, November 10 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM at Northside Elementary School for citizen input for a master design for the Hwy 53 corridor (along the river). This is the kind of meeting that Karen would want our "billboard buddies" to attend, to remind officials to continue to regard sign control as a top priority in any planning for a visually attractive and welcoming community . . .billboard and sign control are good for business and tourism, and can detract from aesthetics, development and the local economy, etc. You surely remember!

I have personally noticed good changes from the ordinance that we put in place several years ago, such as lower and smaller signs, attractive pedestals for signs, longer hold-time durations on electronic messages (though people should be contacting the city's fire department about this and other violations they may see.(You can also use the the City's self-help portal and the fire department will investigate.) We want this slow but sure progress to continue. 

Ordinances are not self-regulating. Karen and I talked many times about how sign control will take long term vigilance. I continue to monitor what I can find about City Hall business regarding billboards and signs. (There is a committee called the Billboard Negotiating Lease Committee that has been meeting in closed session and without published minutes since April, about particular two billboard lease renewals.) I continue to rely on Charley Weeth for his expertise.

If you can, please attend the public input session on Thursday. I already purchased a ticket for the YWCA event so unfortunately I won't be there, but I have weighed in with the Chair of the steering committee, Ryan Cornett.

I think this might also be a good opportunity to talk about local road priorities that benefit La Crosse residents and neighborhoods such as proper maintenance that could even alleviate more major road building, traffic calming, sensible traffic signaling, scenic enhancements, alternative transportation, and other policy choices that are definitely timely.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

November 15 - Water Quality Listening Session

from Midwest Environmental Advocates (cross posted at

Nov 15, 2016

Listening Session with U.S. EPA Region 5 Administrator Robert Kaplan

Listening Session with U.S. EPA Region 5 Administrator Robert Kaplan
Tuesday, November 15, 5-7 p.m. – Eau Claire - Chippewa Valley Technical College, Room 30, Business Education Center, 620 West Clairemont Ave.

Members of the public are invited to come and share their thoughts and concerns about the implementation of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act in Wisconsin to the Administrator of US EPA’s Region V, Robert Kaplan.  Administrator Kaplan will give a brief description of the US EPA’s role in Wisconsin and their current activities in Wisconsin, and then he will hear from the public.  Depending on the number of individuals that want to speak, each person will be requested to limit their remarks to three minutes.

This event is sponsored by the Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Midwest Environmental Advocates, River Alliance of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Lakes Association and Clean Wisconsin

You may park in the RCU Visitor Lot (P1 on the map) or the Student Lot (P3) using the attached parking permit for each vehicle. Another option is to park in the Pay-Per-Hour Lot (P7) for a fee.

If you have any questions or concerns about parking, the Public Safety Office general phone number is 715-833-6202.

Link to RSVP:
Link to Sierra Club petition: