Friday, April 28, 2017

Save the pool

4/28/2017 - PRESS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE LA CROSSE, WI – Grandview-Emerson Neighborhood Association (GENA) and the Memorial Pool Committee continues its efforts to revitalize Veterans Memorial Municipal Pool after almost 2 years of closure. Plans to replace the pool, which 7 out of 10 city-wide residents favored in a survey administered by UWL last summer, continues to grow support. Letters of support by the community and additional committee members from other neighborhoods have joined the effort to revitalize the pool that serves the central and downtown areas of the City.

Now that the City Pool Committee has completed over six months of deliberation, five concepts remain - 2 of which are located on the current Memorial Pool property. Wednesday, May 3rd is an opportunity to settle the debate, once and for all, as to whether the current site not only is the most feasible, but the most favored by residents. The City Pool Committee is inviting residents to come for a short presentation at 11am or 6:30pm. Following the presentations, residents are welcome to meet with City staff, Committee members and a Burbach Aquatics consultant for the following 2 hours, for further questions and discussion while viewing the concepts on large story boards. Surveys will be available to gather information that will be included in the final report by Burbach Aquatics and presented to the Park Board and City Council.

“It’s not the City’s job to work hard for feedback, it’s our job. So everyone needs to put time aside on Wednesday and then put some pencil to paper to tell the City Council what they think. This could be the final chance.” states Dennis Ross, a nearby resident and retired Blessed Sacrament school teacher.


In addition, the public and the press are welcome to visit with members of the GENA Pool Committee and neighboring business owners on Monday, May 1st @ 11:30 a.m. - Press Conference at Memorial Pool (1901 Campbell Rd)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Help a Montana progressive

[From Democracy for America]

Voters in Montana are fired up and ready to throw Republicans out of office. And they love Rob Quist

Rob is a true progressive populist -- he supports Medicare for All, he's pro-choice, and he opposes Citizens United. And he is running an incredible campaign right now. He has been holding listening sessions and rallies in counties all over Montana, and his message is clearly resonating.

Rob's opponent is one of the Republicans' weakest recruits -- a New Jersey tech billionaire and perennial failed candidate who lost in November to a Democratic governor even as Trump won the state. So we know that this race is winnable.

DFA members are having a real impact this special election: Together, we made more than 13,000 calls for Rob Quist on DFA Dialer last weekend alone. Can you hop on DFA Dialer this weekend to help set the stage for a big win in Montana?

Republicans are getting EXTREMELY nervous this race. Late last week, the Congressional Leadership Fund -- a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan -- announced a massive $800,000 ad buy to defeat Quist. And that's on top of the $1.2 million the National Republican Congressional Committee plans to spend in Montana between now and Election Day.

It's no surprise that deep-pocketed GOP donors are trying to get ahead of the curve on this race, after being taken by surprise by the incredible wave of Democratic grassroots momentum in Kansas and Georgia. They're not waiting until the last minute -- they want to overwhelm Quist's campaign with a flood of cash and false tv ads now.

Sign up to make DFA Dialer calls for Rob Quist and help a progressive populist pick off this GOP House seat.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 28 - Immigration Fact/Fiction

[From John]

View larger flyer here.

Our Wisconsin Revolution - La Crosse

[from Arlene]

Thanks so much to everyone who attended Our Wisconsin Revolution La Crosse’s inaugural meeting! We had a great discussion about the unique role OWR can play in La Crosse by focusing on winnable policy initiatives on the local level.

We think La Crosse can be a model for the kind of democratic community we’d like to live in: a Wisconsin government of, by, and for the people!

Join us for our 2nd meeting on Tuesday, May 2nd, at 7 p.m. at the Ho-Chunk Nation 3 Rivers House where we’ll:
  • Vote on which local issues we’d like to focus on first
  • Discuss our organizational leadership
  • Think about how we can connect to and coordinate with other local groups
  • And more!

(p.s. Please like our new Facebook page here:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Coming up this week

First, we want to make sure you know about this THURSDAY event. Midwest Environmental Advocates is an important ally against the degradation of our environment. Please attend this fundraiser if you can. If you can't please donate to MEA online. NOTE: TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR.

Now, in date order (subject to updating = please email if your event is missing (include link to event page or flyer please).

April 22 - 29 is BEE WEEK in La Crosse.

Wednesday, April 26
Join Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca, Assistant Leader Dianne Hesselbein, and Democratic Caucus Chair Mark Spreitzer for an event hosted by Assistant Caucus Chair Steve Doyle to benefit the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee from 5 to 7 p.m. at Moxie's, 1835 Rose Street. Suggested donation is $50 (please make checks out to ADCC.) You can also donate online.

The Fair Elections Project will hold a Fair Maps Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. at the Onalaska Public Library. The Fair Elections Project supported a Wisconsin lawsuit claiming that current districts are unconstitutional. In November, they won their suit and a new map has been ordered.

At 7:00 p.m. Dr. Vincent Her of UWL will talk about his experience attending a conference and research trip in Southeast Asia. He will blend multi-sited research and personal history to reflect on the experiences of transnational migration, the impact of tourism on village life in Thailand and the need to question concepts such as global citizenship and global identity when national borders remain seemingly impermeable. The event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, April 27
In addition to the film/fundraiser noted above, there are several events in our area, including

At 3:30 p.m. UWL will host a TEDx Salon talk with Adam Carroll, an internationally recognized financial literacy expert, author of Winning The Money Game, a two-time TED talk speaker and founder of This event is free and open to the public.

At 5 p.m. Yale physicist Susan Demers, Ph.D., will describe the Large Hadron Collider, and will talk about the discovery of the Higgs Boson, and where we are headed. The talk is free and open to the public.

ALANA (UWL) hosts its annual Phenomenal Wymen Dinner with keynoter Adrian Lipscombe. PURCHASE DINNER TICKETS BY APRIL 26.

Friday, April 28 
At 10 a.m. you can attend an Arbor Day Walkabout presented by Randy Mell, University of Wisconsin Extension Natural Resources Educator to learn about trees in our neighborhoods. This event requires a registration fee.

Workers Memorial Day will be commemorated at 5 p.m. at Green Island Park in La Crosse.

Saturday, April 29
Join a Peoples Climate March in La Crosse (start in Cameron Park at 11 am, march to Riverside, return to Cameron Park per the organizer) or Winona.

In Eau Claire, Citizen Action Organizing Coop of western Wisconsin will hold its annual meeting from 1 to 4 p.m. in Unity Christ Center 1808 Folsom St.. Mike McCabe will speak at the event (free and open to the public). More than 200 people form the co-op by contributing monthly to employ a full time organizer to advocate for and help organize the activist community.

It's Neighbors Day in La Crosse.

Sunday, April 30
Earth Fair in La Crosse.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Free speech

If anyone is planning to attend this afternoon's "free speech" event at UWL (apparently sponsored by a local right wing organization), you might want to read this report about how the Kochs and DeVos family are pushing racism and hate talk as "free speech" on college campuses.

-- snip --

Free speech or license to discriminate?
In response to fringe, far-right speakers often facing student protests, conservative legislators in many states are pushing “campus free speech” legislation. Two think tanks funded in part by the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer created a model bill, on which many of the state bills are based, that calls for harsh penalties, including expulsion, for students who disrupt guest speaking events.
While enabling hate speech at colleges and universities, billionaire mega-donors are cracking down on students who publicly object to such speech. Meanwhile, the same wealthy conservatives’ family foundations fund ideological higher ed programs that serve their business interests. The Charles Koch Foundation, for example, gave $142 million to hundreds of colleges and universities from 2005 to 2015, largely toward free-market centers, professorships and courses. From these programs, Koch-funded think tanks and political groups recruit their favorite students to join the Kochs’ mass libertarian sociopolitical movement.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Meteor Timber Wetlands Fracking Public Hearing

There is a public hearing in Tomah this Tuesday at 1:00 PM on the permit request for a new wetlands fill and frac facility. It will be at the Park-Rec department in Tomah, 1625 Butts Avenue. Check out Midwest Environmental Advocates' site for more info on project and history. If any area residents can make it out to this, the more resistance and information on why this is a terrible idea, the better.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Building The Agicultural City with Robert Wolf

This morning at Pearl Street Books, author Robert Wolf hosted a community conversation on fostering community and working in the Driftless region to connect people and increase cooperation. Check out his facebook page, as well as the page for Ag City and Free River Press, a non-profit book publisher that looks for works in the Driftless region.

Robert Wolf Facebook
Building the Agricultural City Facebook
Free River Press Website
Free River Press Facebook

Friday, April 14, 2017

Maybe This Land is NOT Your Land

By Peter Gorski and Monica Hofmann

The momentous passing of UWL's Indigenous Land Recognition Policy was glaringly missing from the local news this week. Through dedicated efforts of student leaders in the Native American Student Association (NASA), a resolution passed through all legislative bodies on campus, ensuring that the following statement will be read at the beginning of all university-sponsored events:

"We would like to recognize that the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse occupies the land of the Ho-Chunk people. Please take a moment to celebrate and honor this ancestral Ho-Chunk land, and the sacred lands of all indigenous peoples."

The brief resolution makes a powerful statement honoring indigenous people and acknowledging the reality that our predominantly white university continues to occupy land that was stolen by European settlers from Ho-Chunk people, many of whom continue to live and be marginalized in La Crosse. Though simple words, it is an exciting step and one we hope will prompt reflection from other local institutions. Perhaps the City of La Crosse could adopt such a resolution.

Unfortunately, the reality that we occupy indigenous land is too often far from the minds of white people in La Crosse, even in the progressive community. Attending the growing number of rallies over the past several months (for healthcare, immigrant and refugee rights, and other "resistance" events), it is hard to miss the nearly ubiquitously played sing-a-long song, "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie. While we appreciate the eloquence of our community gathering and harmonizing together, this particular song is a racist affirmation of Manifest Destiny that the progressive community desperately needs to reconsider.

"This land is made for you and me" reinforces the extremely harmful message that the American continent was "God-granted" to European settlers. The spirit of Manifest Destiny was a European justification for appalling violence and attempted genocide of Native American people. To ignore this reality is a violent omission, neglecting the fact that millions of people lived full complicated lives on this continent long before Europeans arrived. "This land is your land" only rings true if you are an indigenous person whose ancestors lived here prior to European imperialism, kidnapping and enslavement of Africans, and various waves of immigration from around the world creating the diverse population of the United States today. (And if you're still not convinced, it feels relevant to point out that Guthrie himself had a history of racism.)

While the song "This Land Is Your Land" may summon nostalgia among progressives, and appears to be a beloved tradition for many local activists, we believe it is important to think critically about who we are and what we are saying. So Coulee Progressives, can we find another heartwarming song? One that is maybe a little less racist?

It is typically easy to see the racism of the right; they tend to be more forward and unabashed in their discrimination and prizing of white supremacy. Racism in the left is far more insidious, as many who identify as liberals, progressives, or even allies against racism are quite comfortable upholding white supremacist systems, even unaware that we are doing it. Local progressives and the Democratic Party still have a great deal of work to do in dismantling the racism inside of ourselves and our movement if we want to build the multiracial people-powered movement we need to transform this country.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Merchants of Doubt Showing

Wednesday 4/19 at 6:30 PM at the UWL theater, there will be a free screening of Merchants of Doubt. This film goes into detail about the climate denial movement, the money behind it, the deceptive tactics used, and the parallels to the tobacco industry's deception around the carcinogenic effects of smoking. It is a great film for anyone to learn how to explain why climate change misinformation is so dishonest and false, and how to sway people who may be influenced by these phony narratives.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jill Billings Water Listening Session

Jill Billings will be having a water listening session next Wednesday. Her release on the event is below, consider going out to voice your opinion on water in Wisconsin, and what we need to keep it safe.

I will be holding a listening session to address La Crosse area constituents' concerns regarding water and environmental issues.

This event -- which is co-hosted by UW-L's Students for Sustainability group -- will provide a great opportunity for community members to speak about ways to ensure access to healthy drinking water in our community and across the state. Topics likely to be discussed include the spreading of liquid manure by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), increased groundwater pollution and the presence of lead in drinking water. I will be there to listen to your environmental priorities so I can best represent La Crosse in the Capitol. 

I will be joined by Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, professor emeritus from the University of Chicago, who studies karst geology in the driftless region and will give a short presentation. Rep. Steve Doyle from Onalaska will also be joining us to listen and answer questions.

The event will be held Wednesday, April 19 from 4-6 p.m. in Room 3110 of UW-L's new Student Union.
The session is free and open to the public, and is an excellent opportunity to make your voices heard. 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Our Wisconsin Revolution -La Crosse

OWR First Chapter Meeting in La Crosse
Ho Chunk Nation Three Rivers House
Tuesday, April 18ᵗʰ at 7:00 pm CST
724 Main St, 
La Crosse, WI 54601

Please use this link to RSVP, thank you.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Chicago Conspiracy Trail

Thursday, 4/20, The Alternative Truth Project will be performing the Chicago Conspiracy Trial at the Pumphouse at 7:30. Centered on charges leveled on protestors and anti-war demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in the Windy City, this play is documentary-style, as the actual court transcripts are used in the script. The event is free, come check out this new artistic movement in La Crosse!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Notes and reflections on two Social Justice Week events

There are still just over two days left of UWL's Social Justice Week 2017. Social Justice Week is chock full of wonderful (and often wonderfully challenging) events, two of which I have had the pleasure of attending so far.

Monday night, I saw Lee Mun Wah's film, "If These Halls Could Talk." The documentary is an unscripted series of discussions on race that Lee Mun Wah facilitated among a multiracial group of 11 college students. It captures some of the complexities of talking frankly about race and connecting with others in a society that cuts us off from our own emotions and from each other. I highly recommend everyone check it out. Lee Mun Wah's gift for storytelling was apparent not only in his film-making, but also in his presence and facilitating at the event. He made it look effortless. His organization, Stirfry Seminars and Consulting, offers seminars, practical resources, and other similarly-themed films, which I look forward to checking out. He generously provided a packet of handouts and exercises on mindful facilitation skills that are extremely useful. Lee Mun Wah shared that his next project is touring the country visiting cities where individuals of color have been murdered by police, facilitating conversations between communities of color, plain clothes police officers, and their families. It sparked many ideas for me in what we could do in La Crosse to build bridges in our community and open up more honest dialogue about race. I am hopeful about discussing what this might look like here and particularly curious to hear what people of color in La Crosse would like to see in this regard.

Tuesday night, I saw Charlene Carruthers, Director of the Black Youth Project 100, speak about the Movement for Black Lives as a Black queer woman and community organizer. I took notes at this event, which I have shared below. Keep in mind that these ideas were all formed and communicated by Charlene, while the notes are how I paraphrased her, so all credit for any brilliant gems you read below goes entirely to Charlene and her predecessors whom she cites (apologies for names I missed). If anyone else who was there sees flaws in the way I interpreted or stated anything, please let me know. I hope you all take the time to read through the notes to learn from this bright visionary leader. She is truly a wealth of knowledge, and I'm deeply grateful she came to share her thoughts and experiences with us in La Crosse.

"Killing The Black Imagination: Where Do We Go From Here?"
Charlene Carruthers, April 4, 2017
  • Origin of modern policing in US: slave patrols. Police continue now to protect property, which is what enslaved people were considered by the state prior to emancipation.
  • People often use individual examples of cops who are good decent people. She is not concerned with individuals but concerned with institutions and the power they have. Power that could and should go back to the communities. You can replace the people (as naturally happens over generations) but the structures still do the same thing--protect interest of the wealthy and recreate unequal dispersion of resources and power.
  • The Combahee River Collective: A collective of Black feminist lesbians asserting that liberation of queer Black women would mean liberating all forms of oppression. We all benefit when we liberate the most marginalized people.
  • Social justice for ____. We must ask ourselves, social justice for who and for what?
  • Reminder to be thorough in our history. 19th amendment often we say it "gave women the right to vote," but it did not grant the right to vote to Black women. Just white women. Not one single Black woman was in attendance at the Seneca Falls Convention, but curiously enough Frederick Douglass (a Black man) was there.
  • Black Wall Street sometimes used as pinnacle of black excellence. But capitalism has not nor will it ever liberate black people. Recommends the book Black Marxism by Cedric Robinson
  • "It's not about race it's about class" erases so many realities not just in the US but across the world and throughout history. We cannot divorce race and capitalism. Also patriarchy which predates those systems.
  • On "diversity": True biocultural diversity is not about feeling good about yourself, it's about survival of our species. Why we can't care about all the land and all beings on the land? There is enough care to go around for all.
  • We in social justice love to pull quotes without context. We have to include the context! Audre Lorde: "There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives." These words predate the term "intersectionality," which is now often used in social justice lingo. "Triple oppressions," "interlocking oppressions," "double jeopardy," are other ways of describing the reality of black women's lived experiences and the insight their experiences reveal.
  • An older Black feminist organizer from the south told her that coming to understand that trans women ARE women helped her expand her definition of womanhood and be a fuller woman herself. This world tells us that "woman" is a narrow definition. Let's challenge that narrowness. Expand!
  • When discussing privilege, particularly for white people: Guilt doesn't do anything but get us stuck. Recognition of power and acquiescence of power, that's where change happens.
  • Movement for Black Lives is broader coalition, with significant timing and synchronicities between Black Youth Project 100 and Black Lives Matter Network.
  • More than 7,000 people were detained by Chicago police in an off-the-books interrogation warehouse in Homan Square between August 2004 and June 2015. Over 80% of those detained were Black.
  • Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 51 schools at once, 97% of those students were Black, closed hundreds of mental health facilities, and continues to spend $4 million a day on policing. This does not keep black people safe.
  • Audience question: The conversation is disheartening to Black organizers. At what point do Black people say forget it and create their own thing? Charlene's response: If we're gonna move, who are we taking with us, who are we leaving behind, and where are we going? And do we want to be colonizers? (no)
  • She is an abolitionist. Slavery and its current iterations of mass incarceration and police terrorism have to be completely abolished. We have to build institutions as alternatives. Divest in policing, invest in communities.
  • She shared powerful experiences in Palestine, where she was a delegate to build solidarity between Black and Palestinian liberation movements.
  • Reform: Electoral politics are a way to impact the immediate material circumstances of our people, but it is not the end. Body cameras are an example of reformist reforms. They don't actually keep Black people safer. Now we just see the videos of Black people being killed; they're still dying. Radical reform: Invest in the community, divest in policing. Radical change: communities have to control schools and institutions. We have to invest in crisis interventions, mental health work in our communities.
  • The toughest conversations are often with our family. Commit to having them for a lifetime.
  • At one point, we all were more ignorant, had different politic. We can use that as a way to connect and empathize with our people who are still more committed to the status quo. We all must be constantly evolving and learning. Do your own work. White people: We need to collect other white people. Do that work with each other.
  • Remember: It is NORMAL to be racist. To be sexist. To be ableist. Classist. Homophobic. The first step is acknowledging there's a problem. Don't come to the solidarity table thinking that you have it all figured out. Constantly be willing to unlearn what you have learned your whole life. White people need to gather on our own and confront our racism and issues before we can be welcome at the solidarity table.
  • Showing up for racial justice (SURJ) is one organization working on that. There is a local chapter recently formed you can find on Facebook if you are inclined to do that work: La Crosse Area SURJ.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Progressive Values

As local election season comes to a close this spring in La Crosse, it seems like a good time to talk about what a progressive is. It seems like "the left" can be broken down further and further in small political pockets, such as environmentalists, racial justice organizers, socialists, feminists, civil liberties activists, union and labor rights organizers, etc. We all know that it is tough to unite progressives, and clearly define what makes us different from liberals, centrist democrats, new democrats, and all the other non-progressives we may share a party or candidate with at times.

One resource that takes a stab at defining progressives is George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant. He uses the metaphor of the family unit to illustrate progressivism. Lakoff's argument is that progressives believe in nurturing others to pursue what they want in their lives, while conservatives believe in strict obedience and conformity. Consider the simple difference between strict (conservative) and nurturing (progressive) parents.

Lakoff's progressive values include:

Opportunity and prosperity
Open, two way communication
Community building, cooperation and service to the community
Trust and honesty

Progressives value a growth-oriented mindset. When looking at political candidates now and in the future, try to keep this basic framework in mind. The self proclaimed progressive candidates might just be another strict leaders in sheep's clothing.