Tuesday, April 25, 2017 – Searsboro to Sully (8.5 miles)
As I pack up my tent this morning, Sarah informs me that she woke with a pit in her stomach, an odd sense of foreboding. She’s spoken with Shelley Buffalo and Fernando Manakaja as well, and they also have the same sense of unease — an intuition that someone or something may try to harm us today.
I take their intuition seriously. Our marching column is tight, and we walk two-by-two on the gravel shoulder — where it exists. Sometimes there is no shoulder, and we walk single file along the white line marking the edge of the pavement.
I stay up front to the right of my walking companion and employ my broad, sweeping, sustained wave with every vehicle that passes. Most drivers are respectful, slow down if necessary, and move partially or completely into the left lane. Some wave back.
Less than a half mile outside Lynnville, the driver of an over-sized white pick up truck floors his engine as he passes. He turns around a short ways beyond us, makes another sweep and again floors his engine. His intent is clearly to frighten and intimidate.
During our break in Lynnville, I discuss the incident with Sarah and Shelley. I suggest we carry the American flag at the front of our column. “We have an American flag with us?” asks Sarah, a bit surprised that, as the logistics director, I hadn’t told her.
I apologize, and tell her I’d thought to suggest we carry the flag while we march, but was concerned that some of our marchers would be opposed.
Sarah finds the flag and fastens it to a pole with zip ties and duct tape. Shelley insists that the Native people on the March be the ones to carry it. She and Donnielle take turns at the front of the column while I walk behind them and wave to passing vehicles. The response from drivers is noticeably different. They are more respectful, wave back. Some smile. We feel distinctly safer, and I’m relieved that we’ve found a way to connect immediately and powerfully with our vehicular audience.
Yet as suspected, two marchers are upset. That night after dinner, we discuss the decision to carry the flag. One marcher who is upset describes the flag as the quintessential symbol of American imperialism. He says he was embarrassed to walk behind it.
The Native people on the March speak strongly in defense of our decision. “As Native women carrying this flag, we’re commandeering the narrative about what it symbolizes,” says Shelley. “Native Americans have served disproportionately in the armed forces under this flag. To me, it represents liberty, self-governance, personal autonomy and freedom — all values taught to the colonists by the Natives of the East coast in whose social and governmental constructs, these values were institutionalized.”
We resolve the flag dispute after much conversation, some of it heated. Already, in just four days, other conflicts have arisen on the Climate Justice Unity March, and I am reminded that unity begins at home. Even among a small group of committed activists passionately dedicated to a common cause, striving for and maintaining unity is an ongoing challenge.
Monday, April 24, 2017 – Montezuma to Searsboro (9.5 miles)
Searsboro is one of those small, forgotten Iowa towns bypassed by the main highway. It’s a sprawling community of 142 people, built on hillocks tucked away in a valley along English Creek. I’ve driven by Searsboro dozens of times, wondering what it was like but never bothering to stop.
From the highway you see only a few of Searsboro’s houses. Today, as our march winds its final mile over and around several steep, rolling hills, I feel like I’m walking into a town cloaked in a touch of mystery.
Our campsite for the night is in the very center of town, on Main Street where The Little Bear Inn once stood. It’s now a grassy field, and though I’m sad to think that this was once a bustling center of commerce, the site is perfect for our tents.
Mayor Kim Shutts is a gregarious, dynamic community leader passionate about the well being and future of Searsboro. She’s an Independent who leans Republican, but has an open mind and knows something needs to be done about climate change.
She reserves the Community Center for our evening program, and 15 people turn out for all or part of it. “That’s ten percent of the population,” I tell Kim. “If ten percent of Des Moines turned out for a meeting there, that’d be 20,000 people.”
A half dozen kids show up for Wendy and Mike’s puppet show. Chap makes pasta and several people bring side dishes and desserts. Before the meal, Searsboro resident Mike Moore offers a Christian prayer. One of our marchers, Fernando Manakaja of the Havasupai nation, prays in his Native tradition. It’s a powerful moment of unity.
The evening is a wonderful exchange of dialogue and fellowship, with lots of conversation about climate and the environment. Kim is intrigued by the wind turbines being built east of here, and is going to look into whether a turbine might be built on one of Searsboro’s hills. We also discuss with her the possibility of solar panels on some of the town’s rooftops.
It’s a beautiful evening, with the sun setting across the hills framing the western bank of English Creek. After dinner, a smaller group of town folk and marchers reconvene outside the Community Center. We joke around and play music. Kim’s got a nice voice and harmonizes well with Heather on “The Rose.”
I crawl into my tent later than I’d like. The day has been deeply satisfying. If more of this can happen — if each of us can go the extra mile and step out of comfort zone to break down the barriers that segregate us across geographic, cultural and political divides — surely there’s a pathway forward to a more sustainable future.
Sunday, April 23, 2017 – Deep River to Montezuma (10 miles)
As we circle up this morning and prepare to leave Deep River, a man driving an ATV pulls up. He introduces himself as Darrin Ehret — the guy next door who put up the Confederate flag yesterday. He was surprised at how quiet and respectful we were last night, and that inspired him to come over. Based on the things he’d heard on Facebook, he was expecting all kinds of noise and bad behavior.
“I put up that Confederate flag not as any kind of political statement, but as an expression of freedom of speech,” he admits. “We heard a lot of bad things about Little Creek Camp, mostly on Facebook, and that flag and the American flag were just my way of saying we didn’t want any flag burning. So I’m sorry I did that.”
We ask about the loud noises that we assumed were gunshots. “Those were M-80s [firecrackers],” said Darrin. “We think it’s a guy down the hill who’s been setting them off. We don’t like it either.”
We delay our departure to talk with Darrin. “For my part, I apologize for assuming the noises were gunshots and for calling the Sheriff on you,” I say. “I made my own assumptions, and I’m sorry about that.”
Darrin’s a died-in-the-wool conservative, but agrees strongly with us that water quality is a huge problem. He’s not sure about the causes of climate change, but he’s a big supporter of wind energy and has agreed to have a turbine installed on his farm this fall. I tell him we have a wind energy expert, David Osterberg, joining us tonight, and I invite him and his wife to our camp at Diamond Lake.
It’s another perfect day to march. But as we enter Montezuma, we crave shade. We pass a yard with a large, inviting maple tree, and I ask the owners, Jack and Kim Higginbottom, if we can rest in their shade for a bit. They’re very accommodating, and before long, they offer their spacious porch, drinks and their bathroom. Jack and Kim understand the urgency of climate change and are delighted we’re marching. We invite them to join us for dinner, too.
Tonight’s campsite is perfect. We’re on Diamond Lake, surrounded by trees and sloping hillsides. There are picnic tables, a fire pit and hot showers. (Our solar showers are warm, but not hot.) As we get ready for dinner, Darrin, his wife Molly and a friend named Casey show up. Molly brings brownies fresh out of the oven.
Later, Jack and Kim join us, along with three young guys from Montezuma. One of them explains that everybody in the area has been following what’s going on at Little Creek Camp and most are against it. “But I kind of go my own way,” he says. “I thought I’d come and check you out. And yeah, this is great. What you’re doing is totally chill.”
I ask him to tell his friends. “If any of them want to walk with us tomorrow, we’d love that. And we’d love to have you and them join us at our camp in Searsboro tomorrow night.”
Cynthia Hunafa shares her feelings as an African-American about the Confederate flag, and Molly responds: “We’re not racist, and didn’t mean to imply any hatred toward anyone — Black, Native, Latino. It’s more about how safe someone looks to approach. If I saw you and Casey (who sports a scruffy beard), I’d think you were a lot safer than him.” We all get a good laugh out of that, including Casey.
We talk with our guests for a couple hours over a wonderful dinner of Chap’s corn-vegetable-ham soup and Donnielle’s fry bread.
Toward sunset, four Native men show up. They’d heard about the problems marchers were experiencing, and wanted to come and show their support and solidarity. Our guests from Deep River and Montezuma talk with them as well, further extending the bridge that Darrin started building when he showed up at our camp this morning.
The evening ends with many of us sitting around a fire, talking and singing. One of our marchers from Little Creek Camp, Madu, turns forty today, and Heather and Jessica present him with a birthday cake. Another marcher from Little Creek, Fernando, sings and plays the drum in a tribute to Madu. He talks a bit about the important work we’re doing.
Yes, the weather was perfect today. Even more perfect was the fellowship. This is why we march.
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Little Creek Camp to Deep River (12.8 miles)
Today saw three notable “firsts,” none of them good. Our troupe of 25-30 marchers were flipped off three times by passing drivers. I’ve walked 700 miles along Iowa’s highways and gravel roads and never had someone do that to me.
Also today, as we were taking a break on a gravel road, I walked a short distance across a field to talk with a young farmer who was watching us. I introduced myself, explained what we were doing. He made it clear he just wanted us gone and wasn’t interested in talking. As I was walking away, another man, presumably the guy’s father came charging out of the house, yelled at me to get off his property and said, “Just because you had a conversation doesn’t mean you’re invited to dinner.”
Finally, as Sarah Spain was setting up camp at the City Park in Deep River hours before the marchers would arrive, a neighbor parked a red jeep at the edge of the park. The jeep flew a large American flag alongside a Confederate flag, and two intimidating men sat in the jeep glaring at Sarah and the camp. That afternoon and again while we starting to dose off for the night in our tents, we heard several loud, close gun shots.
Iowa is my home, and has been since 1984. At times today, I didn’t recognize her. For the first time ever, I felt threatened in a land that has always been welcoming and friendly. What gives?
Perhaps the intensely partisan and acrimonious political climate has something to do with it. But as I discussed these incidents with other marchers, many who are Native American and Hispanic, it seemed likely that the hostility toward us was less about politics and more about race.
Yesterday, a Deep River resident posted a hateful, inflammatory video blasting Little Creek Camp, the Indigenous Iowa encampment where we started the march. The video is called “#IowaBeware” and is loaded with misinformation. It’s so lopsided it makes Fox News look fair and balanced. Check it out here and see what you think.
In preparing for our overnight visit to Deep River, Sarah and I had talked with the Mayor and another community leader, both very nice gentlemen, very accommodating. We honestly didn’t see this coming. And we expected and hoped that folks from the town would visit us at the park, share supper, engage in conversation. Our only visitor was a wonderful woman named Vicky from a nearby town, who heard about the march, called me and came by. Hers is the face and attitude of the Iowa I love.
Today’s experiences were an anomaly. The unpleasant people we met aren’t the norm. They aren’t “Iowa Nice,” and indeed we were greeted today by a lot more friendly waves than middle fingers. When we leave Deep River tomorrow, I’m ready to put the day’s negative energy behind us, and do my part to encourage dialogue, understanding and unity.
On Monday’s Fallon Forum, Dr. Charles Goldman fills in. During the first two segments, Charles talks with David Johnson on market solutions to our healthcare issues. Then I’ll call and give an update from the Climate Justice Unity March. That’ll be followed by a report on Saturday’s “March for Science” and a discussion of Iowa’s voter ID law.
Q: What’s more challenging than marching ten miles a day for eight days?
A: Organizing the logistics to make such a march possible.
Seriously. Shari Hrdina, Sarah Spain and I have done this before, organizing the coast-to-coast Great March for Climate Action in 2014. Did we learn our lesson? Apparently not. Here we are again, organizing the Climate Justice Unity March reminded on a daily basis just how complex are the logistics of a march of 25 people.
One example: Check out these pictures of our Enviro-Commode/Solar Shower trailer, designed and built by Sean Spain. It would take an hour to tell you just how much planning and work went into putting this beaut together. The best way to get a feel for it is to come use it next week. Toilet paper provided; bring your own towel.
When you figure out the route, find campsites and venues, recruit speakers, contact the press, plan meals and pull together a host of other details, organizing this event is a gargantuan undertaking.
But it’s been worth it. In terms of human and planetary history, we are at a life-and-death moment. Policies being legislated at both the state and federal level will do great harm to our water, land and climate — and those policies will hit low-income communities and poor nations hardest of all.
So we march, talk, listen and break bread with friends and strangers. We bring together people from Iowa’s urban centers with residents of small towns to share food, music and conversation about climate change and related issues.
There’s so much division in America since the last election. But it’s my belief that whether you voted for Trump, Clinton, someone else, or not at all, we all have so much in common. And whether one thinks climate change is caused by humans or is cyclical, there’s a growing consensus that it’s happening and that we need to take action.
Yet little progress will be made if we don’t respect each other and talk about climate change with civility. There’s no better way to jump-start that conversation than with food and music . . . and of course, walking — for those who are up to that part.
So, come join us . . . to march, for the evening program, to try out the commodes, or just to meet the hardy marchers trekking the highway from Millersburg to Des Moines. Check out our Wish List and see if there’s anything we still need that you might have.
Especially, come rally with us and hundreds more on the west steps of the Iowa State Capitol at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, at the People’s Climate March Iowa.
A lot of effort by a lot of people has gone into bringing the Climate Justice Unity March to fruition. I’d especially like to thank Heather Pearson, who’s been an energetic addition to our core organizing squad. Heather plans to march six days next week. She takes a break to travel to Calhoun County to stand trial for her non-violent action against the pipeline last fall. Please join her at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 26 in Rockwell City, Iowa. Click here for further details.
As we build to the big rally on April 29, I am all kinds of excited about the upcoming Climate Justice Unity March! We have 20 people planning to march each day, and if you’d like to participate for one day, or the entire week, there’s still time to sign up. Click here to sign up.
Within the past 24 hours, I’ve spoken with mayors of two of the small towns we will stay in. What they are most excited about is the opportunity for dialogue, as they agree emphatically that the level of political acrimony in our country today is beyond anything we’ve ever seen. So, the evening forum / dinner / music gathering will be just as important as the daily march.
Here’s the press release we sent out today. The original release can be found here on the Bold Iowa website. Please share with others, and contact me if you have any questions or need information.
And yes, WE ARE LOOKING FOR DONATIONS! Email me at email@example.com if you’re able to help.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2017
Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa: 515-238-6404, firstname.lastname@example.org
Iowans to Embark on Eight-Day, Eighty-Mile March for Unity on Climate
Twenty-five marchers of diverse backgrounds to depart from Little Creek Camp on Earth Day (April 22), arrive in Des Moines on April 29 for People’s Climate Rally at State Capitol
Des Moines — A group of Iowans of diverse backgrounds will embark on an eight-day, eighty-mile Climate Justice Unity March later this month to help build a broader coalition organizing for action on climate, environmental and racial justice, and clean energy jobs — and build momentum leading up to the People’s Climate Movement Rally at the State Capitol in Des Moines on April 29.
WHAT: Climate Justice Unity March: 80 miles, 8 days
WHO: Bold Iowa and allies representing Native, African American, Latino and farming communities
WHEN: Saturday, April 22 at 9:00 a.m. through Saturday, April 29 at 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: Little Creek Camp (Millersburg) to Iowa State Capitol (Des Moines)
“The Climate Justice Unity March provides a unique opportunity to bring these voices together through the dignified, disciplined commitment of marching, and through non-confrontational gatherings each evening that will build momentum for the April 29 People’s Climate Movement Rally at the Capitol and forge new relationships essential to the work we must do going forward,” said Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon.
“The evening community gatherings will be as important as the daily marches,” added Fallon. “As we work to build the strongest possible alliance to push back against the failed policies of status quo politicians at both the state and federal level, it’s essential that we take time to listen to each other and embrace our common ground and destiny.”
“Little Creek Camp is an embodiment of the change that needs to happen at all social and environmental levels,” said Christine Nobiss, a Plains Cree woman from Iowa City and founder of the camp and Indigenous Iowa. “So it’s fitting that the Climate Justice Unity March starts here and ends at the State Capitol, where so many important decisions are made.”
“Foul air, polluted water, diminished natural resources, rising temperatures, injustice – these things have dire consequences – directly or indirectly, to every living being on Earth,” said Cynthia Hunafa, Chief Operations Officer for Creative Visions, an organization in Des Moines’ central city that provides services to economically vulnerable communities. “This, of course, is regardless of nationality, gender, ethnicity, religion, economic status, political ideologies, or any other human-made divisive barrier.”
Climate Justice Unity March Route
- Saturday, April 22: Little Creek Camp (near Millersburg) to Deep River (12 miles)
- Sunday, April 23: Deep River to Montezuma (8.5 miles)
- Monday, April 24: Montezuma to Searsboro (10 miles)
- Tuesday, April 25: Searsboro to Sully (8.5 miles)
- Wednesday, April 26: Sully to Reasnor (10 miles)
- Thursday, April 27: Reasnor to Prairie City (12.2 miles)
- Friday, April 28: Prairie City to Pleasant Hill (14 miles)
- Saturday, April 29: Pleasant Hill to Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines (6 miles)
Organizational partners for the Climate Justice Unity March
Sage Sisters of Solidarity
League of United American Citizens (LULAC) Iowa
Iowa Farmers Union
La Reina KDLF 1260 AM
Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility
Great March for Climate Action
# # #
The Iowa Utilities Board continues to demonstrate how out of touch it is with both reality and public opinion. Check out this Bleeding Heartland story about Board chair Geri Huser’s unprecedented conflict of interest. Associated Press reporter Ryan Foley originally broke the story. Here’s the link to that: Iowa regulator keeps busy private law practice.
The Iowa Senate has the opportunity to do the right thing relevant to whether or not Huser remains on the board. Writes Bleeding Heartland:
“Senators don’t need to make this into a complicated question. Iowa Code says each utilities board member ‘shall devote the member’s whole time to the duties of the office.’ Farming on the weekend or driving a cab at night isn’t the same as lawyering during regular business hours. Anyway, those other occupations don’t present potential conflicts of interest. It’s not a coincidence that no other attorney in living memory has continued running a private law practice while serving on the IUB.”
In the meantime, join Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa tomorrow as we call out the IUB for this and other conflicts-of-interest, and for failing to represent the public interest on so many occasions during the hasty approval process for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Here’s an excerpt from Bold Iowa’s press release that went out this morning about tomorrow’s IUB event. Read the full release here:
Members and supporters of Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa are invited to join a rally outside IUB this Thursday, April 6 at 1:30 p.m. In addition to comments by organizers and a chance for people to speak out, Native drummers and singers will perform, calling attention to the many ways in which the Dakota Access pipeline is an affront to Native communities in Iowa, North Dakota and across the U.S.
WHAT: Native-led Rally at IUB to Challenge Dakota Access Approval
WHO: Indigenous Iowa, Bold Iowa, Native drummers & singers
WHEN: Thursday, April 6, 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Iowa Utilities Board, 1375 E. Court Avenue, Des Moines
To build momentum for the People’s Climate Movement, Bold Iowa and its partners are organizing an eight-day, 80-mile Climate Justice Unity March. Marchers will set out from Indigenous Iowa’s Little Creek Camp near Millersburg on April 22 and arrive at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines at 1:00 p.m. on April 29 for a huge rally.
The People’s Climate Movement is gaining momentum for a landmark day of action on April 29, marking the 100th day of the Trump Presidency. The major event is in Washington, DC — a march for climate, justice and jobs. Hundreds of sister marches, rallies and events are planned in cities across the U.S. and around the globe.
In Iowa, the People’s Climate Movement will rally at the Iowa State Capitol from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 29. A broad coalition of groups is working to make this rally a statewide event involving thousands of Iowans concerned about a broad range of issues.
The organizations partnering with Bold Iowa for the Climate Justice Unity March include:
Sage Sisters of Solidarity
League of United Latin American Citizens (Council 307)
Iowa Farmers Union
La Reina KDLF 1260 AM
Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility
Great March for Climate Action
Here’s the route, overnight stops and approximate mileage:
Saturday, April 22: Little Creek Camp to Deep River (12 miles)
Sunday, April 23: Deep River to Montezuma (8 miles)
Monday, April 24: Montezuma to Searsboro (10 miles)
Tuesday, April 25: Searsboro to Sully (8 miles)
Wednesday, April 26: Sully to Reasnor (10 miles)
Thursday, April 27: Reasnor to Prairie City (12 miles)
Friday, April 28: Prairie City to Pleasant Hill (12 miles)
Saturday, April 29: Pleasant Hill to Iowa State Capitol (8 miles)
The evening forum and potluck is as important as marching. As we work to build the strongest possible alliance to push-back against the failed policies of status-quo politicians at both the state and federal level, it’s essential that we take time to listen to each other and embrace our common ground and destiny.
The Climate Justice Unity March provides a unique opportunity to bring these voices together through the dignified, disciplined commitment of marching, and through non-confrontational gatherings each evening that will build momentum for April 29 and forge new relationships essential to the work we must do going forward.
Sign up here to join the march for the entire eight days, or even for a day: https://goo.gl/forms/
Thanks! For further details, contact me at email@example.com.
The sad news is that oil may soon flow through the Dakota Access pipeline. But there are several silver linings in that dark, oil-soaked cloud.
First, the lawsuit filed by Iowa landowners against the abuse of eminent domain is on its way to the Iowa Supreme Court. In a recent Radio Iowa story, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Bill Hanigan, said “if eminent domain was improper, then all of the condemnation easements are invalid. If the condemnation easements are invalid, then that pipeline and all of the crude oil in it is trespassing.”
And what is the legal remedy to someone or something trespassing on your property? Removal! If the court rules in favor of the landowners, Dakota Access should be required to tear out all that pipeline and find an alternative route. It’s important to support these brave landowners, so stay tuned for more on that.
The other silver lining is that President Trump is indeed making America great again. It is so uplifing to see how many new people are getting involved in the fight to defend justice and our environment against the full-frontal assault led by Pres. Trump and the corporate crocodiles he’s let into the swamp he promised to drain.
One example? The great work being done by Kelly Quinn, Jenny Miller, Shelley Buffalo and others with the Meskwaki Nation. They’ve organized the RISE WITH STANDING ROCK NATIVE NATIONS RALLY – IOWA this Friday at 12:00 noon at the Iowa State Capitol. Please come support them — and deepen your own commitment to push back against state and federal actions whose real motive is to turn over more and more of our rights and tax dollars to the corporate oligarchy that has bought and paid for too many politicians.
Here’s the press release Bold Iowa sent out today. The original release can be viewed here. Please share it!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12:00 p,m, CT, Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Contact: Kelly Quinn, firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 657-0179
Contact: Shelley Buffalo, email@example.com or (319) 333-2844
Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa Director, firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 238-6404
Meskwaki Women Organize “Rise With Standing Rock” Rally
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe calls for solidarity as they march in Washington
Des Moines, IA — On Friday, March 10 at 12:00 noon, members of the Meskwaki Nation and their Iowa allies will rally on the west side of the Iowa State Capitol building in solidarity with the Native Nations Rise march and rally in Washington, DC at the same time.
“I stood with Standing Rock in the fight to protect water and I stand with all Native nations for their right to self-preservation and sovereignty,” said Kelly Quinn, a Meskwaki woman who lives in Ankeny. “What Standing Rock showed us is that tribal rights, agreements and treaties need to be honored by the US government. We support tribal autonomy, oppose any more oil and gas pipelines, and advocate for clean energy to save our water and planet.”
“All of creation is equal and the Earth is our mother,” said Shelley Buffalo, a Meskwaki woman who lives in Iowa City. “We practice gratitude for the Earth for providing us with all that we need. That’s why we are the protectors. That’s why we stand in solidarity with our Native brothers and sisters across the country and with all who have come together to defend our land and water.”
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other grassroots Indigenous organizers have called upon other tribes and all their allies to join them on March 10 in Washington, DC and in events across the country as they march, pray and take action. Participants will lobby Congress for Indigenous Nations’ rights to tribal sovereignty and to protect their homelands, the environment and future generations.
“The fight against the Dakota Access pipeline has ignited a historic alliance that is just beginning to exercise its political muscle and moral authority,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “Friday’s actions in DC, in Iowa and across the nation are another indication that our strength and influence as a powerful coalition of Native communities, farmers, landowners and environmentalists is growing deeper and more connected.”
Fallon will not be at the Iowa event as he is traveling to Washington, DC with members of Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa to participate in the march and rally there. Bold Iowa Program Coordinator, Shari Hrdina, will attend the Des Moines rally along with Lyssa Wade, who will speak on behalf of Bold and her work with landowners along the pipeline route.
In addition to Bold Iowa, organizations partnering with the Meskwaki women spearheading Friday’s Des Moines rally include Indigenous Iowa, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition and the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Bold Iowa is part of the Bold Alliance, building a coalition of small-and-mighty groups in rural states to fight Big Oil, protect landowners against the abuse of eminent domain, and work for clean energy solutions while empowering a political base of voters who care about the land and water.
# # #
For the status quo, it was another great week in politics. The Democratic National Committee — long controlled by the corporate-friendly Clintons and their pals on Wall Street — elected Tom Perez over Keith Ellison as the new Party chair.
Some of my friends argue that Perez has a progressive track record as former Labor Secretary under President Obama and is now the first Latino to lead the Democratic Party. So what’s the fuss?
They miss the point. What’s now known as the Bernie Wing of the Democratic Party (what Sen. Paul Wellstone called the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party” and what used to be known simply as “The Democratic Party”) backed Keith Ellison — a solid, independent-minded progressive who made no bones about challenging the Party’s establishment.
By all accounts, the establishment knew it couldn’t control Ellison. So it cleverly picked a candidate who, despite a reasonably progressive history, would make sure the Party’s status quo went unchallenged.
Symbolically, if not functionally, the election of Perez as chair is a disaster. It sends the message that the DNC is about business as usual. Sure, Perez attempted to throw the Bernie Wing a bone by appointing Ellison as deputy chair of the Party. But few believe this token gesture will have any effect on altering the Party’s direction.
Here in Iowa, we were shocked that all five of Iowa’s voting delegates supported Perez. The new chair (Derek Eadon) and new vice chair (Andrea Phillips) were swept in on a wave of reform. Eadon beat the establishment’s darling, former State Senator Mike Gronstal, handily. And yet the new leadership’s first significant action is . . . what? Vote against the candidate universally endorsed by reform Democrats? Take that, you Bernie people!
So, what’s a reform-oriented, progressive voter to do? Well, you can stick with the Democratic Party and try to reform it from within. I admire your perseverance and hope you prevail.
Or you can register as a Green or Libertarian, work to start a new party, or campaign for people who run as third party or independent candidates. Yet, I’m not convinced that any existing third party has the gumption and diligence to do the grueling, voter-by-voter groundwork needed to become a serious threat to the two-party monopoly. Prove me wrong.
Or you can choose to remain unaffiliated, and hope that the Democratic Party again finds the soul it abandoned back in the 1980s, or that a new Party becomes strong enough to emerge as a viable alternative.
My path, for now, is to continue to hammer away at the critical issues through building strong, broad grassroots coalitions that bring together voices and interests that haven’t traditionally worked side-by-side, but need to if we’re going to see success at the ballot box and in policy debates in city halls, legislative chambers and the U.S. Congress.
At all costs, soldier on. There are so many ways to make a difference. Even if while trudging along your chosen path you feel like a voice crying in the wilderness, you’ve gotta persist. The stakes are too high to sit back and do nothing.
While your one voice may seem weak and frail even though you scream at the top of your lungs, when that voice unites with dozens, hundreds, thousands and eventually millions of other voices, it becomes a clamor for freedom and justice that cannot be ignored.