Breaking up the Cauc-Asian Male Tech Cartel

It seems to me that, at least in the United States, the degree to which males, whites and to some extent Asians are overrepresented demographically among software developers, savvy application and web power-users, and website administrators is tantamount to an apartheid system, with the attendant political and economic effects on those groups who are excluded. Continue reading

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Grassroots Tech: Managing Volunteers

In many small grassroots groups I have been involved in, there are real challenges put upon leaders and coordinators (who are likely already putting in time and shouldering a task list way beyond the normal scope of human capacity) to track and mobilize volunteers. And there is a dearth of free software solutions to help effectively manage volunteers, whose help is the lifeblood of many an un(der)funded organization. Continue reading

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AMEN, Arundhati!

Arundhati Roy in Adbusters, “Decolonize the Consumerist Wasteland: Re-imagining a World Beyond Capitalism and Communism”. She holds out hope for Bubble Up Change in its most fundamental, pure form — as coming from aboriginal peoples who have preserved their spiritual ties to the planet we live on, if we allow them their space, their cultural autonomy, their “different imagination.”

If there is any hope for the world at all, it does not live in climate-change conference rooms or in cities with tall buildings. It lives low down on the ground, with its arms around the people who go to battle every day to protect their forests, their mountains and their rivers because they know that the forests, the mountains and the rivers protect them.

The first step toward re-imagining a world gone terribly wrong would be to stop the annihilation of those who have a different imagination – an imagination that is outside of capitalism as well as communism. An imagination which has an altogether different understanding of what constitutes happiness and fulfillment.

To gain this philosophical space, it is necessary to concede some physical space for the survival of those who may look like the keepers of our past but who may really be the guides to our future. To do this, we have to ask our rulers: Can you leave the waters in the rivers, the trees in the forest? Can you leave the bauxite in the mountain? If they say they cannot, then perhaps they should stop preaching morality to the victims of their wars.

The whole piece is so worth reading, and re-reading, and mulling over, and thinking through ways to turn into advocacy and action!

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Thank You Aaron, R.I.P. and let us never forget

PREFACE: I am short on time and greater thinkers than I have extensively covered Aaron Swartz’s life, his work and suicide. This is not intended as a research piece, but rather a reflection along thought lines I have already been engaged in, and hope to write about, regarding the dangers technology poses to grassroots groups. Consciousness needs to be raised amongst those who depend increasingly on a toolkit that can be used to control the whistleblowers, the dissenters, the organizers … every bit as much as it gives them a feeling of power. Because this is not a research piece, I have provided almost no links. Anything mentioned here will, with a quick Web search, turn up a wealth of information for further reading.

The Internet has proven itself, over and over, as a tool that gives the untamed masses the means of democratic action, consciousness-raising, dissent, and influence-peddling — with votes and public opinion, not money, being the capital that is leveraged — to rival the largest lobbies.

And the Internet has also proven itself, in escalating struggles over the past few years, as a battleground on which governments and vested interests wish to rein in the potential for public ferment; to punish those who would bring to light questionable or even nefarious doings of our government “in our name” but without our knowledge; to establish restrictions on use, sharing and allowable content; and even to develop the infamous “kill switch” that would give the government the means to just shut the whole thing down, purportedly to protect us from cyberterrorism but also enabling the powers that be to immediately quash dissent and block any communications that the government deems dangerous or undesirable.

Continue reading

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Jelani’s Campaign Goes Interactive

Jelani Mashiriki’s campaign to represent the 35th District on the New York City Council was skillfully poised for action (or, really, interaction) and sent out this email only two days after winding up the grueling fundraising process candidates must go through prior to January Campaign Finance Board filings: Continue reading

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Facebook v Email for Grassroots Organizing

graphic by ilyse kazar, CC share-alike

graphic by ilyse kazar, CC share-alike

Some of us, and I include myself in this critique, spend so much time with phone in hand or in front of laptop screens, reading Facebook notifications rolling in and posting and sharing on our profiles and in groups and on pages … we start to think of Facebook as an automatically great place to reach an audience and promote events, causes and campaigns.

Not. To this day, as 90s as it sounds, email is the best way to reach people with informational content Continue reading

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Earth Matter NY – Learning, teaching, partnering, doing

Earth Matter NY is a tiny not-for-profit organization headquartered in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, “dedicated to advancing the art, science, and application of composting in and around New York City.”

Earth Matter might seem to be about compost, but there is so much more to what they do. They are not composting so much to simply make compost … Continue reading

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Family Roots Rock the Rustik

On September 25 at the Rustik Tavern in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, a crowd of more than 100 people convened for the launch of a new political campaign — Jelani Mashariki is running for a seat on the New York City Council (District 35). I knew Jelani through his work on George Martinez’s recent Congressional campaign, and as a founding member of both Global Block and Bum Rush the Vote (blogged previously). I have seen him on video and on stage performing “Occupation Freedom” with the Global Block Collective. I knew of his involvement with the Paul Robeson Freedom School that was co-founded by Bed-Stuy resident and activist Justin Wedes (himself a founding member of the NY General Assembly). Continue reading

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#Occupy Activist Jelani Mashariki to Run for New York City Council

Bum Rush the Vote announced today the second candidate to run under their people’s PAC banner — Jelani Mashariki is launching his campaign to represent his Brooklyn district in the New York City Council this evening with a fundraising party at the Rustik Tavern in Brooklyn.

Mashariki is the second candidate to run under the “Bumrush The Vote” banner, the first, congressional candidate George Martinez, made national headlines using Bumrush The Vote’s unique grassroots approach. Mashariki’s candidacy announcement serves as the latest chapter in his life-long story of community organizing and social justice advocacy.

Jalani Mashariki is a Brooklyn native, child of the Crown Heights Youth Collective, a Brooklyn College graduate, an inaugural AmeriCorps volunteer focusing in HIV outreach, an activist with Black Veterans for Social Justice, the Director of Pamoja House Homeless Men’s Shelter, Co-founder of the Global Block Foundation & U.S. Cultural Envoy, an Occupy Wall Street & Occupy the Hood activist, and is currently the Dean of Liberation of the Paul Robeson Freedom School.

…via #Occupy Activist Jelani Mashariki to Run for New York City Counsel.

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Trash sorter fights wage theft, and wins

(This post was originally published in Workhorse Politics)

This vid was made by the venerable organization Interfaith Worker Justice. It’s a heart-warming success story told with great humor by Cleve Williams, a trash sorter at an Ohio recycling plant.

Cleve Williams is my idea of a true American hero. He takes our usual idea, the one we buy into, about “who has the clout in this country” and turns it on its head.

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