Last week we took a much needed break, then gathered Saturday for a wild, rip-roarious roller skating victory party. It was everything it promised to be, with folks careening this way and that on old-fashioned skates while eating Granato's sandwiches and moving to the beat.
Thank you to everyone who helped with food, venues and planning. It was so nice to celebrate together, and to have something so momentous to celebrate! Real democracy is about gathering to support our successes and organizing to solve problems.
Speaking of which....
Despite our 11,400 signatures, corporate rule is alive and well in this country, and we have a lot to do.
It's tempting to rest on our laurels, but we've got to get ready for the vote in November!
So please, join us for our weekly meeting Wednesday, April 25th at 6:30 pm at 1361 S. Main Street.
We will be revitalizing our working groups, and there will be something for everyone to do: media, street theater, outreach, education, volunteer coordination, fundraising--you name it. In then next couple of weeks, we'll also strategize as a group about how we can win in November and beyond. And most importantly, we'll continue talking to thousands of folks about what a real democracy looks like to them.
We need you now more than ever. So bring a friend and the best ideas in your brain, and join us Wednesday. Onward!
The Move to Amend Salt Lake Organizing Collective
P.S. Ashley Sanders has been invited to sit on the Move to Amend National Executive Committee. She is in Eugene, Oregon right now, helping to map out the future course of the movement. She'll have a full report when she returns!
I asked folks to raise their hand if they had thought this was an impossible task. Almost everyone raised their hands.
YOU are the reason it went from impossible to possible. YOU are the reason we will be on the ballot in November. And YOU should feel incredible, amazing, brave, strong and unstoppable. 'Cause you are.
All of us in the Move to Amend Organizing Collective want to thank you from the bottom of our democracy hearts for your time, your talents, and your tenacity.
But the bottoms of our hearts aren't enough, so we want to give you two more things: a break and aPARTY!
That's right, this week we'll take a breather and forego our regular Wednesday meeting. So please, think of the thing you most wanted to do but never had time for when you were busy canvassing, and go do it!
We will resume meetings the following Wednesday at 6:30. We have so many exciting things to do to get ready for November, and we need you more than ever before. So plan on it.
And now for the PARTY! What better way to celebrate safeguarding democracy than to have a roller skate dance party? Answer: No better way!
We'll have food, prizes and general good times for everyone who comes. (If you don't want to or can't rollerskate, please come anyway and bust some moves on the dance floor.)
Long Live Democracy Roller Skating Extravaganza!
SATURDAY, APRIL 21st
340 S. 400 W.
(It's a warehouse. Park on the street and enter through the parking lot.)
4-16-12 – W. Steps of SLC City and County Building
Ashley Sanders – Co-Coordinator of Move to Amend Salt Lake City
We are standing in front of you today to give you some numbers, and here they are.
We are standing here today because 150 average, everyday people have spent the last 60 days going door-to-door, store-to-store and park-to-park trying to get their democracy back. We are here because in those 60 days, those 150 volunteers collected signatures from 11,400 people who believed emphatically that corporations are not people, money is not a form of speech, and that we need to amend the Constitution to say the same thing. That’s 11, 400 people who think their government is controlled by corporate interests. That’s 11, 400 people who believe their representatives no longer represent them. That’s 11,400 people who know that $5 billion will be spent in the next election cycle, and who know what that means. That’s 11,400 people who, despite being treated every day like they are not powerful, not important, not strong, decided to ignore all that and believe in the possibility of a genuine people’s movement.
And it’s not just 11,400 people. If you know community organizing, you know one thing: to get those 11,400 voters, we actually spoke to 20,000 people. That’s right. 150 people spoke to 20,000 people in 60 days. That’s 350 people every day, 350 people who heard the following speech:
Hi, my name is Ashley Sanders and I am from an organization called Move to Amend. I am talking to people today because I want to get corporations out of our democratic process. Are you familiar with the idea that corporations have rights that were intended only for human beings? And do you know that they use these rights to flood our elections with dirty money, pollute our air, poison our water, destroy good jobs, and tank our economy? Yeah, you’re right. That is crazy. I know, I know, who actually believes that corporations are people? Well, actually, nine unelected judges on the Supreme Court. Yeah, I know, you never voted on it. I know, it’s unfair. Well, would you be willing to sign a petition so we can get on the ballot in November and declare our independence from corporate rule?
And 8 out of 10 Salt Lake voters signed. Of those 20,000 folks we talked to, most who didn’t sign couldn’t, because they lived outside Salt Lake City, but they wondered when we’d be coming to their town. And we said: soon. We told them that this year alone, 90 cities across the country are passing Move to Amend resolutions calling to abolish corporate personhood and get money out of elections. We told them that we wouldn’t stop there—that we’d take it to other cities next year, then to the county, then to the states, then drive it into Congress through sheer force of will and people power.
They said: Be in touch.
8 out of 10 people. Tell me: what more proof do you need that our government does not represent us than to know that 80 percent of the population is for something, but it doesn’t happen because a few corporate elites don’t want it to?
The other people who didn’t sign all said something similar. They said: “I believe in what you’re doing, but it just won’t work.” They laughed and said, “That’s cute, that you believe this stuff still works.” They said, “I don’t do politics.” And I’d ask them why and they’d say, “Because everything is broken. Because people have no power.”
And I would look at them and ask them, “Do you think I would be out here if I believed the system was working? Do you think I would stand in the heat and the cold, getting kicked out of every public and private space I stood in, because I think things are good? I am here because I know the score. I know the system is broken. I have no illusions about how hard it will be to fix, how many people it will require or how long it will take. I am here for only one reason: Because I believe in a beautiful, giant, unstoppable grassroots movement of everyday people. Because I used to accept that corporations control every meaningful part of my life, then sat in my basement sad and paralyzed. Because I did that and it didn’t make me feel good.”
I meant what I said to those people. This is not an issue of policy reform. This is not just about money in politics or Citizens United or campaign finance. Ask yourself: How strong was democracy before Citizens United? Yeah, I thought so. This is a democracy movement. It’s a movement about sovereignty. It’s a movement about people making decisions on the issues that affect their lives. It’s a movement of everyday people declaring their independence from corporate rule.
Those are big words, and we mean them, too.
In 1776, a group of folks known alternatively as rebels or revolutionaries gathered together in Philadelphia and passed a remarkable document. They called it the Declaration of Independence. It was, to say the least, a bold document. It said that human beings, not monarchs, were the rulers of their own government. It said that governments existed not just for these people, but because of these people. It was a revolutionary document in the truest sense: it reordered the world, turned it upside down. It questioned the entire logic of government that had existed for centuries. It said kings were no longer sovereign. It said people could rule themselves. It said people were in charge.
At the time of its writing, the Declaration was just a pile of words. The people who wrote it were still wholly under the thumb of the very system they were defying. They had just begun to organize, just begun to fight. The people who wrote that declaration won their fight, and they wrote a Constitution. It starts with the phrase "We the People."
There was only one problem. Given the requirements, only 8 percent of the people in this country counted as part of that “we.” Certainly not women, who built this country alongside men. Certainly not African Americans, who were enslaved in the name of profit. Certainly not poor people, who had fought for economic independence but were still, essentially, serfs. And certainly not Native Americans, whose land this is and who experienced the revolution was a genocide.
If we understand this, we can understand one vital thing. That the history of this country, is, as Howard Zinn claimed, a history of people toiling and organizing and fighting to drive themselves into the phrase We the People. That if there is anything valuable about being American, it’s the beautiful history of all the people who weren’t considered Americans in the first place.
It is a good thing to be counted as a human. It means you are real, powerful, entitled to basic rights and dignities. It is something so important that people have been lynched, assassinated, imprisoned and repressed in their fight for it. Most of the people working for a real democracy never saw it, and they are counting on us to make it real. And if we understand that, we will understand why we are gathered here on these steps, almost 250 years later, to declare our independence from corporate rule. We will understand why it is such a grotesque insult, after decades of oppressed people fighting to be understood as people, that corporations have invaded this sacred terrain and claimed it as their own . We will understand that what is at stake is not just campaign finance or representative democracy, but all the rights humans have fought to have for centuries. Because a corporation is not a person. It does not die. It does not sleep. It does not love. It has no feelings. It is incredibly powerful. And if a corporation is a person, if money is speech, then democracy cannot exist. Real people suffer.
250 years ago, people declared their independence from a form of concentrated political power known as monarchy. We are here today to declare our independence from a form of concentrated economic and political power known as corporate rule. We are here to legalize democracy, because when corporations have human rights, democracy is illegal . And finally, we are here to create democracy, because real democracy has never existed. We are here because we actually believe these words: that all people are created equal, that they are endowed with unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that governments derive their power from the consent of the governed, and that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
We are here to ask thousands, millions of everyday people if they believe those words. We are here to ask: Does your government exist for you? Does it protect your life, liberty and happiness? Do you, a real person, matter in your democracy?
The answer is no. And since these are not just words we repeated in high school civics, we will have to take seriously our subsequent duty: to alter or abolish the form of government that deprives us of those unalienable rights . That is why we are standing with 90 cities across the country today to say one thing: We demand an amendment to the Constitution to say that corporations are not people and money is not speech. We demand the right to be real.
We have no illusions about the difficulty of our task. It is tempting to do what corporations want, and what the declaration warns against: to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. It is tempting to believe that our system is so broken that a people’s movement is impossible, that we have been conquered. But we cannot accept that because our history is calling to us to make it real. The declaration of independence is not a historical document. It is an unfinished document, marred by racism and sexism and classism and short-sightedness. But in its words is a mandate for the future: to declare our independence from all systems that ignore or harm the unalienable rights of real and equal people. Our government doesn’t give us those things. We are those things already. Our government is real only if it recognizes us for what we already are.
So we are here to declare our independence. Today, we are submitting two things: Our petitions, our grievances, and our principles.
Our grievances are these: That corporations have taken over our government. That they flood our elections with dirty money. That they make our laws and control our elected officials. That they have invaded every space, every thought, and every decision we make. That they have destroyed our elections, our land, our economy, our jobs, and our future. That they have taken from us our right to make the very meaningful decisions that would fix those things. That they rule over us.
And our principles: That regular people matter. That they are smart, and capable, and able to make their own decisions. That we are the government, that the government is ours. That we have a right to all the things that real beings need to survive: clean air, clean water, clean food, good jobs, good ideas, respect, dignity, creativity. That these things are inalienable, invaluable, and so much more important than profit.
Personally, I am doing this for a woman I met while lobbying for clean air in DC. She was from Kentucky, and she was very sick. She said she came from a town that was ringed round by pollution: on the one side a trash incinerator, another a mountain top removal site, not to mention a refinery and coal plant. “Everyone in my town is dying,” she said. “Everyone from my town is sick. We have no jobs and we are dying.” I am doing this because I know that, if this woman were given a meaningful choice in her democracy, she would not create a circle of poison all around her. If she mattered, she would use her mattering to better the world. She can’t do that, though, because she is not given a voice. She can’t do that because right now, she—a person—doesn’t matter as much as money—as profit. This movement wants to give this woman and everyone else in America the chance to be as powerful and smart as they are.
So we offer to you a stack of the 11,400 people who have signed our declaration. We’re waiting for you.
Tomorrow morning, we'll gather on the west steps of the City County building and announce the exact number of signatures that a bunch of extra-ordinary folks collected in under two months in this fine city.
The media will be there, and so should you!
Declaring Independence from Corporate Rule.
We'll have signs, an interactive art project, and a reading of our declaration.
If you love democracy, come.
If you despise corporate rule, come.
If you have been one of hundreds of amazing people who have gone out in the streets and talking to thousands of people about the campaign, come.
In short: We want you there.
We'll read our declaration to the press and then bike our petitions--every last one of them--over to the county elections office.
TOMORROW 10:15 AM CITY COUNTY BUILDING WEST STEPS
P.S. Don't forget: We're having a Long Live Democracy Rollerskating Victory Party on Saturday, April 21st at 7:30 PM. Food, music, and skates provided! 341 S. 400 W. (It's our friend's warehouse. Enter through the parking lot.)
Remember, we could have easily passed a resolution through the City Council. We chose to do a ballot initiative because it is a form of direct democracy that allows us to organize, educate, and mobilize from the grassroots. We also chose it because it allows us to tell our own stories of how corporate rule affects us.
The press conference is a chance to tell our story in our own language, and we need all y'all to be there to tell it.
The theme will be declaring our independence from corporate rule. We'll have interactive signs, a huge We the People banner, and a reading of our declaration.
We want folks watching the evening news to know that we are mighty and many, so please come out and stand with us, then help us bike our petitions to the elections office.
PRESS CONFERENCE MONDAY, APRIL 16th WEST STEPS OF CITY COUNTY BUILDING 10:15 AM
To get ready for the conference, we're having a sign-making party! Come and help us make some beautiful visual noise.
SIGN-MAKING PARTY SUNDAY, APRIL 15th 1361 S. MAIN 8 PM
And finally, we've got to CELEBRATE! We've earned it.
So come one, come all to our Long Live Democracy Roller-Skating Extravaganza on Saturday, April 21st at 7:30 pm. Some amazing folks from the campaign are letting us convert their warehouse into a roller rink for one night only, and you don't want to miss it. Food and prizes galore!
VICTORY PARTY SATURDAY, APRIL 21st 340 S. 400 W. (enter through parking lot) 7:30 PM
We can rent skates for you, but we need to know your shoe size. If you are planning to come, please let us know your size here so we can order enough skates.
Hope to see you at all these amazing events!
Onward, Move to Amend Salt Lake Organizing Collective
This is what it feels like to bethis close to a goal most said it was impossible to reach.
That's right: In only 6 short weeks, a group of people who had nothing in common but a desire for deep democracy went door-to-door, store-to-store, and person-to-person to collect 7,765 signatures.
In a culture where corporations tell us we cannot fight, we fought. In a society where there is almost no public space to speak about public crises, we created it. And in a country where our political system is totally broken, we showed that a grassroots movement is still thinkable--no, doable.
7,765 is a very important number. It is 524 signatures beyond the 7,241, which is the requirement to get on the ballot.
7,765 is also important because it means that we--a team of about 50 volunteers--have talked with over 15,000 folks about why we're mad about politics, what we want instead, and how we might get there. 15,000 people. When was the last time you were part of something like that?
And 7,765 is important for one final reason. It is not 9,000--the padded number we need to reach to make sure we are on the ballot.
Here's another important number: April 15th. April 15th is the day that our 9,000 signatures are due to the county clerk. And April 15th is 5 days away.
That means we have five days to collect 1,245 signatures.
We can do it, but only if you help.
If there was ever a time to join us, it's now.
So come to one of our four final canvasses and feel courage come back into your veins.
Wednesday 6:30 pm 1361 S. Main
Thursday 6 pm Main library
Saturday 2 pm Main library
Saturday 5:30 pm Sorenson Unity Center
Sunday 2 pm Main library
I have been thinking a lot about Julia Butterfly Hill, the woman who saved a redwood grove from clear cuts by spending two long years on a platform in a giant tree named Luna. Now that she's back on solid earth, a lot of people tell her "I never could have done what you did." She always says, "Neither could I."
A lot of people know our political system is broken. When I canvass them on the street, they say "I can't fix that, but it's good you're out there." And whenever they say that, I want to say "Neither can I, and I'm no good without you."
Democracy only works when a giant number of people recognize what's broken, but instead of becoming cynical, become mighty.
If we think about every single thing we have to do to heal this wounded world, we would never go outside and heal one single thing. This ballot initiative will not restore our democracy, it will start to restore us for the long fight ahead.
So join us.
Ash Sanders and the Move to Amend Salt Lake Organizing Collective
P.S. Wednesday's meeting is the deadline for turning in all loose packets. We must, must, must have your packets back if we are going to get on the ballot. So bring them Wednesday!
Thanks to each and every one of you who came out to hear David Cobb speak this weekend. On Friday, we listened to him thunder down the house, making the connections between imperialism, racism, sexism and corporate rule and showing us the path to organized indignation. One Saturday, we huddled together and made plans for the next two weeks so Salt Lake could be the first city in the country to get all the signatures needed to get on the ballot, not to mention the first group in Salt Lake to ever put a people's resolution on the city ballot.
We have 12 days left to rock out a resolution revolution--and, as always, we need YOU!
Here's how you can help:
Come to one of our mass canvasses and help us collect signatures! We'll train you and give you everything you need to be a mouth for real democracy.
Wednesday, April 3rd, 6:30 pm Peaceful Uprising Warehouse 1361 S. Main St.
Saturday, April 7th, 2 pm Main Library Atrium
Saturday, April 7th, 5:30 pm Sorenson Unity Center 1383 S 900 W
In a culture where we are silenced and given so few meaningful choices, it feels good to get out in public space and choose to speak our minds to people who want to speak their minds, too. If you haven't given canvassing a chance, let it give YOU a chance: to say things you have always wanted to say. Come and join us, and know that you were one part of a huge number of signatures that helped us take the first step to amending the Constitution.
Also, we need your petitions back! We've got lots circulating around Salt Lake, but it doesn't mean anything unless we can get them back in our hands.
So please, come to a canvass and bring your petition sheet--completed or not--to turn in, or call our petition runner, Charles Liu, to get them picked up. (408) 931.2414.
We will also be having a petition turn-in party in the next week. More details to come!
And of course, any herculean effort like the one we've just engaged in deserves a herculean victory party. Andparty is just what we intend to do, celebrating our power with each other. Hint: This party will likely involve rollerskates. So keep your ears up and we'll keep you posted.
Move to Amend spokesman and former presidential candidate David Cobb is coming to Salt Lake City to build momentum for hte citizens' uprising that seeks to amend the constitution to say: Corporations aren't people and money isn't speech. Join us for two exciting events:
TONIGHT March 30: Creating Democracy and Challenging Corporate Rule: How Corporations Took Our Power and How to Get it Back 6:30 p.m. Wasatch Co-Housing Common Room (1411 S. Utah Street) (click here for a map -- it's near Redwood Road and California Avenue/1300 South)
SATURDAY March 31: Campaigning to Win: Strategy and Skills Training 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Peaceful Uprising Warehouse 1361 S. Main Street, Salt Lake City Strategize for the upcoming ballot, learn organizer skills, grow the movement and help collect Signatures!
Less than three weeks to go before the signature deadline, and we're pulling out all the stops.
We still need thousands of signatures, and we need every last one of you to get out on the streets and help us achieve our goal.
That's why we're turning our Wednesday meeting into one giant canvass!
Think about it: We usually have 40 people at our weekly meetings. If all 40 people went out for two hours and got 20 signatures, we'd have 800 signatures in one night. That's huge!
So please, whether you've been coming out regularly or have been meaning to, NOW IS THE TIME.
Invite your family, your friends, your passing acquaintances and join us.
Today: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28th at 6:30 PM at the PEACEFUL UPRISING WAREHOUSE (1361 S. MAIN ST.)
We'll have streets laid out, donuts warm and waiting, and smiles on our faces.
Be there and be part of a nationwide grassroots movement to reclaim our democracy!
And that's not all...
The national Move to Amend committee is so excited about Salt Lake's effort that they've sent us one of their own to help with the final push.
This Friday and Saturday, former presidential candidate, Move to Amend barnstormer and resident fireball David Cobb will be in Salt Lake to speak about corporate rule and help us strategize to defeat it.
Join us Friday evening to hear David connect the dots between corporate rule and healthcare, jobs, and the environment--then learn what the Move to Amend campaign intends to do about it. (For those of you who have heard the history before, never fear! David will go more in depth on the issue and give you the latest developments in the democracy movement.) Click here to to join the event on Facebook.
On Saturday, everyone interested in democracy (that's you!) will gather together for a day's worth of strategizing and skill building. We'll make a plan for the final two weeks of canvassing, create a long-term campaign for the November ballot, and train folks in organizer skills and development. If you've been involved and wanted to step it up a notch, this is the perfect time to scheme and dream. If you've wanted to get involved but haven't yet, this is the perfect time to catch up and dive in. And if you are a dreamer at all, you'll benefit from a seriously fun, seriously effective organizer skills training.
So come for the strategy and stay for the revolution!
FRIDAY March 30:
6:30 p.m. Challenging Corporate Rule, Creating Democracy Wasatch Co-Housing Common Room (1411 S. Utah Street) (click here for a map -- it's near Redwood Road and California Avenue/1300 South)
SATURDAY March 31:
10 am - 4 pm Strategy and Skills Training Peaceful Uprising Warehouse
1361 S. Main Street Light Lunch Provided
Invite one and all via our Facebook page, and print out and pass out flyers to pass out to The People!
Today’s New York Times has an editorial about the corrupting influence of super PAC money in the current election. It cites the disastrous 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United as enabling wealthy corporations and individuals to effectively drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.