From: email@example.com [mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Marcy Westerling
Sent: Friday, August 12, 2005 9:21 AM
Subject: [ROPNET] We talked, Wu listened
It was an action that seemed to feel good to all who participated. Thanks to about 30 human dignity activists, a 100 person Town Hall in St. Helen's went on record in opposition to the failed and expensive war machine in Iraq. It happened like this.
The Town Hall was to go for an hour and have a focus on social security: a critical and timely topic. It was held at the senior center in St. Helens. CCCHD (Columbia County) and WCCHD (Forest Grove) wanted to use this congressional recess access to Congressman Wu to push him to further challenge Bush's pro-war administration. But we also didn't want to dis-respect or derail a critical conversation on social security. Especially since we wanted to build popular support for our anti-war stand.
A simple plan evolved that had many additional benefits. We would use signs, held aloft at critical moments, to accent our point. We would limit ourselves to two speakers, both asked to weave their opposition to US Occupation in Iraq into support for social security. We would be brief. We would be choreographed (i.e. when one of our speakers had the floor, we would hold our signs up.)
Our group was spread around the very full room. When it was our turn, we seemed to be everywhere. And soon we were - the crowd seemed to really, really appreciate what we were doing, applauded loudly, and when we were done not only did Wu stay on the 'how bad the war in Iraq is' topic but many of the subsequent speakers kept weaving social security, poor veteran's benefits and the war together as the audience just got more and more loud in opposition to the war. Remember, this is all in small towns St Helens at a senior center with a whole lot of veterans.
Congressman Wu has been better than most politicians in challenging the war machine. There is no doubt that he left this Town Hall (the biggest he said he had ever attended in St Helens) feeling that his constituents endorse his challenges to the neo-conservative agenda. This is important.
And it is just as important and powerful to do this in venues with Congressional folks who have have not stood (yet) in opposition to the war.
Having signs that reinforced the same simple theme (in this case, 'Hold a Town Hall on the War!') created a purpose for the many of us that did not have a speaking role to feel very engaged and, in fact, we were. Seeing all the signs held up was powerful.
There is no doubt that the impact of all this was enhanced by inviting Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) to be one of the speakers. Eric Blickenstaff spoke with a picture of his dead soldier brother in his hands.
Town Halls are constants in our communities. It does not take much to make an organized point but it does take a little bit of discipline to map out a plan that allows everyone to go on record and to, hopefully, build support for your cause. If ROP can help you plan an action, just let us know and if you want to get connected up with fine volunteers at Military Families Speak Out let us know.
Marcy Westerling - email@example.com
Rural Organizing Project - Advancing Democracy in Rural Oregon
P.O. Box 1350
Scappoose, OR 97056
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