Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thank you, Oregon!

It was a whirlwind week for DC Vote's Team Oregon. No one can say that our national public awareness campaign is not ambitious! Not only did we meet with students at five colleges and universities, we networked with everyone from the Portland Business Alliance, AFL-CIO, UFCW and the Urban League of Portland to the NAACP, League of Women Voters and Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. And, that's just to name a few!

Everyone had invaluable insights on spreading the message of DC voting rights, far and wide. Thanks, Oregon! This is just the begining of a beautiful partnership.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Catching up with another coaltion partner in Oregon!

Never one to miss an opportunity to connect, Eugene moves ahead on behalf of Team Oregon. Even after Nell and Jaline have left the state, he takes a meeting with Erik Sorenson of Oregon People for the American Way (PFAW) at our "regular" Team Oregon hang-out, the local Starbucks.

Never stop outreaching: Eugene flies solo for a tabling event at the Urban League's Mayoral Forum

Marcus Mundy (left), President of the Urban League of Portland, poses with Eugene. He and his colleagues were an enormous help to DC Vote during our trip and true champions for the cause!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Team Oregon gets their celebration on! For real, real.

We had an amazing time in Oregon and took the chance to celebrate. We even met up with the Eli Zigas of the west coast (AKA Dave from Lewis and Clark) to cap off a very busy, very productive week. Oh, and of course, we made some friends and got some petition signatures while we were at it. Even in our off-hours, DC Vote don't stop and we don't quit...

Feelin' a little bit of the blogger blahs (the blahgs), we quickly perk up for a great event with the Bus Project

After a long couple of days, we were feeling the pain of lack of sleep. But, we kicked off the Bus Project's "crawling for voters" event with a DC Vote-sponsored happy hour and ended up having a great time. We bought the kids a round of FREE PIZZA, gave our stump speech and had a few drinks with the voter-minded folks there. Special thanks to Melissa and Garrett for helping us out!

Our Oregon coalition is growing: Labor unions and League of Women Voters agree to help us out

We had two fantastic meetings - with LWV Oregon plus LWV Portland, followed by a meeting with labor. Both groups were staunch advocates of DC voting rights and are already planning ways to support DC Vote! We heart them.

Ms. Nell rocks the house at Lewis and Clark Law School

Ms. Schaffer dropped mad knowledge at an event co-sponsored by the Law Democrats and American Constitution Society at L and C. Our gracious hosts (big thanks to Stephen, Dave and Jonathan!) hooked us up with...what else? FREE PIZZA! We hooked them up with the past, present and future of DC voting rights. Team Oregon just keeps on rockin' and rollin'.

What's Oregon Got to Do With It? The Fight for DC Voting Rights

The following article (on blueoregon.com at http://www.blueoregon.com/2008/03/whats-oregon-go.html) appears as a Guest Column by Jaline Quinto. Chec k out the great work that our Oregon Team is doing!

By Jaline Quinto, of Washington, DC. Jaline works in communications for DC Vote, an organization dedicated to securing full congressional representation for the nearly 600,000 residents of Washington, DC.

It’s been a centuries-long struggle to end taxation without representation, and it’s a fight that DC residents are just a few votes shy of winning. DC Vote, an organization dedicated to securing full congressional representation for Washington, DC, has launched an aggressive campaign to educate constituents in states where Senate members are filibustering the DC Voting Rights Act (S. 1257).

The bill is merely an incremental step towards full representation for residents of our nation’s capital – allowing for one voting member in the House of Representatives. Yet on September 18, a minority of Senators, including Gordon Smith (R-OR) chose to block an up or down vote on the bill – the first filibuster of voting rights legislation since the days of segregation.

Senator Smith voted the Republican Party line, telling the Oregonian in a written statement that, "the District of Columbia should find its congressional franchise through the state of Maryland, by statute, or through the Constitutional amendment process," The former idea is clearly unconstitutional and the latter is simply unnecessary. Even conservative constitutional scholars agree that Congress has the authority to grant voting rights to DC citizens without a Constitutional amendment.

So then…why are nearly 600,000 residents denied the same representation their fellow Americans in the states enjoy? We at DC Vote think the answer is fairly simple: because people in the states who have a vote and a voice don’t know about the issue of DC’s lack of democracy. That means Congress gets to keep its dirty little secret about denying a vote to more than half a million, mostly African American, residents of our nation’s capital.

There is an upside to Americans’ lack of knowledge on the subject, though. DC Vote’s polling shows that once state residents learn about this injustice, they overwhelmingly support voting rights for the people living in the District. Our recent trip to Montana to engage and mobilize voters shows that Americans believe in democracy for all citizens and feel passionately that DC residents deserve a seat at the table.

In many ways, the voices of constituents in the states (where Congress members’ votes actually count) can help DC achieve full voting representation. Indeed, it may be the only way. DC Vote will be in Oregon from March 10-13, and we hope to meet with as many constituents as possible. Join us on Thursday, March 13, in Portland for a Bus Project & DC Vote co-sponsored Happy Hour event to learn how Oregonians can help change the lives of more than half a million Americans who demand a vote. Information and event details are available at www.dcvote.org.

Guys in unitards support DC voting rights?

Okay, so we didn't have a chance to officially ask the guy in a unitard whether he supports a vote for the more than half a million Americans living in DC...but come on. If you wear a unitard in public, chances are pretty good. If you support the "freedom to wear one-piece spandex suits" then you almost certainly support the freedom to vote!

Ducks support DC voting rights!

Even though it was "dead week" before mid-term exams, we had a good showing at yet another FREE PIZZA extravaganza at the University of Oregon. After a quick meeting with the U of O's Daily Emerald newspaper, we chatted over a few slices and soda with a some engaged student-activists.

Gettin' down to business at the Register-Guard in Eugene

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 3: DC Vote heads bleary-eyed towards Eugene, OR

We all woke up with two words on our mind “road trip!” Ok, perhaps some in our team were thinking “more sleep!” Today we traveled from Portland to Eugene. Our official expert on all things Eugene - Eugene tells us that Eugene means “well-born”. Zooming down I-5 to Eugene, Jaline, Eugene and Nell harmonized to the greatest hits of Prince, En Vogue and others, while Jaline found herself enamored of the newborn lambs frolicking in the pastures next to the freeway.

We have entered into day three, deemed the official “Dump Day” by Eugene Dewitt Kinlow. Say what? That means, according to this particular “Eugene-ism” that we are looking forward to unloading a whole suitcase of DC voting rights stickers, postcards and candy at the University of Oregon.

We were excited to release a volume of information, facts, and figures on the resident leaders and students of Eugene. First stop…The Register Guard newspaper. Next stop...U of O. But first, we take the editor's advice from the Register-Guard and head to Papa's Soul Food for a down-home lunch.

"Editor's" note: thanks to Eugene and Nell for guest-blogging and providing a fresh perspective on the public awareness campaign trail!

Day 2, Evening: DC Vote Calls It A Day With a Celebratory Dinner

After a day of meetings, events and laughs, we decided to kick back with our favorite drinkin’ buddy, George Washington. Kinlow has wasted no time in making more friends in Oregon, including our server at dinner who enthusiastically agreed to contact her friend who is a state senator about the issue.

Reed College: Even Anarchists Support Voting Representation (No, seriously. They do.)

From the urban campus of PSU, we set off to the grassy suburban campus of Reed College to enjoy DC voting rights and….you guessed it: more pizza! After Eugene stealthily tracked down the wandering pizza delivery man, Nell set to work discussing the issue with campus activists. We were glad to have one DC resident in attendance. Thanks to Students for a Democratic Society for hosting!

Portland State University Hearts Pizza (oh, and democracy)

Who doesn’t love pizza and DC voting rights? The students at Portland State University certainly do! Eugene and Nell made an excellent Batman and Robin duo, speaking to more than a dozen students, community members, and employees of PSU about DC’s denial of democracy. We were excited to discover that PSU, the largest university in Oregon, is home to at least one student from DC, who showed up to rep the city. Special thanks to the PSU NAACP for hosting and to Rudy Soto, president of the Associated Students of PSU for attending to show support for the cause!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's a media storm! Or, as close as we'll get on this trip anyway.

Had a great chat over lunch at a local hot spot with TJ (first name only, like Madonna...or Cher, or Gonzo). He is the founder of the Loaded Orygun and will undoubtedly be a great resource for insights on Oregon politics.
Plus...editorial board meetings are typically a daunting affair, but Bob Caldwell and Sandy Rowe couldn't have been nicer people. Check out the Oregonian for potential coverage of our issue. Here we are with Sandy in her office.

First Stop on Day Two: Affiliated Tribes

We met with Lyn Dennis, Executive Director of Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians who gave us some invaluable leads on spreading the message of DC voting rights to Indian country. She quickly became my favorite person when she poured us a cup of to-go coffee before we left. Sorry! Noticing a theme? I need my caffeine fix or ELSE!

And During the Oregon Blogging Break, a Message about Montana...

With the Oregon Team's blogging activity slowed down because they have so many great meetings set up today to talk with Oregonians (and me aching to be out there in Oregon with my colleagues), here's a little update on activities that are still going on from our amazing trip to the great state of Montana. Yesterday we put out a call to action to our new friends to call Senator Baucus' office and let him know that Montanans support DC voting rights. So many people called in that the phone line was busy even today!

An article by Noelle Straub ran in today's Billings Gazette, Missoulian and Helena IR:

From Montana Netroots blog:

From our good friends at Left in the West blog:

And take a look at #6 on another great Montana blog:

I can't wait to see what kind of grassroots activity we get from the people of the Beaver State!

Monday, March 10, 2008

DC Vote Kicks It New School: Spreadin' the Awareness Through A Blog Ad

We're taking the message to the Internets with our blog ad on Blue Oregon. Check it out and be on the lookout for our guest column on their site...coming soon!

Day Two: It Will Be a Miracle If We're Blogging Before 10 P.M. Tonight

We've got a long and productive day ahead. With meetings with everyone from the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians , the Oregonian editorial board, to the blog Loaded Orygun, plus TWO campus events at Portland State University and Reed College, DC Vote will be going strong for a day filled with events!

DC Vote Prepares for the Oregonian Editorial Board Meeting. And eats muffins.

Lewis and Clark: Spreading the Love and the Message to Undergrads

Nell schooled the co-eds about DC’s lack of voting rights. She set up shop alongside a few volunteer-minded, Americorps volunteers to gather petition signatures and hand out candy and stickers. She then followed up with a meeting with a representative from the Jewish Student Union. Phew…I’m worn out just typing this!

Tag Team Oregon: Let the Meetings Begin!

We met with the Portland Business Alliance, where Eugene and I spoke with Bernie Bottomly (pictured center) and Samuel Brooks (pictured right) on how DC’s denial of democracy has a ripple effect on the District’s small businesses. Afterwards, we headed to Lewis and Clark’s campus for an afternoon tabling event. We met up with Nell who was already hard at work teaching the leaders of tomorrow about the struggle for DC voting rights (and giving out free candy and stickers…the kids LOVE free candy).

Day One, A.M.: Stroll through Portland with a Jolt of Caffeine

Okay, so it was really more of a desperate search for coffee and vegan baked goods at one of my favorite spots in Portland - Peets Coffee. But, I managed to snap some of the PDX cityscape for your enjoyment while I searched. With Nordstrom in view from the hotel, it already feels like home…

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Snakes on a Plane? Potential Peril for DC Vote Staffers

After a delay on the tarmac – thanks to a “hissing noise in the rear of the aircraft”, we were on our way. The first leg of the Oregon Trail began with some quick studying. Nell tackled the Constitution while I prepared for an onslaught of new Spring fashions. We landed around midnight Eastern Time and had a quick Team Oregon Sushi Hour with Eugene before hittin' the sack for some rest. Look out Oregon, we're comin' to get ya!

We're Packed and Ready to Go...Look Out Oregon!

We're just hours away from a great week of meetings and events in Oregon! Check out this site for daily updates, photos and even some video.

We'll be distributing free stickers, t-shirts and pizza pretty liberally in order to make new friends!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Montana Voters: Call-In Day to Sen. Baucus' DC Office

DC Vote needs Montana's help to move the DC Voting Rights Act (S. 1257) forward! As you know, Senator Baucus is the lone Democrat filibustering this legislation that would provide DC residents with their first-ever vote in the House. We urge you to participate in a Montana call-in day.

On Monday, March 10, please call Senator Baucus' DC office toll-free at 800.332.6106. This is a toll-free call for Montana residents and will not cost you any long-distance charges.

Tell the Senator that you are a Montana voter who supports spreading democracy to the capital of the United States. Urge him to stop his filibuster of the DC Voting Rights Act (S. 1257). We think it's important for Sen. Baucus' to receive a high number of calls on one day to put the issue of DC voting rights back on his radar. He is currently resisting a meeting with our staff and coalition partners. But we believe he will respond once he hears from his constituents that this is an issue they care about.