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What's A Citizen To Do?

Bob asked me to join your blog tonight to talk about "What's A Citizen To Do? - a statewide activist e-newsletter that I produce every week. It goes out to 900 people around Vermont. I would be happy to talk about that, but I'm also interested in knowing what folks are thinking about or doing to address the current world situation and the crisis within our own democracy - as well as discussing up-coming actions in Vermont and region.
The last few weeks have been quite busy for the peace and justice community. This week PeaceVermont organized a vigil in solidarity with the civilians of Palestine, Lebanon and Israel at which we collected signatures to ask Bernie to co-sponsor Dennis Kucinich's resolution for a cease fire [Bernie voted as did most members of congress to support the Israeli government's aggression (war) on Palestine and Lebanon - which is funded by the United States].
I spent the entire weekend in meetings. Saturday was devoted to a coalition of groups focused on shutting down Vermont Yankee [I'm a member of the Vt Yankee Decommissioning Alliance], while on Sunday morning activists from around the Northeast met in Brattleboro to discuss actions focused on impeachment and ending the war in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, and the likely wars on Iran and Syria [Cindy Sheehan was supposed to meet with us but at the last minute she and other members of CodePink were invited to meet with members of the Iraqi parliament].
Last weekend I briefly attended the Activist Skill Share in Wheelock, VT, where many people were discussing the need for direct action [non-violent civil disobedience]. So, this discussion tonight could take any direction - I'll let you take the lead.
But first I should introduce myself. My name is Debra Stoleroff. I live in Plainfield, Vermont. I'm an activist/organier of peace, justice and environmental events and actions. When I'm not volunteering in these activities, I work as the coordinator of a Twinfield High School program through which students can design studies on anything they want, work with a mentor [or not] and get credit for the study. Studies can be academic, an internship, a journey, job, or college course. The Renaissance program is one way a small rural school can address the varied needs and learning styles of all students. My interests don't end there though, but I think those will suffice for tonight.
Oh, I suppose I should mention that I'm an independent. I don't want to be affiliated with a political party, though I have worked on issues regarding elections [fraud, instant run-off voting and multiple party elections].
I'm looking forward to our discussion
*Posted by Bob Winkler

Posted by Jessica Falker on July 31, 2006 at 10:16 AM | Permalink


Welcome Debra - this is so great that you can join us tonight. The summer is zipping right along, and soon the whole fall political turmoil will be upon us. Of all the activities you seem to be involved with - how do you focus on any given day, to truly "making a difference?" Do you see, and realy feel that things are going in a positive direction?

Posted by: Bob | Jul 31, 2006 7:58:35 PM

Hi Bob --- focusing isn't a problem for me. As an organizer, I am involved with the 'doing'. I have tasks that I volunteer for and I put them on my daily or weekly 'to do' list. It is the doing that keeps me going. You see, I don't really feel that we are headed in a positive direction. The world is topsy-turvy. I have felt this since I was quite young, but sadly, I feel that the Bush administration has put us and our democracy at risk. I don't think I felt that in the past. Not even with the ills of Nixon and Regan. I always felt my voice would be heard. The Bush administration ignores our voices and those of people around the world. They break laws and are trying to re-define the our constitution. However, this just makes me work all the harder for peace and justice.

Posted by: DebraStoleroff | Jul 31, 2006 8:10:24 PM

I'm trying to think here - if I were a 16 year old, 28 year old, 40 year old, 62 year old - how do I make a difference? It appears, as you said, that the current administration moves on without us - defining or redefining what our particular democracy means. Are our actions in the middle east - if not the world being ignored because of our "appeared" reactionary and exclusive actions?

Posted by: Bob | Jul 31, 2006 8:18:36 PM

i don't think we are being ignored because we are reactionary or because we don't agree with the decisions being made. I think we are being ignored because the neo-conservatives have had a plan that they were working since at least WWII. Somehow, the time was ripe in 2000, they were able to fix the elections and they went for it. It doesn't matter what we do. The imperialistic mode of our administration doesn't have anything to do with national security or our safety. It has to do with greed and power. This well documented plan included the creation of entities like the World Bank, the IMF to that enables corporations to run the world, not soverign nations. If the neo-conservatives were to attend to the voices of the world or follow laws of the US constitution or international law, then they would be stopped in their tracks. To me, one of the only hopes continues to be for congress and the senate and the supreme court to take back our democracy. I'm losing confidence in the supreme court as it is now stacked with neo-conservatives. However, there have been some bright moments lately. The decision that Guantanamo was illegal was one. And I heard on Democracy Now, or read somewhere that the administration is now worried that they and military officials will be open to being tried for war crimes.

As far as making a difference... all I can do is look at history and the moments in history where morality and what was just and right prevailed. I look to my historical role models and hope that people of the world will finally get so fed up that they will join those who are willing to do non-violent civil disobedience. I look to the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 60's to Gandhi, to Nelson Mandela, to the FMLN of El Salvador to Arch Bishop Romero or Nicaragua for hope and role modeling of movements and making a difference.

Posted by: DebraStoleroff | Jul 31, 2006 8:36:47 PM

Debra - this blog unto itself has felt the closing down of dialogue. If you remember our class discussions were really attended and exciting. Between the last presidential election and the Dean excitement, the stuggle of the Latino communities in the south and southwest, the destruction of whole communities from natural events like Katrina, and the contuning spread of war - where do we go from here? I tell our various participants that there's lots of people listening to what we say - but if we don't "voice" our opinions - the struggle just gets worse.

Posted by: Bob | Jul 31, 2006 8:48:25 PM

I totally agree. If we give up our voice, we give up our struggle and give into a fascist state. We can't do that. We need to continue to be passionate and vocal. Even if we don't all agree with the solution, we need to be voice our disagreements with the current state of affairs. Has your blog shut-down because people feel unempowered? are they depressed, have they given up in general?

I just spent and amazing weekend with people who continue to fight the good fight. Many are ready to step up the fight with non-violent civil disobedience. We can still change the minds of our congressional members and at the state level where our representatives tend to sell-out less than at the federal level.

Posted by: DebraStoleroff | Jul 31, 2006 8:58:22 PM

Debra - for those in Vermont who want to get onto your "What's a Citizen to Do" e-mail, how might they do that. I know there's a wealth of activities and directions for people to get involved. Perhaps what's needed in this country is some adversity - where things don't work quite the way you expect them to be each day [not that this hasn't happened already]. The value of a true struggle is in the outcome - which you've mentioned will happen if enough people are knowledgeable about and care to help bring about that change. I see you as one of those people - and as lonely as the struggle appears to be - please remember that there are many others waiting, and hopefully, understanding that messsage. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and time - please continue to be in touch.
bob ;]

Posted by: Bob | Jul 31, 2006 9:01:08 PM

Bob, I agree, adversity get folks active as well as being effected economically. A good example is global warming, which, as you know, has been a concern for years. It is only now that the price of gasoline has gone up that more people are starting to think about conservation and alternatives.

Anyway, thanks for your interest Bob and thanks for inviting me to 'blog'. It was nice to 'chat'.

Anyone can get on the What's A Citizen TO DO? email list by emailing me .

Take care,

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Posted by: http://buch.tn.uz | Aug 9, 2006 2:18:40 PM

Bob, a nice read it was.
Political conscious is enough. However, at times you cannot stop yourself from being into politics.
all the best

Posted by: Vahsek | Mar 19, 2007 1:13:52 PM

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