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Archive for the ‘activism’ Category

Worker Safety and Worker Solidarity

In activism, class, labor, libraries, unions, youth on March 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Friday being the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed 146 workers — mostly women, mostly immigrants — I am thinking about worker’s rights and worker’s power. It’s been hard not to think about this since Wisconsin public workers from all corners joined together in a noble fight against legislative bullying (and lying). Like all workers, library workers owe much to the U.S. labor movement, as well as those movements of excluded workers currently struggling for rights and recognition.

Teens make up one important class of those workers. In my day-to-day work I interact with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of young people. The more active among them — youth advisors and volunteers — are deeply concerned about reductions in library funding and the ways libraries can be undervalued by legislators, voters and school boards. Their concern extends to the library workers whom they have known since they were children attending storytimes, getting lost with a book in oversized beanbag chairs, and shaping their identities as great debaters, writers and community organizers — today’s library advocates and tomorrow’s library leaders.

We don’t talk much about labor history or working conditions. But we should. Some teens I work with are frustrated they can’t start earning needed income before age 16. This is a labor issue. It begs a history lesson. Some drop out of school to save up needed money to get their own place by the time foster care ends. Most will need to pay their own way through college. We talk about their options. We troubleshoot. No state i.d., constantly changing home addresses. But we should also talk about their rights, their responsibilities, and the responsibilities of their government and their employers. Some are locked out of work before they even get a chance to join the rank and file. Daily survival limits the time we have for deeper discussion.

My union, SEIU, made this great homage I plan to share with my young workers.Infographic about worker's protections

How unions succeeded in making your workplace safer.

Today I am thinking about worker protections, about my own workplaces, and how I can share this with young workers. Today I am grateful for the incredible history of the U.S. labor movement. I am hopeful that it can do better. I am committed to working on behalf of those workers still not fully represented or protected by U.S. labor. Those excluded workers are organized and they deserve our full support, as they always have.

Until all of us are included, none of us should settle.

Thanks to Union Librarian and Blatant Berry for laying paths forward in the library field. Thanks to Young Workers United for trailblazing for youth workers rights!


National Day of Action for Affordable, Open Internet: What Librarians Can Do

In activism, broadband, community partnerships, information access, library profession, media justice, net neutrality, open access on February 14, 2010 at 6:12 am

On Monday February 15, a national coalition of grassroots groups will lead a National Day of Action calling on legislators to defend an affordable and open Internet.

As a community committed to information access and equity, librarians have an important role to play on these issues. While our professional associations advocate for open Internet access on Capitol Hill, there is a great deal individual librarians can do in our own communities.

Tomorrow, members of the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) will conduct delegation visits with congressional reps across the country, host community forums and hold local press conferences to highlight the need for universal broadband and Net Neutrality.

Here are a few things librarians can do to support the National Day of Action on Monday:

  • Get your library or organization to join the hundreds of groups who have signed the “Digital Inclusion Pledge” calling on the FCC and Congress to define broadband as a universal service, and create rules that protect an open and non-discriminatory Internet. Available in English and Spanish.
  • On Monday, February 15th, call your Congressperson. Let them know that “you support MAG-Net’s call for an affordable and open Internet.” You can do this as an individual, or speak on behalf of your library. Though major media corporations have promised not to block content, their questionable practices have already come under scrutiny by federal regulators and advocates. Comcast has arbitrarily blocked file-sharing traffic across its network and penalized users with slower speeds. Similarly, Verizon blocked a text-messaging campaign over its network. We can’t simply trust that these ISPs will do the right thing – we need rules to protect our communities, and our Internet. Read more background here.
  • Attend one of the community events near you in Philadelphia, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and Whitesburg, KY, where organizers are hosting a “Digital Quilting Bee!” Download PDF with details.
  • If you’re not in or near a city where an action is taking place, participate virtually. Join the conversation on Twitter (@mediaaction, @mediajustice) or on MAG-Net’s Facebook group page.

Right now, we have an opportunity to build coalitions with hundreds of community-based groups working to advance public information access. Like librarians, these grassroots groups are knowledgeable about the information barriers faced by their local communities and savvy advocates when it comes to information policy making. We are natural allies if we break through the silos librarians often fall into within our institutions.

Want to know more about open Internet, Net Neutrality and the need for universal broadband?

Why small businesses need open Internet

Why musicians need open Internet

Why open Internet is a civil rights issue

Civil Lib Groups Endorse H.R. 3845, American Lib Assoc. Issues Action Alert

In activism, information policy, intellectual freedom on October 29, 2009 at 11:18 am

A coalition of 20 civil liberties organizations, including the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), released a letter today endorsing the USA Patriot Amendments Act (H.R. 3845) and pointing out the failures of the Senate’s PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act (S. 1692). As their names suggest, the Amendments Act proposes reforms to the expiring sections of the USAPA, while the Extension Act pretty much extends the USAPA provisions with very few promising changes. The next review will be in 2013.

CDT compiled this very helpful chart that compares the two bills to the current law. Check out the difference on gag orders (p. 2 and 4) and on Section 215 orders that would capture personal info from a library or bookseller (p. 3). Also note that H.R. 3845 places limits on roving wiretaps, and proposes the “lone wolf” provision be allowed to expire.

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) endorsed the ACLU’s call to action and expressed its support for the House reform bills as well. The ALA alert includes background info and talking points.

H.R. 3845 and 3846 will be “marked up” next Wednesday, Nov. 4. That means now’s the time to contact your reps. Yes, especially if you want to push this debate even further around issues of immigrant rights and profiling. Remember it was during the Senate mark-up period earlier this month that Sens. Feinstein and Leahy abandoned their commitment to curb dragnets against individuals, communities and human rights orgs. Some California Reps., like Dem. Jane Harman, are already supporting this legislation. Can’t hurt to remind her.

What else can you do? Write letters to the editor. Get FISA Right posted some templates to get you started.

View full Center for Democracy & Technology post.

House Judiciary Session Scheduled

In activism, information policy, privacy, public policy on October 28, 2009 at 8:12 am

The House Judiciary Committee is expected for a classified hearing on Patriot Act issues and proposed surveillance reforms on Thursday October 29 at 2:30pm EST. There are several ways to stay up-to-date and participate in the public discussion. But, most importantly, contact your state reps right now and consider writing an editorial in your local papers.

1. Contact your representatives now using the new action forum posted by the ACLU. The action text, thankfully, draws attention to some of the oversights in the current reform legislation, calling on representatives to continue pushing for stronger public protections and repeal of expanded FBI powers. In particular we need to continue demanding changes to Section 505 as well as the slippery definition of “material support” which leaves social justice and human rights organizations vulnerable to targeting and criminal prosecution. Add your own two cents now.

2.Write an op-ed or letter to the editor. I haven’t done a Nexis search to confirm this, but Get FISA Right posted on Tuesday that media coverage of the surveillance reform bills H.R. 3845 and H.R. 3846 has been slim to nonexistent. Here they provide Letter to the Editor templates you can use to raise these issues in your local papers.

3. Participate in today’s live discussion at the Patriot Act Action Hub.

Read more:

From today’s Huffington Post: Sen. Wyden warns Congress to abandon hasty fear-based policymaking.

From Irregular Times: A round up of information on the reform legislation being considered, H.R. 3845 and 3846.

See also, my prior posts on the California Library Association’s Patriot Act resolution (make your own!) and the need for deeper coalition building on these issues (includes more recommended resources).

Mud Stencils Remind Wisconsin “Books Liberate”

In activism, art, intellectual freedom, prisons on October 20, 2009 at 10:11 am

Some creative souls spent the weekend making a public statement with mud! Activists in Wisconsin created mud stencils to send a message to Dept. of Corrections Security Chief Dan Westfield who, a year ago, banned used book delivery to prisoners. The book service had been run by the Rainbow Bookstore for years.

Madison, WI

"Why Deny Used Books to WI Prisoners?" (Madison, WI)

On CNN: It Seems You Can’t Even Buy a Balanced Debate

In activism, censorship, free press, immigrant rights, media justice, racism on October 15, 2009 at 12:36 pm

On Twitter, @mediajustice just shared this: CNN rejected a television ad from immigrant reform advocates. The ad, critical of CNN’s own Lou Dobbs for his anti-immigrant and patently inaccurate tirades, was produced and sponsored by Media Matters and America’s Voice.

Dobbs’ hour-long show airs daily and has also been the target of the grassroots Basta Dobbs campaign in recent weeks. Ironically, that campaign is asking the show’s advertisers not to lend credibility to sensationalist, and racially hateful, journalism. While media outlets always reserve the right to reject ads, CNN seems to be sending the message that Dobbs deserves his pulpit while his critics do not. Yes, not even if they buy it.

From a public debate standpoint there are many nuances to this campaign and the Dobbs criticism. I plan to address those in future posts. But, for now, I will say: We need to understand media accountability as distinct from censorship, and journalistic speech as a powerful form of speech that can and should be held to a high standard by the public. If a journalist, even in an editorial form, is being irresponsible with their influence it’s the public’s right to challenge that influence, especially when lies are let to stand by a media outlet. Some would say this is a slippery slope to free speech infringement. I disagree. It’s a matter of understanding media accountability models developed within a human and civil rights framework — frameworks that inherently value freedom of speech and information (more on this in later posts). Further, just like book challenges provide a pulse-check on ideological debates (information we need!), media accountability campaigns bring necessary perspectives to the surface. It’s only then that we can engage the questions, “Are all ideas created equal?” and “Whose agenda is reflected in the criticism?” In the Dobbs case, does a major media megaphone for this particular man’s ideas create more danger and inequity than social good? And finally, if media outlets must operate in the public interest, is Dobbs’ particular brand of punditry in the public interest? Do we define that interest, or does the corporate outlet?

More on this story from the Huffington Post.

Watch the Media Matters ad.

Sustaining Libraries & People Who Love Them

In activism, art, libraries on October 9, 2009 at 12:03 pm

In light of not so nice news in the world of libraries and social justice, here’s two nice things about today:

1) Someone told me I ‘looked’ like a librarian (without knowing I am one) as I sat researching away on my computer, which they followed with the exclamation, “God, I love libraries!”

2) I visited one of my favorite art blogs for some web/graphic design inspiration, and I saw this:

by Mary Tremonte,

by Mary Tremonte,

God, I love artists who love libraries.

Protester Arrested for Using Twitter During G-20

In activism, indy media, information access, social movements on October 7, 2009 at 8:48 am

News to know: Twitter user arrested for using the social broadcast tool during G20 in Pittsburgh, PA. Democracy Now reported this morning in “Twitter Crackdown.” Elliot Madison, New York-based social worker was arrested and later had his home raided for using Twitter to spread information about police actions during the recent G-20 protests in Pittsburgh.

Philadelphia Libraries Saved

In activism, labor, library funding, public libraries on September 21, 2009 at 7:55 am

logoflpUpdate on my previous post about Philadelphia library closures:

On September 17th legislators in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania voted to save the Philadelphia Free Library system along with jobs for 3,000 city workers. Thousands of letters and phone calls poured in from PA voters, library users and advocates across the nation after it was announced all 54 library branches would close October 2nd.

The Senate vote was 32 to 17 in favor of House Bill 1828, which temporarily increases local sales tax and defers city pension contributions to remedy a $700-million budget shortfall. If the bill hadn’t passed other critical city services would have been reduced including trash collection, court operations and the fire department. According to the Senate roll call, all democrats supported the bill. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans opposed and 41% supported.

Video Book Report: Popularizes Hidden History

In activism, critical pedagogy, gender, indy media, racial justice, racism, social movements on April 18, 2009 at 5:55 am

jonesI am always delighted by research that unearths lesser known histories. So, I was excited to see this community-produced video posted by Alexis Pauline Gumbs on Facebook.

It highlights the work of Sojourners for Truth & Justice in the 1950s, a national Black feminist Marxist-Leninist organization — more than a decade before the women’s lib movement. The video is based on information in the book Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones by Carol Boyce Davies (Duke 2007).

The 3-minute video is a great teaching tool and an example of how students, librarians and community leaders can produce video “book reports” to promote learning and popularize books, ideas and history for a wider audience. Alexis used this video in a locally organized study session on Black feminist history.

Watch here.

You can also read more about Claudia Jones at the blog Black Feminist Mind.