Amazon has just announced they won't be moving to Queens, onto land that had been (and I hope will be) designated for much-needed housing, because of local opposition. I just sent an email to the mayor of Somerville, saying that we don't want them here either. (Somerville had expressed interest, before Amazon picked New York and Virginia.)

I figure it can't hurt for them to hear from us now, before they start making public statements on the subject. ("They" also includes your local government, if you live somewhere else that tried to make this mistake.)

Here's the letter I sent for use by anyone who isn't sure what to say )
redbird: The Unisphere in New York's Flushing Meadow Park, with sunset colors (unisphere)
( Dec. 24th, 2018 08:45 pm)
We had one full day in New York on this trip, and [personal profile] cattitude spent part of it visiting a friend on the Island. [personal profile] adrian_turtle and I met my mother at the Cloisters at around noon. On our way uptown, we'd gotten into line for a Metrocard vending machine when a stranger came over to the line and asked if we had just gotten into the city. When we and the woman in front of us said yes, she handed us each an unlimited-ride Metrocard with four days left on it, saying that she was leaving town and didn't want them to go to waste. The woman in front of us asked "how much?" and the donor shook her head and said "Merry Christmas."

The trip uptown was unremarkable, and I found that I have a good memory for the details of that trip, including the irrelevant ones: I knew we were approaching 110th when the track sloped downward, and then (having lost count of stations) recognized 145th by the color of the pillars supporting the roof.

Adrian was delighted by the Cloisters, including the famous Unicorn Tapestries. This visit what caught my eye most was sculpture and artifacts (including a unicorn-shaped hand-washing pitcher in the room with those tapestries); when we went downstairs to the Treasury, I pointed out the wooden carvings on the staircase we had just descended. We had time to look at almost everything before we decided it was past time for lunch, which we got at the diner Cattitude used to go to regularly when we lived in Inwood. The staff has changed and the menu is shorter than it was, but it was basic good diner food, and they still know how to make tea.

Then we took the train down to the Village so we could go to Varsano's, my old favorite chocolate shop, which [personal profile] roadnotes had first introduced me to. I was pleasantly surprised not to have to wait (the Saturday right before Christmas), and we bought lots of interesting chocolate. My mother asked the difference between a lemon cream and a lemon truffle. I wasn't sure and asked the shop assistant; she passed the question to Mark Varsano, who explained and then put one of each on the counter for Mom to taste.

After I'd paid for my chocolate, Mark said something like "I still miss our friend," meaning Roadnotes, and we talked about her a little; one thing he mentioned was her dry sense of humor. I'd been afraid I would have to be the one to tell him she had died, and warned Adrian on our way downtown that I might need my hand held—but it's unsurprising that the same "small town that just happens to have eight million people feeling" that had Mark asking me how she was after she moved to Seattle means he'd gotten the sad news from some other mutual friend.

here there be politics, but relatively low-stress, I think )

The day involved a lot of walking, including at least ten flights of stairs; by the time we headed back to our hotel my ankles were complaining about the stairs in front of my aunt's building, but my knee and hips were (and are) doing okay.
redbird: clenched fist on an LGBT flag background (rainbow fist)
( Sep. 16th, 2018 08:35 pm)
I went to a "Yes on 3" rally for transgender rights this morning. That's to keep the protections that are currently in Massachusetts law. If you're in Massachusetts, it's on the ballot in November. "Yes" on question 3 because it's phrased as "do you want to keep the law that provides these protections?"

The rally was partly to show support for keeping trans rights in state law, and partly to ecourage the attendees to volunteer, talk to our friends and neighbors and so on. The speakers were an odd mix. We heard a few personal stories—a woman talked about her kid having come out to her as trans and how she has tried to support him, and then her 14-year-old son talked about having felt safe enough to come out, at 12, because the law protects his rights, and what his day-to-day life is like. There were also speakers who have been involved with/supporting this cause for years, well before they got the law passed. That included Rep. Joe Kennedy, but also the CEO of Eastern Bank: the organizer told us that ten years ago, they'd approached a lot of businesses for support, and this was one of three that said yes.

This is the first rally in a long time that I managed to stay until the end of, which felt like an accomplishment. I got a ride home from Lechmere, because Liam (who I don't think is on DW) recognized me from a fannish party, and they and their mother had driven to the T station. I enjoyed talking to them, because they're nice people and because I'd gone to this rally by myself, and not seen anyone I recognized during the rally.

I got a call early this evening from one of the campaign organizers, Ben, who is following up with everyone she talked to about the pledge cards. We chatted a bit, including a bit about why I volunteered to work on this issue; a bit of it is that it feels more personal than (for example) ranked-choice voting, and partly because it feels like I'm more likely to be able to accomplish things at the state level. It's also somewhat arbitrary: there are more things worth doing than I could work on if I had the energy to do politics 40 hours a week. I don't need a complete list of things I could be doing, to pick the best: I need to find one, or a few, that are worthwhile and fit with my abilities.
As I mentioned a few days ago, I have signed up to ask people to fill out pledge cards for Yes on 3, to keep the state law that protects transgender people from discrimination. The organizers provided the postcards, a couple of stickers, and a script.

The problem with the script is that there's a space we're supposed to fill with "your own personal story" of why we want people to vote "yes," and I'm not sure what to say. "It's a basic civil rights issue" is a reason, but I think they're looking for something more personal. So I'm probably going to be saying something like "I care about this because I have trans friends, and I want them to be safe" (which is also true, and relevant—though most of those friends don't live in Massachusetts) or "to be able to rent an apartment" or "to have access to medical care."

(I know that some of my trans friends subscribe to my journal: suggestions on something better/else to say would be welcome.)
First, I am very glad I woke up around 7 this morning, had tea, pulled clothes on, and headed out at about 7:30. [personal profile] cattitude and I walked slowly down the Community Path to Davis Square. That early, walking was pleasant, as we looked at greenery and lots of flowers, mostly yellow but some nice purple morning glories and blue dayflowers. Then we bought groceries and took a bus home; I did one of my PT exercises while we waited for the bus (stepping on and off the curb, sideways). It was "only" 27 C/82 F when we got home, at a quarter to nine; the high for the day was 40C/104 F, a level of heat that would be bad not just for me but for enough people that the National Weather Service issued a warning.

I spent much of the day on paid proofreading and editing work (different projects, for different clients). It was a productive day, and apparently Cattitude and I can both work from home at the same time, which is worth knowing. (He usually goes to the library to avoid distractions, but that would have meant going back out in the heat.)

This evening I watched/listened to a webinar, training for the volunteer work I'll be doing on Primary Day for Yes on 3, to protect transgender rights in Massachusetts. We're going to be approaching primary voters and asking them if they support transgender rights. If they say yes the follow-up script includes asking whether they know about this ballot question, a bit about why it's important, and then asking them to sign a card pledging to vote yes in November.

Apparently only 1/10 of Massachusetts voters know this is going to be on the ballot. So: a YES vote will keep the existing law protecting transgender people in Massachusetts from discrimination. (Yes to protecting people, yes to upholding the law.) That's been the law here for a little over two years, and now we have to fight to keep it.

While the scripts we have do talk about why this is important, next Tuesday we won't be trying to persuade people who don't already support the law—this is a get-out-the-vote effort. If someone says "no" or "I'm not sure" to "do you support transgender rights?" we're supposed to say "that's cool, have a nice day" or the like. (Ben, the organizer who was explaining this, suggested "that's great, have a nice day," but if she can say that with a straight face she's a better actor than I am.

This is a sales-y kind of task, and the script is a little long, but I'm going to at least try, weather allowing.
This is the email I got this morning:

Dear Vicki,

I hope and assume you were able to take part in yesterday’s protest. I’m so proud of what you, [[personal profile] cattitude] and Adrian have been doing during these terrible times. Will try to phone later today to see how it went for you.

Love as always

This was partly a counter-protest, because some (not many, as it turned out) white supremacists were rallying under the extremely dubious claim of being for free speech.

[personal profile] cattitude and I took some time out from packing/move prep to go to the rally with [personal profile] adrian_turtle and her ex-housemate Cyd. The crowd was small when we got to Boston Common, because a lot of people were gathering in Roxbury and marching over, which we didn't think we were up for physically. It was good being with them—I've known Cyd casually for years, but haven't had time for many lengthy or substantive conversations. This time we had some good conversation on our way there and back, and catching our breath in my living room afterwards.

So, we chanted some, looked at interesting signs, and left when we were tired and the crowd was large enough that we felt less need of our presence. The eventual number was somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 of us, and less than a hundred of them.) Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted late this afternoon that he was proud of Boston that so many of us were there, not mentioning that he had urged us to stay away and not give the Nazis the attention he said they wanted. Fuck that; we've tried ignoring them, and it doesn't work.

If I'd been sure before 8 this morning that I'd be there, I might have had a sign myself; as it was, I settled for a "black lives matter" pin on a Wiscon 20 t-shirt. Once we're moved, I'm going to get some appropriate-sized cardboard and make a sign or two that is general enough to carry more than once, since I haven't been making event/issue-specific ones. Maybe "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." I do like the one I've seen a few times since the election that says "Can't believe I still have to protest this shit." Other things I liked today included a simple "Oy gevalt."

ETA: Apparently I don't have to get ice cream after protesting, though if we hadn't been thinking of how much more needed doing today I probably would have pushed for a trip to Tosci's or Lizzy's.

I'm fairly sure there was something more substantive that I wanted to add, but it has slipped my mind again.
Background: last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court [which is the highest court in the state] ruled that Massachusetts police have no legal authority to hold people based on ICE civil detention orders. (It's not clear whether doing so would inherently be against the state constitution, on due process grounds, as distinct from them not being allowed to do it because there's no law saying they can.)

Governor Baker's response was to file a bill saying that they can do that. (His press release says it would "authorize but not require" the police to do so in certain cases; the proposed bill leaves the decision to individual police forces.)

The ACLU and a couple of other groups organized rallies against Baker's bill, and for the Safe Communities Act, which explicitly says they can't do that and has some other protections. [personal profile] cattitude and I heard about the one in Boston because we're signed up for ACLU text messages, and we decided this was important enough to make time for even while planning a move.

The rally drew a couple of hundred people; there were speeches, and chants, in Spanish as well as English. (There was one chant I hadn't heard before, which I translated for Cattitude: "Baker, escucha, estamos en la lucha," which in English is "Baker, listen, we are in the fight.")

Various organizers brought extra signs for people to hold: we both started with "ACLU freedom agenda" signs, and I replaced mine with an SEIU bilingual "here to stay" sign and then with an SEIU one reading "America united to protect immigrants and refugees." (It felt more appropriate, since I'm not an immigrant.)

The last speaker said we would end with a song from the Civil Rights movement. My first thought was "We Shall Overcome," and then she started singing "We Shall Not Be Moved." I joined in almost immediately, thinking "thank you Pete Seeger."

After the rally Cattitude and I took the T to Hynes Convention Center to have lunch at the Cornish Pasty Co., because it sounded good from [personal profile] sovay's recent post. The pasties were indeed good, though I was disappointed by the tea. Thence to Toscanini's, because I seem to have decided that I should stop for ice cream on my way home from rallies and protest marches.
The Department of Health and Human Services is asking for public comment on the GOP bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, and Credo Mobile has set up a webpage to make that easy.

There's a canned comment you can sign your name to, but it's a free-text box, so you can also put in your own comments (or combine the two). This is what I just submitted:

The Affordable Care Act has enabled more Americans to start businesses or work for themselves as freelancers, because we're no longer dependent on an employer for health insurance. If you believe in free enterprise and the American dream, you should support this.

Trumpcare and Republican plans for 'repeal' would actually steal health care from at least 22 million in order to give a huge tax cut to millionaires. That is immoral and unfair.

One of those millions is my disabled brother-in-law. He is a severely disabled stroke survivor, and this bill could be his death warrant.

(I'm a socialist, but invoking free enterprise seems more likely to work here than talking about the human family and why we need to take care of each other.)

They say all politics is local. I voted in a special election today for the state senate, and had the unusual and pleasant choice between two good candidates. Technically, this is a primary election; there are three Democratic candidates (one of whom has barely been heard from), and no declared candidates for the other parties (ballots were offered, because of the possibility of write-in votes).
I called my state representative's office this morning to tell them that I strongly support the Safe Communities Act. I told the staffer that I know and appreciate that Garballey is a co-sponsor of this bill, and that this is part of why I'm likely to vote for him next month.* I had what felt like a fairly standard conversation with a legislative staffer**, including giving them my full name and being thanked for calling, and then the staffer asked for my phone number, because Garballey "likes to reach out" to constituents who contact him.

Five minutes later, he called me back. We had a nice conversation about the bill, which he was emphasizing is important, and the next steps in the process. He said Friday's hearing went well, but that guarantees nothing. I asked if he thought it would be a good idea for me to call the governor's office. Garballey said that Baker had come out against it, and I said I knew that, and was it worth calling to let him know people disagree on this, and he said yes it would be.

Is this typical of state legislators (in general, or in Massachusetts)? I wrote to my representatives occasionally pre-2016, and got letters back, and I got a letter from Rep. Clark last week (responding to a phone call I made on May 1.) No phone calls, even when I don't explicitly say "I don't need a call back," though the staffers often ask for my phone number.

* Garballey is currently my "representative in general court," which is what Massachusetts calls the lower house of the state legislature, and is running in the special election for a state senate seat that became vacant when the incumbent died.

* Yes, I've made enough calls in the last six months that I have an idea of what's standard.
As [staff profile] denise suggested at the beginning of this Dreamwidth news post, I have donated to the Russian LGBT Network, to help gay men who are being detained and tortured in Chechnya. That link is for donations from inside Russia; those of us in the rest of the world can donate via All Out.

Specifically, this is what I have done with the $20 that I won't be spending for another year of paid LiveJournal time; I had already decided it should go to some LGBT cause, and this one seemed particularly appropriate.

Yes, I am cross-posting this entry to LJ. Right now, posts on LGBT and other political topics are most likely to be cross-posted, along with DW and LJ meta. If that gets this account removed, so be it.
redbird: women's lib: raised fist inside symbol for woman (activism)
( Mar. 21st, 2017 07:45 am)
[ profile] cattitude and I went to a "bystander training" session last night. The presenter discussed the basic goal, which is to keep people safe and defuse situations; reasons why people just stand there when things are happening; and possible things to do. She also asked everyone to say why we were there; in addition to general "I want to do something," there was someone who has worked as a security guard for concerts and nightclubs and realizes that the techniques he used there aren't the right choice here; I said that I was looking for ways to stay (or appear) calm while doing something other than my raised-in-New York leave me alone body language. We spent part of the session in smaller groups, discussing scenarios (all taken from recent actual events), and then talked to the whole meeting about each scenario.

I think and hope it was useful; we came home with illustrated handouts (originally from the American Friends Service Committee*) suggesting ways to defuse a tense situation by interacting with the target. The presenter also said that just by attending a session like this, we became more likely to do something rather than stand there and go home later and think "I should have."

Also: we who are organizing or attending sessions like this tend to assume that it's the other side who will be hassling someone, but for these purposes a target's actual beliefs and characteristics don't matter—Sikhs are targeted by thugs who think they're Muslim, and men of just about any [nominal] political belief hassle women. Yes, I would probably be more likely to stand up for a hijabi than for someone whose attackers thought she was a Trump supporter, but they both deserve to go about their days unmolested.

*which I first read about as an organization in the context of draft resistance during the Vietnam War, and was surprised the first few times I noticed it as a current-day organization with a building on Mass Ave.

(This entry is brief because we got home late and basically fed the cats and went to bed, and I wanted to post something while I remembered.)
[ profile] cattitude and I just got home from an Arlington meeting for the livestream/beginning to do stuff of the ACLU's "People Power" grassroots initiative. (Yes, a national organization trying to organize a grassroots anything is weird, but we have information on getting stuff done at the city, town, or county level.) The first project is to try to get local law enforcement not to cooperate with ICE, with specifics on what to do and not do, that apparently were developed by ACLU lawyers working with police chiefs and such.

There's a proposal to make Arlington a sanctuary town on the next town meeting agenda; someone at the meeting is going to get in touch with the state ACLU to see whether he should try to get the proposal amended, or whether it's close enough. Someone else is going to be contacting the attorney general, I think to ask what the state is doing (I've forgotten the details, so I'm glad it's not my task). We might also be calling the Middlesex County sheriff to ask about the pieces of this enforcement thing that are relevant to his job.* It was good to talk to other locals who want to do something, and we have another meeting scheduled in a few weeks. (This was one of at least three events in Arlington, so we may wind up coordinating, or people who went to this meeting may go to the next meeting of one of them, or vice versa.)

I was surprised to see Cyd (WINOLJ/DW) there; she said she hadn't been able to find a Belmont meeting, and left when we got into discussing Arlington-specific plans.

Side note: the host offered tea (several choices of tea, and a proper electric kettle), but when I asked about milk and sugar had only hemp milk, so I tried it, and didn't like it at all (unlike soy milk). I gave up on that and had iced tea instead, for the caffeine.

*I gather that in most of Massachusetts, the sheriff's job is only to run and set policy for the county jail, so "don't turn people over to ICE or ask about immigration status" is relevant, but reminding them about the importance of warrants isn't.
I just got back from a rally and march for trans* and queer liberation and in support of immigrants, starting at Boston City Hall. This definitely felt more left-wing than the other protests I've been to since the election, as well as being smaller. (The speakers were all community organizers, not elected officials, and there were people carrying both black and red flags as well as the rainbow flag and lots of signs.)

We ([ profile] cattitude, [personal profile] adrian_turtle, and I) left before the end of the march, rather than going to the community meeting/further organizing part, because we were worn out and my feet were cold, but we were there for most of it, including a lot of the march.

On the one hand, I can't believe we still have to protest this shit. (That's a sign I've seen a couple of times this year; I don't know whether it was literally the same sign both times.) On the other hand, I know how to do this, even though most of my experience protesting has been in warmer weather. One of our chants today was "we're here, we're queer, we're fabulous, don't mess with us" which is an update I like (it's a long time since I heard the original "we're here, we're queer, get used to it"). Cattitude commented that he's always wanted to be a fabulous beast.)

I had thought I would be doing this alone (the event wasn't finalized until yesterday afternoon), but when I told Cattitude last night that I was doing this, he said "I'm coming with you," and when I mentioned it to Adrian this morning, she asked for details and then told me "I can't be there until 12:35" because she was teaching this morning.
I have signed up for a variety of email lists that are supposed to point at activist activities/opportunities. (One of them, SURJ Boston, was the first place I heard about last weekend's CAIR/ACLU demonstration against Trump's immigration policy.) This is in addition to bookmarking websites. That's easier psychologically, because I can decide when to look at them, but the risk there is that I might never do so.

I'm trying to add information sources that will mostly ask me to do things (including people stuff like calling my senators and going to demonstrations), and removing anything whose suggested response to everything is that I send them money, especially if what they say they will do with the money is buy television ads. (SPLC, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Amnesty International ask for money, but it's not the only thing they ask for.)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Jan. 30th, 2017 11:58 am)
I got this in email:

if you ever wondered what you have done when Adolf Hitler took power in Germany or Francisco Franco in Spain or Augusto Pinochet in Chile, well now you know. You would do exactly what you are doing now. If that’s going into the streets, then great. If that’s complaining about protestors or whining about liberals or whining about the left, then that’s what you would have done in 1933, 1937, and 1973. Only you can stop Trump. So do it.
[ profile] cattitude and I went to a rally this afternoon in Copley Square to protest Trump's executive order banning visitors from several majority-Islamic countries and suspending admissions of all refugees. The rally was put together by CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) on about 24 hours' notice; there were at least 20,000 people there, per Elizabeth Warren's tweet.*

Copley Square was packed (though the crowd thinned out near the edges); as with the women's march on the Common last weekend, we could make out only tiny bits of what the speakers said. I know that Warren, and Boston mayor Mary Walsh, spoke, and before and after that, the crowd was chanting "Where's Governor Baker?" (Baker is a Republican.) Much of the time, there were different chants in different areas of the crowd; I don't know whether a better sound system would have helped with that, but it might have let us hear the speakers. However, from what [personal profile] anne reports, CAIR barely had time to get the permits for this rally, and sound equipment costs money and might not be available on that kind of notice even if the money was there. The main thing was to be there, to be seen and counted.

As we were making our way from the red line to the green line at Park Street, we ran into someone who, like us, had gotten out on the wrong side of the train,** and said something like "I'm following you." I suggested this might not be a great idea because we were lost, but we sorted that out, exchanged names, and decided to stick together for a bit. She moved to Boston more recently than we did, also from Seattle (she didn't grow up there either) and is still figuring out the T. (I mostly have the T figured out, but Park Street is complicated, and in slightly different ways than the complications I grew up with in New York.) We got onto the green line together, rode two stops, and talked while we were walking over to Copley Square. (She was asking if I knew good places to find out about rallies, and I made a couple of suggestions, and handed her the business cards I almost never use, saying "this is also a business card, but it has my contact information.")

Like last weekend, we left the rally early because we ran out of stamina for standing around, though we were there for most of it. Also like last weekend, we took the train all the way to Alewife and walked, this time because I suddenly didn't want to even think about getting on a bus. It looked as though they were running extra trains on the red line before the march; the nearest green line station to the rally, Copley, was closed because of the crowd, but they announced that on the train, and we took their suggestion of getting off at Arlington. The green line stations are very close together in that part of town.

Next time, I'm taking iced tea instead of (or in addition to) water, and making sure I have cough drops. I don't have the stamina for standing around at rallies that I used to, and I don't know if I can rebuild that, but even if we can't stay for the entire event, being there is useful. I should also bring a sign next time; even if I don't get around to getting the nice white cardboard that's made for this, and a good set of markers, we have empty cardboard boxes and a Sharpie, which will do for something basic.

* I followed my senator's twitter account this morning along with replying to a previous tweet, to thank her for going to Logan last night to protest this. I would have left a voicemail message, but the mailbox was full.

** The red line has a center platform at Park Street that serves trains in both directions, the train doors open on both sides ("for elevator service exit from the left side of the train"), and I don't know if there was a stairway from there that would have put us on the correct green line platform.
We ([personal profile] adrian_turtle, [ profile] cattitude, and I) went to the Boston Women's March today. We got there late, because we hadn't allowed for the size of the T crowds and resulting delays, but we got there, and spent a couple of hours standing around, too far away to hear the speeches, and reading and admiring other people's signs. The crowd was much bigger than anyone expected, meaning we left not only without marching, but without being able to see for sure where the march was leaving the Common.

This was Adrian's first large rally, and I think Cattitude's first at all; I've done this before, sometimes in less pleasant circumstances, like the counter-inaugural in January 2001. For this one we had nice weather, and the local government clearly on our side; Attorney General Healey's speech was quoted as echoing the ACLU and saying that Trump will see us, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in court.

ETA:Cattitude had in fact done this before, though less often than I have, but he dislikes crowds and was glad to have us there to keep him company.

Next time, I hope to have a sign, or at least some more buttons for my coat. (I expect there will be a lot of next times.) I had a number of pins that I threw away a move or two ago, on the theory that I hadn't worn them this century; if I still had it, I'd be pinning "SILENCE=DEATH" onto my coat again.

Side note: the MBTA was running extra trains (relative to a normal Saturday) and prioritizing moving people around over collecting fares, so just had the gates open at Harvard when we got there around 10:20, and at Park Street both when we got to the rally and when we left. We all grumble a lot about the MBTA, with reason, but sometimes they get it right.

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redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)

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