What now? Organize! event recap

At the bottom of this post is a list of ways that you can get involved with A4E. Email us at athensforeveryone@gmail.com for more information, and to join specific mailing lists to stay informed. You can check out the slideshow used at this event here.

On November 20, 2016 more than 500 people from Athens and beyond flooded the Cotton Press at Chase Street Warehouses, mobilizing a response to the sweeping Republican victories in the November elections.

crowd2

The event, “What now? Organize!”, was Athens for Everyone’s largest since its establishment in 2014. With not even standing room left, attendees spilled outside the open garage doors as board member Kelly Happe called for everyone to meet the challenges ahead with “radical hope” and action.

Athens for Everyone assembled a diverse panel of experienced local stakeholders who spoke on issues of climate change, abortion access, immigrant struggles, racial tension downtown, unresponsive elected officials, and the difficulty of talking about politics when others disagree.

11-20-panel

“Regardless of the nature of our comfort zone, we must meet injustice and discrimination with both dialogue and open rejection,”  Rouhollah Aghasaleh, from the group Feminist Scholar Activists (FSA), said.

April Greene of the Magnolia Fund, Athens and Atlanta-based advocates for reproductive rights, outlined the woeful current state of abortion access in Georgia and elsewhere. “My worry is Roe v. Wade will remain intact, but so many restrictions will be enacted that it won’t matter,” she said.

Russell Edwards, chair of the Clarke County Democratic Committee, opined for a mayor and commission “that represents the people in this room,” and urged progressives to stay motivated because “there is a whole lot we can do locally.” Edwards also encouraged Athenians to “throw your hat in the ring” and run for office.

“I’m not afraid of Donald Trump, the machinations of deportation of Obama, or of white supremacists,” Beto Mendoza of Dignidad Immigrante en Athens and also of Athens For Everyone said. “I’m not surprised that Trump was elected. We have seen this opposition of immigration for years.”

“Aquí estamos, y no nos vamos,” Mendoza declared later, to much applause. (We’re here, and we’re not going anywhere.)

As the event moved into its second half, Athens For Everyone President Tim Denson raised the energy by tapping into attendees’ frustration over recent election results.

“Who’s ready to do something about it?” he boomed.

Denson outlined the unacceptable reality that decidedly left-leaning Athens-Clarke County is represented by very few Democrats, versus scores of Republicans from the local to national level.

“Eighteen offices (were) up for re-election this year, and only three were even contested. And that includes Hillary Clinton,” Denson said.

This portion of the event was an apt depiction of where we, the progressive left, find ourselves in the political landscape.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a wider margin than Al Gore in 2000, Richard Nixon in 1968, and John F. Kennedy in 1960, yet Donald Trump is primed to accept the Presidency. After two terms of Obama in the White House, progressives have felt that a brighter day was breaking. However, Republicans continue to make gains in the US Congress that threaten to reverse progress made towards a more inclusive, egalitarian American society.

Luckily, there are many ways to channel our discontent.

In less than two years, it will be time to run progressive candidates for a great deal of seats at the local, state, and national level. We must be prepared with candidates and campaigns.

Here at home we must ensure that the Athens Civil Rights Committee is established expeditiously, and do everything in our power to firmly establish Athens-Clarke County as a welcoming place for immigrants and for all. Together, we will have to oppose unacceptable legislation that our emboldened state and federal legislatures puts forth, and ensure the passage of that which would benefit our communities.

The time for action is now. It’s clear that waiting on shifting demographics and relying on centrist, non-progressive democrats will not win these fights. We must organize. We must resist. We must move forward.

We are the ones that we’ve been waiting for.


Below is a list of ways that you can get involved with A4E. Email us at athensforeveryone@gmail.com for more information, and to join specific mailing lists to stay informed.

JOIN ATHENS FOR EVERYONE!

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ATHENS DAY OF RESISTANCE
January 20, 2017

Level 1) Show up!
Level 2) Recruit participants through passionate personal communication with friends and family.
Level 3) Canvassing (door-knocking) 12/11, 12/17
Level 4) Help plan logistics

ASAP (Athens Sexual Assault Prevention)

Next Meeting: December 5, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
ACC Library, Multipurpose Room B

Agenda: Bartender bystander training, consent workshops for fraternities, more LEGISLATIVE ACTION COMMITTEE (mobilizing citizens to use phone calls and social media to support / oppose legislation)

Next Meeting: Saturday, December 3 at 3 pm
ACC Library, Multipurpose Room B

Click here to express interest in this group!
RESISTANCE DINNERS (community meetings for strategic planning)
December 20

Level 1) Show up on the 20th!
Level 2) Canvassing (door-knocking) 12/11, 12/17
Level 3) Host a dinner SUPPORT & COMMUNICATION TEAM (Facilitated Group Dialogue around difficult issues)
Next Meeting: TBD

Click here to express interest in this group!

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