Tag Archives: mvcan

Getting Out The Vote in Modesto

Democrat Josh Harder ran for U.S. Congress in California’s 10th District in the 2018 midterm elections. I supported this amazing progressive leader by donating, phone banking and canvassing for him all the way up to Election Day.

Thousands of volunteers came together in Modesto, California to get out the vote for Democratic candidate Josh Harder on the last weekend before the 2018 midterm election. Josh Harder ran for a U.S. House seat in California’s 10th District and is one of the young democratic leaders who show real promise for fighting the conservative regime that is harming the Central Valley and our country. 

Josh greeted us with a rousing speech, shown in the video below.

Watch this short video of Democratic candidate Josh Harder, who spoke to a thousand volunteers at his campaign field office in Modesto.

It was great to hear Josh tell us about his progressive platform: Medicare for all, investments in jobs and public schools, fair and humane immigration reform, and clean water in the Central Valley. Learn more about his priorities

Josh Harder greeted us in person and made us feel welcome in his campaign, getting us all fired up to get out the vote for democracy in the Central Valley.  

I have met Josh a couple times over the past few months and think he’s a true democrat, who will work for the people, not for big business — unlike his opponent, Republican Jeff Denham. He reminds me of his mentor, Barack Obama: he’s honest, kind, a good listener, and demonstrates a deep understanding of the issues, as well as great problem-solving and communication skills.

My canvassing partners Karen and Arlene came from different parts of the Bay Area to get out the vote and help win another house seat in this swing district.See more photos.

This was also a great opportunity to connect with many old and new friends, who drove hundreds of miles to help this exceptional candidate. Together, we canvassed all over Modesto and its suburbs, knocking on over hundreds of thousands of doors in just a few days, breaking new records for civic engagement in this sleepy Central Valley farming community.

We walked through diverse Modesto suburbs for several days, knocking on hundreds of doors to ask folks if they needed help voting in this critical election.

In the process, we met with many voters from over a dozen different ethnic groups. Most of the folks we talked to said they had already voted for Josh or were about to take the whole family to the polls, to vote for the full Democratic ticket. 

A Modesto voter signs her ballot, so we can take it to the polls for her.

Many people we spoke to were fired up to vote Republicans out of office, and particularly concerned about the GOP’s attacks on health care. Three of them gave us their ballots, so we could take them to the polls for them.

We knocked on over a hundred doors on the last day before the election, with my friends Howard Rheingold and Susan Barbour.

On the last day, we knocked on a hundred more doors in Ceres, getting out the vote for Josh in our VoteMobile (shown below).  

Our VoteMobile and our fearless canvassing crew, with Howard Rheingold and Susan Barbour. 

This whole experience made us feel hopeful about democracy— a fragile social contract they needs to be actively fed by connecting with voters as we just did. We hope that together we can help win back the House in CA-10, and regain control of a U.S. Congress that has lost its moral sense under Republican rule.

Activism helps build community and is good for the soul. 

This outreach gave us a chance to connect with voters outside of our bubble, as well as get more involved in community action — first through phone banking with our friends at Democracy Action Marin, and then canvassing with the help of partners like MVCAN and Swing Left. We’re very grateful to them all.

California’s 10th congressional district election was an important 2018 midterm race for the U.S. House of Representatives for a number of reasons: 1) this race was identified as a key battleground for democratic control of the U.S. House in the 116th Congress (Source: Ballotpedia); 2) it triggered an unprecedented level of civic engagement, with tens of thousands of Bay Area and local volunteers phone banking or canvassing for Josh Harder, in part because California 10 is the swing district closest to San Francisco (Sources: New York Times, SwingLeft); 3) Josh Harder represents a new model for candidates from the business world — smart, early-in-their-career moderates who are willing to give up making big money to run for office (Source: Recode).

UPDATE 1: As of Friday, Nov. 9 at 5pm, it appears that Josh Harder is now leading Jeff Denham by nearly 2 points (50.95% vs. 49.05%), ahead by 3.3k votes after trailing by -1.1k votes last Wednesday. This is based on combined results from Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, as shown in this tweeted graphic by California Target Book (see above). 

This unofficial result is confirmed by Stanislaus County’s latest tally as of Nov. 9 at 5pm, showing 72k votes for Harder vs. 69k votes for Denham. 
As predicted, this reversal is largely due to mail-in ballots: 54k Harder vs. 50K Denham. 

UPDATE 2: On Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 6pm, the Associated Press declared that Josh Harder has just won the election in California’s 10th District. With votes continuing to be counted, Harder’s edge had grown after Denham grabbed a slim lead on Election Day. After the latest update, Harder had a 4,919-vote lead out of about 185,000 votes counted, a margin too large for the congressman to overcome with remaining votes.

Woohoo! Way to go Josh and all the tens of thousands of volunteers and staff which made this possible!

It was great to work with so many dedicated activists to phone bank and/or canvass for Josh Harder this year. Thank you for your service — and for being such wonderful partners. 🙂

I think Josh will do a lot to improve the lives of people in the Central Valley, who have suffered too long under a pro-business Republican representative.

Just as importantly, this local election can ripple all the way up to the U.S. House of Representatives to bring more sanity in our country — and around the world. 

Vive la démocratie!

Check these related links:

• See more photos of Getting Out The Vote in Modesto.

• Watch the video of Josh Harder’s GOTV speech.  

• Learn more about Josh Harder

• Check our GOTV team plan in Modesto

#ca10 #CD10 #canvassing #democrat #flipthehouse #gotv #harderforcongress #joshharder #modesto #resist #swingleft

MVCAN-Do Revue

Singer Matt Jaffe performs ‘Dark Ages’ at the MVCAN-Do Revue. Photo: Martha Ture.

We celebrated one year of resistance with friends and neighbors at the MVCAN-Do Revue, our first anniversary celebration for MVCAN, our progressive political action group in Marin. To energize our community and lift our spirits, we presented an evening of music, dance and storytelling at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, on Saturday, November 11th, 2017.

I produced and hosted this community celebration with a world class team of MVCAN volunteers, to honor community members who took political action this year. We featured talented local performers, including rock singer Matt Jaffe, poet Natalie Frederick, hip hop dancers from RoCo Dance, music director Reed Fromer with the Shady Ladies and the Can-Do Singers — along with special presentations by MVCAN team leaders.

Watch their performances in the full event video below, shot by by David DonnenfieldEd Ellsworth and George Eade — and edited by yours truly.

In collaboration with filmmaker Gary Yost, I also created special video montages to tell the story of how MVCAN came together the day after the election, to resist the attacks against democracy by the Trump regime and right-wing extremists.

Their Year in Review video below showed many of the actions we took together: we marched for democracy, we defended civil and women’s rights, we phone banked to flip elections, we protected the environment, we helped reverse Trumpcare, we created political art, and much more. Watch other videos of this event in our MVCAN Vimeo album.

Special thanks to the photographers who took pictures of our event (Martha Ture, George Osner, Suz Lipman, Tim Pozar and Jean Bolte). You can view more pictures of our anniversary in our photo album on Flickr and on Facebook.

To produce this event, we assembled a special events team, which I spearheaded along with Danny Altman, June Cooperman, Mary Cosgrove, Suz Lipman, Carol Korenbrot, Marilyn Price and others. If you have any questions or comments for the team, please email us at events-lead@mvcan.org .

Thanks as well to the 60 cast and crew members who generously volunteered their time to host this event, and to all the donors who contributed generously to support our cause. And kudos to all community members  who took political action this year! In dark times like these, community action is more important than ever: it’s that choice to act together that defines us — and gives us hope that we can build a better world.

If you would like to participate in MVCAN , sign up here — and/or donate to support our cause.

Join your neighbors to keep democracy alive!

Event producer and host Fabrice Florin kicks off the MVCAN-Do-Revue. Photo: Martha Ture.

Young poet Natalie Frederick performs her poem about her political awakening. Photo: Martha Ture.

Activist and MVCAN leader Suz Lipman thanks our action teams. Photo: George Osner.

Dancers from RoCo’s Hip Hop group bring funk and groove to our event. Photo: Martha Ture.

Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears speaks about community action. Photo: Martha Ture.

Activists raise their fists for democracy at our MVCAN community celebration. Photo: Martha Ture.

MVCAN leaders Danny Altman and Bill Jansen list Top 10 things we did this year. Photo: Martha Ture.

The Shady Ladies sing their hearts out for democracy, led by Reed Fromer. Photo: Martha Ture.

Reed Fromer leads a sing-along with the Shady Ladies and Can-Do Singers. Photo: George Osner.

Activists, cast and crew gather for a final curtain call. Photo: George Osner.

MVCAN leaders June Cooperman and Bernard Catalinotto as Liberty and Trump. Photo: Suz Lipman.

Carol Korenbrot and MVCAN volunteers greet our generous donors. Photo: Suz Lipman.

Meet our event team: Suz Lipman, Marilyn Price, Fabrice Florin, Mary Cosgrove and June Cooperman (from left to right). Missing in action: Danny Altman and Carol Korenbrot. Photo: Ed Ellsworth.

View more pictures of our anniversary in our photo album on Flickr and on Facebook. Watch videos of this event in our Vimeo album.

Bamboodu Float at the Parade

People loved our Bamboodu Float at the 2017 Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade!

I created this political art performance with the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN), to express our frustration with the Trump regime.

Our puppet theater on wheels stars Lady Liberty and Tiny Trump: each time Trump tweets fake news, Liberty bonks him on his thick bobble head.

Here’s a video of our parade with dozens of artists and MVCAN members:

Thousands of spectators cheered and sang along with us: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses …” This lovely poem by Emma Lazarus was turned into song by Gareth Loy and performed by local singers, including members of the Shady Ladies.

Veteran journalist Paul Liberatore wrote this fine cover story for the Independent Journal, the largest newspaper in the North Bay. ABC 7 News featured our political art throughout their Memorial Day coverage (a clip from their news report is included in the above video). Our video also includes footage from a wonderful parade montage by Gary Yost, with a moving guitar solo by young musician Matt Jaffe.

This Memorial Day Parade was organized by Larry “the Hat” Lautzker, Mill Valley’s colorful clothier. The parade judges gave us the “Best Community Spirit Award.” One judge, Eric Christensen, explained why he voted for our entry: “I thought it was a very appropriate message to send on Memorial Day: if people don’t stand up to Trump and his policies, our future will be filled with many more war dead to memorialize.” 

Our friends at MVCAN invited me to give a talk about this project and the importance of art in politics at their monthly MVCAN meeting. Here are my takeaways:

  • Art engages us at a deeper level
  • It unites us around shared emotions
  • We identify with the characters of our stories
  • We spread our message to a wider audience
  • It invites people of all ages to participate
  • It sparks our imagination to invent the future
  • Making art together is fun and inspiring
  • It encourages playful collaborations
  • It builds community and strengthens our bonds

Here’s the video of my talk. See our slides for more info.

I’m very grateful to all the MVCAN friends and neighbors who helped build this float in our front yard: Danny Altman, Laura Boles, Phyllis Florin, David Glad, Peter Graumann, Edward Janne, Suz Lipman, Charlene Lundgren, Jean Marie Murphy, Mark Petrakis and Martha Roush, to name but a few. See the team in action in our photo album.

Special thanks to my amazing friend and associate Edward Janne, who designed and engineered the technology behind this float, using an Arduino, an MP3 shield and NeoPixel matrices. He coded the Bamboodu Player, the custom software which allowed me to choreograph our live performance, using this simple script. If you’d like to learn how to build systems like these, we’ll teach another Arduino class together this fall at Tam Makers.

Many thanks as well to our friends at Pataphysical Studios, our art collective, who marched ahead of us holding a large Traffic Jam sign, from an earlier caper memorialized in this video. We all wore our purple lab coats and funny hats, to set the tone for this new political art march.

I’m really happy that so many people enjoyed our Bamboodu Theater — and that our performance helped promote the Mill Valley Community Action Network — a grassroots political group that helps us coordinate our resistance to right-wing attacks on our liberties. 

Through this interactive art experience, we hope to engage people of all ages to get engaged in political action. If you live in the North Bay, sign up here on the MVCAN site — and join your neighbors to keep democracy alive!

Vive la liberté!


Learn more about the Bamboodu Float:

#art #bamboodu #indivisible #mvcan #politics #puppets #resist #theater

Bamboodu Theater

Behold the Bamboodu Theater, my new puppet stage for civic events and art shows.

This interactive theater experience features the Bamboodu spirit, a mythical creature rising from the earth to expose the troubles facing America and the world. Above his head are some of the characters that haunt his dreams, playing out the eternal fight between fear and hope.

Our first scene stars Lady Liberty and Mr. Trump. As surreal music plays, Mr. Trump’s recent tweets and alternative facts scroll by on a news ticker below the stage. Each time Trump says something wrong, Liberty hits him on his thick, bobbing head — until his oversize jacket falls off, revealing that the emperor truly has no clothes.

At the end of this short play, we invite our guests to sing along the inspiring words of Emma Lazarus’s poem about the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor …”). Through this interactive experience, we hope to engage people of all ages to think about the values we share — and help change the world through civic action.

Bamboodu Theater is a work-in-progress, combining mixed-media art with radical puppetry, along with electronic text, lights and sounds powered by Arduino. We customize the experience for each public appearance, whether it is shown as a stand-alone exhibit, a parade float or a street theater performance.

We premiered this interactive theater experience at Signs of Hope, an inspiring exhibit of political art that ran from April 14th to 29th at Art Works Downtown in San Rafael. See photos of our theater in that exhibit. Learn more on our project page.

We are now building a special float to feature the Bamboodu Theater at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 29, 2017. To create this float, I am working with a wonderful team at the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN), a local political group which I recently joined to resist the conservative takeover of our country.

Our new Bamboodu Float is coming along very nicely, as shown in this photo album. Learn more on our project page. In coming months, we plan to show it at other civic events and political rallies.

Bamboodu Theater was created by Fabrice Florin, in collaboration with Phyllis Florin, Edward Janne, Mark Petrakis, Geo Monley, Jean Bolte, Howard Rheingold and our friends at Pataphysical Studios and Tam Makers. Special thanks to Gareth Loy for permission to use his Mother of Exiles song, and to all the MVCAN members who are helping build our parade float: Danny Altman, Laura Boles, David Glad, Peter Graumann, Suz Lipman and Jean Marie Murphy, to name but a few. I’m deeply grateful to you all.

It’s been a true pleasure to work with so many friends and neighbors to keep democracy alive through art and theater.
Vive la liberté!