A Resonant Purpose

Above: Two Citizen Movements Working for Social and Economic Justice. At Left, in early 2011, hundreds of thousands gathered for rallies on the grounds of the WI Capitol; At Right, in that same year, Occupy Wall Street participants maintained an ongoing presence at New York's Zucotti Park.

hen massive protests sprung up at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison earlier in 2011 in response to draconian anti-worker, anti-education legislative proposals by the new governor and legislature, people across the nation and the globe reached out in solidarity. Many of them had learned about developments in Wisconsin through the Social Media. In the months since then, a massive movement for workers' rights, open government, quality education, and responsive healthcare is taking hold in the US and well beyond, most recently exemplified by the Occupy Wall Street movement. While the venue and name may change over time, this movement is here to stay, and resonant non-violent protest movements everywhere are gaining strength from the organizing power of the web.

In that same spirit of solidarity, through this blog, Wisconsin activists hope to share what we have learned through our use of on-line organizing with participants in the Dec. 17-18th Netroots New York conference at Pace University, where several Wisconsinites will be presenting. As a prelude to the conference, we share these samples of innovative organizing from the Wisconsin Uprising linked to social media. Thanks to all who have produced the contributions linked to here, and to all who shared their favorite social media examples, with special thanks to Joanie Juster. Working together, we can and will make a difference!

The blog format was the fastest and most efficient way to bring together these clips for conference goers. Nonetheless, it is a topically-arranged list of content trying to fit into a chronologically-based blog format. A couple of navigation tips: 1) If scrolling through the contents in the order postings are presented, be sure to select "Older Posts" to reach additional listings beyond the bottom of each page, and 2) an ad hoc "Table of Contents" can be found in the Blog Archive list at lower right.


Happy Third Anniversary, Wisconsin Capitol Protests
Please venture further into this site to an archive of representative social media from this important social movement, which is still making its presence known three years later.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Solidarity Sing-Alongs and Les Miserables Flash Mobs

A special treat for fans of Broadway: the one-time phenomenon of the Les Miserables Flash Mob, which simply has to be seen and heard to be believed.  (multiple links below)

Another amazing, but less ephemeral, musical protest-related institution that has continued every week throughout the year is the Solidarity Sing-Alongs held in the Capitol Rotunda and on the Capitol Square, with songs ranging from spirituals, folk songs, Broadway showtunes, to original and adapted WI protest-specific compositions. In fact, this group has gathered every day at noon on every day that the WI Legislature has been in session.  Follow this link to check out the Capitol's Solidarity Singers Holiday Songbook on line, courtesy of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.

Earlier this month (December 2011), the Walker administration announced new restrictions on the ability of citizens to assemble on the Capitol Square, stating that any gathering of more than four people constituted a protest that must seek a permit.  The Solidarity Sing-Along Singers will likely be the first to test that transparently self-serving and un-Constitutional protest restriction on December 19th, the Monday following this conference.  Of all of the groups that have gathered this year, this one's persistent good-natured melodiousness has been said to have especially wrankled an indignant Gov. Scott Walker.

Here's a video shot just a few days before the Netroots NY conference (Wednesday, December 15th), one of the last days before the anticipated crackdown:

From ScoutP's Youtube page
(after following this link, be sure to click on the "Read More" link under the video window, to see a copy of the cleverly customized lyrics to a classic Christmas carol)

Below is a video from last spring that shows the power of a non-violent sing-along that immediately followed an unprovoked incident of violence.  (See narrative that follows.)


From the videographer's notes, dating back to last spring:  "On Tuesday members of the Solidarity Sing Along were harrassed by a former Republican state senator, and 2 men carrying a flag closely associated with the Tea Party. One of the latter men physically assaulted a singer.  This is a short video from the Sing Along on the day After the attack. The leader of the group eloquently began with a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. on non-violence. And then they sang......Peacefully"

From the Vimeo page of scoutwillie

Arlo Guthrie joins the Capitol Sing Along Madison, WI July 15, 2011

From the Youtube Page of ProudWisconsinMom

Wow!  Look at all of these videos!
Search results for Wisconsin Solidarity Singers videos on Youtube

Do You Hear The People Sing? The Les Miserables Flash Mob 2 27 2011

Blogger Lauren Peterson writes, "At 1:00 p.m. on the 13th day of protests in Madison, Wisconsin, hundreds of singers and instrumentalists suddenly burst into song. The "Les Miserables" Flash Mob was organized in a single day by community arts activists Sarah Marty and Jordan Peterson." See her blog, Going to Pieces, for further fascinating background, and links to a radio report, and another supplementary recording.

For Video, first here's Rob Matsushita's wonderfully edited version, a multi-screen version incorporating the video of eight different videographers.

Two other versions, with solid picture and sound. Here's a single perspective version, from the middle of the action in the Rotunda, by Rick Wirch.

And here's another single perspective version, also with solid picture and sound, by Charles Upham.

Just to show you how one event like this can capture the attention of multiple Youtubers, reaching tens of thousands of additional people in the process, check out these versions as well:  jonathankuuskoski, antibubble8907, grandmacyd.

Innovations: Time Lapse, Panoramas, and Other Cool Tools

The definition of social media tools was constantly being stretched as community journalists employed all kinds of cool tools to convey a sense of the variety, scope and size of the people participating in the WI Capitol protests. This included some remarkable uses of animation, time-lapse, extremely high def images, and 360 panaromic shots.

Tax the Rich: Madison Protest Time-lapse (Full Length)

A four minute video created from over 2940 Photos of protesters on the Capitol Square.

The photographer's note: Thanks to Katie Garrity, Clifford & Raihala, S.C. and Linda Clifford Law Office for letting me shoot in their business space. Also Debra Lopez, all the random protesters that joined in... especially the guys with the palm trees... and the Madison Children's Museum- amazing inside and out.

From the Youtube pages of Stumptownfilms

Wisconsin Capitol Protests in 360 VR

These are 2-D versions of photos found on the interactive 3-D page which will pop up if you click on this link.  Amazing!

Photographer's notes: 

During February and March of 2011 Wisconsin's state capitol became "ground zero" in the battle between Republicans and Democrats on the way forward, fiscally and politically in the United States. The debate has attracted tens of thousands of protesters daily to the capitol (100,000 on Saturday, February 26th and March 12th). Photos and video shown around the world illustrate what was happening but can't convey the experience of being there. 360VR can, especially when viewed in full screen with sound.

Come. Immerse yourself and experience this history making event.

copyright by Scott Witte

Walkerville: Braving the Cold in Tents and Sleeping Bags

First Night of Walkerville

And you thought camping out in a tent in Zucotti Park in October and November was roughing it?  Evicted from the Capitol by Walker, hundreds of protestors sought to erect tents outside in the late February/early March Wisconsin sub-freezing cold.  As Stew Fyfe writes, "The public was kept out of the building on February 28, in contradiction to official statements made the day previous. The only way in was if you had a specific appointment.  The call went out on Twitter and Facebook for food, blankets, hats, gloves, etc., and people immediately responded. (I met a trio of nurses who showed up from New Jersey with sleeping bags.)...."

When regulations later appeared prohibiting tents, they remained undaunted, camping out in sleeping bags directly beneath the starry skies.  Walkerville's tents eventually re-appeared across the street on city-approved patches of grass.  

from the Vimeo Page of Stew Fyfe

Keep on Rockin' (and Sleeping) in the Free World

From the Flicker Page of "Madison Guy" Peter Patau

Madison Guy's Photostream

(Over 4700 photos at last count)

Peter's commentary on this video:

Some people are night people, some people are morning people -- even in Walkerville, the camp-in at the State Capitol last night. At 11:30pm, some people were already bedded down and trying to sleep, others were still talking and quietly moving around. That's when the dude into the green alligator hat brought the boombox, cranked up and playing "Rockin in the Free World." Great song, but a little loud for the "bedroom." It played for a minute or two and then someone reminded Green Alligator Dude that some people were trying to sleep.

"I got it."

"Thanks, Dude."

In Walkerville, we police our own. Democracy works.

Scenes from the Occupation of the Capitol

Fire Fighters Make a Dramatic Entrance

Despite Gov. Walker's divide and conquer tactics, both fire fighters and police officers (exempt from the collective bargaining restrictions leveled on other public employees) were a major presence at the Capitol.

From the Wisconsin Lead Vimeo page

Students Arrive At Capitol after Marching from UW Campus

From the Vimeo Page of Stew Fyfe

"This is what democracy sounds like" 2 18 2001

from the Vimeo page of Denny Rauen

Those Incredible Rally Crowds

This is Our House

from the YouTube page of Tona Williams

Includes Open Captioned Highlights of a Variety of Powerful Rally Speeches

Rural Solidarity: The Tractorcade

"Pull Together" Wisconsin Farmers Protest Gov. Scott Walker

Just as the powers-that-be falsely portrayed Occupy Wall Street protestors as "hippies," Scott Walker originally tried to caricature the WI Protest marchers as out-of-touch liberal Madisonians.  This tractorcade, which drew in farmers on tractors who drove unprotected in the cold from miles around, debunked that image, and made it clear that this was a movement that involved Wisconsinites from all over the state and all walks of life.  It also re-energized the Midwestern traditions of a farm-labor coalition, shining a light on the economic distress facing family-owned farms.

from the Vimeo page of Michael Kienitz

Foreign Coverage Often Trumped US Mainstream Media

Some of the most illuminating posts placed on the Media Coverage of WI Protests Facebook page we created were examples of coverage by the foreign media, whose reporters often took much more time talking to the protestors, and less time tied up with the official propaganda being put out by the Walker administration.  They even offered some of the only cogent analysis available about the fact how the mainstream media in the US was often missing the boat when it came to this home-grown pro-democracy rally story.

From Russia Today -- The Other Story: Home Made Uprising in Madison Wisconsin

A scathing and spot-on piece of analysis by the Russian RT news service, about how US mainstream coverage has obsessively covered pro-democracy protests in Egypt, Bahrain, and throughout the Middle East--but has failed to adequately cover the pro-democracy protests in its own Middle West.

As the accompanying narrative puts it: "The turbulence in the Arab world has drawn the full attention of the American media. Riots and demonstrations in Libya and Bahrain are dominating the news channels' at primetime, and the newspaper front pages. As Lauren Lyster reports, while U.S. leaders fly the flag for popular uprisings thousands of miles away, it's a very different story at home."

from the Youtube page of RT

Al-Jazeera was also a pervasive presence on Madison streets, offering frequent and in-depth reporting

Example of coverage from The Guardian: Wisconsin protests continue against 'union bashing'-- Thousands stand up for collective bargaining rights as Republicans set to replicate move to cut union rights across US

 Image from Cairo that received widespread distribution in various social media

Be sure to click on the "Older Posts" link below at the bottom of this page for many more examples of creative and inspiring social media examples from the Wisconsin Uprising....