Twitter: Who’s checking you out?

So I came across this fun site Twitter Mosaic which creates a beautiful picture of all your twitter followers. Check out these cool people occasionally reading or actively ignoring what it is I have to say on twitter.

You can follow me on twitter too!

Get your twitter mosaic here.

Pro-Choice and Pro-Faith

Following the murder of Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and killed in his church on a Sunday morning just weeks ago, it is time more than ever for progressives to speak out on the morality of the Pro-Choice position.

I was fortunate to speak on the phone with one of the country’s leading Pro-Choice theologians, Rev. Madison Shockley, who will be speaking at Christ Community Church in Spring Lake this Sunday, June 28, at 10:00 a.m. and leading a workshop at 11:15 a.m.

Rev. Shockley spoke to me about how the pro-choice movement has been speaking out on abortion rights as a legal issue, and has not appropriately defended the moral and theological pro-choice positions. By giving up the moral and theological issues we are not only giving the religious right the upper hand in the debate, we are also doing a major disservice to the women everywhere facing these difficult decisions.

It will be such a treat to have Rev. Madison Shockley here in West Michigan to speak on the importance of the moral, theological and legal positions of the pro-choice movement.

I believe there is such a need for more progressive faith communities in our culture.  People often find themselves needing a place to go to be supported as they work through difficult and profound life questions. Those places should be available to people who are not looking for certainty and canned answers, but are seeking respect and someone willing to listen.

I wrote the following words, which I will read in our service on Sunday.  As a progressive woman, I am so excited to be participating in a religious service focused on honoring women and the difficult choices with which we all face.

Imagine a world where all women feel valued and respected; 

A world overcome with love.

Imagine a religion that seeks the leadership of women;
A religion of connection, inclusion, and compassion.

Imagine a government that values women so highly that crimes against women are not tolerated, that the health care of women is a top priority, and where women are not the majority living in poverty; 

A nation of equal opportunity.

Imagine a nation that sees the tremendous value of women in the workplace, offering all women the opportunity, the respect, and the support needed for success; 

A nation of greater success and achievement for all.

Imagine a culture where the value of a woman is not reduced to her physical body and reproductive capabilities;
A culture honoring the whole person – body, mind, and spirit.

Imagine a man who takes the responsibility of a pregnancy as seriously as a woman does;
A man who is transforming male responsibility.

Imagine a woman… a woman in this reality and the choices she could make.   

Women and men, we come together, co-creating this new reality.

TED Blog: Q&A with Clay Shirky on Twitter and Iran


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TED Blog: Q&A with Clay Shirky on Twitter and Iran

NYU professor Clay Shirky gave a fantastic talk on new media  during our TED@State event earlier this month. He revealed how cellphones, the web, Facebook and Twitter had changed the rules of the game, allowing ordinary citizens extraordinary new powers to impact real-world events. As protests in Iran exploded over the weekend, we decided to rush out his talk, because it could hardly be more relevant. I caught up with Clay this afternoon to get his take on the significance of what is happening. His excitement was palpable.

What do you make of what’s going on in Iran right now.
I’m always a little reticent to draw lessons from things still unfolding, but it seems pretty clear that … this is it. The big one. This is the first revolution that has been catapulted onto a global stage and transformed by social media. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Chicago demonstrations of 1968 where they chanted “the whole world is watching.” Really, that wasn’t true then. But this time it’s true … and people throughout the world are not only listening but responding. They’re engaging with individual participants, they’re passing on their messages to their friends, and they’re even providing detailed instructions to enable web proxies allowing Internet access that the authorities can’t immediately censor… 

TED Blog: Q&A with Clay Shirky on Twitter and Iran

#IranElection: A New Generation of Activists is Born

Photo from Iran by twitter user Mousavi1388

Photo from Iran by twitter user Mousavi1388

Will we remember this day?

Every activist remembers the day their care and compassion became so strong that they were compelled to action.  Their first protest, first letter to a Senator, first sit-in, first march on Washington, first obsessive following of a twitter #hashtag? For most of us that was just the beginning.

Ok, baby boomer activists, hang with me here… I can feel your judgment creeping in.

Over the weekend the results of Iran’s “election” were announced and Iran erupted. Information has been very restricted coming out of Iran as people took to the streets in protest this fraudulent election. One way young Iranians have been able to communicate with the world is through Twitter. Both those in Iran, and other around the world began updating on twitter using the hashtag #IranElection making their updates easily search-able to others looking to speak, learn, or report on the Iranian election.

You can follow those using #IranElection on twitter here.

As American twitter users heard first hand accounts of the situation in Iran, they began demanding American news agencies report on this story. They began adding other #hastags to their updates so that their voice would be united with others, such as #CNNfail. This quickly resulted in a change to CNN’s coverage of this breaking story.

I believe this one event is a peek into the future of activism. With the growth of web 2.0 tools we are all finding our voice. While first-hand accounts of protests and police brutality were publicly shared via twitter, Iranians were empowered and connected to each other, while bringing their concerns before the world to hear. An incredible example of Web 2.0 at it’s best as people are connecting and truly building relationships with others around the globe. The concerns of those far away are quickly become concerns close to our own hearts. As our care and compassion grows, our action quickly follows. 

With the use of simple tools like twitter and facebook, people around the world are acquiring the tools needed or organize. People in Burma, Morocco, Egypt, and now Iran have organized using these tools.

Want more on Web 2.0 activism?

RESOURCE:  A DigiActive Introduction to Facebook Activism (pdf)

I believe as the world’s stories become our stories, we will not be able to look away, to sit back and be silent. I believe we are on the verge of a new generation of activists, and am excited to be a part of it.

View more of Twitter user Mousavi1388’s photos on Flickr

Turn Back Prejudice & Discrimination Everywhere it Exists

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.”

President Obama has declared June 2009 LGBT Pride Month (read the whole proclamation here).  He calls upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

Can I get an AMEN!?

This is an important gesture.  

This is an important statement.

This is an important moment for all who fight for equality and justice in America!

Let me be the first to say, Congratulation Mr. President.  You have succeeded in energizing the progressive idealist in me. But now, Mr. President I must ask, “Why have you not changed don’t ask don’t tell?”  “Why are there men and women being discharged from our military because of their sexual orientation?” Prejudice and discrimination exist right now, in our government run, government funded, armed forces.

Your pragmatism, Mr. President, seems to be in conflict with my idealism.  I dare suppose that your pragmatism is indeed in conflict with your own idealism.  So what do we do?

What do you really want the people of the United States to do in order to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists? That is a powerful charge, and one I would like to follow.

I would love to see Organizing for America be freed up for individuals to organize around their individual ideals. This authenticity is needed for a movement to take place. I believe this will offer the public support you need to bring your idealism and your pragmatism together.

I think I am speaking for many when I say we want you to be successful and we know idealism cannot be the only driving force, but please Mr. President don’t give me this hope, without empowering me to bring the change we both agree we need.

High Price of Economic Ignorance

What would you pay to clearly understand the current US financial crisis?  Turns out the small fee to attend the Michigan Policy Summit may have been a great start. If you were not there with us in Detroit, visiting the blog Beat The Press, is a wonderful alternative.

Unfortunately, I fear our country will be paying a high price for a vary long time, for lacking the basic understanding of how this crisis came to be.  

I love that classic quote, “Those who forget their history are bound to repeat it.”  It terrifies me to think we have no hope of remembering our mistakes if we don’t make an effort at trying to recognize them now.

Sitting in Cobo Hall in the heart of Detroit, the reality of this crisis could not be any closer. Thankfully in walks Dean Baker to the rescue. Dean is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC and was the Keynote Speaker at the 2009 Michigan Policy Summit.

Dean offered clear, concise answers to why we find ourselves in this mess, and as he said, why it shouldn’t have taken a super sleuth to see this coming. The truth is many people did see it coming, they simply were not heard, or were not motivated to do anything about it.
The housing bubble is one of two primary conditions to blame for economic crisis. So how did we get here and why did it happen?
The housing boom spurred economic growth through such means as the tremendous increase in housing construction, as well as the wealth people obtained by borrowing against their overvalued homes.
As housing values continued to climb (tripling in some areas such as DC) understandably people began putting less into their 401(k)s as their retirement seemed assured in the value of their home.
The problem was this wealth was not real, economists knew these inflated values were not sustainable, and yet the public was not properly educated.
While this was happening the US had another critical flaw. We were not exporting enough American goods.  A contributing factor to this situation was the overvalued US dollar. The effect of an inflated US dollar, is the same as if we had tariff on all of our exports. Our products were too expensive to the rest of the world, and their products were a bargain for us, and Americans do love a deal!
To make matters worse, the housing bubble was able to continue for so long because of creative financing on behalf of the banks. This short cited policy virtually guaranteed a collapse of our financial system and now begs the question as to whether this behavior was in fact criminal. 
Dean offered some wonderful solutions, and opportunities that this crisis presents for us, but I don’t want to go there yet.  For now I want to focus on understanding how we got here so that I can know our history, before I even think about forgetting it…

Meat-free Mondays Maybe?

This happy vegetarian rejoiced while reading the following article, “Where’s the Beef? Ghent Goes Vegetarian” on today. What if you could do your part to stop climate-change by giving up your car, or giving up meat for one day? What would you choose?

“Last year, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested that the most useful step ordinary citizens could take to help combat climate change would be to stop eating meat. In Belgium, an entire town is taking his advice to heart. The Flemish city of Ghent has designated every Thursday as “Veggiedag” — Veggie Day — calling for meat-free meals to be served in schools and public buildings, and encouraging vegetarianism among citizens by promoting vegetarian eateries and offering advice on how to follow a herbivorous diet.

“Veggie Day is not compulsory, says the city’s vice-mayor, Tom Balthazar, because such a draconian measure would be impossible to enforce, even in environmentally friendly Ghent, a picturesque town of 230,000 where bicycles lay scattered against spired churches in the largest car-free city center in Belgium. “We wanted our goal to be easily achievable — it’s not hard to skip meat one day a week,” he says. “And we wanted it to be something the population could rally behind. If you give people the correct information about meat, it becomes an easy ethical decision.” 

“According to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, meat production accounts for 18% of annual greenhouse-gas emissions — more than transportation, which accounts for roughly 14%. Each year, millions of acres of rain forest are cleared for cattle ranchers and suppliers of animal feed, further accelerating climate change. Then there are the urgent human-health issues: the world feeds much of its grain to cattle and other animals even as millions of people starve. Those wealthy enough to consume fatty animal products are themselves at higher risk of certain health problems, including heart disease and some cancers.”

Read the whole article “Where’s the Beef? Ghent Goes Vegetarian – TIME” here.

Can you imagine if the millennial generation, those eco-loving hipsters, decided to run with this? I can imagine facebook groups, twitter #hashtags talking about each meal like it was a profound experience.  And for once maybe what your having for lunch would seem a bit more profound. Having an impact on climate-change, just by joining with your friends to eat a little differently one day a week.   

Such simple ways we can make an impact as individuals and create lasting change as a society.

Which day every week will you go meat-free?