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Organizing a 2 Week Trip for Lt. Dan Choi to Visit Occupations

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by Ryan Cook

I have had the pleasure this week to work with Jane Hamsher and Lt. Dan Choi, DADT activist and superstar occupier! I have been booking travel and organizing events for Dan at 5 different occupations across the country, from Delaware to Fairbanks, AK. We started the trip off in Wilmington, Delaware (Occupy Delaware) last weekend and are picking it back up today.

Last night I spoke with Will Marshall who told me that he successfully picked up Mr. Choi from the airport. Choi starts this full week of travel in Atlanta, GA where they are occupying outside of the AT&T center. From the photos that have been submitted, it looks like Dan is meeting a ton of great people and will be hosting a celebration at the newly acquired military tent from Firedoglake Occupy Supply. Everyone in the communities I have spoken with have been very helpful in working with me to make sure that when Dan arrives he has a ride, food, shelter, and other forms of hospitality.

Without our membership program and the amazing work of our member Liaisons, we could have never dreamed of sending Lt. Dan Choi to Salt Lake City, Flint Michigan, and all of his other stops. Help ensure the sustainability of Firedoglake by joining as a member today!

What will Dan be doing? He wants to focus on meeting all of the occupiers involved, getting to know their story, then stay the night with them at their encampment. He plans to spend at least one night out in the military command tent at each location, staying warm due to some of the amazing advances in solar energy and other tactics to “get off the grid.” The work that some of these occupations are doing such, as Little Rock, Raleigh, and many others is impressive and inspiring.

In hindsight, we can hardly believe we’ve been able to accomplish all we have with Occupy Supply, but when you consider the strength and support we get from the membership program, it makes more sense and opens the door to incredible possibilities for organizing in the future.

Help to keep Firedoglake moving forward by joining our membership program during the 2012 Membership Drive.

Occupy Supply is a program of the Firedoglake Membership program where we have over 105 member liaisons nationwide. I will continue to update everyone daily on his travels. Dan is tremendously excited about visiting these occupations, and his visits are bringing hope to all the campers as they reach the 6 month mark of occupying.

Firedoglake Membership – 2012 A Year To Find Myself

7:50 am in Uncategorized by Ryan Cook

Today – We launch our 2012 Membership Drive and invite readers who have just started visiting Firedoglake or have been with us for years to join our membership program for as low at $5/month or $45/year.

You can join at different levels, and each has membership benefits and gifts.  More important, I can promise, after seeing it this year, you will learn something new, find a new friend who lives just down the street from you with the same interests, and feel a sense of accomplishment from your membership.

Help make year 2 of the FDL Membership Program even better – become a member today!

Last year at this time, I was just getting settled in. It was my first year with Jane Hamsher and Firedoglake. Without knowing my capabilities, everyone trusted me enough to head the project to start a membership program. I must admit, the task was daunting at first, and I was not sure if we would be able to get it off the ground.

We not only got the program off the ground, but reached over 1400 members nationwide within the founding year. I was amazed, joyful, and effervescent. I could not have been happier with the success of the membership program, and I have all of you to thank for that. I take tremendous pride in working for this organization and having a relationship with each and every one of you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making this past year special.

Join the Firedoglake Membership Program and enter a new year of exciting activism.

This year we have had amazing educational webinars from Rob Richie and Krist Novoselic at Fair Vote, Joshua Koster, from Chong & Koster on online organizing tactics, and Stephen Lerner on occupying our homes and political action. These webinars not only help us learn, but bring us together forming lasting bonds.

I was fortunate to be able to receive most of the emails that came in over the past year about membership. What did people enjoy the most? Finding people who shared a common interest and who lived near them. In many cases we were able to link people together so that they could form small activist groups. This is something that not many membership programs can do, and I am so happy to be part of one who can offer that benefit.

In closing I wanted to talk about 2 very successful membership programs that began this year.

1. MET Program -  The Membership Engagement team (MET) is a group of 5 amazing members who were in charge of reaching out to new members to thank them and offer help on writing posts and becoming more active on Firedoglake.

2. Occupy Supply Liaison Program - Started in the beginning of October 2011, this is a program containing over 105 member liaisons in over 70 locations. The program raised $205,000 and we have sent out nearly 20,000 pieces of cold weather clothing or supplies.

As part of the Occupy Supply Program, Jane and the supply team hold webinars twice a week with participation from FDL liaison members, guest speakers, and Occupiers from around the country.  We exchange experiences, ideas, and insights; we also link up people with different expertise, and we find out what’s working (and what’s not) in various locations.  These twice-weekly webinars have become extremely valuable to the whole occupy supply effort.

Please contact me anytime if you have any questions about membership. You can reach me at members@firedoglake.com.

By joining the membership program you help Firedoglake to be a long-term sustainable independent news source.

My OccupySupply Shop: Warming the Country, one hat at a time.

8:22 am in Uncategorized by Ryan Cook

Help the Occupy Supply Fund ship 100% union made, American manufactured
cold weather gear to occupations.

As the UPS truck rolled down Potomac Avenue and parked in front of our small office, our excitement grew. With excitement came fatigue after helping to unload over 120 boxes of clothing in just 4 days. Next thing you know we had a home office that looked more like a warehouse than a place of employment and comfort.

We needed a supply shop! What better than a basement, some shelves, and a little bit over-obsessive-compulsive organization skills?

Over the past week, I have been organizing what is being called my “OccupySupply Shop.” I have neatly organized all the supplies that have come in, minus around 250 blankets that just won’t fit anywhere. Those are getting shipped out quickly. We have an array of hats that are of different colors and materials, so that our supplies are well suited for different geographical areas.

We also have two full shelves, one of which is shown below, of men’s and women’s long underwear. They are amazing base-layer clothing that will be essential to surviving the treacherous winter weather that is already upon many occupations. We also have over 500 scarves, red and black, that are already leaving the shelves quickly.

The supply shop is not just for storage, it is fully functional. When one of our FDL Occupy Supply liaison folks places an order for supplies, a packing slip is created and brought down to the shop. From there, boxes are assembled, packaged, taped up, weighed, addressed, handled with love and care, and shipped directly to local occupations across the country. As you can see, our space is limited, so it is our goal to get these items out to the occupiers as quickly as we can, to make room for the next shipment of items. [cont'd] Read the rest of this entry →

Become an #OccupySupply Fund Liaison

9:52 am in Uncategorized by Ryan Cook

Help Distribute Goods to Occupations
as an “Occupy Liaison”

The Firedoglake Membership Program’s #OccupySupply fund just received our first shipment of cold weather supplies for occupations across the country. With a lot of hard work and determination, we were able to purchase 5000 pieces of clothing for extreme cold weather, made in the USA by union workers. Simply amazing.

Now we’re looking for leaders to help us get it all out there.

The Firedoglake membership program is a small, unified group of volunteers that’s worked hard to make the Occupy Supply fund the success it’s become. Many of our members have been acting as liaisons to build bridges with their local occupy encampments. They joined the membership program because they feel passionately about what we are doing and want to become more involved in our work.

We are looking for members who want to take an active role in the work of the Occupy Supply fund and become “Occupy Liaisons.” These members serve as a point of contact at occupations in their local area, visiting occupations and sending us feedback about what is truly needed there. Occupy Liaisons will deliver supplies as they become available, take time to listen to people at the occupations to really understand what their needs are, and tell their stories to the FDL community. If you want to help us distribute cold weather gear to occupations across the country, please consider the FDL membership program.

(And, by joining membership, you not only help sustain FDL’s future as an independent news source, but as an organizing and activism hub as well!)

Cold weather has already arrived in many areas, bringing snow and harsh conditions. So many Occupy protests need help to make it through the winter, and we need as many folks as possible to act as Occupy Liaisons between our union supply chain and the demonstrations. It’s a critical job that could help decide whether or not these historic protests survive the next few months.

We’ll be announcing trainings for any and all FDL Members interested in becoming Occupy Liaisons next week. Join us today and will make sure you get an invitation to our Occupy Liaison trainings.

If you can’t join us as a liaison, but would like to send some warm weather gear to occupiers, click here!

Firedoglake is eagerly working to build a humane, sustainable, equitable and democratic future. Help us achieve our goal by becoming a member today.

If you are already a member and would like to be a liaison, please send me an email at ryan@firedoglake.com.

The Occupy Supply project is a project of the FDL Membership Program. You can read about it in Jane’s post from yesterday and in the Huffington Post, Gothamist, or the Tech Herald.

Update on #OccupyDC After Winter Weather

8:49 am in Uncategorized by Ryan Cook

Help Kevin Gosztola purchase & distribute supplies from the Occupy Supply fund.

 

I rode down to the Occupy DC location on K street Sunday Morning. I found out was sick on Monday, so I hope I didn’t leave anything behind.

I wanted to stop by and show my friend from Maryland what was going on. I have to admit that he was being very closed minded to the movement, and had a typical 1% mentality. His opinion drastically changed once we went down to the site and he saw how people were living in consideration with the snow and wind that hit DC on Saturday through Sunday.

He was actually upset that they were not getting any support from the city, and that many of these ‘kids’ were sitting there in cutoff t-shirts. He then understood why I grabbed two blazers, and a bunch of button down shirts that I no longer wear. Granted, this is not your ideal winter gear for camping out on the streets, but its better than a lot of these people have.

I also learned while visiting the “comfort station,” a station that gathers clothing and blanket donations, that they are having a real problem keeping the clothes dry. It is not just a matter of keeping the clothes covered, but due to the weather and air, the clothes still feel damp, and occupiers are unwilling to take them, fearing that it would not be sanitary.

I wanted to do one big thing over the next weekend or this week in addition to everything that Jane Hamsher and FDL are doing with the #OccupySupply Fund. I wanted to go down there and help cook a dinner/meal. I want to see how many mouths are actually fed, and also just to help.

What would you all recommend to cook for the occupiers of DC? They do have propane and pots for cooking, so it does not have to be a cold meal.

I am taking suggestions and let everyone know what I have decided on. This will be out of my pocket, but if you do want to donate to the occupy supply fund, where we are delivering warm winter clothing to DC and occupations across the country you can click here! Jane has been working hard this week with union shops across the country to get warm clothing to occupiers who are in need. 100% of the donations made to the occupy supply fund are going to warm clothes and supplies to help people make it through the winter.

#Occupy LA Can’t Feed People

1:34 pm in Uncategorized by Ryan Cook

Help Kevin Gosztola purchase & distribute supplies from the Occupy Supply fund.

Occupy DC may not have it all together on their winterization plan, but at least they have warm food.

Lisa Derrick contacted me late last night after her visit to Occupy Los Angeles. She was deeply upset to see that the occupiers in LA did not have enough food to go around. She told me that people there were consuming less than 500 calories a day, which is much lower than any person, of any size should receive. Not only are they consuming a low number of calories, but the calories that they are consuming are definitely not healthy ones.

There are close to 1000 people there who are lucky to receive one REAL meal a day. They are occasionally fortunate to have local restaurants bring them bowls of rice and supplies to eat with, but this is not a regular occurrence. To make things harder, only packaged food or food from health department certified restaurant kitchens can be dropped off, which is a regulation of the Health Dept. for feeding groups. Lisa is going to be livestreaming today at 3pm Pacific time, 6pm Eastern. I have been fortunate to visit Occupy DC a few times and they have their definite needs, but for the time being are doing well with food. They have quite the kitchen operation, and last night they were serving pasta. Food, however is not something you can do without, and without our help, Occupy LA could be ending their stand soon.

Thanks to many of your generous donations we were able to send Lisa down to Trader Joe’s for a big haul. This afternoon she will be delivering:

- 100 jars of peanut butter

- 20 jars of applesauce

- 30 loaves of bread

- And hundreds of dollars of canned fruit

That’s just the start. Lisa is still shopping and will show all the great things she bought for the occupiers tonight. Click here to help Lisa deliver more goods to the 1000 people in Los Angeles.

Food for #Occupy LA!

In other news: Last night, Jane Hamsher, Matt McKinnon from the Machinists Union, and I went to the 8pm committee meeting on winterization. This was their first meeting so they were really only brainstorming Ideas. We hope to help them out with warm clothing and supplies soon, along with effective strategies to outlast the winter.

Winterizing Needed – Mild Temperatures Making Way for Snowfall

12:08 pm in Uncategorized by Ryan Cook

Help Kevin Gosztola purchase & distribute supplies from the Occupy Supply fund.

 

Tonight, Jane Hamsher, Myself, and Matt McKinnon of the machinists union will be attending the first committee meeting on Winterizing in Washington, DC. This will be following our webinar with Members about the Occupy Supply Funds plans. It has been a very warm October, leading to little concern about when cold weather sets in.

Unfortunately, the weather in DC, and in other locations is turning brisk. Many of the occupiers in DC are not prepared for the weather that is on its way, and its only going to get colder. They are at least taking a step in a positive direction by holding this committee meeting tonight, but still have a long way to go.

Right now the concern is staying comfortable with fresh clean clothes, and padding, but as the weather gets colder, and winter approaches, it will be necessary to focus on ways to stay warm and dry. If this does not happen, occupiers may start fleeing the scene.

Firedoglake, with the help of Bruce Olsson and Mat McKinnon put together a brochure about how to protest in winter, keeping warm, and identifying cold injuries and illnesses. More drastic measures will need to take place  if these occupations last into the next couple months, such as flu immunizations. Without some of these medications and immunizations, sickness and disease could spread through the occupations like wildfire, crippling the movement.

Kevin Gosztola is traveling around to occupations all across the Midwest and he lands in Columbus, OH this afternoon to drop off some much desired supplies. Below is the forecast for DC this upcoming weekend.

Upcoming weather in DC

 

 

 

#OccupySupply Delivers Propane, Tents, and Refrigeration to #OccupyKStreet

6:25 am in Uncategorized by Ryan Cook

List of needs

Thanks to your generous donations to the #OccupySupply fund, we were able to purchase propane tanks so that #OccupyKStreet can cook without trying to use the sun, and the people living there can eat warm food. 100% of all the funds we receive will go to purchasing supplies that FDL Members will be delivering to #Occupy encampments across the country.

Jane and I woke up early yesterday morning and took a ride to the Target to buy supplies for people encamped at #OccupyKStreet. We then had to go to Maryland to buy propane, which is not sold in DC. It was a bit of an adventure but we managed to procure everything we set out to get. We used funds that were generously donated by people all across the country to the FDL Membership Program’s #OccupySuppy fund.

It has been a few days since Jane, Jon Walker and I were down on K Street delivering supplies they had previously requested, so we wanted to check in to see if their needs have changed.  The camp had once again grown dramatically in only a few days. We also dropped off another tent and some supplies for refrigeration and hygiene. We had to get creative with the refrigeration, since it is not realistic to drag out a giant freezer and plug it into a tree. The kitchen crew were delighted with the freezer bags.

Jane Hamhser, Matt McKinnon, Bruce Olsson, Rooja

With cold weather approaching, the priority of the FDL Membership #OccupySupply program is helping people not only at #OccupyKStreet, but at #Occupy encampments across the country brace for winter.   In DC, the weather forecast is showing mild weather in the mid to upper 60′s all week long. But it will not be the case for long, and cold temperatures are already hitting occupations in the north. So this time Jane, Jon and I brought along Matt McKinnon and Bruce Olsson from the Machinist’s Union with us to advise the people living at the camp on winterizing.  Between them they had decades’ worth of  experience in protesting in harsh conditions and protecting their people for extended periods of time. Read the rest of this entry →

#OccupyDC Cooks Need Propane to Function

12:22 pm in Uncategorized by Ryan Cook

Earlier this afternoon, I took a drive down to K Street in NW Washington DC. I drove down with Jane Hamsher and Jon Walker in a car packed tight with provisions after Jane had decided to go around and start asking what everyone needed.

We delivered tarps to keep supplies dry, tables to hold books for the Occupy K Street library, and a large tent, pictured below. But when I was walking around, getting a tour of the Occupy K Street grounds, I was approached by a man named Calvin. At first I thought he was coming to yell at me for parking where I did, but I was only mistaken by his enthusiasm to get my attention.

Calvin was the one of the Cook’s helping out to feed all of the occupiers. He told me that he has been struggling for fours hours to get enough heat to cook all these eggs that were donated. They are receiving gracious food donations but have no means to cook it. They do have a propane grill, but can’t afford propane.

We want to help Calvin and #OccupyDC out by helping them purchase propane to cook with. If you’d like to help us, click here to chip in $10 to buy fuel for the propane grills at #OccupyDC.
We will be using the money we take in from our coverage fund to purchase propane and other supplies, so that is why were are asking people to donate there.

There are so many things needed. They also have no way to keep things cold, they were delivered 12 gallons of chocolate milk, all of which would go to waste if they did not consume it in 2 hours. Not to mention, winter will set in over the next few weeks, and these protestors will definitely need cold weather gear to stay warm. We’ll do our best to help as many occupations as we can, but we wanted to start with this one first to see how it goes.

I took some pictures of the campgrounds when I was down there. The first photo is of half of the campsite. The artwork covering the entrance way to the tent was done by a local DC artist who wanted to contribute his talents.

You can see one of the inventory helpers carrying some of the supplies in the bottom photo.