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A Couple Cool Things Courtesy of WordPress’ Blog Stats February 25, 2009

Posted by cellardoor10 in Uncategorized.
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First of all, there’s a weird quirk with our view statistics – we’ll have one day with 15 views and the next day with 2 … and this is a repeated pattern, sustained almost perfectly throughout our existence, which began January 27th, blog-wise.

Secondly, our most viewed post/page is Contacts and Calendar, then Emotional Responses, then the Welcome Post.  Interesting – the earliest posts have had the most time to gain views, I suppose.

Our main referrers (sites which link to us) have been a wordpress search for posts tagged Carleton, and something called Condron.us, which seems to produce random blogs every 6 seconds for your perusal.  If anyone knows this better, let me know.  Seems awesome, and like something I should definitely NOT remember if I hope to ever get work done.  Others include my admissions blog, our class’ Moodle site, and a wordpress search for “gay and lesbian” (lots of searches are on this list, but the two above are the biggest).

The most exciting stat, though is Search Engine Terms – what people Google to find us.  Carleton out on the streets is a big one, predictably.  The cool thing?  4 out of the top 5 Google results are either links to this blog, an event we have planned, or a link to my admissions blog, which talks about, and links to, this blog.  The next two are “figures facts on homelessness,” and “Minnesota youth advancement act.”  For the facts figures one, we are nowhere in the top … 50?  something like that, so people are really searching.  For the MYAA, however, Ruth’s post “A Fragmented System of Organizations” is the third independent result.

That’s super exciting that our little blog has gotten so high on Google – now if only more people would search those terms and then click our link …

How did you find us, if you’re not just in our Political Science class?

Ecologies for Mobilization February 25, 2009

Posted by aufderhr in Uncategorized.
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So know that we have our events planned and contacts lined up, our focus has turned back to Carleton.  For the first few weeks of this project all our focus was learning about the issues, contact people in other organizations, and coordinating with our contacts.  But now that we have the events we need to mobilize Carleton students.  Currently, we are in the middle of the mobilization process I have become really fascinated with how the ecology of the college enables us to quickly mobilize people.

As we planned, we made posters and distributed information through the main email lists on campus, and I started getting responses the day we sent out the emails.  In some ways I think we over advertised our first event, the volunteer day.  I was worried when we sent out the emails that we would not get any responses because volunteering would involve sacrificing a Saturday during 8th week.  However, I did not fully consider that these emails reach hundreds of students and that there were likely to be a few willing.  Email lists like this are really unique to places like college campuses.  For most organizations in “the real world” any email lists would be of people who had been mobilized or interested enough to sign up for my email list.  At Carleton the list is already set up for me.

One of the other major ecology based factors is that we all live and interact in such a small space.  From an article I read I learned some Beijing universities are surround by a brick wall. Though Carleton does not have a brick wall, its location in a small town and the fact that students rarely leave campus has a similar effect. There are certain areas on campus like Sayles, dining halls, and some dorms and class buildings that hundreds of students, faculty, and staff pass through every day.  When I think of postering in “the real world” I think of posters on telephone poles or on the occasional community board in a liberal coffee shop, which rarely reach a large audience.  However at Carleton, I may see the same poster multiple times a day in different locations and eventually it sticks in my mind.  If I want to get information about what is going on or if I want to advertise information I know exactly where, and the places I look and advertise are the same.  This convergence, and ease of distributing and accessing information is not as available outside our college ecology.  Advertising has to take a different form.

The campus ecology affects the tactics we can use.  One resource available to us is tabling in Sayles: a place hundreds of people pass through per day.  We are going to try to use this to our best advantage.  The other feature of Carleton I have been considering utilizing are the mailboxes.  If we do not get as many people who write or sign letters as we want, I think we could just put pre-printed postcards in their mailbox with directions to return to one central location.

Colleges are set up so that students can easily get information to one another and this dramatically effects how we can mobilize.  In this situation our ecology and some of the structures set up within the ecology allow us to be able to avoid using personal contacts and networks structures as much.  I am interested how much mobilization would change if I were trying to do the same time in “the real world.”

Ruth

Democracy: It’s really weird if you think about it February 21, 2009

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I have a new job for the project: get the names and contacts of Minnesota State representatives and senators, for the purpose of bothering them until they agree to fund the Minnesota Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, which will provide funds for shelters (there are so many homeless youth on the streets that shelters cannot provide them all with shelter-in December 2007, 156 young people were turned away from shelters). This won’t be an easy fight-Pawlenty is a “fiscally responsible” republican who consistently refuses to raise taxes, no matter what. Unfortunately, given that Minnesota currently has a deficit, and the economic problems, it’s unlikely that Pawlenty will sign it-but if we bug enough senators and representatives, we may yet get the Act funded.

However, there’s something about this process that’s far more interesting than Minnesota state politics-it’s the fact that, as part of a school project, we are going to bug, harass, annoy, and flood political leaders with phone calls and letters, asking them to vote our way, based not on our influence or kinship with the senators, but on the fact that we are voters in their constituencies and they owe it to us to represent us. This is completely amazing.

I suppose that people who’ve lived all their lives in the US may fail to appreciate what a bizarre and rare situation a working democracy like this is. But I assure you, it is. When I “signed” an e-mail created by STAND to President Bush requesting him to do something about Darfur, I got a form e-mail in return-I was ignored, in other words. But when my family first moved to Kenya, about 10 years, and I had done something similar to President Moi (the president of Kenya at the time), my family may have been harassed by the police-and that would be getting off lightly, due to our status as foreigners. We came to Kenya during the twilight years of Moi’s rule, but only a short time earlier, during the early 1990’s, people had been arrested and tortured for speaking out against the regime-some people had even been killed. People who annoyed powerful people were in danger in those days in Kenya.

But in the US, we can do this-we can annoy the powerful, and get away with it. There are laws protecting us. The powerful aren’t even particularly annoyed or threatened by us asking a lot of questions. It’s routine. And although the members of the Federal government hold the most power on earth, they give it up easily every election cycle or two. This is rare-America is in a small minority of countries in this regard.

A democratic government makes activism a lot easier and more pleasant, really. Groups looking for political change can work through elected representatives who given the right incentives (i.e. votes) will gladly work to pass the laws the activists want passed. Of course, there are limits-working with politicians means that you have to obey political rules, which some activists find constraining. And getting laws changed isn’t the same as changing societal attitudes, as we’ve seen in California with Proposition 8. Despite the shortcomings it does have, however, democracy opens up many avenues for political activists, and gives many social movements a great opportunity to succeed.

-Alex

A Publicity Update and Definition February 19, 2009

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We have a couple events scheduled now (which are described on the Calendar page), and we have sent some posters to the copier (aka Dev).  Anyway, our posters follow two major themes – DID YOU KNOW? and HOME … We are pretty excited about them because they are simple, direct, and striking visually.  We think they will be on bright yellow paper, and probably everywhere (we’re getting 50 of them!), so keep an eye out.  The DidYou Know? posters detail some startling facts about the issue of LGBT homelessness, suchas that 26% of LGBT youth are kicked out of their homes when they come out, up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT, and that around one-third of homeless gay youth engage in survival sex.

Survival sex is not always a familiar concept to people, so I will quickly define it for you.  It is especially overlooked in the U.S.A., where our government takes such a normative approach to sexual pleasure and sex work.  I do not endorse sex work, but the paranoia around “promoting prostitution” demonstrated in HIV/AIDS policies and the lack of support for sex workers, who I view as victims, is a disservice to this often vulnerable population.  Anyway, survival sex is when people, in this case LGBT homeless youth, prostitute themselves in order to afford food, shelter, or drugs to numb the pain.

Some people may say drugs don’t count as survival, but numbing the pain is sometimes a necessity if you are rejected from home (many are even physically assaulted when they come out), homeless, and forced to sell your body for food.  Anyway, that could be a completely different post.  My point is that while the government treats the people who engage in survival sex as deviant criminals, they should be treated as victims of systemis and cultural failings, and supported so they can remove themselves from a psychologically and physically detrimental mode of survival.

As for our events, we will be tabling Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon of next week, the 24th-26th, and we are volunteering that Saturday, the 28th.  We may or may not have a speaker, since the group we were working with on that had to back out because of other commitments.  We will have a film we can screen about homeless youth if the speaker doesn’t work out, though, and so the backup plan makes me much more comfortable about our prospects.

Additionally, I was doing a lot of the organizing early in the process due to my status as contact person with the shelters, but now Alexandre and Ruth have both taken on a lot more logistical details – getting transport, tabling, a script for legislation, designing posters, etc.  I have really enjoyed getting knee-deep in this issue and my compatriots have been great so far, really keeping me grounded when I go off on crazy or overly ambitious ideas.  I am so excited for next week, now that things are finally falling into place.

– Jane

Mobilization and Framing February 18, 2009

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So we have finally gotten to the point in our movement where we have actual dates and times for activities.  We have scheduled a volunteer day for the Saturday of 8th weekend and we are now working on organizing transportation and the other organizational details.  We had someone who volunteered to speak at Carleton as well, however they have not been in contact with us and so we have not been able to confirm.  Our original goal was to focus most out activities in one week; so in preparation for volunteering we booked a table is Sayles and plan to start our letter writing campaign to support the Minnesota Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.  Now that we have activities we face the challenge of selling in to the Carleton community.

To start, of course, we need to advertise so people know these activities are happening.  Carleton offers many ways to get information and event dates out to students: the NNB, the all-campus emails, and centrally located postering opportunities.  I also plan to email existing Carlton groups that might have an interest in our topic: the GSC, MPIRG, and maybe WHOA.  One of the advantages of having activism on a college campus is we have these communication resources available to us, however though we have all these resources we have to compete with the myriad of other activities and issues at Carleton.  How can we present this issue in a way that will make students willing to sacrifice a part of their Saturday to come up to the cities; what will make them willing to sign a letter or call their representative as we table; and, if we have a speaker, what will make them willing to sacrifice a Monday or Tuesday night to hear them speak?

Our goal is to make students notice not just our events, but also our issue.  In order to achieve this we would like to start with some posters.  Our plan is to have a few different posters around campus that begin with, “DID YOU KNOW” and then are followed by some fact about LGBT Homeless youth.  We simple posters with little text that people can read as they walk by, but that have a message.  The goal being that when they see our ads for a speaker, volunteering, and letter writing they will be more likely to stop and take notice.  My psychology professor would call this priming.

We also want to convince people that something like going to a speaker, writing a letter, or volunteering once can make a difference.  I have found that if people feel like what they will be doing will not help anyone then the probably will not participate, and of course on the reverse, increased efficacy leads to increased participation.  I have talked to people in the organization we contacted that are very excited that we want to help support the MN Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and have assured me that some letter writing and a few calls could go a long way, so while we still have to convince Carleton students of the same thing, this is a start.  Convincing people to volunteer may be more difficult because it is a greater donation of time, however we are not trying to recruit as many people to participate in the volunteer work and hopefully we can use the social networks at Carleton to convince people already interested in these sort of issues to come a long and bring their friends.  But even to recruit these people, we still need to make the not-particularly-glamorous volunteer work sound a like a good use of time.  We probably will not really be interacting with the kids at the shelter because unless there is some sort of organized activity just socializing often makes the kids uncomfortable which is obviously not what we want.  Instead we will probably be helping sort through the clothes that are donated to the shelter.  It is something the shelter needs but might not be something that will inspire people to action.  I have never really tried to organize people that were not already interested in an organization and I am very interested to see how it goes.

Ruth

The Importance of Communication, Branding, and a Mea Culpa February 13, 2009

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First, a little parable to start this blog: the Mars Climate Orbiter is a notorious NASA project that went famously haywire, diving into the Martian atmosphere. The cause of the problem was apparently a mixup of units-the ground station controllers of the Orbiter measured the force of its thrusters in metric units, while the software controlling the Orbiter (which was designed by Lockheed Martin) measured power in the Imperial system. The result was that the thrusters pushed the Orbiter with far greater force than the ground team anticipated, and the 125$ million spacecraft was destroyed. The NASA and Lockheed Martin people learned the importance of communicating clearly to each other.

Earlier this term, I e-mailed the Rainbow Families Family Outreach and Education manager Abby Riskin, asking if they could send a speaker down to Northfield to talk about the issue of LGBT homeless. She e-mailed me back saying that her organizations could not send a speaker, but she recommended that I talk to Raquel (Rocki) Simões, the manager of the LGBT Host Home program run by the Avenues for Youth homeless shelter. Upon getting that e-mail, however, I thought “Ah, Jane’s running that. Don’t need to worry about it, it’s in capable hands”.

Imagine my surprise on today when I talk to Jane about the progress she’s made, and learn that she’s been working with the BRIDGE for Homeless Youth program, not the AVENUES for Homeless Youth program. What’s more, she’d gotten referred to Ms. Simões, and unlike me had actually bothered to e-mail her and was working with her on getting volunteer opportunities for Carleton students.

Jane, you’ve accomplished much and have done work that I should have done 2 weeks ago. I don’t have an excuse-I should have paid closer attention to which groups we were supposed to e-mail, and because I didn’t I put an additional burden on your already busy term. I am sincerely sorry-I will make more of an effort from now on to understand who is responsible for what.

I think that this incident at least illustrated an important concept for me in the context of social movements: the importance of brand recognition for formal organizations involved in social movements. If organizations proliferate, and develop similar names, the result is confusion as to which organization is which, leading to cases like this. As non-profit organizations arguably compete for the charity and time of volunteers and donors, sticking out from the crowd is important for the organization’s ability to gain these resources. My father is the regional director of a non-profit organization in West Africa, and he’s spoken to me several times about the need for brand-name recognition for non-profits. I now understand why that’s so important for him.

-Alex

Militants and Mainstreamers February 12, 2009

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The question I want to address is about splits in the broader movement.  “The movement” being called many different things – LGBT rights, LGBTIQQP rights, gay liberation, gay and lesbian equality, etc. etc.  There’s also another movement, which we are at least tangentially a part of, and that is against poverty and homelessness, particularly homeless youth.  I am not very well-versed in the broader movement against homelessness, other than that many groups, like MPIRG, focus on affordable housing to help alleviate the problem.  This is helpful for those who have some education and can eventually become financially independent, but a 15 year-old runaway isn’t really benefited by affordable housing, typically. Other than the cursory research I have done for this activist project, I haven’t really become very informed about homelessness as a whole.

However, I know a LOT about the LGBT rights movement, as I have been involved in it for the past year and am currently researching the movement in South Africa.  So, are there divides?  Absolutely.  There’s a comment on Alexandre’s post about 60s activism that illustrates that there is definitely a radical faction that is fed up with the slow-moving, moderate, compromising ways of the the mainstream LGBT organizations.  The other issue is that while marriage and adoption are the forefront of mainstream gay organizations’ issues right now, there are all kinds of issues surrounding hate crimes, workplace discrimination, domestic partner immigration, bullying and prejudice in schools, the “ex-gay” concept, faith communities and their homophobia or rejection from gay culture, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, which has very high rates in the LGBT community, domestic violence, also high rates for LGBT communities, tolerance and education for others, health care discrimination (i.e. refusing to treat transgender people, limiting access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, inability of domestic partners to make medical decisions) etc. etc. etc.  How many of these issues do we hear about on a regular basis?  How many of these sound more life-threatening and more practical than the right to marry?  To many people, most of them do.

Many of the radical factions of the LGBT movement (and we’ve read about ACT UP a couple times, for example), use direct action action and disruption.  After the passing of Proposition 8 in California, there was sort of a revival of the grassroots, radical fervor that characterized the time periods of the Stonewall Riots and ACT UP.  The website, JoinTheImpact has managed to straddle the mainstream goal of marriage equality, but use tactics like not showing up for work, demanding that people come out to their family and friends (committing to at least 3 people), marches, virtual protests, boycotts, and other activities.  This group has gained the sanction of groups like Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, while using tactics more direct and active than either group normally engages in.

Some less sanctioned, and far more radical groups include Bash Back! – a group that “rejects all forms of state power,” and sounds like an updated, more anarchist, less single-issue kind of ACT UP.  OutRage! is a another direct action group, similar to ACT UP and Bash Back!, but located in the UK.  Lastly, Radical Women is a radical feminist organization which fights oppression and discrimination of all kinds, including homophobia and racism.  There are also celebrities who sometimes advocate more radical behavior – for example, Melissa Etheridge has vowed not to pay taxes until she has equal rights, and in a less radical approach, a few, like Wanda Sykes, have decided to come out as LGBTA, in order to show support in more conventional ways.

This is just a sampling of the various organizations which exist, often under the radar until they take action against a church, for example, as Bash Back!, OutRage!, and ACT UP have all done.  With the exception of ACT UP, these groups take on a wide variety of issues – transphobia, homophobia, women in the workplace, age of consent laws, etc. etc. etc.  These are not single-issue radicals, but those who feel that oppression is not being dealt with effectively by mainstream groups, and so they tackle many of the same issues, but in very different ways, and with less of a tolerance for compromise.

– Jane

Contacts and Partnerships February 11, 2009

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It always amazes me how much time sending a few emails can take.  This reality has become more and more apparent to me this year.  Now that I have reached my junior year of college and have “worked up the (organizational) ranks” in many of the clubs and groups I have been involved in, I suddenly find myself responsible for organizing what I once took for granted.  I have found the same to be true as we attempt to organize a few activities for Carleton students.  In fact it is harder because those we are trying to contact are not on “Carleton time,” where students check their email multiple times daily and usually respond to emails within a few hours.  Those we are trying to contact have their own busy schedules and preoccupations as I have discovered that are not structured around a Carleton schedule.

For example, on the recommendation of Adrienne Falcon, the Carleton Coordinator of Civic Engagement, I emailed a woman in Grasstops, an organization that I mentioned in my last post.  Though they had been coordinating lobbying and community organizing around the Minnesota Youth Advancement Act (MYAA) since 2006, responsibility for MYAA coordination had been transferred to another organization.  The woman I contacted emailed me this information, but wanted to try to organize a phone conversation sometime in the next week.  This required a few back and forth emails about what times would work, and then a bit of phone tag, and then finally (about a week and a half later) she was able to reach me.  She explained a bit more about the reason that the MYAA coordination had been transferred and gave me another possible contact person.  I emailed this other person and likely, if I get a response, the email/phone tag will begin again.

My Grasstops contact highlighted another factor that has likely made corresponding with contacts more difficult: the economy.  Many of these smaller non-profits are experiencing severe budget cuts.  Funding was one of the reasons the MYAA coordination was transferred from Grasstops to the MN Coalition for the Homeless.  I mentioned to my Grasstops contact that though I tried to contact a man she had referred me to at the MN Coalition of the Homeless he had never gotten back to me.  She was not surprised.  Apparently in the last few days he had been forced into a supervising position that he was not prepared for and has been extremely busy.  She implied that these organizations were in the process of undergoing some major organizational shift.  If this is the case it does not surprise me that we have had trouble finding contacts.

As well impressing upon me the crisis that many non-profits are likely now in, this conversation further impressed upon me the interconnectedness of those involved in the organizational aspects of social networks.  Though the groups themselves may be factionalized, the organizers of these groups all seem to know each other.

One downside to the approach we decided to take in our activism project is that we are a bit reliant upon the help of other organizations.  We plan to get a speaker from a local community organization, organize some legislative activism, and hopefully organize a volunteer day.  The first and last in particular really rely upon the cooperation of other organizations, though if we succeed at organizing these events, I believe this cooperation will in the end be for the better.  These are kinds of events that we would have extreme difficulty doing on our own.  However, having to cooperate with other groups that have there own time commitments and worries does really complicate the process.

Ruth

Status Update February 8, 2009

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So, we’re halfway through the term, and what has Carleton OUT on the Streets organized so far?  Well, we have gotten in touch with a great organization called The Bridge for Youth, which does a lot of work for homeless youth, providing a safe space 24 hours a day, with special support programs for LGBTQ youth.  We have contacted Chelsea Miller, the Development Coordinator there, and we’re working on getting together a speaker and tour of the facility.  We are still working on something volunteer-related, though.  It can be difficult to find a need for a large group of people, especially when a lot of the services provided are counseling or housing or another long-term support which requires training.  Hopefully we can find something fun and helpful for the youth there.

We also tried to get in touch with District 202, a queer youth community center, which is well known around the community.  In fact, I was watching a documentary called After Stonewall, narrated by the one and only Melissa Etheridge, and they mentioned District 202 and the amazing work it does.  I haven’t heard back from my initial email requesting information, so I think we’re going to pretty much exclusively work with the Bridge for Youth, which will provide some continuity and focus.

We haven’t done a lot of work about the legislative end of our movement yet.  We need to come up with a script and have laptops for use for emailing and letter writing and things.  I would prefer, however, to use mainly calls and letters, as those have a greater impact.  We would need to talk to Campus Activities, I think, in order to arrange tabling in Sayles.  We will also need to have this capability at our speaker presentation, so people can do this right after hearing about the issue, and maybe even after our volunteer day.  We tried to get in contact with some groups/people suggested by Adrienne, but one didn’t respond and the other directed us elsewhere, so those didn’t work out.  I was a bit disappointed about one of them, because this person sounded like an excellent resource for our cause.

I am worried that a lot of it will come down to that particular week – doing lots of last-minute planning.  I think we have the groundwork, but we need to solidify dates, schedule things, reserve spaces, and get the word out.  That’s a lot to do before 8th week – we decided to wait until 8th week because of our planning progress, and scheduling around other activities on campus – a lot of people active with the Gender and Sexuality Center will be doing OWL training 7th weekend, and we anticipate a lot of our potential volunteers will be involved with the Gender and Sexuality Center.  Hopefully people’s general busy-ness levels won’t make that timing a problem.

I am worried about this being short-term.  I want to have an interest meeting the week before our activities and get a group that will help table and be interested in volunteering.  In addition, on a personal level, I would really love to continue working with the Bridge for Youth or District 202 or any of the other great organizations that I have discovered in this search.  I have managed to find an issue I really want to help with, and hopefully I can convey that to the organizations and possibly talk with the ACT Center about setting up a regular arrangement or extending awareness of this into Spring Term and beyond.

To that end, I am excited about the reception we’ve been getting in preliminary discussions of this issue with GSC staff and student workers – they are very supportive, and even looking at incorporating fundraisers for some of these organizations in Pride Planning in April.  Most people have never heard about this issue or feel very insulated from it, but discussions with individuals have been rewarding so far – it might help that those people are my friends.  However, I really hope to not only gain support from the “usual suspects,” but also people who become interested in the issue for reasons other than friendship and simply doing lots of activities with the GSC.  These people are certainly valuable resources and great support, but I would love to see new faces getting involved too.

– Jane

A meditation on the difference between 60’s Activism and Today, and how it applies to us. February 4, 2009

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For left-leaning college students such as us, the 60’s represents a sort of golden-age of activism. This quasi-mythical golden age was when we college students actually made a difference-a loud and visible difference, helping to forever change American history. Students participated in sit-ins and strikes, and risked their lives during the Freedom Summer of 1964 to educate African-Americans about their rights and help strengthen the civil rights movement. Encouraged by their gains in the civil rights movement, student culture in the US went on to work hard against the Vietnam war-protests, strikes, and a complete rejection of all reactionary authority spread across campuses like a wildfire. Even sleepy little Northfield had its share of protest-in 1968, 500 students and teachers from Carleton and St. Olaf marched through the town-quite a large number, considering the relatively small size of both colleges.

So what happened? According to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, our generation isn’t less activist-it’s just quieter about it. Instead of marching, we volunteer, at home or overseas, quietly working for change. Friedman’s opinion is that we are certainly humble and optimistic-but that we need the loudness, the visibility, and, above all, the courage of our 60’s brethren. This, and only this, can bring true and lasting change according to Mr. Friedman.

My first reaction towards this editorial was to dismiss it-the 1960’s style of activism was certainly not without its drawbacks, no matter what Mr. Friedman’s opinion is. Reading about the speeches made by the leaders of the 500-person march into Northfield, I was astounded by their ignorance and paternalistic attitude towards the Viet Cong. For them the Viet Cong, and it seemed all 3rd world people, were practically non-entities, poor starving masses who would gladly turn to the “light” of America as soon as their bellies were full. That the Viet Cong were a highly disciplined organization with intelligent leaders and an agenda that right or wrong they strongly believed in and would fight for to the death for did not seem to occur to these protesters. Reading Jasper’s “The Art of Moral Protest” reveals the very sorry remains of the movements began in the 1960’s by the early 1970’s: partisans of totalitarian ideologies such as Maoism dismissing whichever worthy cause they found to be too “bourgeois”, band-wagon hopping protesters showing up at whatever cause their friends were showing up too, and “anarcho-pagans” who seemed to feel that casting magic spells were a useful form of Luddite sabotage. In light of such foolishness, one cannot help but to wonder if modern day activists are better off forgetting the 60’s in everything except rhetoric. The methods of the activism of the 1960’s, as well as the culture it produced seems better off forgotten.

However, one cannot deny the successes of the Civil Rights or the environmentalist movements of the 1960’s. The gay rights movement as a whole has a lot to relearn from these movements, particularly in light of the virulently homophobic laws passed in many States this past election. While their situations are very different, there are still striking parallels between the situation of African-Americans in the 1960’s and the LGBTQ community today. Both are treated as 2nd-class citizens in their own country, given inferior protection under the law and denied equal rights. Both are minorities, and as such need to gain allies and spread awareness of their plight in order to advance their cause. The gay-rights movement, like the civil rights movement, can gain a lot of strength by standing up publicly to oppression and denouncing the blatant unfairness of intolerance and unequal rights.

Our specific little movement fighting homelessness among LGBT youth illustrates some lessons that we need to learn from the 1960’s, at least if we hope to have an effect that lasts longer than a single term. We need to show people the moral outrage that is the high levels of homelessness among LGBT youth, to appeal to people’s sense of justice. We need to denounce homeless shelters that discriminate against LGBT people, though our methods must be modern. We can’t just tell homeless shelters “stop discriminating”-we must help them find a way to help the LBGT community that satisfies as many people as possible. In the case of transgender people in these shelters for example, a compromise must be reached between the transgender individuals who do not wish to be housed with their opposite gender, and the individuals who feel uncomfortable with being housed with someone who appears to them to be the opposite gender. Protests at homeless shelters are unlikely to be very effective-unlike businesses in the Deep South, the managers of homeless shelters will not be easily framed as discriminatory monsters, as they are providing a vital community service. The managers of homeless shelters are experienced humanitarians, and will probably not take kindly to snotnosed college students telling them how to do their job-they must be approached with respect if we are to have an impact on their methods. The methods of the quiet generation, of service in and support for GLBT-friendly shelters must mesh with the methods of the 60’s generation, of standing up to and denouncing injustice.

-Alex