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The 2013 election season has just ended, but here at Forward Montana, we’re already getting nostalgic. All those doors (8,557 to be exact); all those calls (3,645, but who’s counting?); all 2,005 of those lovely registered voters.
And the wins. Oh, the wins. From Annelise Hedahl in Ward 5 of the Missoula City Council, to Chris Mehl for City Commission in Bozeman, to Carson Taylor as the new Mayor of Bozeman (in two years..it’s a strange system..don’t ask), to the Missoula Public Schools Technology Levy, we had a lot of wins this season.
We’d like to just revel in these wins, sit back with a Cold Smoke and our Snapchats and relax. But we can’t.
2014 is going to have to be big. Bigger than 2013, bigger than 2012. Here’s what we’ve got coming up in 2014: Defeating a referendum on the ballot designed to suppress the youth vote by repealing Election Day Registration. A fight for equal treatment for LGBTQ Montanans. Legislative elections. And of course, the important work of registering voters and training leaders.
Forward Montana has done a lot with what we have,but we need to be even bigger and better in 2014. For us to succeed, we need your support. That’s why we are kicking off our first-ever ROCKSTAR fall membership drive, Battle of the Bands, starting…now!
Our ROCKSTAR monthly member program is our only sustainable source of funding. Equally as important, it is who we are. Forward Montana is our membership – when you become a member, you become part of a movement to give young people the power to move Montana forward.
When we have our big wins in 2014, when we hold onto Election Day Registration, when we extend LGBTQ protections to Eastern Montana, when we elect awesome legislators to kick ass on behalf of young people, we want you to be able to say that you were part of it. We can’t do it without you.
Each year, like the mighty cicada in their final nymphal instar, Forward Montana board members dig their underground exit tunnels and take to the air. For some, a particular weather event signals their tenure is up, and they molt for the last time. But for others, the 2013 board elections are the beginning of a story that will lead them to meetings, committees, and eventually a dark underground tunnel where the cycle begins anew.
If you’re interested in running for our board of directors please email Chase Mohney at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application. Applications must be submitted no later than 11:59pm on Tuesday, June 18.
Applicants must be a member of Forward Montana. According to our by-laws, that means that in the last year you have donated at least $10 and/or volunteered for 2 hours. Not a member yet or need to renew? We can fix that real quick.
Here is the fancy process and timeline for the 2012 Election:
1. Wednesday, June 12 – June 18: Request for interested member candidates for the 2013 board of directors. Applicants must contact Chase Mohney for application.
2. June 18: Candidate application window closes. Complete applications must be submitted no later than 11:59PM.
3. Wednesday, June 19: Electronic ballots are sent to members. Voting begins.
4. Tuesday, June 25 @ Midnight: Election closes.
5. Wednesday, June 26 @ 5pm: Board meeting to ratify elections.
6. Thursday, June 27 - Inform and announce newly elected board members.
Questions? Give us a ring at the office 406.542.8683!
See you in the skies (and at The Williams Effect!),
Kayje, Tess, Lucy, Hannah, Debi, Shibu, Nik, Aylinn, Brennen, and the entire Forward Montana family
You know that theory about how changing one small thing in one place can cause large changes somewhere else? Like when a butterfly flaps its wings in Tahiti, and it results in a population boom of horses in Montana ten years later?
Well, Former Congressman Pat Williams was a butterfly.
There he was, flapping his wings in Montana and DC, creating wilderness, founding tribal colleges, defending arts and education, telling good stories, inspiring young people… You know, typical Pat Williams.
And here we are years later with a horse population boom on our hands. That is, if horses were incredible young progressive activists working day in and day out to move Montana forward.
This is what we call The Williams Effect.
Yep, with all he has done, one of Pat’s greatest legacies is the next generation of leaders that he has inspired. At FMT, we are proud to be part of that legacy, training these young leaders, giving them the opportunity to live hands-on democracy and making a real difference in Montana.
To celebrate Pat and our young FMT leaders, we have created The Williams Effect, a free, kick-ass party in Caras Park on June 26th. Music by Tom Catmull, beer from local breweries, and free food from the Dinosaur Café. And we want you there! (RSVP Here!)
This event will also publicly launch The Williams Effect Fund, which sponsors our Fellows, Interns, and High School Interns during their time at Forward Montana.
We know they’re awesome; you know they’re awesome. With that settled, we’ve got two questions for you:
2. Will you support our Fellows and Interns by contributing toThe Williams Effect Fund? You can sponsor a High School Intern for a week for just $25 or a college-age Intern for just $50!
Can’t wait to see you there!
Kayje, Tess, Hannah, Lucy, Debi, Nik, Shibu, Kiah
Those bastards are at it again — trying to weaken our right to vote.
But we won’t let them get away with it. Not once, not ever.
In 2012, thousands of brave Montanans waited in line for hours to do their duty as Americans. Over half of them were under the age of 30. These courageous men and women endured long lines and erroneous, underhanded, lily-livered voter challenges. Now they’re under assault from the dumbest threat of all: Montana’s legislature.
The legislature has referred a proposal to the 2014 ballot that would eliminate Election Day Registration across the state. Their excuse? Election Day Registration is hard (sure, it might look like a bunch of politicians cynically cherrypicking who gets to vote, but…nahhhhh).
So we’re putting together an elite team of freedom-lovers: Team Montana: Voting Police. And this team has only one qualification: you want to keep Montana elections free, fair and accessible. That means you, new recruit. Take the pledge.
Send these freedom-haters a message: we don’t take kindly to voter suppression. Sign up to join Team Montana.
- Kayje, Tess, Tracy, Hannah, Lucy, Nik, Shibu, and Debi and the entire Forward Montana family.
Whether you were a part of the original tour or became a fan when over-sized buttons were a thing…the exciting news of New Kids on the Block is what Forward Montana is all about.
As you may have heard, The FMT family is excited to announce a leadership change at Forward Montana. Or as NKOTB may say it, retiring an old classic. For the last few years, we’ve been blessed with the wicked awesome dance tune that is Andrea Marcoccio. Though her lyrics are sometimes undecipherable (as in her Top 40 Hit “The votah rej is in the draw’ with the ahyrange”), the tune is undeniably catchy. Basically, it sounds like winning, which we’ve done a lot under this Head Coach, and we’ll miss her like crazy as she moves on to her new job as Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party. Andrea, we’ll be loving you forever. But don’t worry folks, we’re still hangin’ tough, knowing that Andrea is another fine example of the leadership development that is at the heart of everything FMT does. FMT, practicing what we preach. Boom!
FMT is keeping it fresh with some remixes this spring as some of our staff take on different roles. Kayje Booker, doctor*, former Registradiologist and current Program Director, will be stepping up as Interim Executive Director to keep the hits coming. While the staff is confident that Kayje will do an excellent job in terms of the work, they are worried that her recent tendency to follow up every sentence with, “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind?!” indicates that the new position might be going to her head.
Step by Step, at Forward Montana, we know new opportunities for new leaders is exactly how we continue to move our state not left, not right, but forward. Kayje, a scholarly woman with a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from UC-Berkeley and a lifetime of field and progressive work under her belt makes her a perfect fit as our new “Cover Girl.”
In the words of Jordan Knight and Donnie Wahlberg, “This One’s for the Children” and we need your continued support to make all of our amazing volunteer-led work possible.
It’s been an eventful spring, and it’s only March. We can’t wait to hit the doors with all of you in April! Are you tough enough?
With love and confidence,
Andrea, Kayje, Tess, Tracy, Hannah, Lucy, Nik, Shibu, and Debi and the entire Forward Montana family.
*note: not a medical doctor
Are you asking yourself, is that blog title English? Because we are asking ourselves, why does anyone even use words anymore?
In Montana, A1 usually implies there are steaks on the grill ready to be devoured. But, in the New York Times A1 means front page, epic national coverage.
(Ok, let’s be honest. We were below the fold. Some may see this as a weakness in our front page debut, but in all seriousness we know that real changes happens from the bottom up!)
READ THE ARTICLE HERE:
But really, this is YOUR front page debut!
After reading all 674 comments from across the country/world, we really only have one thing to say: this is your debut, too! Forward Montana has you to thank for this amazing opportunity. Without your volunteer hours, dedication to moving our state forward, we would not be notworthy enough for A1 steak sauce status.
Rock on, you front page story, you.
Sooooo . . . Forward Montana is a little bit famous. Actually, super famous. Not to brag or anything but we, like, know a bunch of ROCKSTARS.
That’s right, ROCKSTARS.
These ROCKSTARS have supported us nonstop for over six years. We are pretty much “besties.” We do everything together: go on bus trips, watch debates, talk about things we care about, and basically just hang out. So, to show how unbelievably grateful we are for this awesome friendship, we’ve decided to celebrate our ROCKSTARs in true rock ‘n roll style – by throwing a f*cking wicked party in their honor!
We are therefore completely psyched to invite you to our first annual ROCKSTAR Hall of Fame on March 2nd at the historic Florence Hotel. Come join us for a night of glitz, glam, and badassary as we celebrate our most committed members. There will be hors d’oeuvres specially prepared by Two Sister’s Catering, drinks, dancing, a prestigious awards ceremony, and surprise special guests.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; program starts at 6:00 p.m. Dress code is “Montana dressy”- or sport actual ROCKSTAR garb.
There are four ways to attend:
• Become a ROCKSTAR at $10/month
• Increase your ROCKSTAR donation by $5
• Current ROCKSTARS bring a new ROCKSTAR at $10/month
Or . . .
• Give a one-time donation of $120
Can’t wait to see you there!
Tess, Andrea, Tracy, Kayje, Lucy, Debi, Shibu, and Hannah
January is when Forward Montana gets out the human resources blender and mixes things up. We’re gaining staff, transitioning to work in the legislature, and generally blending together a democracy smoothie. Mmmm, smoothie; mmmm, democracy.
Aylinn Inmon, who oversaw explosive grown in our intern program, is leaving staff to focus on all the schoolwork we distracted her from over the last two years.
Thankfully she hands the role of Leadership Development Organizer over to Lucy Peraino, hereinafter known as Democritus Prime. Like all Transformers, Lucy has two forms: in her case, robot changer-of-the-world and robot office drone.
Our new Volunteer Organizer is Hannah Reagan, former fellow and officially the youngest person gunning for our Executive Director’s job. The fact that both of Forward Montana’s new staff hires are former interns/fellows is a testament to Aylinn’s success training young Montanans in the political process.
Additionally, two former interns have been selected for fellowships this semester. The eminently poised Whitehall, MT native and East-Coast re-transplant, Debi Lombardi, will run our high school program as we bid its former organizer, Cassie Hintz, well wishes in her new job at the legislature in Helena. In charge of building out a Youth Agenda is Shibu Arens, officially titled our Six “E” Beast (try saying it out loud). What can you say about Shibu? He speaks German, he’s a black belt in Taekwondo, and a geologist in training; modern day Indiana Jones.
Unfortunately, Dr. Kayje Booker who oversaw last year’s HUGE voter registration campaign has accepted a new position. Fortunately, it’s still with Forward Montana! She will serve as the Program Director, where she will, you know, direct programs or something like that.
January also ushers in Montana’s 63rd legislature, and with the biennial circus legislature well underway, Forward Montana has been taking a greater role in the legislative process than ever before, focusing on voting rights and education. As part of this effort we’ll be rolling out some cool stuff to keep you in touch with the legislature, and more importantly, the legislature in touch with you. Stay tuned.
As a first step in these efforts to increase young people’s voice in the legislature, Forward Montana has convened a Youth Caucus which includes representatives from Forward Montana, ASUM (U of M’s student government), ASMSU (MSU), ASMSUB (Billings), and MontPIRG. It’s high time youth coordinate our legislative work, and the caucus promises to be a big step in the right direction.
Whew! 2013 is starting with a bang, and we’re happy to have you in the family. Stay in touch.
- Andrea, Lucy, Shibu, Debi, Hannah, Kayje, Tracy, & Tess.
P.S. In other news, Forward Montana’s unofficial theme Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis just went #1.
According to state and federal law, if you answer “yes” to the following questions, you, my friend, are a real Montanan, entitled to vote in elections in this great state:
1. Will you be at least 18-years-old on the day of the election?
2. Are you a U.S. citizen?
3. Have you lived in MT for at least 30 days?
4. Would you wear jeans and boots to the fanciest restaurant in town?*
*Jokes! Election law is not a laughing matter, but humor is the only way Forward MT is staying sane in the midst of our righteous anger about voting rights.
Real Law for Real Montanans
Seems pretty simple, right? You live here, so you should get a voice in decisions that affect your life here. That’s the law.
Now there’s the real law, and then there’s Rep.Washburn’s law – which some say is mostly written in crayon and most say is anti-democracy. This week, Rep. Washburn (R – Gallatin County) introduced two bills to prevent Montana college students from voting.
These bills, HB30 to end late and same-day registration, and HB 108 to restrict the kinds of IDs people can use to vote, are explicitly intended to keep certain kinds of people from voting, the kinds of people that Rep. Washburn doesn’t consider to be real Montanans.
Think we’re exaggerating? Check out the video below:
Now this probably won’t surprise you, but we here at FMT think this is a load of crap. Who is Washburn to decide who is a real Montanan and who should vote in our elections?
Are you a real Montanan? If so, let Washburn and the rest of the committee know!
We want Rep. Washburn and the rest of the committee to see the faces and hear the voices of the real Montanans who refuse to let them limit our right to vote:
1. Make a video with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Tell the committee that you are a real Montanan, you deserve to vote, and that voter supression tactics are not welcome in this state!
Make sure to include the address at which you are registered to vote!
2. Send the video in an email to email@example.com. We’ll do the legwork to get it to the committee and your legislator.
Let them hear the message straight from a real Montanan’s mouth!
From the Huffington Post:
Dr. Kayje Booker, Registradiologist
Forward Montana Foundation
Hello, friends. I speak to you today a leader of bunnies; we are pink, and we are legion.
Here in Montana, the Pink Bunnies of Forward Montana Foundation register young people to vote, 10,000 and counting so far this year. We’ve hopped all around Big Sky Country (all 147,046 square miles) spreading democracy, and our gigantic ears have wiggled for joy at what we have heard from the young folks: they are engaged and passionate and ready to exercise their right to vote.
So while I’ve heard the rumors that young people are going to sit this election out, that they are disaffected and unenthusiastic, after personally registering a couple thousand of them to vote in the last six months, I feel confident in saying that those rumors are false. When we pull out our voter registration signs and clipboards on campuses around the state, we’re mobbed by students who want to make sure that they’ve done everything they need to in order to vote this fall. We’ve talked to young people in their high school and college classes, in their dining halls, at concerts and football games – they know how important this election is, and they are excited to have their voice heard.
In fact, they’re so passionate about making sure young people show up in this election that they are out there right now registering each other to vote! Hundreds of them across Montana have been pounding the pavement in Pink Bunny attire to make sure their friends, frenemies, roommates, distant cousins, and casual acquaintances are all current on their voter registration. Hundreds more will be out in October to ensure that those same people vote this fall. Here at Forward Montana Foundation, our high school and college-age interns have put in thousands of hours, braving blizzards, extreme heat, and everything in between to register other young people to vote. Their commitment is inspiring and offers a tiny glimpse of the potential that passionate young people have to reinvigorate our democracy.
These efforts are all part of a movement towards peer-to-peer, costume-based efforts at civic engagement. The response has been phenomenal; given the opportunity to take democracy and run with it, young people are doing fantastically innovative, unexpected, and thoughtful work to promote civic engagement to their peers. Facebook memes, online “social ballots,” jump-roping robots, and ninja pirate bunnies are just some of the ways that young folks are reaching out to each other to encourage them to get involved in their democracy.
These non-traditional voter registration efforts are culminating in National Voter Registration Day, a massive effort across the country to involve businesses, community-based organizations, and other groups who usually don’t participate in this kind of thing. We are hoping to show people throughout the country that being a registered voter is an expectation that every single one of us should have for ourselves and for each other. We should be able to say, as we do at our organization, “Every bunny is doing it.”
In fact, I’m proud to say that while some states are making it harder for people to vote this fall, here in Montana we have dozens of organizations hard at work to ensure that every eligible citizen is able to cast a ballot. In our work alone, our organization, Forward Montana Foundation, has increased the size of the electorate by 1.5%, and we are just one of many organizations similarly committed to the task of engaging our citizens in the democratic process. We’ve had key support in these efforts from both sides of the aisle, with everyone from a small town Democratic Mayor to a former Republican State Senator out there in Pink Bunny costumes to register voters.
It’s certainly an exciting time to be a Pink Bunny in Montana, and we’re eager to see the results of this work come November 6th. Whatever the results, we’ll know that many more people will have spoken and that the voices of young people will have been an important part of the conversation.