The Personal is Political

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In this week’s show, organizer Marshall Ganz explains the power of narrative in building movements — an idea he used to help propel Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential campaign. Here, some of Ganz’s students and Bill’s former guests share personal stories that moved them to political action.

Each of us has a story that can move others. If there’s an issue you feel passionately about, the story of how you came to care about it could compel others to care as well. Consult our how-to guide for more on the art of translating values into action through stories, and share your own “story of self” below.

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  • Sue Wilson

    I am an Emmy winning journalist, and once covered a murder trial for a FOX affiliate. I was ordered by management to spin the coverage to make the defendant look guilty. I refused, but the station got its way in the end. Let’s be clear: my job as a journalist is to report facts and let viewers draw their own conclusions, but clearly, corporate media has other ideas.

    So I made “Broadcast Blues” the 2009 documentary which blows the whistle on bad broadcasting (Moyers & Co. uses the scene of me standing up for We the People at an FCC hearing frequently, thank you!)

    I next turned the movie into movement with the newly founded Media Action Center. We currently have legal cases pending at the FCC, challenging two Milwaukee radio stations actions in each giving 80 minutes of airtime every day during the Scott Walker recall to supporters of Walker, while refusing supporters of his opponent any airtime at all. Attorneys for one of the stations, WTMJ, are arguing that they can give such biased political support to one political party because their shows are “bonafide news” programs (which turns the definition of news upside down.) We are just beginning the fight to “Tell the FCC Talk Radio is NOT Bonafide News!”

    We next will challenge the license of KDND FM, which killed Jennifer Strange, a young mother of three, in a water drinking stunt. (This was featured in Broadcast Blues, and can be found on YouTube.). Will the FCC allow a radio station to commit Murder by Radio and still keep its license to broadcast? Possibly, as the FCC’s overarching attitude toward any such license challenges is to ignore the public and hope they will go away.

    So this October, we are planning a march on the FCC to clearly remind the agency that they work to protect the PUBLIC interest, not the industry interest. We are not going away, and we sure as heck will not be quiet!

  • Fadi Gholam

    It was 1975, I was in Beirut Lebanon west side, all my family were cross the green line in the East, the war was going on, I was working when the war started, worked till the last day I was there, I was a draftsman, my company offered me a hotel room and and extra pay if I chose to stay working, the war goes on mostly at night, and we were not close to the War Zone. One day the UN asked the Syrians to go into Lebanon to stop the war or balance the power, I think the Christian Falangist were losing and the Palestinians, the Left and the progressive were taking more ground, I used to go on the roof of the Hotel to watch the bombing and the progress of the war, but when the Syrian Army went into Lebanon, they started hitting the west first, because they were stronger and gaining ground. After 2 years separated from my family, 2 friends at work and I decided to leave Lebanon, I called My Dad, brothers and sisters and said good bye on the phone. To make the story short, I went to France, From there I thought I could get a visa and go live in England with my Uncle my dad’s only brother, he left Lebanon during world war 2 with the English Army he was in Special Air Service, war hero many Medals,survived and got married to a british girl and had Antique stores in Altrincham Cheshire England. Wat I had in mind, did not happen, even with my uncle’s help, the british Embassy did not allow me to enter England, because they did not want me to stay, not even a visit. I met this nice beautiful American Girl in Paris, we spent few months together, she had to come to the US, her dad past away, Then she started writing and calling me, she missed me I missed her also, she found a way to get me a Visa to come to the USA, I thought well, my be that is the reason why I could not go to England, that is may be the reason why I left Lebanon, or may be it is why we had war in Lebanon, is to come to the USA, the land of opportunity, on the plane from paris to New York I sat next to a nice man, he told me I was going to love California where I was heading. I did love California, I still do, I love the US in general, the people, I liked things how they were in 70s or even 80s in this country, but for the last 20 years things been going wrong, American people losing their rights, corporate taking us to wars around the world, wall street, banksters ripping us off, 10 years living in my home with my family lost 1 job in 30 years that caused me to lose my home Chace foreclosed on me while doing modification, literally kicked us out on the street, now I work like a slave for a corporation that made record profit like few others and not care about our economy or the people, we have Government and officials that get bought and sold every day, They lie before the election and screw the people when they are in office. The land of opportunity, no more. Revolution is at the door, what you wish for others, what you do to others, will one day come back to you. The war machine, the Rothschilds, our media, congress, the Senate, all are haters to America, they are not Americans, they are using this country and the tax payers to get rich and take over other countries and their assets, violate every rule of law commit crimes against humanity around the world in our name, give us bad reputation, create more terror and make people hate us more and put us American people in more danger. The whole world knows what our leaders are doing, but the American people think they are protecting us and fighting terrorism where it starts outside, yea right.

  • Jana Everett

    As a woman in college in the 1960s, I was active in the anti-war movement, but the experience that had the most impact on me was the illegal abortion I had in 1968. I got the pregnancy confirmed at the school health center and came back to my dorm terrified. I told some of the other women and they told others and by that evening I had the name of an illegal abortionist and had made an appointment for the next day. That taught me the power of community and my responsibility to give back. I had an opportunity to do so when I went to grad school in Ann Arbor in fall 1969 and immediately discovered the feminist movement. By January I was tired of consciousness raising, and hearing about a group of feminists getting trained by clergy counseling to do abortion counseling, I got involved. By the time the training was finished, abortion was legal in the first trimester in NY. We checked out NY clinics and gave women the information about these facilities. For a couple years I had a separate phone in my apartment that was “the women’s liberation abortion counseling hotline.” I was able to integrate my feminist activities and my graduate studies, as I and others got involved in the first women’s studies courses at U of Michigan and the first women and politics courses. We organized in the department to get more fellowships for women and people of color and to get the faculty to use masculine and feminine pronouns. I was able to do my dissertation on the women’s movement in India during the nationalist period. Later in 1978-79 I had the opportunity to go to India to do research and was able to meet the women leaders who became feminist leaders in India.

    I got caught up in raising a daughter and juggling work and parenthood and became much less active. But now my daughter has two sons and a Ph.D. and a wonderful husband, and I’m very proud of her. I have time to become more active again. I got involved in a homeless initiative at my church. The capitol hill churches in Denver house 20 homeless women once a week–my church, St. Barnabas, does this on Thursday. This experience has made me aware of how marginalized homeless women are, even within the homeless community. I want to get involved in working with homeless women to form an organization of homeless women in Denver to put pressure on the city, state, NGOs, and public regarding affordable housing, decent jobs, and dignity for homeless women. I hope to get started as soon as my co-author and I send our book on gender and globalization to the publisher in a couple of weeks.

  • Walking Bridges

    I am grateful to hear the stories of inspiration and motivation. I created ‘Bridge Walkers,’ a documentary about the importance of Sacred Sites to the Ohlone of the San Francisco Bay Area, and, to indigenous peoples around the world, highlighting the efforts of local elders and community members to preserve these ancient sites. ‘Bridge Walkers’ was shown as a 3-screen installation in September 2012 at the de Young Museum as a site-specific installation to the Viewing Tower, with its clear view above the trees to the ocean, a landscape from a time before contact. I am currently developing ‘Open Doors,’ a short film and installation spotlighting the need for greater exchange and respectful collaboration between Anthropologists and Native Peoples. A WIP version was designed for and exhibited at Audible Observatories in November 2012 in San Francisco. In the case of Sacred Sites, California’s Legislature introduced a bill last Fall that seeks to protect Sacred Sites. I hope ‘Open Doors,’ can foster greater dialogue as well. I came to make ‘Bridge Walkers,’ and ‘Open Doors,’ after creating on a short film, ‘Witness the Healing,’ about the Ohlone of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the search for my family history.

  • Deniz Occupy Guevarra

    i dont suppose you have a resource on how to do an EPK? working to expose an oil exec in socal want to send to out of market outlets

  • Sue Wilson

    EPK? I am not sure what you mean.

  • CJSeymour

    @Sue: EPK = Electronic Press Kit. EPKs are the special features on DVDs that go behind the scenes, conduct interviews with cast and crew, and often (though not always) tell the story of The Making Of …

    @Deniz: A good photojournalist should be able to help you with the expose. Doesn’t sound like you need a full-fledged EPK team. Most important thing is sound. Distributors reject films and docus more often because of poor sound quality than anything else. Call the Cinema Audio Society at 818-752-8624 and ask for a recommendation. They’re great people, have good contacts in the industry and might be able to steer you to the assistance you need. Good luck!

  • Mary

    You are an inspiration !!

  • Pamela Payne Foster

    In Atlanta I became the campaign manager for a friend running for the Board of Education. She had no money and very little support, but she was passionate and articulate about her and other children’s education. For me, she also represented the best in a candidate…….she lived on public assistance, she was a single mother, but she was the only candidate running who actually currently had children in the school system. Early in the campaign one of her opponents came to us and said they would like to buy her out of the campaign in order to eliminate the competition. All the reasons that made her a good candidate for the position, her vested interest, her lack of ties to other interests, her integrity……….all of those things were not good enough to convince voters and allow her the victory. Instead the one who wanted to buy us off won. But that is because the majority of voters who are like my candidate are not engaged in politics. Often it is those people who have a completely different interest or investment who win elections and rule the policies. It is time for all of us to become engaged, in order to bring out the best in democracy and the power of the vote!