A DAY IN APPALACHIA’S SMOKING MOUNTAINS HEART
Under most circumstances, the Spindoctor is essentially the opposite of an enthusiastic ‘tweeter.’ Yesterday was different from ‘most circumstances,’ however, so I let loose with a veritable flood of Twitter activity. Before I go into the what and why that lies behind this uncharacteristic behavior, I wanted to lead off with the little missives themselves, to wit, here, all from #spindoctorjimbo.
- Climate change, glaciers & tropics, is inevitable; the key problem is to adjust our social relations to share better?http://ly/1YHsL2S
- Now is Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons Day, an idea whose time better come quick–the question is how, exactly?http://ly/1YHk0G2
- “The most radical thing one can do here, perhaps, is to keep the Democratic Party honest,” an assertion even if untrue that is interesting.
- “We have no friends and no enemies; we have temporary, tactical allies,” an assessment of the NAACP that shows the necessities of the South.
- More than anything, the call is to action; the call is to do, to go into communities and meet people where they are to help bring movement.
- Discomfort is not trauma, so we need to be willing, especially when spaces are most comfortable, to bring discomfiture to the process.
- What people need is your stories; elders must be willing to mentor, to overcome their own shyness to reach out to young people who hunger.
- “We’re not going to play ‘Oppression Olympics;’ we seek intersections of identities with tangible struggles to advance toward real goals.
- White Partners can show up for Black Lives–cash in privilege; crush cooptation & give credit; roll up sleeves & work; practice resilience.
- No election is hopeless if we organize relentlessly, as work in Kansas recently shows, but the actual effort is the issue: #Dkosconnects.
- Data shows clearly: NC politics are a cheat; history shows that Democrats as well as Republicans bear responsibility for this-#Dkosconnects.
- #dkosconnects Why not more to engage Latinos? The ‘community’ hasn’t identified the issue as important, though “LatinoKos” does exist.
- From DailyKos Asheville, three points: valuing grassroots expertise; finding diversity; seeing changing Internet… #dkosconnects
From the clues provided, astute readers will surmise that a DailyKos event has just unfolded wherever the Spindoctor hangs his hat, which in the event is in the Asheville, North Carolina area, up in the hills where far flung hollers exist that enclose natural wonder and crazy social complexity at one and the same time. That this area of North America has the fastest growing Hispanic population, for example, who often help “pick the ‘backer’” and “mind the ‘maters,’” is just one instance of this wildly intricate social scene.
The meeting itself started with the lovely chants for fellow Kossacks to meet in the flesh. The prospects and problems that the site faces occupied the initial give-and-take. In particular, the tendency of at least somewhat elderly White men to predominate was on everyone’s minds. How to increase participation by women, people of color, youth, and LBGT, and more was not something that we solved on the spot, but we considered the matters at hand, as it were.
Moreover, very much to the reason that we were all gathering, DK founder Markos Moulitsas loves these hills, a result of his warm reception here at the end of his first book tour more or less a decade ago. The region prides itself on art, orneriness, and generosity, not qualities that one would naturally put together in a troika but that nonetheless are part and parcel of WNC.
As well, the voters here are much more than half Democrats, a priority morsel for a project that seeks a world that contains more, and better, Democrats. In the event, the gray day perfectly displayed why the massif here deserved the Cherokee name of Smoking Mountains; that the vast swath that a founder of the ‘pre-modern’ Democrats stole from the region’s original inhabitants includes contemporary Asheville is ironic.
The venue for our frolic was also a little incongruous. Little more than half a dozen years ago, the city’s beloved civic meeting spot became the U.S. Cellular Convention Center, over the protests of many here who hated a corporate sellout for both the name and the implications. In the meantime, those in attendance had a chance to discover that one of U.S. Cellular’s ‘competitors,’ Verizon Wireless, is trying to crush an organizing campaign by the Communications Workers of America, not all that surprising given that the Tarheel State has the lowest proportion of unions in North America.
The voices that Daily Kos brought together yesterday covered a range of matters. They included powerful data analysis of the vicious and predatory approach of North Carolina’s Republican politicians to the suppression of voting rights.
The interlocutors also took account of the way that increasing diversity in a process like DK requires a combination of courage and strategy. The focus was on the brilliant work of Reverend Barber and the NAACP, on the one hand, with roots in the civil rights movement and groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, not to mention the Communist Party, and on the grassroots rise of Lesbian/Bisexual/Gay/Trans activists whose sophisticated and powerful understanding of the current sociopolitical context is fascinating indeed.
Other presenters looked at Asheville as a heart of progressive media, at the State and WNC as exemplary of the local urban-rural divide, and at the coming likelihood of irreversible climate catastrophe. Discussions were very informal and generally full enough of profanity to elicit smiles and relaxation.
A big part of the local contextualization was the importance of face-to-face relationships, at the very same instant that the reflexive bow to ‘social media’ was also omnipresent. It was all extremely interesting.
From a Spindoctor POV, the lack of a strategic component to the exchanges was troubling.
“Whereas history without data is at best merely storytelling, data without history is at best a random shot at change that is likely to be pointless.”
He recalled the National Democratic Party’s rooted connection with ‘right-to-work initiatives,’ with White Supremacy’s prevalence, with imperial imprimatur from Korea to Kabul, and challenged those present to “spend at least as much energy insuring that the likes of us are in control of NDP as we do in vilifying and attacking Republicans.”
He also noted that, since we can stipulate both the general and human-fueled inevitability of a warming planet, an obsessive emphasis on the geographic and meteorological details—no matter how brilliant—is of less utility than insisting that we address the social inequities and divisions that guarantee that the results of climate change will be carnage and mayhem. Presenters acknowledged that, from Southwestern Asia to the Caribbean and beyond, aspects of current conflicts and chaos illuminate the social attributes of a ‘climate crisis.’
Altogether, the day was a huge boon to collegiality and the possibility of connection. Certainly, no one will ever fault DK for not meeting folks much more than halfway in coming to terms with what’s up and what’s next. What will we do about it here in the hills? That of course remains to be seen, though, as always, inquiring minds would like to know.