Yup, that’s RUSSEL FREAKING SIMMONS. Heard of him? Mega shout-out to our Cleveland team for snapping this pic!

For the old school

Punch in your address at, get your polling location, and read a voter guide! Make this your profile pic!

In another picture, I’m hanging out with them. But they make me look like a goof, so I didn’t post it.


Friends, facebookers, countrypeople,

We’re in our last, mad dash to get out as many young voters on college campuses across Ohio, and our project isn’t called All Hands on Deck for nothing (our branch’s facebook is here:  If you, or ANYONE you know who is not already GOTVing like crazy wants to do some non-traditional get out the vote in the next few days, aimed at reaching unlikely progressive voters, please share this blog post and respond with a resounding hell yeah ASAP (to, or 917-608-9571).  Then we’ll figure out the deets.

We don’t do your standard door-knocking and OFA call-lists, which are geared towards encouraging likely progressive voters.  We do flash mobs, home-made down-ballot real-talk voter guides (peep mine here), getting people to wear stickers that point to (above- make it your pic!), and change their profile picture to spread the word through social networks.  We have young folks wearing and taking pictures with our hoodie vote hoodies (biggest wins: Russell Simmons, Dick Gregory and the Central State modeling club wearing them), and take pictures and video explaining why they vote.  And, at least in Virginia, we do Gangam Voting.

This campaign has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life.  I can say without a doubt that our last push in Ohio is going to be an ecstatic, amazing experience.  I’d love to have as many of you, or your friends, here with us as possible.

I can also say without a doubt that with electoral math as it is, Ohio (and specifically, Ohio’s youth) will be the deciding factor in what the next four years and more looks like in this country.  I’m not even going to pretend to be the most enthusiastic Obam-ista out there, that the last four years haven’t been rough.  There are lots of things I’m frustrated with.  This isn’t about that for me.  This is about whether or not we get to continue to have the space and potential (though not a guarantee) to aspire to a progressive, just, equitable, sustainable vision of this country.  Or do we relegate the next four years, and more, to playing the defensive against a terrifying ultra-right-wing juggernaut, hell-bent on a vision for this country, that I cannot and will not consent to with silence and apathy?

I’m in Cleveland, Ohio, working on building this movement for the long haul.  I’m going to give everything I’ve got for the next several days, because I want no regrets going forward.  I’d love to have as many of you with us as possible.  But I take comfort in knowing that, wherever yall are at, you’re doing wonderful things, and visioning our community for the better.  And I take further comfort in knowing that I’ll get to see you all a lot more once this is over.  I’ve missed yall terribly these past months.

Peace and Love yall,

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Really Rough Route/Itinerary!

Five days to go (not counting today)!  Needless to say, things have been heating up in Tuyen-Joel-and-Ruth-go-on-a-massive-adventure-ville, as Ruth joins us in Cleveland, we secure the remaining necessary gear, and generally bid farewell to our settled, responsible lives.  And also, yall (come to our going away party Wednesday the 24th at 8:00pm at 2225 West 11th Street!)

Many people have asked me when we are going to be in various parts of the country along our route.  An excellent question!  The short answer is that it’s hard to say.  We are pretty intentionally taking two months to do what could otherwise take us a month and a half to do in order that we may occasionally meander, gamboll, detour, make mistakes, overstay our welcomes, and gaze in awe at the majesty of our great country for long moments at a time.  So while we’ve got a rough idea of where we’ll be and when, I don’t want to make this thing sound set in stone.  Beyond just trying to take our time and take in the scenery, there’s also the fact that so far, most of this sucker has been planned with the invaluable support of google maps.  But as we get closer to our various benchmarks and discover sweet trails or better ways of getting places, things will probably shift a bit.

All that being said, here is a rough outline that should give at least a sense of when we’ll be where and for how long (below!):

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Shameless Appeal for Assistance

17 days yall.  Daaaamn.

This trip has already benefited from the monumental support, encouragement, inspiration and generosity of friends and family in a number of ways.  Emelio and Alex’s journey last year was a big part of what inspired me to take this on.  Traveling to Indianapolis with Lilah helped me realize I needed to do this in the South (yeah, I know Indianapolis isn’t the South- but it’s South-esque [A scene- Woman at the convenience store counter: "you know that's a colored newspaper you're buying, right?"  Me: "Uh... what?  I mean, I'm cool with it, I read all kinds of news."  Woman at the convenience store counter: suspicious gaze following me out the door- true. story.]) Ruthie’s joining on is what helped me stay committed over the last year to doing it.  Krissie turned me on to the AMAZING deal on Craigslist that landed me my beautiful bike, with Alex and Renato (of Joy Machines Bike Shop on West 25th Street, open 11am-9pm M-F, 10am-9pm on Saturday, and 12pm-6pm on Sunday or something like that, with great service and gentlemanly mugs if I do say so myself) giving me advice and guidance that gave me the confidence to feel competent enough to make the purchase, and with Janina road-tripping with me out to ERIE, PA to get the bike-that-requires-a-name (no, Emelio and Krissie, I’m naming it neither ‘Joel’ nor ‘Krissie’.  Rump Ranger is definitely still in the running though).  Matt lent me his tent.  My mom and dad don’t think I’m a crazy idiot (and have supported the trip through ample Christmas and Birthday presents besides) and actually support what I’m doing.  And of course, as I’ll get into moreso in my next blog post, we’ll be crashing on the couch of many a friend across America.  More below the flip, with pics, solicitations for bike trip gear and jokes!

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38 Days

Oh, hey!

Many apologies for having dropped the ball on updates for the last five months or so.  Part of it was just being really freaking busy with my job, this side project I’ve been working on in my spare time, this other side project that was kinda a big deal there for a sec, and this pretty amazing group of people I’ve had the privilege of hanging out with and learning from.  Also recently, having some really groovy times with fellow Midwest movement friends, old and dearly missed Obie friends, my nearest and dearest housemates and their incredibly rambunctious extended families, my own somewhat smaller but no less wonderful immediate family, my oldest of New York friends, and some new Cleveland acquaintances to boot.  It’s been a good month.

But another part of it was being, well, overwhelmed.  Not just in terms of being super busy on a personal level, but in terms of incorporating the absolutely bonkers array of things that seem to be changing at the speed of light.  It was only five months ago that I was freaking out about Egypt.  Since then we’ve had the fall of freaking Mubarak, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Malaysia, South Sudan, Japan, Joplin, News Corp-Gate, the death of Bin Laden, the release of Google+, Powershift 2011, deficit lunacy.  And the Indians were doing pretty damn good.  To those inclined to pay attention to the news (something of a key premise of this blog), it’s been kinda dizzying.

Amidst all that, my perspective and approach to citizenship and community membership (which has always, and probably will always be the focus of this blog) has been quietly changing in ways subtle, obvious, unprecedented, grounded, deep, significant, insignificant, revelatory, pedestrian, measured and radical.  It’s both profoundly shaped how I see my role as a social agent, and how I see a better way to live on a day-to-day basis (which is again, a big theme here).  It’s been a really fun process (though it would have been difficult to put into words and succinct blog-posts as it’s been going on for the last few months), and I may try to get into it at least a little before bike trip- as those shifts have given me a much clearer vision for the project I intend to be working on in Cleveland over the next five to ten years.  But if not, no biggie, I’ll be returning to it when I’m back and have begun my process of working on my project in earnest.

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Move Something (Anything!)

“This ain’t the time or place for you to prove somethin’, cut the star-gazin’ yo move somethin'”

One of the great, and terrible things about this moment is that because everything and their mother is under attack (geddit?), there are about a million things, wherever you are, that you can get involved with to participate in the great upsurge that is going on.  I hope that the movement that is being stirred by the fight for Wisconsin public employees’ rights to workplace democracy also embraces and supports the numerous other resistance movements that were initiated by attacks against both their funding streams and very integrities in the rush to fiscal ‘austerity’.  That’s certainly the indication I get from Van Jones, but let’s hope there’s some follow-through.

I say this because we have seen, over the last couple of years, no shortage of assaults on not just isolated organizations, communities, and individuals, but assaults on our sources of power, mobilization, and movement capacity, what Chris Bowers calls the ‘Progressive Feedback Loops‘; assaults that have left our ability to respond to further assaults weaker than before.  The destruction of ACORN, the witch hunts against Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod, and all the attempts to degrade and undermine Obama and progressivism in general, was not just about taking out random institutions.  It was about knocking the wind out of progressive organizers, it was about demobilizing and taking out the engines and fuel supplies of the movement that is so much more than Barack Obama.  And so far we have not seen the rush that we see now to support, on a national level, those key communities that are under attack, all at once.  We are all in this together, and they’re attacking us all for the same reason- to diminish our ability to fight back.  Let’s remember that going forward, and know we can’t afford to lose a single piece of progressive infrastructure.  With that being said, here are just a small slice of the struggles that are going on, and a small sample of the ways to get involved:

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Filed under Awesome Organizations and Programs, Movements, Redefining America, Solidarity

“The Movement for ‘Hope and Change’ has a Rare, Second Chance… All Who Love This Country Need to Do Everything Possible to Spread the ‘Spirit of Madison’ to All 50 States”

If they can, we can

Weeks ago, I wondered if the spirit that had transported Egypt would catch on in America, where, for many reasons, it is equally urgently needed.  And we are so blessed that that looks to be happening.  I’ll admit that earlier, at the time, I would have thought that given the crisis our country’s youth faces (from unemployment, climate change, health insecurity, deportation, incarceration, debt), and the energy with which we delivered Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008, the spark would be lit by my generation again.  But if the fire that’s spreading across the world has any single lesson it’s that you won’t be able to guess where it catches on next.  So thank God for Wisconsin, for Madison, for Egyptian pizza-benefactors, and for the public employees unions out there.  You find yourselves in excellent company.

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Filed under Movements, Radical Critique, Redefining America, Solidarity

“The New Weapon Of Choice Is The Broom”: “Yesterday, I Was A Demonstrator. Today, I Build Egypt”

Cleaning up Tahrir Square, the day after Mubarak steps down

Jubilation in Tahrir at Mubarak's resignation

Supporters that, I'm going to hazard a guess, are not in Egypt

"Mini-state of the people's revolution"

Honoring the dead

I could go on and on about this (and already have, to my poor friends here in Cleveland), and I swear I’ll get back to stuff closer to home soon, but wanted at least something about the awesomeness we were lucky enough to bear witness to on Friday:

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Filed under Democracy, Egypt, Faith, Foreign Policy, Movements, Solidarity, Spirituality