Three days without a shower does not a handsome activist make

I was honored to be part of the University of Madison’s contingent to the Midwestern Campus Antiwar Network Conference. I just got back a few hours ago from a weekend of networking, activism workshops, and as pictured here from the front page of the Daily Iowan student newspaper, a 2 hour rally/protest. I really enjoyed the entire weekend, but the greatest part was not necessarily the workshops and knowledge I gained from the two days, but the new friends that you can’t help but make when you are with them nonstop for almost 40 hours straight. I personally led a workshop myself alongside an activist from the University of Cincinnati and the two of us handled “Media Skillz/Website” quite admirably. Although we didn’t have as big of a group as the policy-based workshops, our skill-based shop answered a lot of questions and afterwards, another activist from Iowa came up and we chatted about the site and he put some links to us around on some sites he manages.

Madison hasn’t had a good protest since our Halliburton protest around six months ago, and trust me, I was sorely feelin’ the need to take the streets once again. When so much of your time in an activist organization is taken up with meetings, bureaucracy, designing and maintaining a website, and the like, you sometimes loose sight of the power of the people en mass! It was especially rewarding for me as we were reaching the end of the circle through Iowa City’s campus area, and we came across a bunch of students crossing the street. We were in the middle of the “Whose Streets? Our Streets! Whose War? Their War!” chant, and since I was definitely losing my voice at the time (still hasn’t come back to me unfortunately), I went up to the group and proclaimed loudly that it was YOUR streets, and THEIR war! They looked at each other uncertainly, and I gestured for them to join us in our march – and they did!

There’s nothing more relaxing and focusing than a protest, in my opinion. All the tension and anxiety and anger that you get from months of researching and studying an illegal war and the various factors that lead into it really raise the blood pressure. But you get out there with hundreds of other activists into the bright sun, cheering, shouting, briefly dying-in – well, the adrenaline of any sporting event has NOTHING on the feeling of empowerment, love, hope and energy. You’re able to come back to your chapter then with all these great ideas, great new friends, and have a revitalized outlook on building the movement right here in Madison again.

On a technical note, I’ve loved the fact that in the past 4 hours already a dozen new subscribes have created accounts on the website and the forums are a hopping hive of activity. Activism and technology combined – could I ask for anything more? 🙂