Saturday, December 20, 2014

Life is Abuse

I have a simple request. My friend Chloe was in a serious car accident last week and is currently battling the limits of modern medicine. She is one of the most courageous and strong people I've ever encountered, so I know she is going to put up a fight. All I ask is your love and hope and strength and prayers be sent to Cho Rombach (I know she's listening).

I've been part of the Listserve for the past four years. I never considered the possibility of winning, but its makes a world of sense for this to happen now. I know I'm still young (21) and have many more lives to live, but this has been a hard fucking year. I have no advice for you, no words of hollow encouragement. Everyone just has to keep moving. Practice mindfulness. Find the people you love and never ever let them go a day without knowing it.


Charlotte Rogg
Amherst, MA

Friday, December 19, 2014

On Community, Organizing and the Internet

About 10 years ago a bunch of people who worked on the Internet team of John Kerry’s US presidential campaign got together after the election. It was the first time digital technology played a major role in a campaign and they knew it was the future of politics.

They also knew there was a long road ahead. They founded a scrappy organization, the New Organizing Institute, to define, train and recruit new organizers who could continue to expand and innovate. In 2006, NOI held a small unconference, Rootscamp, to spread the word.

This weekend in Washington, DC that conference is happening again. It’s grown from a gathering that filled a couple of classrooms at a community college in Brooklyn to a weekend that brings together more than a thousand progressive organizers from across the US and the world.

But it’s more than the size of the event that has changed.

I’ve worked in this space all that time. When I began, just after the 2004 elections, it was in its infancy. Few people understood what we did or why we did it. Most people thought if you worked on the Internet team you would fix their computer. We regularly heard people say they “didn’t do the Internet.”

Yet, we knew what it would be. We knew the power of the Internet had the ability to influence every single aspect of the campaigns we worked on. We know it was a tool for change. A way to bring people together. To find common ground. To build power. To make the world a better place.

We also knew we couldn’t do it alone. We needed allies. We needed more of us. We needed the powers-that-be who controlled the budgets and everything else to give a damn and pay attention.

Rootscamp was where we came to figure out how to make that happen.

Yesterday I walked the halls of the Rootscamp2014 that buzzed with energy. There were happy reunions. The opportunity to run into a colleague you worked alongside years back and hadn’t seen lately. Hugs from friends whose lives had taken them away from DC. But most striking was I saw more faces I didn’t recognize than those that I did. I was struck by how far we’d come. How the community we had hoped to create had become a reality. How that collective work had blossomed into a community that was beautifully diverse and inclusive.

It’s given careers to people who had passion and purpose. It’s been a launching pad for companies, nonprofits and campaigns and individuals that work to elect our representatives from school board to president, stop climate change, end gun violence, increase women’s equality, give a voice to the voiceless, and much more. It’s where we want to solve big problems and answer hard questions. It’s a place where we know we are more powerful when we do that together.

Of course, we still have work to do. We continue to strive for more. But we have a place where that happens – a community where we learn from each other and challenge ourselves to be and do better.

If you’ve ever wondered about doing this type of work. if you’ve wanted a way in, I encourage you to google the New Organizing Institute. You could be walking the halls next year alongside us, full of energy and empowered to create change. That would be a beautiful thing.

I’d love to hear how you’ve created a community of your own, challenged the status quo, or followed your bliss.

With gratitude for this community too,

Tracy Russo
Washington, DC

Thursday, December 18, 2014

At the Crosscroads

Hello Listervians! My name is Apar Singh and I am a 25 year old turbaned Sikh living in California. The other day I met a patient in the morning that I had been assigned to take care of and after introducing myself she looked at me strangely and asked, “Where are you from?!” I told her I was born in Flint, Michigan but raised in Yuba City, CA in the Central Valley. She smiled and exclaimed, “I was ready to welcome you to the United States of America!” I literally LOL-ed! She was the most pleasant soul I’ve ever met...she just had never seen nor met a person with a turban before. Not racist…but maybe a little ignorant. But that’s OK, I am willing to educate and people are willing to learn. That’s what it’s all about.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am medical student in California currently enjoying living in Monterey Bay while learning medicine at a community hospital in a nearby city that serves mostly migrant workers. I am at a juncture in my life where I have to decide what field of medicine to enter that will subsequently dictate what my life will look like for the rest of my life. Will I be a surgeon and cut people open and live at the hospital? Will I be a community health doc in a small town that everyone knows on a first name basis? Will I be a radiologist and live in a dark room looking at screens all day and be content with minimal human contact? Will I have to move to another part of the country for my training for anywhere from 3-7 years? Will I come out of medical school with the same drive for community organizing and engagement that I came in with?

I met an amazing woman earlier this year…and I want to spend every moment with her, helping her accomplish her dreams to change the world, and I know she will help me do the same. Her training will also take at least another 5 years as well. What are the chances they will be in the same place?

So many questions and concerns, and with no answer…yet. But that’s OK.

I have a Beautiful Life. A Loving Family that put everything on a silver platter for me. Supportive Friends that linked me up with all you caring souls at Listerserv (Thanks Amritpan)! I get to HELP PEOPLE for a living. How cool is that? Answer: HELLA cool.
Feel free to contact me with any or all questions, concerns or comments you have. Or if you just want to talk. I like conversing about Public Health (my nonprofit plug: Google “BPSHI”), Single Payer, Meditation and Ultimate Frisbee to name a few. Thanks for listening!

Random things to enjoy:
“Conquer your mind, Conquer the World.” – Guru Nanak Dev Ji, founder of Sikhism

“Be like the flower that gives its fragrance to even the hand that crushes it.” – Imam Ali

“What an honor we have that we can walk into a room and people can tell us anything and trust us with their health.” – Anonymous Family Practice Physician

Apar Singh
Monterey Bay

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hi Gaby!

I want to slide down the dunes of Lençóis, explore the ruins of Petra, bike the streets of Utrecht, shop the Maasai Market of Nairobi, swim the waters of Vettica, climb the tower of Porto, and soak in the sun of Koh Lipe. I want to meet beautiful people with beautiful stories and dance on the beach with strangers to loud music and see things with my own eyes.

I want to spend my last five months of college drinking champagne with my friends on random Wednesday nights and sitting on docks in the moonlight not sure if I'm trembling from the cold or from excitement. I want to find a way to end wars so that my family has peace. I want to make my parents proud and love unconditionally and learn how to let go of someone without completely falling apart and eat ice cream with extra fudge but most of all I want to be happy.

I came to the striking realization the other day that we can do it. I haven't quite figured out how, maybe I never fully will, but there has to be a way.

If you have any suggestions, please write to me. I'd love to hear from you. If you don't, I'd love to hear from you too.

Be kind, and remember "everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

Thank you.

Andrea Blazanovic
Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On Mourning, Reflections, and Eternal Grace

I'm missing the funeral of a dear friend's daughter's father today because I couldn't get away from work. Picture me, dressed in black and gray, solemn. Ready to mourn in community-- but held captive by duty. Nonetheless, present.

Every day is a gift, wrapped in the most intricate of details.

Here's to you all, I'm grateful to have you in my immediate and extended community.

1 Cor 15:8-10

#1716 #teamjournal #Scribegameproper

Washington, DC

Monday, December 15, 2014

All Lives Matter

Dear Reader,

Black lives matter. These three little words, which are so obviously true, echo the great pain of too many. Parents that lost their beautiful children, brothers and sisters that never get too play together, loved ones brutally ripped apart, little children that will grow up without one of their parents, and so many more. I can imagine the pain. And I hand my head in shame. Because justice is denied to too many families. The least we could do is stop those responsible and hold them accountable. Yet even this seems to be too much. With the great majority of cases ignored and the whispers for justice unheard. What do we tell the family of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and Mike Brown ?

The callous disrespect for human life does not end there. Blackwater's Youngest Victim is one of the most heartbreaking documentaries that I ever saw. It tells the story of Ali Kinani's death. Ali was a nine-year old boy. He was killed by Blackwater forces in the infamous Nisour Square massacre. They were in no danger and opened fire on innocent by-standers for no apparent reason. Sadly very few people know about this and many other tragedies in the Iraq war. Cheerleading a war is never hard if you do not face the high price paid.

An other great documentary Dirty Wars starts with the story of The Khataba raid an incident in the War in Afghanistan in which five civilians, including two pregnant women and a teenage girl, were killed by U.S. forces on February 12, 2010. Initially, it was implied that the three women were killed prior to the raid by family members in an honor killing. As part of the cover-up US Special Forces removed bullets from the victims bodies.

In relation to War on Terror, I would like to thank Craig Murray Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. He exposed the complicity of the UK-government in torture programs. Which in Uzbekistan includes boiling people alive. No Western leader seem to have a particular problem with this as long as Uzbekistan remains an ally. "The British government does not care how many people they kill abroad as long as it advances them one bit " -Craig Murray

Now thanks to a Listserve member's excellent advice to "Do something new! Do not just tell me to love everybody", I will not tell you what to do. But I will ask you all, to please remember all the innocent victims. Sadly I have no solutions or answers, only the believe that if we come together. Say enough is enough. Say Every live matters. Something will change. Ultimately it is in your hands, do you quietly accept the injustice ?

"I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never by conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man's meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil, struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer."
― Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate


Xavi Ezechiel
Amsterdam, The netherlands.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


One of my goals in life is to be open-minded and accepting, which can be incredibly hard, but I always try to hear people out. Even if I don’t end up agreeing with them, I usually learn something. Please hear me out.

Remember a time when you were really for or really against something, and someone you heard, or something you read managed to change your mind. An issue about which you had made up your mind, knew how you felt, could argue about forever. If this has never happened to you, I hope it will at some point. It’s a pretty cool experience. For now, try to imagine how or why it could happen.

…got it?

OK, now I’m going to bring up something that many of you probably feel strongly about, and I want to bring up one part of the issue that isn’t often discussed.

Enter: genetically modified (GM) or genetically engineered (GE) organisms. What you get when you take a gene from one organism and put it into another organism. Sometimes these two organisms are distantly related, and sometimes they’re very closely related.
I just want to make one point: not all GMOs are the same.

The thing that ties them together is pretty obvious, namely, that they are genetically modified. If you are against the process of genetic modification, if you fall on the “tinkering with nature is wrong,” side of the fence, then this one common point is very important to you. There’s plenty of writing out there on this part of the issue, so let’s move on.

What makes individual GMOs different from one another is the gene that’s added to the organism. I also think it’s important what the purpose for adding this gene is, who’s doing it, and how and to whom it will be sold or donated. I think the good/bad of a GMO is dependent on these factors, not just the fact that it is a GMO. In light of this fact, it’s frustrating that the national conversation involves grouping all GMOs together and ignoring the differences between what gene has been added to the organism, what it does, and what it’s for. If someone adds a gene to a crop that makes it poisonous to humans or other animals, that could obviously be bad. If someone adds a gene that makes a crop extra nutritious, that could be great. I think this is the nuance we should focus on.

So, my point here is: if you are against herbicide-resistant crops, you don’t have to be against all GMOs. If you’re against all GMOs Monsanto produces, you don’t have to be against all GMOs, because other companies, and also nonprofits and universities, can produce GMOs. If you’re against all patented GMOs, you don’t have to be against all GMOs, because GMOs can be unpatented and donated rather than sold.

There is endless potential for different uses of GMOs, and we’ve seen only a fraction of it so far. I like to think of a possible best-case-type scenario to illustrate this: a nonprofit uses donated funding to develop a GMO crop that solves a major problem; the nonprofit works with the community affected by said problem to tailor the GMO to their needs, then donates the seed for the crop. We don’t hear about many examples like this. But we could. This is why I care and why I chose this subject to share with you all. The widespread, blanket rejection of all GMOs makes innovation difficult. Let’s talk instead about how we can make them better.

Berkeley, CA