A stateless people

Ann Coulter recently wrote that it’s not just “illegal” immigrants that are the problem, it’s legal immigrants too. She went on to single out Hmong Americans as murderers and rapists. As we witness a new, highly visible white nationalism in America, it’s important to understand that these movements desperately need a villain. These movements are not born, so much as made. They create a story with villains and a toxic atmosphere. New laws establish a clear line, determining who is and isn’t white and who is and isn’t American. 

When immigrants and well-meaning communities create a value scale among the documented and undocumented – the good immigrant versus the bad immigrant – we play directly into the hands of such a movement. We miss the point, the opportunity to say, “It’s all of us or none of us.” We internalize the worst of American impulses – a deep history of trying to determine who is and who isn’t a part of this country, who is and isn’t human. 

My name is Cindy Yang. I am a Hmong American and we are a stateless people.

I told my dad that Ann Coulter called Hmong people rapists in one of her books. He said, “They can’t do that.… Continue reading »

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month, according to President Trump…

How are you doing on a physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual level? As TakeAction Minnesota’s Women of Color Organizer, asking this question to leaders at the end of our meetings has become a ritual. Does it break established norms? Absolutely. As each woman answers, her public and private selves merge. Her whole self comes forward.
In writing this, I’m trying to do something similar, wrestling with the intersection of sexism and racism and their impacts on our bodies and our politics.  

I have a brief message to everyone who reads on: your compassion and courage is needed in this struggle too. Remember, people in your life benefit from you learning about systems of oppression, and their impact. I urge you to let go of your need to fix it. For the next five minutes I simply ask you to read this and to reflect. 

Here we go. 

When I bring body, mind, heart, and spirit into a public, political meeting, I am counteracting the expectation that these parts of me are to be left in private—I’m going against the grain of society that organizes public life around male, white-dominant culture.  And this is not just true for me.… Continue reading »

What’s in the state Health Care budget bills?

I’ve been thinking about health care at the Capitol this year as a three-act play. 

Act I: The Legislature passed a $300 million bill in January to assist Minnesotans buying health insurance on the individual market. (The same law allows health insurance companies like Blue Cross to convert from nonprofit to for-profit companies.)
Act II: The second act ended with the recent passage of the “reinsurance” law, giving away $540 million dollars in public funds to health insurance companies of — with no guarantee that premiums will go down. 
Act III: The final act is in progress, as the Minnesota House debates the HHS budget for the next two years. Different bills passed the House and Senate floors last week.

The long and the short of it?

After giving $540 million away to the health insurance industry, with no strings attached, the GOP proposes to cut that much from our public health care programs. The House has proposed a $599 million cut to current spending adjusted for inflation.

How do they think the state can save that much money?

1. Punishing people enrolled in Medicaid (Medical Assistance) and MinnesotaCare. The House budget bill raises MinnesotaCare premiums to the maximum allowed under federal law — as much as a 70% increase.… Continue reading »

Donald Trump’s budget proposal is visionary. (And Steve Bannon is a romantic.)

  “There’s no question this is a hard-power budget. It is not a soft-power budget. This is a hard-power budget. And that was done intentionally.” – Mick Mulvaney, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, 3/15/17

The Trump Administration released their 2018 budget for the federal government last Thursday.  Blustery, almost bellicose, they clearly wanted it to make a point.  It’s the budget equivalent of President Trump’s recent photo op wearing a Navy flight jacket and standing on aircraft carrier.  All that’s missing is a Rambo-style bandolier.

Okay, we get it.  It’s a ‘hard-power’ budget.  The problem is ‘hard-power’ (or for that matter diplomatic soft-power, or economic power, or moral suasion) are all tools.  They are not a strategy or objective.  ‘Hard-power’ tells us something about how they envision themselves but disturbingly little about what they hope to do.

Here is where the budget as whole starts to paint a vision.

“There is only one class in the state, the Volk, (not the rabble), and the king belongs to this class as well as the peasant.” – Johann Gottfried Herder, German Philosopher (1744-1803)

In June of 2015, Matthew Cooper wrote a Newsweek article entitled ‘Donald Trump: The Billionaire For Blue-Collars’.… Continue reading »

Thanks to you, hope is on the move across Minnesota

6 cities. 1 day. Nearly 1,000 Minnesotans.  

On Saturday, nearly a thousand Minnesotans gathered at six locations across the state for our Annual Meeting – St. Paul, Duluth, St. Cloud, Northfield, Grand Rapids and Willmar. Together, we launched a set of work geared toward realizing our vision of a Minnesota where all can thrive and live in joy

It was a statewide explosion of action. We had marches, rallies, banner-drops, and conversations with elected officials about our vision and mutual accountability. There were new faces in the room across the state. And hundreds of people committed to taking continuous action with us. These may be challenging times, but the movement to resist and create a better future, thanks to you, is growing. 
TakeAction Minnesota members raised over $12,000 on Saturday – if you already contributed, THANK YOU! If you aren’t already a member of TakeAction, we want you to join us. Contribute $20 TODAY to join– your membership contribution means that we can powerfully fight for quality, affordable health care, progressive elected officials, statewide paid sick and safe time, climate justice, and more. 

Our goal is to raise $15,000 by Friday. 

As a member of TakeAction Minnesota, you help fund the resistance against Trump and the people-powered movement and organizing our state needs now.… Continue reading »

What I’m thinking about this St. Patrick’s Day


Against the famine and the crown, I rebelled, they cut me down… 

These words are from an Irish folk song I often sing to my kids before they go to sleep.  Yeah, I know it sounds morose, many Irish songs are, but my kids love it and it’s a way to connect them to their heritage.  This Friday is St. Patrick’s Day, a big day for the McGrath family, celebrated by Irish dance, multiple corned beef dinners, traditional music and calls home to my extended family.  It’s also a chance to reflect on my family’s immigrant history and on the actions of the Trump administration against immigrants and refugees.

My ancestors immigrated in the late 1800s, part of a second wave of Irish immigrants, that followed the famine earlier that century.  My great-great-grandfather settled in rural southern Wisconsin and sought stability, security and prosperity that was beyond his reach back home.  

The Irish immigrant experience of the mid-1800s mirrors, in several ways, that of many immigrants today.  The Irish were outcasts, an agrarian people, with little formal education, little to no money, and stereotyped as irresponsible drunkards. In major cities on the east coast, the Irish were a cheap labor pool who kept wages down and did work that others were unwilling.… Continue reading »

We will never solve health care…

… if we don’t understand the roots of how we got to here. It’s very easy to use the words “Medicaid,” “Medicare,” “MinnesotaCare Buy-in” and “Obamacare” in a sentence, but how many of us know really know how and why these elements of our health care system were established?

Hi, my name is Kenza Hadj-Moussa, and I’m the new Communications Director at TakeAction. Everyone has a story about health care. And health care, as a social issue, has a story too. Here’s my take on the historical roots of our health care system, and why it’s so hard to fix it today [hint: it’s the biggest taboo subject in American politics]. Take a look and let me know, after reading this, what are you left with? Send us an email at

In 1964, just 47 days after President Kennedy was assassinated, President Johnson gave his first State of the Union speech to a still-mourning nation. The nation was at war in Vietnam, though not at the level it would come to dominate in American culture. The U.S. never formally declared war on Vietnam, in fact, but LBJ did use his speech to declare war… an “unconditional war on poverty.” 

And a dark national secret was becoming exposed: America was poor.Continue reading »

Is Trump a fascist?

I don’t think so, here’s why. 

In answering this question, we’re better off taking the advice of Corey Lewandowski, the President’s one-time campaign manager, who directed his staff to ‘Let Trump Be Trump’.

Our histories are filled with parallels and echoes of Trump-ism. He is not the first reactionary politician to promise to put ‘America First’ or ‘Make America Great Again’.  He is not first to threaten our democratic institutions.  He is not first to scapegoat immigrants, people of color, Native Americans, or women.  

And this moment is not the same as the Weimar Republic, 1930’s Spain or Stalinist Russia. So, what is going on?

Since 2006, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has prepared an annual worldwide survey of nations called the Democracy Index. I know this sounds wonky, but hear me out. I promise the connections will make sense. This survey compares 5 measures of democracy and for the first time, in 2016, it downgraded the United States from a Full democracy to a Flawed democracy.  

And, according the EIU, Donald Trump didn’t lower the bar.  We set the bar low enough that he could get over.

“Trust in political institutions is an essential component of well-functioning democracies.Continue reading »

Believe Resist! TakeAction’s 2017 Statewide Annual Meeting

We know that now is a moment when we’re facing unprecedented challenges and deeply dangerous and damaging policies and language. But it’s also a moment when we’re seeing incredible resistance, love, and hope. Now more than ever is a time to come together to stand up for the state we believe in – a Minnesota where each and every person is able to live in joy – lives that are fulfilling, stable, creative, and happy.

It is in this moment that TakeAction Minnesota is inviting you to join a Believe Resist 2017 Annual Meeting. Join TakeAction and many partners at a meeting on March 18th from 10am to 1pm in Duluth, Grand Rapids, St. Cloud, Willmar, Northfield, or St. Paul. These meetings are a way to be with others who are trying to make meaning of this moment, who are resisting, who are hopeful, and who are ready to fight for a Minnesota and a country where love, joy, and justice prevail.

Meetings are free, food will be provided, and all are kid-friendly. They will include:

  • Meeting and connecting with neighbors and folks from other organizations who want to work for a more just and equitable Minnesota.
  • Trainings to learn more about the work of TakeAction and our partners — learn more about the current and urgent work on healthcare, criminal justice reform, economic justice, climate justice, and the future of caregiving, and skills for resisting and building the world we want to see.
Continue reading »

TakeAction Digest: THIS WEEK IN ACTION #BelieveResist

  TakeAction Minnesota Weekly Wrap    

It’s Chris Conry and Arianna Genis. Last week we launched our weekly digest with you, as a part of our #BelieveResist work, and the response was fantastic. So many of you opened our email and clicked through the articles. 

 The digest is our way of sharing what we are, in some ways obsessively, reading — news, long articles, books. history, political theory —  anything we think can help us understand what’s going on and to identify what we can do.

Here’s what our staff has been reading this week, what we’re calling our key reads. Take it in and then respond to this email letting us know, what are you reading right now? What’s helping you understand this moment in our history? 

1. The Fugitive Slave Act & the President’s Executive Order on Immigration 

Ready to dig into some serious history? Read this comparison of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 galvanized abolitionist movement to the mass protests and strong opposition that accompanied President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

2. Wondering what the GOP Congress has in mind when they talk about replacing the Affordable Care Act? 

Here’s a good rundown on their ideas and the current debate within the party. Spoiler: none of these ideas are good.… Continue reading »

Weekly TakeAction Digest: THIS WEEK IN ACTION

  TakeAction Minnesota Weekly Wrap    

 When I woke up on November 9th I realized I have a lot to learn. About my state, about my country, about the progressive movement. 

Since then, when I’ve had a spare moment, I’ve been reading.  A lot.  Obsessively.  News.  Long articles.  Books.  History.  Political Theory.  Everything I could think of to help me understand what’s going on and what I can do.

This is true for many of us at TakeAction, including Arianna, our digital organizer. Once we connected about it we realized that this feeling is probably true for many, many others. So, in the spirit of experimentation and learning, we wanted share what our staff and members have been reading recently.  Once a week. With you. Here it is. 

1. Trump administration attempts to silence climate justice movement, rogue national park accounts emerge  

A new Twitter account called “AltUSNatParkService” appeared Tuesday afternoon and began tweeting facts about climate change, support for the National Parks and comments in opposition of President Trump, a critic of climate change. We love it. Read more about it here. 

2. An intro. to one of the President’s key policy thinkers.

As all of the White House hiring is being announced, this profile of Stephen Miller from June of 2016 seemed relevant again.… Continue reading »

The fight continue for quality, affordable health care for ALL

It has only been one month since the beginning of the new Congress and the state legislative session, and a lot has happened in that time — both good and bad. 

In Washington, the good news is that many members of Congress are nervous about repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, and they still have no real good idea on how they will replace it. 30 million Americans stand to lose access to health care if the ACA is repealed. After an original goal to pass a repeal and have it on President Trump’s desk by inauguration day, the soonest they will now vote on repeal is the end of February, and it may be as late as early April. 

The pressure that we have put on our members of Congress to oppose repeal is working, and we need to keep it up! Congress has a week of recess from February 20-24, and most members will be back in their districts. Watch our calendar for details on upcoming events.

Later this year, the House and Senate are also likely to push for a much larger, more devastating attack on Medicaid that would cut funding by as much as ⅓ by the end of a decade (called “block granting” or “per capita caps”) and lead to serious cuts to health care for low-income families and long term care. You can read more about what this would mean for Minnesota here. This will be a big, big fight that we need to win.… Continue reading »

Why we marched, and what’s next

On January 21st, TakeAction board members, staff members, and leaders marched in the Women’s March in St. Paul. Take a look at why we marched, and then sign up for what’s next – action!

We’re doing weekly phone banks at TakeAction’s office in St. Paul to make sure the energy, determination, and resistance we felt at Saturday’s march continues for Trump’s first 100 days and beyond. Every Tuesday night from 6pm to 9pm we’ll put our marching feet to work on the phones, calling Minnesotans around the state and asking them to call their elected officials on the most pressing issues of the week.  To sign up for next Tuesday night’s phone bank, click here.

Amanda Otero, Arique Aquilar, Elizabeth Lienesch, TakeAction staff

We marched for renewed hope, to know that we’re not alone, and because it was a chance to be surrounded by people ready to act.

Mihiret Abrahim, TakeAction board member

My daughter, and I went because it’s bigger than pussy hats for us. I marched because I’m proud of how many people were also marching and have been engaged in this moment. But more than that, organizing and resisting is something I do because it’s not an option for me.… Continue reading »


  TakeAction Minnesota Action Alert    

Last week, we let you know you could expect a weekly action alert from us with ways to act. Here it is. Now is the time to RESIST the hate the Trump administration is putting forward and to build the world we BELIEVE in. Already we have seen the President’s quick action to dismantle progressive gains made at the national level and instill fear, division, and cynicism across the country. And while there will be more damaging and divisive actions to come in the next 100 days, we refuse to give in. 
You’re a part resisting and believing. And here are five ways you can act right now. 
Join TakeAction at a training on direct action and powerful storytelling! As we prepare to organize and resist, we needs skills to organize effective actions and to tell our own stories powerfully to elected officials, the media, and our neighbors. This is a free training on Monday, February 13th from 6pm to 8pm.
At the Capitol, conservatives have introduced “local interference,” legislation that would stop cities in our state from adopting progressive policies have earned sick and safe time, sanctuary city policies, and higher minimum wages.
Continue reading »

We will not comply.

Dear community,
Wow. I’m sure many of you, like me, have been reeling from the events of this past week. Attacks on immigrants on multiple fronts (#MuslimBan #BorderWall), attacks on our native communities (#NoDAPL) and our planet, dismantling the Affordable Care Act, attacks on women’s rights to their bodies.The list continues. The Trump administration is fueling the most painful parts of our country’s history with racism, xenophobia, sexism, and Islamophobia.  

 As a Latina and a woman of color who has always fought to be orgullosa de quien soy*, my blood boils to know that any of us can be told we are “less than” and denied rights simply because of who we are. And, as a member of an immigrant family who was raised on stories of how US foreign policy has tampered and hurt many in Latin America, I’m worried that as a country we will focus on these immediate actions without remembering and acknowledging that these actions are not isolated instances. These tactics are, in fact, as we would say in Spanish, “friamente calculado,” or meticulously, intentionally crafted as part of a larger strategy. 

It’s critical that in this moment we take a step back, connect the dots, and look at the big picture – especially the larger story being told in this moment. The new administration will justify their hateful actions with powerful narratives and stories – of terrorism, of scarcity, of deficit, of needing to protect ourselves from the “other,” of needing to go it alone.… Continue reading »

Believe. Resist: Fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act

President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a desperate cry for help. The order itself is a talking point that delivers on a talking point. It provides the appearance of acting on Day One without actually needing to have any idea what to do.  

Still, the power of the Presidency is real. And in 2017, it’s a real threat. First, the order’s coded political-speak suggests that patients in many states should expect to pay more and get less. Second, it surrenders to the demands of the insurance industry. Third, it introduces even more uncertainty into our health care system; its ‘hack first, ask questions later’ approach suggests the administration’s approach will be careless, uneven, and unpredictable.  

Seeing clearly through disinformation, word-fog, and tweet distractions has never been more important. Resistance demands clarity and focus (and a little bit of wonkiness). We’re asking you to read the details of what’s happening and to share this update with 5 friends who you know will act with you to save the Affordable Care Act. We won’t let misinformation deter us from acting. 

Here’s a quick summary:   

  • In Section 1 of the Executive Order, President Trump opens the door to the deregulation of the interstate sale of insurance. 
  • In Section 2, he directs federal agencies, in broad terms, to go fix all the problems he’s been hearing about.    
  • In Section 3, he directs agencies to let states do things the Obama administration said ‘no’ to like: a) making patients pay more of the costs, b) providing less generous benefits packages, and c) creating work & drug-testing requirements for access to care.
Continue reading »

Believe with us. Join the resistance.

We resist because we believe.  We believe, therefore, we resist.

My joy are my three great kids, Harriet, Winston, and little Joe – ages 5, 3, and 1.  They are my joy – they are also a handful.  Everyday my work to change the world starts earlier than I would like when they get me out of bed, and then when I get them ready to leave the house.  They are why on a day like today, I cannot and will not fall into despair, no matter who is President.

Today at 11:00 Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.  He is a man who fanned the flames of racism, xenophobia and misogyny to win the White House and hasn’t stopped since.  He has bragged about sexually assaulting women and mocked the disabled. He mocks science and denies climate change.  He not only plans to end health care as we now know it, he plans to take it away from tens of millions of people. His closest White House adviser is a white supremacist. Trump’s agenda is to minimize, divide, and destroy our communities and democracy, to clear the way for more money for himself and elites like him

At TakeAction Minnesota, our mission is to unite people and organizations across our state to change who decides and who benefits.  We believe in and work everyday to create a real democracy – where we all have a voice – and real equity – where we each can prosper and thrive.Continue reading »

An Open Letter to the Members of TakeAction Minnesota

TakeAction Minnesota is a people’s organization.  We are white, black, Latinx, Somali and Hmong. We are women and men and people who identify as neither. We are people without documents and people whose ancestors were placed on this land when it was created. We live in cities, on farms, and in the suburbs. Some of us have a criminal record and others have never been caught. We are union members and small business owners. Many of us are people of faith and many of us are agnostic or atheist. But we are all believers. We believe that no matter how different we are, we are all connected to each other, our fates are tied together.  We see and experience the inequity in our world, and we deeply believe that together we can change it.      

It is because of who we are and what we believe that we feel such a profound sense of fear right now.  Donald Trump won the presidency by fanning the flames of racism, xenophobia and misogyny. He brought out the worst in many of us and he won. He plans to use the power of our government against Muslims and immigrants. His pattern of behavior towards women is disgusting and something that I never want my daughter or sons exposed to.… Continue reading »

What matters to us most

We’re all wondering what will happen. To ourselves, friends, families. To our jobs, healthcare, finances. To our society, state, country. It’s more than okay to say, “I don’t know.” In fact, that’s been the answer to most of the questions I’m asked since election night. All I could really say is this is what the world has turned out to be. All I can really do is reach out to you and ask how are you feeling? Tell me the good, tell me the bad. J4A is a community that makes it easier to wake up every morning and be reminded that we still have something powerful, here.

One of the easiest reminders of how powerful you all have been this year is Erin Maye Quade being elected to the MN House of Representatives. We all had a clear stake in the history made in Apple Valley as a result of being a part of well over 2,000  Take Action election shifts this year. Be proud of that, and know that your efforts made this state more beautiful in an ugly aftermath. The Republicans are trying to kill that beauty, and so we need to double down on not only what we want to achieve, but also double down on our passions and efforts on this journey to end mass incarceration, systematic racism and gender oppression, not to mention the corporate power that generated over that last 15 years and allowed for such a bizarre election cycle and result.… Continue reading »

What’s at stake for me – #NOTokay

As Political Director, I’ve been all around the state with our endorsed candidates this year, connecting with new folks, enjoying catching up with old friends, and thinking a lot about my vision for Minnesota – what we can do, but also about who we are, and what’s at stake for me personally.   There is an increasing divide in our country between those at the very top, and the rest of us. My mom was laid off from a corporate job she held for 13 years because the company needed to save money for executive salaries and bonuses. Workers who had been with the company for years, who were so loyal to them, were redlined to save money – workers who have a pension were the first to be let go. My brother has a blood disease, which requires infusions when he’s injured, as well as constant maintenance to keep him healthy. These life-saving infusions cost upwards of $30,000 each time. Without good insurance coverage, my brother would be completely broke or worse.   But for me personally, what’s at stake is my body, my rights over it, my security in it. When the news broke that Donald Trump had groped women without their consent, I felt triggered, and I felt unsafe.Continue reading »

WOMEN will make a difference this election

The impact women will have this election season will matter. That’s why it’s key that we VOTE, and VOTE BIG, on November 8th. 

Here’s the reason I’m voting for progressive champions: It is POWERFUL to see someone in elected office who looks like me and who faces some of the same struggles I face as a woman and as a Latina.

My whole life I haven’t seen people like me in leadership roles, I haven’t had people like me as mentors, and I haven’t seen elected officials work with my community to create solutions. I can’t wait to work with our endorsed candidates once they’re elected – progressive champions like Alberder Gillespie, Lindsey Port, and Erin Maye Quade – because I trust them to work with our communities. This year, I’m voting and talking to as many voters as I can because I truly believe that we have an opportunity to build a more inclusive and equitable Minnesota, and this election is the first step.


There’s a lot at stake for all of us this Election Day. Join me in voting, for the powerful dan-wolgamott14b-st-cloud-1
women candidates I named above, and for Zach Dorholt and Dan Wolgamott in St.Continue reading »


tumblr_ncqafu4ytp1tilnwmo10_540This week the Justice 4 All Program went back to work calling Formally Incarcerated and Convicted Minnesotans. We completed over 7,000 dials and have built a statewide list of eligible voters who have been through the Justice system. These voters are headed to the polls on Tuesday and we hope they will follow us to the Capitol in January to fight for voting rights restoration. Join us on Election Day by signing up to share our message on Social Media. 

The following is a reflection I wrote after brave words from a powerful young woman.

During a recent J4A political education session at one of our phone banks, an Ethiopian High School student brought up immigration as the primary system that has impacted her life. She talked about the threat of deportation and worrying about how filling out the wrong form could result in her family being torn apart. This is a big problem often seen as separate from the issue of criminal justice, but they not separate, they are the same problem.

The same prisons that detain Black and Brown folks for drug crimes are the same prisons that detain Brown and Black Immigrant folks before they are deported.Continue reading »


There’s a lot at stake for all of us this Election Day, with candidates on the ballot who share Trump’s values and want to move us backwards. Read this, to find info on how to vote & spread the word!

Here’s what we can do. If we elect progressive champions who will fight for a stronger Minnesota for all of us — we will take back the State House, we will hold the State Senate and we will make 2017 the year we pass statewide paid sick time, restore the vote to 51,000 Minnesotans, expand affordable, quality health care and more. Here’s everything you need to make your plan!

Election Day is Nov. 8. Polls are open 7 AM–8 PM. If you’re in line at your polling location by 8 PM, you’re allowed to vote.

  1. Register to Vote!: If you haven’t registered to vote yet, that’s ok! You can register the same day you vote. Click here to make sure you have what you need to register on Election Day.
  2. Make sure you know where to vote: Click here to find your polling location
  3. Who’s on your ballot?: Find out who’s on your ballot here.
    • And don’t forget to vote for progressive champions who share your values.
Continue reading »

Open Door Policy

My name is Sarah Nemetz, an intern with TakeAction’s Justice 4 All Program. When I was being trained for the first door knock I would be participating in for Erin Maye Quade running for state representative in Apple Valley, I heard stories from Justice 4 All leaders, Tommy and Will, who are both men of color. Stories of rude people who would see them coming up the way and pretend not to be home, just generally be hostile, or would even spout racial slurs. They were essentially trying to mentally prepare me to be disrespected or ignored, which I readily accepted, and I set out ready to get some doors slammed in my face. When I got out there, however, I was surprised by how nice people were to me. Everyone who saw me in the doorway opened it, usually with a smile on their face. They listened to me as I talked about the candidate and thanked me for coming to talk to them.


As I walked the street, wondering why I hadn’t been pushed away yet, it made me think about representation, and the way I was perceived by these suburban households. I’m aware of what I look like: a small white girl with a young-looking face.… Continue reading »


Last Tuesday TakeAction Minnesota hosted the Restore the Vote Coalition for a massive phone bank and door knock. We packed the office with 143 volunteers who called 3,824 formally incarcerated and convicted Minnesotans and knocked 131 doors on the East Side. Thank you to everyone who came out! We need everyone in on this fight if we are going to win in 2017. The following is a reflection I wrote after talking to victims’ rights advocate about the need for Justice. 

I often say, we don’t have a Justice System, we have a Crime and Punishmenttumblr_ncqb58nunw1tilnwmo2_540 system. But what’s the difference? Crime and punishment focuses on criminals and incarceration. Justice focuses on everyone, people who cause harm, people who are harmed, people who witness harm being done. Justice requires us to act. 

Crime and punishment leaves us broken. Resources go into policing, trials and prison. But not into survivors, families and community. If we only focus on punishing people who commit crimes, we ignore everyone else. Leaving people (most often people in low income communities, people of color and women) broken and responsible to heal on their own. Justice is relational and demands that everyone including people who cause harm are included.… Continue reading »

Our Elections Work: St Cloud Update

This is Justin Lewandowski, Take Action Minnesota’s election organizer in the Saint Cloud area. It’s October, and our community is being hit with massive amounts of outside money as we get closer to Election Day.

In fact, the local race in House District 14B (former State Representative and current candidate Zachary Dorholt’s district) is once again set to be one of the most expensive races in Minnesota.

With all of the negative mailers, radio spots, and television ads, our anger and frustration with big money in local politics can easily distract us from the vision and story we want to create for our community, and why our local elections are so important in this work.

I’m angry, too. Dark money and candidates like Jim Knoblach who refuse to participate in campaign spending caps are distracting us from having meaningful conversations about our stories, experiences, and values.

I got into organizing because of the constant attacks on the LGBTQ community by candidates like Jim Knoblach and the devastating effects those political narratives have had on myself my friends and my family. I am angry that those attacks still persist, from repealing protections for LGBTQ youth in our schools to supporting the harmful practice of conversion therapy.… Continue reading »

The Women of Color Table: Setting New Ground in Elections Work

The Women of Color Table is knocking doors in the Burnsville Area to accomplish three things simultaneously: (1) get endorsed candidate Lindsey Port running in District 56B (2) with support from local people of color and personal care assistants and (3) build a relationship between Lindsey Port and our community.

This matters because these are communities that are typically left out of electoral process – at TakeAction Minnesota we believe that a person’s full identity and personhood should be fully seen and respected. One way we the way we personify this value is by knocking on doors that don’t exist in our voter’s data base; it’s called a targeted-semi blind knock.  We understand that people of color and immigrants are too often overlooked and systemically discouraged from fully participating in the election process, so that means we have to double our efforts to identify and build relationships. Our goal is to do just that. Through this series of doorknocks we plan to register people to vote, encourage them to get out to vote early and from there and after that, coordinate a community meeting.

We’re also doing it with a language justice framework. What does this look like? We’re working hard to have Spanish, Somali, and English informational literature, posters, and music and a fully translated training session. … Continue reading »

Did you watch the Presidential Debate?

If you’re the kind of person that reads a post-debate blog from us, then I think I can safely make two guesses about you. First, I bet you, like me, watched the debate last night (even if you didn’t, I know you’ve heard some chatter about it on the radio or Facebook). Second, I’m guessing that you, like me, find Donald Trump almost impossible to listen to. He’s loud, truth-deficient, insecure and hurtful. He reminds me of the bully that used to torment me in grade school, only now that bully could actually be the next President of the United States of America. Not enough people are talking about Hillary Clinton, whose strong, steady performance showed us what leadership looks like.

But what I want us to focus on is the cold, cynical, dog-eat-dog vision of our country that Donald Trump, the Republican Presidential nominee, put forward last night. According to Trump, our entire society is failing because we as people are too different and too diverse to ever get along. Based on what he says, women, people of color, immigrants, and Muslims are deficient.  His solutions aren’t so much about policy or plans, they’re about competition. At all costs. Always.Continue reading »

Rooting for our endorsed candidate, Mary Hernandez, District 55A

Earlier this month, my wife, my son and I spent the morning door knocking with Mary Hernandez running for the MN House of Representatives in district 55A.  I have heard many people say, “this race is lost to the GOP” or “she does know that she is not going to win, right?”  This type of attitude really gets to me.  Mary has been an active leader in her community for 20 years, she’s a strong woman, an immigrant, a mother, a wife, and the type of representative her community needs.


Yet, people still don’t’ have faith that she will win, simply because the status quo tell us “this is a lost race.”  I completely disregard this notion.  Look at what happened in district 60B and in district 59A – this is clear evidence that the impossible IS possible.  We must acknowledge that our communities are changing, we are becoming very diverse across, race, ability, gender, age, and economic status. I believe, that diversity CAN be our greatest strength, but to achieve this, it will take meaningful collaboration across our differences to make this possible.  By learning from each other’s perspectives and working together, we will take action and create a stronger and more unified community.… Continue reading »

Tough Questions (Restore the Vote Block Party)

Join the Leaders of the Justice 4 All (J4A) Program Tuesday, September 27th at 5pm as we host the Restore the Vote MN Coalition for a Block Party, door knock and phone bank. We will be reaching out to formally incarcerated Minnesotans across the state to move them to action this election.Souls2Polls-5 

Today, there are at least 20,000 incarcerated people across the country on strike demanding fair wages, better work conditions and humane treatment. This is the largest prison strike in the history of our country. People are risking their safety, being thrown into isolation and cut off from their family members just to make sure their voices are heard.

What are you risking to make this world more humane?

Today, many people sat glued to their phones as another unarmed Black Man was gunned down in Tulsa, Oklahoma and videotaped for all of us to watch. Another family has lost one of its own to state-sanctioned violence. Let the outcry and demand for Justice begin as another person transitions from a living man to a hashtag.

What are you demanding?

This past weekend, we saw the community of Saint Cloud, MN torn apart by an individual’s senseless acts of violence.… Continue reading »

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