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My day of community activism meetings

This morning I met with Kathleen Gilroy, the person who recently founded a Cambridge Public Library social network that I'd recently joined to talk about what we could do with this network. She is a very interesting person - an entrepreneur who is the CEO of Swift Media Networks that is working on social networking tools for meetings and conferences, and we hit it off well. The objectives of the library network will be to support improvements to the library by helping to create an endowment fund, getting creative ideas for programming at the library, and creating means for community members to donate things or ideas to make the library better. One of the challenges will be how to properly work with existing entities: the Library Trustees, the library management (both of which support this concept and have joined the network) and the Friends of the Library Organization. The timing of this is good since the newly renovated/added-to library will be opening in the fall. For those of you who don't know me I started getting involved in that effort in 1995 and my involvement was quit intense so it will be a pleasure to see the new building open.

This afternoon I went to a meeting at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School to participate in the first planning meeting of the response to a Fred Phelps visit on March 13. The meeting was mostly students and the basic idea is that they will decide what to do. Cambridge has a GSA, Project 10 East, that was the second such organization in the US (the first was in LA). I was there as co-chair of the Cambridge GLBT Commission who of course will support this effort. There were a huge array of ideas expressed ranging from making a big deal in the school during that week to various forms of non-violent, non-confrontational protests outside when the haters arrive (if they actually do). Representatives from the Police department were there to emphasize safety and the Principal was also there emphasizing safety and the educational aspects. (Note that the principal is a gay man - somewhat out! - but this is Cambridge). It was a great meeting with lots of participation by the students and no domination by the adults.

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Why is Fred Phelps visiting the high school?

I've been enjoying WBC threads in other forums...

... Mostly FARK.

One of the more interesting ideas that people have used when faced with a confrontation of the WBC (usually at a funeral), is to have a HUGE fundraiser for some (typically GBLO*-friendly) charity. You pledge based upon the number of WBC-ers who actually show up, and how long they stay. Then you make SURE the media know about it so any press THEY get is counterbalanced by the charity work.

The beauty of this is (IMHO) that there's no direct confrontation - so the WBC can't pull any legal shenanigans, and the MORE they protest, the MORE funds are raised. It ends up being in their best interest to not show up at all. Their overarching desire to be attention whores backfires because more attention = more fundraising (and the opportunity to likewise get the word out about the fundraiser...). :-)

The post-event headlines would be precious: "Thanks to the WBC protest, we raised $5,400 for gay youth!"

Re: I've been enjoying WBC threads in other forums...

There is some talk about fund raising. Several of the local organizers raised a fair amount of money with pledges for each second of Rick Warren's prayer at the inauguration.

I don't think anything will convince the WBC people of anything, but their visit can be a good catalyst for something else - fund raising or raising consciousness among others about gayness - they definitely will be doing stuff inside the school that week that they wouldn't have done had the WBC not come (sometimes they don't show up.

At the May 17, 2004 same-sex marriage event in front of city hall where there were thousands of people celebrating on the street there was a handful of WBC people who looked pathetic and were completely ignored.

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