ACTION ALERT: Senate Bill 844 needs your support.

Got 60 seconds this afternoon?


As you’ve maybe read about in The Oregonian, (they’ve written about our bill twice this week!), the Bus Project’s push to expunge petty pot crimes has directly led to some legislative victories.


We called over 1000 Oregonians who signed our petition and as many as 200 messages were delivered to our legislators asking for a commitment to expunge petty pot crimes, which would reduce institutional barriers to housing, education and employment and begin to rectify the War on Drugs. Our Phone Bank made the local news, too.

With 3400-A passed through both chambers with bipartisan support and signed by the Governor yesterday, we have an opportunity for one final success in a legislative session already filled with some big victories.


This morning, Senate Bill 844 passed out of chamber, and is heading to a vote in the House as early as tomorrow. This legislation would reduce the amount of time an Oregonian under the age of 21 has to wait to expunge their misdemeanors related to nonviolent marijuana crimes. This bill will provide a desperately needed leg-up to many Oregonians who are victims of our War on Drugs and are having difficulty obtaining education, housing and employment with these irrelevant records that shouldn’t ruin people’s lives.

Think about how much more you’ll enjoy this warm summer day knowing you reminded your legislator that you want to see fairer and more just criminal reform laws in Oregon. Look up your legislator and tell them why you think we should expunge these records and let working Oregonians and their families get on with their lives.



Who: You, hopefully!

What: Taking just one minute to call your friendly Representative and Senator (look ‘em up here!) and ask for support for Senate Bill 844. 

What’s that? It’s a bill likely going for a vote tomorrow (Friday!). It’d make it easier for young Oregonians to clean their records of petty marijuana crimes.

Why: Because Oregon made history when we legalized marijuana, but many families are still caught up in the ramifications of a misplaced criminal justice system, and past marijuana charges shouldn’t continue to ruin young Oregonians lives. This legislation is part of the Bus Project’s #FreshStartOregoncampaign.

How can I help? Look up your legislator and leave them a friendly message asking them to support #FreshStartOregon and to VOTE YES on SB 844. They’ll be happy to hear from you! You can also SHARE our facebook post or RETWEET us as well to help spread the word.

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New Bus Project Executive Director: Nikki Fisher

IMG_7561In January, the Bus Project brought on Nathan Howard as our Interim Executive Director for a short-term contract to support the Bus through an opportunity-filled legislative session and keep the organization strong while the board started a strategic planning process. We’ve achieved our audacious 6-year goal of making voter registration automatic and our strategic planning process is fully underway.

As we create plans for the future, the time is right to announce that after undertaking a national search, we have found our amazing new Executive Director: Nikki Fisher!

Oregon’s civic landscape is about to change forever, with over 300,000 new voters from New Motor Voter, and we have a new leader for that new landscape. Nikki Fisher has the right skills and experience to bring those new voters into the process and take them from first-time participants to lifelong social justice voters.

IMG_7559Nikki’s unique blend of hard political campaign experience, ballot measure organizing, issue advocacy and engagement, and deep commitment to Oregon will help the Bus Project meet the needs of the New Motor Voters and the bold new progressive landscape Oregon is embarking upon. With her talented organizing team of Amy and Aaron, the Bus will build on Oregon’s new progressive era to pass bold social justice policies and develop a new generation of diverse leaders and candidates.

IMG_7562Nikki joins the Bus after serving as Senator Sara Gelser’s Chief of Staff in the historic 2015 legislative session, where she helped Sen. Gelser pass landmark laws protecting domestic workers, campus sexual assault survivors, and LGBTQ Oregonians. Before that, she served as Sen. Gelser’s campaign manager, where she led hundreds of volunteers to knock on over 100,000 doors and win!

Before her foray into candidate politics, she ran the Eugene Office for Oregon United for Marriage, and spent four years running field and advocacy with the ACLU of Florida. Though she did spend a little time in Florida for college and ACLU-ing (we forgive her), she was born and raised in Portland, a proud graduate of David Douglas, and does all kinds of Portland things like hiking, biking, running, and brunching.

New Motor Voter is a transformative social justice reform that will change the landscape of Oregon democracy, and we are thrilled to have Nikki leading the Bus to engage and educate these new voters!
Nathan and the Board of Directors are supporting Nikki as she hits the ground running later this month and invite you to connect with her to share your ideas and feedback. We’re planning a welcome party for Nikki in mid-July; keep your eyes pealed for an invitation.


It’s a truly exciting time to be on the Bus.


Amy Sample Ward
Bus Project Foundation Board Chair

Joe Baessler
Bus Project Board Chair

The Bus made great strides this year to engage, empower and educate young leaders, and we’ve got a strong crew to jump into summer organizing and host the 11th anniversary of PolitiCorps Summer.


Here’s a quick lowdown on what we’re currently working on:

  • PolitiCorps kicked off today! Bus Project Leadership Development Coordinator Amy Kessler has brought together a mighty impressive cohort for our annual summer fellowship program, and they’re gearing up for ten weeks of registering voters, talkin’ civic engagement, and picking up the skills necessary to be the next generation of Oregon’s leaders.
  • Last week, the Bus Project and our trusty volunteers called over 1000 Oregonians to lobby their legislators in support of our #FreshStartOregon campaign to expunge obsolete nonviolent marijuana charges. We made the local news, and Rick Steves (yes, that Rick Steves) gave our expungement bill a shoutout in the Oregonian. Help us get to 2,000 signatures and sign our petition.
  • We’re in the early stages of stitching together plans to coordinate with our partners and ensure that our historic New Motor Voter legislation will empower hundreds of thousands of Oregonians to participate in upcoming elections. Stay tuned.
  • Thanks to your generosity, the Bus Project’s Membership Drive last week was a resounding success. We picked up dozens of new monthly donors who will help us fund all of our work to get young Oregonians registered and ready to vote and, ultimately, go change the world. Thanks for your support.


Amy Sample Ward, Bus Project Foundation Board Chair

Joe Baessler, Bus Project Board Chair

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Make Calls for Fresh Start, June 11th.

TL; DR: Volunteer with us and help us win the Fresh Start Oregon campaign. Details on our facebook page.

You’ve been waiting patiently for your chance to volunteer and help us win the Fresh Start Oregon campaign, and now, the time is finally here.

Back in April, the Bus Project launched the Fresh Start Oregon campaign, to ask Salem’s lawmakers to expunge all the nonviolent marijuana charges. This common sense policy acknowledges that the failed war on drugs has had devastating impacts to our communities, and that a single pot charge shouldn’t be enough to ruin the lives of young Oregonians.

1700+ signatures, some press coverage and plenty of lawmaking shenanigans later, Representative Ann Lininger has introduced an amendment to HB 3100 that will fulfill exactly what our campaign was hoping for: A Fresh Start for all Oregonians. Now, it’s time for us to make sure our legislators know how important this bill is to Oregonians across the state. By expunging these records, Oregon could set a standard to be followed by the dozens of states likely to legalize marijuana in the years ahead.

It’s time to make a ruckus, and that’s where you come in.

Swing by the Bus Project HQ (333 SE 2nd, Portland OR, 97214) on Thursday, June 11th at 5:30, as we phonebank our petition signatures and encourage them to contact their legislators to support this amendment. We’ve collected a *lot* of signatures, and we need a *lot* of folks to show up to make sure our elected officials in Salem hear from us.

RSVP on facebook so we can plan appropriately, and invite your friends. 

Don’t live in Portland but still wanna volunteer? Send us an email.

See you Thursday!

– Aaron, Amy, Nathan, and Team Bus! 

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Holy smokes!

We’re just over halfway in our week of giving here at the Bus Project, and you’ve absolutely knocked our socks off with your generosity! Since Monday, we’ve raised over $1200 through monthly donations; your donations help ensure that the next generation of Oregonians are empowered to become leaders in their community to fight on issues like LGBTQ equality, climate change, and civil rights.  Here are some examples to show you exactly what your dollars can help support when you give to the Bus this week:

At $100 a month you can ensure the Bus Project can provide a stipend, TriMet Pass, homestay, clipboard, sunscreen, Bus Project “Get On the Bus” Pin, “Vote F*cker” tshirt, and curriculum for one of our amazing PolitiCorps fellows!

2014 PolitiCorps class, looking snazzy as all get out.

At $50 a month you can support one of our massive GOTV canvasses; last year we knocked on over ten thousand doors across the state for the Safe Roads Campaign.

Give $50 a month to the Bus Project and you could sponsor one of these! 

At $25 a month you can help personally pay for a Bus Trip down to Salem to ensure that a busload of the next generation of Oregon’s leaders are given the opportunity to testify at the state capitol! (Ben, our trusty Bus Driver, particularly likes this option)

Ben says, “Get on the Bus!”

At $10 a month you can provide snacks and refreshments for *five* phonebanks. In the last year, the Bus Project made phone calls for the Safe Roads Campaign, the Yes on 91 Campaign, and the Levy to Rebuild schools at the Reynolds School District. We’re also hosting a phonebank for the Fresh Start Oregon campaign Thursday, June 11th; click HERE for more details….

At $8.50 a month you can help cover the costs of distributing our Voters Guides to an entire college campus! Our Voters Guides were a hit last year, and helped new voters learn more about the issues on the ballot.

AND AT $5 a month you can almost entirely cover the expenses for one of our famed “Brewhaha” events, in which we get young folks together to talk about contemporary issues. Last month, our Brewhaha featured Senators Steiner Hayward and Dembrow, who each had cat gifs in their slides.

Interim Executive Director Nathan Howard, throwin’ down on New Motor Voter

DID WE MENTION: ALL MONTHLY DONORS are also promised free drinks at all of our Brewhaha events.

What are you waiting for? 

But seriously, everything we do – volunteer recruitment nights, voter registration drives, phonebanking shifts for important social justice initiatives, passing legislation for the biggest piece of voting rights in recent history – happens because of the the untold hours of volunteer support and generosity of our donors and Bus Drivers.

However you choose to support the Bus Project, know that you’re helping empower the next generation of Oregonians to become leaders in our community, to change the face of the electorate, to win on issues – climate change, education, civil rights – that matter. It’s an investment in a better Oregon, and we’re honored to have your support.

Thanks. <3

- Aaron, Outreach Coordinator at the Bus Project

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Week of Giving here at the Bus Project.

Thank you so much for your continued support of the Bus Project. You’ve helped us accomplish great things, including passing the groundbreaking and nationally-renowned New Motor Voter law, launching our Fresh Start Oregon campaign and preparing for this year’s PolitiCorps class. Thanks to our legislative victory, the Bus Project is poised to reach out to as many as 400,000 (yep that’s right – 400,000!) new voters in Oregon.

This week is the Bus Project’s week of giving. Starting today, the Oregon Bus Project enters into a contest with our partners around the country. Our national partners have provided rewards up to $6000 for hitting our fundraising goals in the week of June 1st to June 8th.

That’s where you come in. We need your help.

Please consider becoming a Bus Driver and donating monthly to the Bus Project. For just $5 or $10 a month, the Bus Project can reach out to those 400,000 new voters. Plus, you get a free drink at Brewhaha events, and the pride that you’re ensuring the next generation of Oregonians are ready to take the reigns and better their communities through organizing across the state.

If you are a current monthly member, thank you for being a rock star! We hope that you will consider increasing your monthly donation by $3 (that’s just one extra cup of coffee each month) to ensure that we have enough clipboards and pens for every volunteer we recruit, for every pledge to vote they gather.

Voting is the first step in ensuring that young people participate in their democracy and make their voices heard.

It is through the gamechanging New Motor Voter law that we can lead the way for the nation and make registering to vote more accessible than ever. Your contributions are what keeps the Bus able to empower young voters and encourage them to become politically engaged.

Oregon is now in a unique position; we’ll be the first state to have an election with nearly the full state registered to vote. With your help, we can ensure all these newly registered voters are getting those ballots in the mail. Please consider giving to the Bus Project this week!

With much love,
The Bus Family

Click on our rockstar fundraiser cat to give the Bus a couple bucks.
(Yes, you can click on this awesome cat gif to donate.)


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Brewhaha Recap and Legislative Update!

We had a wonderful evening last Thursday to celebrate our #newmotorvoter victory and to talk about what lies ahead for voting enfranchisement for the Bus Project and our partner organizations. Tremendous thanks to Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward and Senator Michael Dembrow for speaking with the Bus Project and the Center for Intercultural Organizing, Common Cause Oregon and the Oregon Student Association. A big thanks also to our gracious hosts at Cup & Bar, and to our presenters for the gratuitous photos of cute cats throughout the slideshows highlighting the next steps for voting rights. We’ll have another Brewhaha in a few weeks; keep your eyes pealed!


New Motor Voter: Success! You probably already knew that. But it’s a pretty big victory, and it’s worth reiterating that many young Oregonians will have better access to the ballot thanks to New Motor Voter. It’s arguably the country’s biggest voter enfranchisement bill in decades, and similar policies are now being proposed in Illinois and California. We’re laying the groundwork for a great 18 months of reaching out to young voters leading up to the 2016 elections; send us a message if you want to help us ensure all these newly registered voters get to the polls. As a sign of thanks, we’ll also send you a nice .gif of VoteBot dancing.


Fresh Start Oregon: Ongoing! While House Bill 3372 died in committee, we’ve been closely working with legislators who are currently working to include similar language into a new bill currently being debated in Salem. This is in no small part due to the overwhelming response from Bus Project volunteers like you. When 1700+ Oregonians demand that marijuana charges should no longer ruin lives, our legislators listen. We’re eager to see this bill through to success, and we’ll be announcing volunteer opportunties soon (potentially in the next week), so stay tuned! Have you signed the petition yet? And if so, can you share it with your friends?


Many of these great causes are going down to the wire, and could greatly use your support:

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM: As we learned at the Brewhaha last week, Oregon is only one Senate vote away from passing a bill to allow Oregonians to vote on campaign finance limits in 2016. SJR 5 would empower everyday Oregonians to participate more fully in the political decision-making process by eliminating the influence of big money on elections. We’ve endorsed the bill and we encourage Bus supporters to go sign the petition circulated by our pals at Common Cause Oregon.

ACTION ON CLIMATE: Oregon Climate‘s been kicking butt and taking names in Salem. Thanks to their work, there’s two bills being discussed to price carbon, and there’s a forthcoming hearing on a bill to implement their cap and dividend bill. We’ll be sure to share details as their available. Here’s how to get involved!

ENDING PROFILING: Across Oregon, people are targeted based on their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, language, housing status, sexual orientation, or gender identity – in the streets, in our schools, and in our own neighborhoods. That’s obviously no good. The Bus Project encourages you to sign the petition circulated by the Center For Intercultural Organizing in support of House Bill 2002.

PAY IT FORWARD: Student debt is crippling the ability of the next generation of Oregonians to afford higher education. The Bus Project testified in March to support the Pay It Forward bill, which would allow students to attend public universities debt-free by promising to pay a share of their future income after graduation. Learn more about how you can support Pay It Forward.

OUTDOOR SCHOOL: Nothing quite defines growing up in Oregon quite like that week spent in the woods with Outdoor School. If you send a quick letter, we can help ensure funding for a full week of Outdoor School for every 5th and 6th grader in the state. Seems like a worthy use of 60 seconds, yeah?

Inspired by all the cool work we’re doing, and lamenting you can’t volunteer with us? That’s okay. Donating $50, $20, even $10 helps us keep VoteBot well-oiled, clipboards in the hands of our PolitiCorps Fellows, and our volunteers well-fed.

Consider throwing a few bucks our way, so we can do more of this:

Onward Team Bus!
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THURSDAY PLANS: Come to Brewhaha. ✓ Buy a Beer. ✓ Drop off your ballot. ✓

It’s shaping up to be a great event, folks.

We’ll be hearing from State Senators and community leaders from across the state who just helped us pass the biggest piece of voter enfranchisement legislation in the past twenty years. We’ll also hear from legislators who are ready to champion the elimination of the final barriers to participation in our elections.

We’ll be doing it all in short, six-minute “Pecha Kucha” presentations, which will ensure nobody drones on and talks any longer than necessary. And we’ll be hearing from the Bus Project about the runaway success of the Fresh Start Oregon campaign, and how we’re working to make sure each eligible voter casts a ballot this next fall.

AND if you bring a completed ballot, we’ll even be nice enough to drop it off at the Elections Office, since the upcoming May Primary Election is a week from today.


This is going down at Northeast Portland’s newest coffee shop, Cup and Bar, opening at 5:30, and our programming will start promptly at 6:30, this THURSDAY, MAY 14th.

Cup and Bar is located in Portland at 118 NE Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, and is accessible by Portland Eastside Streetcar and TriMet Bus lines 6, 12, 19, and 20.

What are you waiting for? Go RSVP on our facebook page before it’s too late.

And, as always, all monthly members of the Bus Project get a free drink, on us.

We’re excited to see you…

See y’all there.

-Aaron, Amy, Nathan, and the whole Bus Family (and Mr. Swanson)

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You’re Invited! Voting Rights Brewhaha on Thursday, 5/14


Hi! We’d love to see you at our Brewhaha! next Thursday. We’ll be celebrating our New Motor Voter victory (oh yeah, remember that?) and talking about what’s next for expanding voting rights and making a better democracy here in Oregon, with the very people working to do it. We’ve got *two* State Senators excited to see you, along with our good pals from the Oregon Student Association, the Center for Intercultural Organizing, and Common Cause Oregon. Big names, great organizations, good times. And as always, a free drink for every Bus monthly member (hint, hint).

RSVP on facebook before space fills up!

See you next Thursday at Cup and Bar in Northeast Portland, located in Portland’s Central Eastside, accessible by Eastside Streetcar and the 6, 12, 19 and 20 bus lines.

 -Aaron, Nathan, and Amy from the Bus Project
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Bri’s story: “let’s follow through on something (for once…slackers)” #freshstartoregon


Bri Pruett is funny. Like, bust-a-gut, uncontrollable-laughter, “did-she-just-really-say-that” funny, and one of many stars in Portland’s notoriously burgeoning stand-up comedy scene. We were delighted to announce she supports the #freshstartoregon campaign and allow her the space to share her thoughts on this important bill.

“As a lifelong Oregonian, I was thrilled to see our state legalize recreational marijuana and end the drug wars that resulted over 13,000 arrests and citations in 2013. However! Our work isn’t finished; antiquated laws are still hurting disenfranchised communities, with many in our community unable to gain access to the housing, employment, and education necessary to rebuild their lives. Now that we Oregonians have voted in favor of recreational marijuana, let’s follow through on something (for once… slackers) and free the incarcerated folks who are the victims of old laws!
Oregonians love weed, we voted for it; let’s save the money we spend on incarcerating marijuana offenders and spend it on something Oregonians care about – like cleaning up the rivers, paying our teachers, or buying plane tickets home for Californians.”

Thanks, Bri! Ms. Pruett has appeared at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the All Jane No Dick comedy festival, and Bumbershoot. She makes regular appearances at Helium Comedy Club, Curious Comedy Theater, and other Portland showcases, and writes a sex column for The Portland Mercury titled “‘Let’s Do it’ with Bri Pruett.” She’s also the comedy sidekick, writer, and co-creator of Late Night Action with Alex Falcone, a live, talk/variety show.

We’ve topped 1700 (!) signatures on our campaign, and thanks to you, Salem legislators including Representative Ann Lininger, Representative Lew Frederick and Senator Ginny Burdick are working *right now* on reintroducing legislation supporting this crucial work. Last week, OPB News ran a story about our work, highlighting the story of Tim, the farmer in The Dalles, who we covered a few weeks ago. This wouldn’t be happening without your support. Every. Signature. Counts.  

Can you forward our petition to five friends who agree that marijuana convictions shouldn’t continue to ruin young Oregonians’ lives?


And be sure to let us know if you wanna volunteer, too. Stay tuned for information on events to help win this campaign!

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Teressa’s story: Don’t Shoot PDX supports #FreshStartOregon.


Now that we’ve heard from Justin, Tim and Phil, today the Bus Project shares Teressa’s story, which highlights why she and her burgeoning organization support our FreshStartOregon campaign.

As the founder of Don’t Shoot Portland, I’ve worked to build an organization to promote public safety and equity throughout our community by fighting for the cultural and systemic change necessary to eliminate racial profiling. I’ve witnessed the everyday impact that criminal records for petty offenses can have on the families in our community. It’s refreshing to have elected officials introducing legislation such as the Fresh Start Oregon campaign to reflect the economic needs of all our community members. Expungement of nonviolent records can help level the playing field for Oregonians caught up in unjust systems that disproportionately hinder our ability to seek and hold down meaningful jobs, housing, and education. Don’t Shoot Portland eagerly supports Fresh Start Oregon as one of many crucial reforms necessary to help all communities in our city achieve financial stability. Please sign the petition for Fresh Start Oregon, and stay tuned to learn more about Don’t Shoot PDX and our work to fight for social justice.

To learn more about Teressa, check out her organization’s facebook page at, and read more about the organization as highlighted in this recent blog post in Willamette Week.

take action now

We’re still collecting signatures for our work; please check out and encourage your friends and family to support this urgently needed piece of legislation.

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