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?
OTHER BILLS WE ARE WATCHING
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:
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)
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).
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.
And be sure to let us know if you wanna volunteer, too. Stay tuned for information on events to help win this 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 www.facebook.com/dontshootpdx, and read more about the organization as highlighted in this recent blog post in Willamette Week.
We’re still collecting signatures for our work; please check out www.busproject.org/freshstartoregon and encourage your friends and family to support this urgently needed piece of legislation.
PolitiCorps is almost here! Our 10 week political organizing and leadership development bootcamp starts on June 15th. We are beyond excited to announce that we already have some amazing fellows that will be participating in the program this summer, but we’re still accepting more! If you or anyone you know is looking for a meaningful way to spend their summer, applications are here!
Through trainings and hands-on experience in the field, the Bus Project will be able to continue to grow and empower the next generation of leaders. This summer’s program consists of 12 fellows and since not all of them are from Portland, they’ll need a place to stay.
As much as our Leadership Development Coordinator, Amy Kessler, would love to host them all, it may be a little tight in her one-bedroom apartment. If you, your friends, or your family would be interested in hosting one of our incredible (and respectful!) fellows, please contact Amy Kessler at 503-233-3018 email@example.com.
2014 PolitiCorps class, lookin’ snazzy.
What’s all this about PolitiCorps?
Politicorps is Oregon’s premiere youth development summer fellowship that has graduated over 200 fellows to prepare the next generation of Oregonians for careers in political advocacy and civic engagement. Our program is an intensive, paid, ten week political organizing and leadership development bootcamp (whew, what a mouthful). If you’re a college junior, senior or recent graduate (aged 20-24) dedicated to public interest and political process, you are eligible for the Fellowship.
PolitiCorps focuses on training young leaders who are ready to commit themselves full time to working in public service. PolitiCorps alumni are busy changing the world all around the city, state, and country; from APANO to Causa, CIO to City Club, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office all the way to the White House, PolitiCorps Alumni have been there, done that.
Got any other questions? Be sure to check out our FAQ page, or send Amy a friendly email.
What are you waiting for? Go get those applications in!
The Bus Project has been circulating this letter in support of Senate Joint Resolution 5, which will help get big money out of politics by authorizing the citizens of the state of Oregon to vote on whether or not the state should be one of only six in the country without campaign finance reforms. The fine folks at Common Cause have been working hard to get this bill to a vote, and they could *totally* use your signature to help ensure legislators know that Oregonians want to limit the ability of big, out-of-state money to impact the politics of our plucky little state.
April 24, 2015
Senate Committee on Rules
The Bus Project is an organization committed to getting young Oregonians involved, engaged, and empowered to participate in local and statewide politics. Our nonpartisan nonprofit organization empowers young folks through community organizing, voter enfranchisement, and volunteer-powered campaigns to provide more of a voice for young Oregonians and train and inspire the next generation of Oregon’s leaders.
As such, our organization cares deeply about ensuring the mechanisms of our democracy are accessible to everyday citizens. We strongly support initiatives that work to empower Oregonians to participate in their local democracy, and we believe that it’s essential to eliminate the undue power wielded by a small number of individuals and PACs able to make financial contributions to campaigns and elections. The Bus Project therefore supports a Yes vote on Senate Joint Resolution 5, which would authorize citizens and the Legislature to establish campaign contribution limits for the state of Oregon. Without such safeguards, Oregon will continue to remain one of only six states in the nation without any contribution limits, and the voices and votes of every day Oregonians will continue to be diluted by the small number of individuals capable of large financial impact. In addition, as an organization deeply invested in encouraging young Oregonians towards careers as public servants and community leaders, we are warmed by the possibility that strengthened campaign finance reform will make running for office a more viable option for a wider range of next-generation Oregonians without deep pocketed donors to finance their campaigns.
We encourage legislators to support SJR 5 and help ensure the next generation of Oregonians are able to enjoy an accessible democracy in which everyday citizens are able to meaningfully engage with their elected officials. Please join the Bus Project, Common Cause Oregon, the League of Women Voters, AARP Oregon and other nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations interested in this crucial piece of reform of our democracy.
Today, as part of our ongoing #FreshStartOregon campaign, the Bus Project shares Justin’s story.
Shortly after moving in with my girlfriend at age 18, my father lost his job, and my parents and two sisters moved in to our house. I had been growing marijuana in my closet at the time; I started growing because marijuana helped me kick ulcerative colitis and the subsequent, accompanying half-dozen prescriptions. Medicinal use of marijuana got me walking and eventually biking again; I lost 100 pounds thanks to the extra exercise that medicinal use of marijuana afforded me in my daily routine.
However, my luck turned for the worse when a visit from the Department of Human Services to visit my one-year-old-sister revealed the three plants I had grown in turned into the finding and confiscation of three marijuana plants I had grown.
I was settled a year later before a silent warrant went out; I turned myself in. The prosecutors attempted to me with a Class A Felony for manufacturing, with a misdemeanor for child endangerment as well. After multiple letters of recommendation, and the fact I had grown less than an ounce, my sentence was reduced to a Class B felony, and fortunately, the endangerment charge was dropped.
Life’s been difficult since the charges. Finding work has become extremely difficult. I was fortunate enough to find someone at a temp agency willing to work with me, but even then, I have not had a permanent job since high school; anytime someone wanted to hire me permanently, my record was revealed, and it was time to go. Due to conflicts I separated from the temp agency last year and I have struggled while living month to month on food stamps for most of the time since my sentence.
Most recently, with my love of bicycling, I applied to be a bicycle courier; I was denied due to my record. I now work part time for minimum wage at a fast food restaurant downtown, and my resume is always handy.
The Fresh Start Oregon campaign would make it tremendously easier for me to get on with my life, land that permanent job, and move on to the next chapter in my life. Marijuana is legal now, and pot charges from eight years ago shouldn’t continue to make the most simple but important facets of life – housing, employment, relations with family – so difficult. Please sign the petition to encourage elected officials to understand the devastating impact this is having on our community.
Thanks for sharing, Justin! It’s been truly inspiring hearing folks come out of the woodwork to open up to the public and share these heartbreaking stories. We’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure that Oregonians like Justin are able to move on with their lives, and that our criminal justice system is reformed to reflect the desires of the 57% of Oregonians who cast a ballot in support of legalization and regulation of marijuana.
We’re still collecting signatures for our work; please check out www.busproject.org/freshstartoregon and encourage your friends and family to support this urgently needed piece of legislation. We’re using the hashtag #freshstartoregon on facebook and twitter; help us spread the word! We’ll have volunteer opportunities to pass this legislation soon.
On Tuesday, we heard from Tim, a farmer in The Dalles, who explained why the Fresh Start Oregon campaign would dramatically improve the lives of him and his family. Today, we hear from Phil Studenberg, a lawyer in Klamath Falls, who has worked tirelessly in support of individuals with convictions for nonviolent marijuana charges. He supports the #FreshStartOregon campaign, and his story is as follows:
My name is Phil, and I’ve been an attorney for 37 years, most of them doing criminal defense work. I have repeatedly seen the destructive impact of a felony conviction on good people. In the case of marijuana offenses, many of the defendants are young people going to college and pursuing the American Dream. Loss of educational benefits and job opportunities to a marijuana conviction criminalizes people who would otherwise not be in the criminal world, and represents a tremendous loss of human potential for these young, smart people. It is not only the loss to the defendants, but a profound loss to our society at large, when these talented people and their families face unnecessary barriers to economic stability. It is time to stop prosecuting them and clean up the criminal records of these victims of a senseless War on Drugs!
We’ll have news in the upcoming days about the next steps that you can take to help us pass this monumental, first-of-its-kind legislation here in Oregon; we’ll be hosting phonebanks in our Portland office in the near future. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, we need to continue to collect signatures to demonstrate to our legislators that this is an urgently-needed, immediate priority for an Oregonian electorate that is ready to move on from the failed War on Drugs. If you haven’t already signed our petition, please do so:
…and if you’d like to help collect signatures amongst your peers, classmates, coworkers, and family, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get you set up.
In less than two weeks, the Bus Project has collected 1300 signatures, over 60 volunteers, and dozens of stories from everyday Oregonians who would benefit from a more pragmatic, moral, sensible, cost-effective drug policy in our state.
You’re speaking up, and Salem is listening. Here’s but one of the many stories we’ve heard in the past two weeks, from a farmer in The Dalles.
My name is Tim McClure, I’m a 57 year old organic farmer in The Dalles, Oregon.
In 1999, my wife’s best friend got breast cancer. She found that marijuana helped her keep an appetite, and otherwise improve her quality of life. During that time, I had a man working for me on the ranch who had grown marijuana in the past and offered to help us. While the medical marijuana helped our friend deal with her illness, a trespassing hunter spotted the plants and called the sheriff. After inviting the sheriff to visit my ranch (I figured “a few pot plants, no big deal”) I learned the grow was bigger than I had been told. The sheriff’s office attempted to confiscate the ranch and I was charged with manufacture of a controlled substance. The only way to get the ranch off of the table was to accept a plea deal, even though I was completely uninvolved with the grow. I agreed to the plea-deal under the impression that after paying my fine and my community service, I could petition the court to have my felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. I was unaware, however, that the charge now classified me as a Class-C felon, which is non-reduceable, and non-expungeable. I only recently found out that my Class C felony is the same classification given to murder, rape, and violent crimes.
It’s been over 15 years since I signed the plea deal. I have written the District Attorney’s office countless times to petition the court to reduce my conviction. I cooperated fully, paid my fine in full, did my community service with a smile, only to find out that I was a felon for life. My small business failed, and I had to close it down. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs that I was abundantly qualified for, and never got a single interview. I eventually inherited my fathers ranch, and am now an organic farmer. I raise free-range purebred Hereford cattle, and was until recently the president of The Dalles Farmers Market. I’m a volunteer youth coach. I coach basketball and the high jump at The Dalles Middle School. I’m an active volunteer in my community. I have an 8 year old son and a 14 year old daughter. I have a dark secret that I haven’t told my children. I’m a convicted felon with no avenue for rehabilitation. I’ve never had a speeding ticket, but I have one count of manufacture of a controlled substance on my record. The conviction has cost my family hundreds of thousands of dollars; I can’t volunteer for the local search and rescue team. I can’t hunt or possess a firearm, leaving me powerless to the coyotes killing the chickens on my farm. I have always believed that I deserve the opportunity to fully rehabilitate myself. Please help me and my family by supporting the Fresh Start Oregon campaign.
Clearly, Oregon can do better than this. Marijuana charges shouldn’t ruin lives.
If you haven’t already signed the petition, do so now:
…and direct your friends to www.busproject.org/freshstartoregon to learn how you can share your own stories, volunteer, and help pass this common sense legislation.