Stand With Standing Rock Benefit Concert & Silent Auction

This weekend, musicians, artists, and community members from South Bend and beyond will be coming together to support the gathering at Standing Rock and its efforts to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Stand with Standing Rock Benefit Concert & Silent Auction takes place this Sunday, January 29th at LangLab in South Bend. The event will feature a variety of entertainment, with twelve bands, twelve acoustic artists, three DJs, and multiple comedian MCs.

“It’s going to be music packed, all day long,” said Dena Woods.

She, along with fellow organizers Jenni Miller and Eli Kahn, have been awed by the support offered to them by the local community. The performances, beginning promptly at 2pm, have all been donated. The acoustic stage will be surrounded by auction blocks with work offered by local and regional artists, as well as goods from local businesses. Throughout the community, everything from water for volunteers to supplies for promotion have been contributed.

“It’s bigger than we ever thought it would be,” said Miller. “It’s pretty amazing. It’s a testament to the kind of place South Bend is.”

Miller is a local artist herself, operating out of a studio space at LangLab. The venue, which also operates as a small business incubator and a studio home for artists, is the appropriate fit for such a community oriented event. LangLab gives artists a reduced rate space to work and developing businesses a low-rent option to get started and grow before heading out into the broader region. Purple Porch Co-op, a community owned cafe, grocery store, and farmers market, got its start inside LangLab.

“It’s a supportive place,” Miller said. “It’s home.”

She appeared entirely unhindered by the immense effort and the lack of sleep that has been the price of planning the event in such a short period of time. She pointed to her experience managing bands, organizing past events, and serving on the board of directors for Habitat For Humanity as valuable when planning the benefit event.

Woods and Kahn also have their share of experience in planning events in the area. Those familiar with the local music scene would have a hard time missing any of their names throughout the years. They were quick to point to their volunteers, the community donors, and, most importantly, the Standing Rock gathering itself, as the focus.

Planning for Stand With Standing Rock began after Kahn found himself emotionally affected by imagery from the Standing Rock Gathering, with native tribes and their allies in peaceful protest being assaulted with fire hoses, gas, and rubber bullets.

“Some of these images we’re seeing,” Miller said. “It’s hard for me to think about without crying.”

We discussed the current climate in our culture and the need for every citizen to find a way to step into the fray and help better the world. Miller pointed to the daunting task of each individual figuring out what they can do to make change, but knowing she had to do something.

“I’m an artist, I’m poor, how can I help?” she said. “We’re just trying to do this the way we know how. The way we know how is to spread love through art and music.”

“We all felt moved enough and angry enough,” Woods said. “It’s about doing something for what’s right and fighting against what’s wrong. I may be one person, but I have this within me and I’m going to give it to fight for what’s right. Obviously, a lot of causes that are extremely important that need to be fought for right now.”

It’s their hope to raise a significant amount of money at the event to donate to the Standing Rock gathering for supplies and to also raise awareness. They are also hoping to inspire others to take similar action for other causes.

“If you want to do something, do it,” Miller said. “Revolution doesn’t have to be violent.”

“You don’t need permission from anybody,” said Woods. “If you are upset about something, empower yourself and do something about it.”

The event, according to Miller, is about showing that South Bend stands with Standing Rock.

“We have to be there for each other no matter how far away we are,” she said.

Stand With Standing Rock takes this place this Sunday, January 29th from 2pm until 8pm at LangLab in South Bend on High Street. Information on the event can be found at the Stand with Standing Rock Benefit Concert & Silent Auction Facebook event page. Those hoping to volunteer for the event can contact the organizers via the Facebook page. Information on the Standing Rock gathering itself can be found at


Harass Your Government: The Affordable Care Act Edition

I have long been an advocate of harassing your government, letting them know opinions and views through phone calls and letters. After all, they are we. It is our government and we can hardly expect it to operate to our standards if we are unwilling to take part.

As I have discussed more than a few times here, we are facing a new era of challenges and that communication becomes much more important. It is on us to hold our representative government accountable. Corporations and other entities with no care for you pay people well to spend their days telling the government what they want accomplished…we can surely spare a few minutes to send an email, mail a letter, or make a phone call.

With that in mind, I have recently contacted both my Senators, my House Representative, the House Speaker, and President-Elect Trump to voice my opinion on the Affordable Care Act and the future of health care. I encourage you to do the same. I am including my letter below (with personal information removed):

The Future Of Healthcare

Here are links to the two reports mentioned regarding the Michigan Medicaid Expansion:

New England Journal Of Medicine: Economic Effects of Medicaid Expansion in Michigan
Medicaid expansion boosts Michigan’s economy and will more than pay for itself, IHPI study finds

Flint And Bottled Water (Updated)

UPDATE: I was digging back and came across a piece from the Washington Post last month. It shines a bit more light on the issue, including giving a bit more insight and understanding to the State Of Michigan’s side of the argument (insert counter-argument to ridiculous claims of media bias here).

One of the main arguments from the state is that the requirement of bottled water delivery would undermine other efforts to resolve the crisis. They seem to fall back continuously on the argument that many homes already have filters. Still, until all homes have filters or Virginia Tech has declared the water safe to drink without them, the most important piece of the effort should be first the daily availability to clean and safe water.


The news of late has been the attempts by the State of Michigan to have the November 10th ruling of Judge David Lawson overturned. The order: deliver bottled water to the Flint residents who do not have working filters installed.

The argument for the bottled water is pretty simple: plenty of citizens still have water that is dangerous to drink and have struggled with getting filters properly installed or traveling to the water distribution centers.

The State of Michigan is arguing that the water is indeed safe, matching federal standards. Virginia Tech water experts, however, disagree and are still urging citizens to avoid drinking piped water in homes that do not have filters.

Some citizens have chosen not use filters, deeming them untrustworthy, but it’s also true that installing the filters has barriers, a problem Lawson’s order also addressed.

Still, the state seems determined to avoid the responsibility. Putting the burden on the citizenry, who may not have the knowledge, the tools, or the physical ability to install filters, seems lacking in compassion, especially coming from the administration that was so complicit in the water crisis in the first place.

You can let Governor Rick Snyder know how you feel in a number of ways, but I encourage sending a physical letter, preferably handwritten. Let’s let them know how we feel.

Rick Snyder, P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, Michigan 48909

Phone and email information

We Need The Flobots Now

there is a war going on for your mind

Image by Flobots

In 2007, revolution was in the air. The destruction of the Great Recession was mounting and eight years of leadership under President George W. Bush had exhausted the United States overseas and at home. Inspiring hope and bringing out a new generation of voters and activists was the candidacy of eventual President Barack Obama.

At 25 years old, I found myself caught up in those energies. I had recently moved back to my hometown in Michigan, making my first “adult” stamp in the world by purchasing a house, by getting my hands into my community, in hopes to be a part of the positive change.

We were fighting for new leadership. We were battling the destructive flames of the economic crisis, of too much war, of too little care for those in need. We were battling other activists who grew from mistrustful positions, where anger and fear held a deeper root than compassion.

The Flobots released Fight With Tools in that time, bringing a message in music befitting the moment. The message was of action, compassion, and hope. Their mixture of hip-hop, rock, and the beauty of the viola was coupled with their message of motion and activism. They met their words with action of their own, creating activist networks and community organizations in their home state and across the nation. Their music was motivation. It was the soundtrack of the revolution, a call not to arms, but to ideas. It was music that made me feel I could take on the world.

And here we are again, though, in many ways, the script seems turned around. In 2007, there seemed a light beyond the darkness, signs of hope on the horizon. This time around, we seem to be heading into the blackened woods, with consequences more grave than before and an ending unsure. But we do not despair. We act.

shake off that rubble, break free from your standstill

More than ever, it becomes important for each of us to step up and act. Though it has always been a constant in my playlist, I’ve been playing Fight With Tools as much as that original period, the power of music motivating me when I despair, when my energy lags or when my direction is unsure.

stand up, we shall not be moved

And, fittingly, the Flobots are working on a new set of music. The crowd-funded double album NOENEMIES was in the works long before the election, but the release (up in the air, but likely in the early days of the Trump administration) could not be more timely.

The power of art and music is undeniable, through sharing the stories of those different than us and uniting us in a shared chorus. We need art like Fight With Tools. We need the Flobots, now more than ever.

the way that it is is not how it’s gonna be