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Opinion

RiseUp, Western Wisconsin! motivates people to take action against injustice

February 28, 2018

This past weekend was the one-year anniversary celebration of the grassroots organization RiseUp, Western Wisconsin! RiseUp was started right here in River Falls and came together shortly after several River Falls community members came home from the first Women’s March in Washington D.C. in January 2017.

What started as a group of women protesting in Washington soon began to grow into a community of people, now over 230 to be exact, who wanted to take their political dissatisfaction and turn it into positive political action.

RiseUp’s mission statement directly reflects the purpose of the organization. “Amplifying voices to empower people” is a simple and straightforward message that’s intended to provide people with the motivation and resources to take action against injustice and corruption in our current political system.

The group provides action-oriented steps for achieving their mission on the main page of their website, https://www.riseupwesternwisconsin.com/home.

RiseUp wants to:

“Build a community network of people and groups advocating for human rights, education, the environment, democratic institutions, and accessible and affordable health care. Influence public policy votes by developing and/or publicizing community-based lobbying efforts and direct contact events such as town halls and local demonstrations. Give voice to the voiceless by encouraging dialogue based on fact, reason, and a shared sense of justice. Call out abuses of power and campaigns designed to divide us through fear, greed, confusion, or jealousy.”

Over the past year, members from RiseUp have occupied street corners in River Falls in order to protest against repealing the Affordable Care Act. They also marched in the River Falls Day parade while holding signs emblazoned with issues such as supporting public schools and protecting the environment. They also had signs that addressed topics such as immigration and health care.

RiseUp team members have also gone door to door to talk to neighbors and friends about their differences and beliefs. Not only that, they hosted a town hall meeting because representative Ron Johnson would not come and hear what his constituents had to say, and they formed sub-committees focused on topics such as immigration and women’s health.

This past Sunday, to celebrate one year’s worth of community involvement and political action, RiseUp hosted the community event called “Rising Up, Reclaiming our Democracy.” It featured Wisconsin campaign finance expert Mike McCabe.

In the lower level of the River Falls Public Library, McCabe spoke to a full room of community members about the role of money in politics and how important it is that people view democracy as something we “do,” not just “have.” McCabe then took comments and questions from those assembled.

One highlight of the question and answer session was the importance of journalism in keeping people informed about the facts and truth. The session also highlighted that we are in an unprecedented time in history where journalism is being discredited and underappreciated. In reference to several comments and questions about the recent Parkland, Fla. school shooting, McCabe said that he is optimistic and hopeful that the young generation coming up will be our saviors.

As a journalism major and a millennial, his words were an incredible confidence boost to me. It was refreshing to hear someone defending a generation that so often gets badmouthed and dismissed. McCabe said that he disagrees with those who call younger people apathetic and uninformed about what is going on. He insists that the generation taking charge in Florida knows more about the world and what is going on than he did at their age, and the work they are doing in the aftermath of the mass shooting is just the beginning.

It is just the beginning for for RiseUp, Western Wisconsin!, which now has one whole year of enacting positive change on a local level. This is just the beginning, not only for this organization but also for its members. These members have committed to coming together to not just envision a better world, but to make a better world a reality.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.

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