The humanitarian crisis in the Arizona desert

Provide water and supplies to a migrant in the desertOver the last 10 years, the number of deaths in the Arizona desert has skyrocketed. Increased militarization of our borders has done nothing to deter people from crossing; it only makes it more treacherous to do so.

There’s a massive humanitarian crisis happening within the boundaries of our own country, but you can do something to help.

Tucson-based No More Deaths (No Más Muertes) is one of several great organizations in Arizona working to mitigate the number of deaths in the desert by placing water and supplies at heavily traveled spots along the way.

For $20, organizers at No More Deaths can deliver 12 gallons of water, six pairs of clean socks and six cans of beans to the desert, likely saving a migrant’s life.

Click here to fund a water and supplies drop for only $20.

Can’t give $20? Click here to give $5.

Because most migrants can only carry a couple of gallons of water with them, they often run out of water with 20 to 30 miles to go on their journey. This leads to thousands of unnecessary deaths each year.

Since 2004, No More Deaths has maintained a humanitarian presence in the 262-square-mile corridor where over half of known migrant deaths in recent years have occurred. They rely heavily on donations to provide these critical resources.

Click here to donate and provide water and other needed supplies to a migrant in need.

Thank you for saving a life.


This action is a part of our #AZDispatch campaign, which aims to expose some of the most unjust practices in our current immigration system and to elevate the stories and voices of local activists fighting back against those practices.

Why we are doing #AZDispatch

Recently, I was sitting with a woman who opens up her home just outside of a detention center in Colorado to families visiting family members in immigration detention. When I asked her why she does this work, her response was, in essence, that there are galvanizing moments people have in their lives, and one of hers was prompted by a trip to the border. The stories of things she saw and people she spoke with there paint a picture illustrating how important it is to bear witness to injustice and how that can forever change the path one is on.

Last year in Detroit, we, the Netroots organizing staff, made a conscious decision to direct media attention toward uplifting our brothers and sisters fighting the water shutoffs and working on other economic issues in Detroit. It was a chance to use our unique position in the movement to shine a light not just on the issues facing Detroit residents, but also the inspiring and powerful activism that was happening there.

So, we encouraged the nearly 3,000 activists, organizers and professionals attending our annual convention to attend the Turn on the Water, DETROIT! Tax Wall Street! March & Rally that was held Friday, July 18, 2014. It was a historic example of the power of intersectional organizing. Members of other movements from across the progressive realm turned out to support who we all feel are our folks on the ground in Detroit—not corporations, not government, but the people.

I had a distinct opportunity to go to Arizona several months in advance of this year’s convention. While I was there I went on a trip to the border with an amazing group called Borderlinks that works to educate groups about the realities of communities on both sides of the U.S. / Mexico border. For me, it was a chance to see what I had no idea I’d see: The harsh realities of the border and how our policies literally and directly affect people’s lives. Other members of our staff and board had this same experience and came away with the same sentiment: Netroots Nation is an amplifier, and as part of that gig, we choose to amplify stories from Arizona that need to be heard.

I went back in March 2015 with several other staff members and a camera crew to capture some of these very stories. The products of that trip include the four videos featured here, as well as much of the other content we’ll be sharing between now and July.

There’s a responsibility in shining a light into dark places that is centered in making sure the light is shone not on ourselves, but on issues and people in the struggle. It’s our honor to uplift and introduce to the Netroots community the strong, dedicated, and hard working grassroots organizers in Arizona and the region who are fighting for progressive things. That’s what the #AZDispatch is all about.

Blue Nation Review Round 1 Scholarship Winners

About a month ago, we announced that Blue Nation Review was sponsoring 100 scholarships to Netroots Nation. Today, we’d like to introduce the first round of winners and tell you a few of their inspiring stories.

“I came out at the age of 15 out of frustration with bullies and subsequently started one of the first gay-straight alliances in a high school in New Orleans. I have been an activist ever since that moment, which has allowed me to learn how to use my voice to advocate for those who are continually marginalized and belittled for who they are.” —Ashton Woods

“I created an online community for GLBTQ autistic adults and allies. For many, it’s the first safe space they have ever had to talk openly about their sexuality, their identity, to be able to ask questions. Three members told me that they were on the verge of suicide before the group started, now they are doing well, happy to be accepted at last, (and) mentoring others.” —Xander McDonald

“Growing up undocumented and coming from a working-class immigrant family informed me of the difficulties I would face in school, at the workplace and in life. That is why, at the age of 18, I helped co-found the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), a undocumented-youth led organization in Chicago.” —Reyna Wences

Each scholarship winner has a brave, compelling story that will be shared in the coming weeks at Blue Nation Review. We’re thrilled to welcome these new voices to Netroots Nation this summer and hear more about the work they are doing.

The full list of first round winners are:
Jonathan Beebe Giudice
Margarito Blancas
Kim Rescate
Jocelyn “Joz” Wang
Maria Sisa
Mina Farzad
E. Smith
Nasreen Hosein
Devin Murphy
Jesus Gonzalez
Ashton Woods
Cesar Vargas
Johnna Baca
Rosa Velázquez
Michael Angulo
V.J. Bustos
Tamara Johnson
Luis Mora
Xander McDonald
Mitzi Miranda Castro
Maria Castro
Gregory King
Venancio Noya
Alejandra Pablos
Amanda Gonzalez
Henry Silentman
Phoenix Berliner
Reyna Maldonado
Dagoberto Bailon
Lucas Waldron
Michael Levitin
Reyna Wences
Michelle Wright
Kenzo Shibata

Most of these 34 individuals are from Arizona, but we also have a few winners hailing from Georgia, Alabama and beyond. Half identify as LGBTQ and 68% are under the age of 35. This group also represents many communities of color:

Hispanic: 41%
African-American: 18%
Multi-Ethnic/Other: 18%
Asian-Pacific Islander: 12%
Caucasian: 8%
Native American: 3%

We’ll be announcing the remaining winners in the coming weeks. But for now, let’s congratulate and welcome these folks to Netroots Nation 2015!

#NN14: Turn on the Water! Tax Wall Street! March & Rally

One of the most pressing issues locals in Detroit are currently facing is water shutoffs. In lieu of a lunch keynote on Friday, July 18th, we are urging all Netroots Nation 2014 attendees to support local organizing efforts and join the rally asserting that access to water is a basic human right.

If you’d like to read more about Detroit’s water crisis, please read this excellent piece by John Nichols, Against Austerity in Detroit: ‘Water is a Human Right’, on The Nation.


Join National Nurses United as they declare a public health emergency and demand a moratorium be put on the unprecedented water shutoffs in the Motor City.

  Photo credit:

Turn on the Water! Tax Wall Street! March & Rally

When: July 18; 12:30 p.m. (assemble), 1 p.m. (march begins), 1:45 p.m. (rally at 1 Hart Plaza)

Where: Assemble outside the Cobo Center on the Southwest corner of Washington Blvd. and W. Congress St.  Click this link to open the mapped location.

Who: National Nurses United and you!

Special thanks to the following organizations for turning local members out for the event: Communication Workers of America, Democratic Socialists of America, Democracy for America and Progressive Voices.

Stand with Walmart workers this Black Friday

Walmart workers on strike in the Dallas area. (Photo courtesy Making Change at Walmart)


Walmart workers are fighting back against intimidation and disrespect like this:

In an interview, she spoke of her struggle to make ends meet even while working fulltime at Walmart. She earns $11.65 an hour and is her family’s only source of income since her husband was laid off. They and their five children rely on state assistance for housing, food and healthcare.

Walmart spokespeople have said that workers in Washington earn an average wage of $13 an hour. Gilbert said she knew of only a few people who earn that much, and they’ve worked for the company for decades.

Beyond a better wage, Gilbert said she wants to be treated with respect. She decided to speak out about work conditions after her manager came up behind her while she was bent, restocking shelves, and adjusted Gilbert’s pants to cover some exposed skin.

Gilbert said the manager tried to turn it into a laughing matter. Gilbert complained, but she said no action was taken.

“They treat it like it’s a joke, but it’s not a joke to me,” she said.

It’s a simple proposition: people deserve to work with dignity and treated fairly. Walmart is one of the largest and most profitable corporations on the planet, and their workers deserve better.

Netroots Nation is helping OUR Walmart get the word out about workers taking actions across the country between now and Black Friday. The workers are causing a stur, getting a bit of coverage, and they’ve got lots of tools that allow everyone to take part. Here are a few things you can do:

Wherever you are spending this holiday, stand with Walmart workers!