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!