The NN15 Town Square

This year’s Town Square (aka Exhibit Hall) is like nothing you’ve seen before at Netroots Nation. Located in Hall C & D of the Phoenix Convention Center, the Town Square is packed with new and returning features that will be great for working, meeting up with friends, noshing, and getting informed and entertained. Check out the offerings:


MORE THAN 80 EXHIBITORS. Visit the booths of your favorite organizations and companies—and get to know some new ones. If you’ve entered our mobile app contest, you can get points by stopping by an exhibit booth. Be on the lookout for exhibitors who are hosting drawings at their booth.

NEW! Part news room, part lounge. The BNR NEWSLOUNGE is the center of the universe for attendees who want a place to relax while watching the BNR team create the best political progressive content online. Be in the news by coming to the BNR NewsLounge and hear their take on current progressive issues while you enjoy free snacks and catch up with friends.

PROGRESSIVE BROADCASTS. Live interviews and engaging content will take place along Radio Row as well as on the popular This Week in Blackness stage.


On Thursday, the OPENING RECEPTION will take place in the Town Square. Performances at the reception feature renowned musicians the Chapin Sisters and Irene Diaz. Both of these acts bring vocal strength and beauty to the opening reception stage. The Town Square will also be the location for several sponsored coffee and snack breaks throughout the conference.

On Friday afternoon, the SECOND ANNUAL PUNDIT’S CUP gives attendees a chance to deliver their message in mock interviews with progressive media hosts in a bracket-structured challenge. The final rounds, held on the Town Square Showcase Stage, will have an open bar, as you watch finalists compete for fame, glory, and a red solo cup stuffed with $500 cash! Sponsored by Social Security Works and Progressive Voices, with support from Franklin Forum.

NEW! The PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY SHOWCASE STAGE in the Town Square is part of the Netroots Music Project and features acoustic performances, slam poetry, artist meet and greets, autograph opportunities and a chance to enjoy socially-minded music across a variety of genres from up-and-coming and well-established performers. This chill, coffeeshop-like space gives stars a chance to shine and those who like music something to move to. Plug in your laptop, relax and recharge your devices and mind by taking in these cultural showcases.

Relax and recharge in the popular PROGRESS NOW LOUNGE. Settle into a comfy couch and jump online with free wifi. And don’t fret, power chargers abound here.

The CHAIR MASSAGE booth, provided by local company Precision Massage, is a Town Square favorite. Visit these massage therapists and let them work on those sore muscles while you get refreshed!

NEW! Grab a friend and have fun playing TABLE TENNIS or BOARD AND CARD GAMES found throughout the Town Square, including chess, checkers, Scrabble, Cards Against Humanity, Bananagrams and Exploding Kittens.

HUNGRY? There is a concession station located by the registration area. Grab some food and recharge your devices at one of the many tables found throughout the Town Square.


NEW! ARTIST’S AVENUE gives space to visual artists and collectives who push the boundaries of our comfort and attack societal ills head on through their self-expressions. Radical art has been around since the dawn of time. This space features 100% socially conscious visual artists from across the nation and beyond.

NEW! The CRAFT AND COMMERCE AREA features local artisans who have products unique to the area and are affiliated with smaller area non-profits. Come get a taste of the Southwest while supporting grassroots organizers! This space features talented Indigenous bead workers, elder traditional Diné (Navajo) rug weavers, direct-trade coffee from beyond the U.S./Mexico border and more.


Purchase a Netroots Nation 2015 T-SHIRT or pick up your REGISTRATION BAG at the Netroots Nation booth in the back of the Town Square.

Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, 11:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Saturday, noon to 3 p.m.

We’re leaving a mural behind in PHX

More than 6,000 people have lost their lives crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since 1998, and there are more than 900 unidentified bodies in Pima County alone. These lives lost are those of children, parents and loved ones—many fleeing violence at home and seeking to reunite with their families.

During Netroots Nation, a group of artists from the JustSeeds Artist Co-operative will paint a mural in Phoenix in support of the work done by the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, which assists families in their search for missing loved ones and brings closure to those suffering a devastating loss.

Artists Mata Ruda, Jess X. Chen, Jetsonorama and Thea Gahr have designed beautiful murals featuringcolibrí (the Spanish word for hummingbird), an indigenous symbol for safe passing. They soar as messengers between life and death, and their hundreds of species have been found migrating across the U.S./Mexico border for thousands of years similarly to how thousands of humans have migrated. JustSeeds paints hummingbirds to honor the undefeatable spirits of the migrants who lost their lives during the journey.

We need to raise about $2900 to purchase paint and supplies, rent a lift and make this happen. Click here to donate today.

Murals can last for 10 years or more. So long after Netroots Nation is over, these pieces will serve as a reminder of the humanitarian crisis happening within our own borders and the journey that thousands of immigrants started but tragically did not finish.

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.


Hear Elizabeth Warren speak at NN15

Netroots Nation is known for bringing together the leading voices in the progressive movement. At Netroots Nation 2015, you’ll hear from one of our biggest progressive champions—Senator Elizabeth Warren. Sen. Warren will speak Friday, July 17 at 10:30 a.m.

She fired up the crowd last year in Detroit, pledging to continue fighting a rigged system in a country of rising income inequality and stressing the importance of fighting for progressive values.

Sen. Warren also joined us in 2010 and in 2012, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat she now holds.

For the past year, she’s continued to boldly speak out about solutions to poverty and student debt and the need for everyone to play by the same rules.

In addition to hearing from Sen. Warren, Netroots Nation attendees will have access to 80 panels and 45+ hands-on training sessions, film screenings, musical showcases and tons of opportunities to meet fellow activists and organizers from around the country. And we’ll be releasing more keynote speakers in the coming weeks.

The only way to see her speak in person is to register here.


More scholarships from the Steelworkers!

Our friends at the Steelworkers have generously sponsored an additional 20 scholarships, and I’d like to introduce the winners to you. Here are a few of their stories:

“My proudest moment is when I was able to settle my job with my anti-union employer to improve the working conditions of all my co-workers in our contact negotiations. I was wrongfully terminated and targeted for being the union representative and shop steward. We won the best raises and improvements the workers have ever had at that workplace, and I am proud I was able to win justice.” —Emmanuel Gallardo-Sanidad

“Last year, I played a key role in defeating an extreme public employee pension initiative in Phoenix. I wrote and designed each mail piece for our comprehensive direct mail campaign, and the campaign worked closely with the firefighters union, mobilizing hundreds of volunteers who were out knocking doors every day. On Election Night, we trounced the opposition by 16 points-a 25-point turnaround in just six months.” —Gabi Porter

“My proudest moment was hearing that two of the women I trained and managed as volunteer grassroots organizers had successfully run and won their OWN campaign—adding another woman to the Rhode Island state house, a woman who would then cast a deciding vote for passing Marriage Equality there. I saw the ripple effect of my own organizing work. It caused me to recognize the importance of intensive, interactive training as a part of change. It’s why I just launched a training startup to help more women advocate for their rights as workers.” —Emilie Aries

Below is a full list of the winners. Thanks to the Steelworkers for helping bring strong voices to Netroots Nation!

Melissa Byrne
Emilie Aries
Aaron Krager
Dulce Saavedra
Matt Murray
Kate Spaulding
Emmanuel Gallardo-Sanidad
Antonio Valdovinos
Nicholas Mahon
Jenny Carrillo
Gilbert Romero
Sally Kim
Gabi Porter
Jenn Studebaker
Tyler Paxton
Alexandra Flores-Quilty
Danny Spitzberg
Emilio Vicente
Thang Vu
Prerna Lal

Showcase your organizing technology at NN15

We’re excited to once again bring the Great Netroots New Tools Shootout back to Netroots Nation in 2015. This is your chance to (re)introduce the Netroots community to your voting, organizing, campaigning, make-the-world-a-better-place technology solution.

Just click here to submit your product, app or feature for entry.

The New Tools Shootout will be held Saturday, July 18, at 11:45 a.m. and will include all the great product demos, plus awards given out in four categories. The event is open to all Netroots Nation attendees.

During the event, select presenters will have 5 minutes to make a live pitch. Attendees will then vote on their favorite new feature/product, favorite mobile app or social media technology, and favorite startup technology. We’ll select an overall winner for best new organizing tool. Winners will be announced at the event and receive a shout-out during our Saturday closing keynote session.

Applications close May 26. Update: due to the holiday weekend we’re extending the deadline to Friday, May 29th.

Announcing 40 great trainings for NN15

We’re thrilled to announce the 40 training sessions that will be offered at Netroots Nation 2015. We’ve got sessions on topics ranging from data and analytics to field organizing to graphic design, messaging and more.

This is our most diverse training program yet: 63% of our trainers are female and 42% are people of color.

There’s a little something for everyone, from basic online organizing to more advanced tactics. Here are just a few of the sessions that will be offered:

Turbo-charging Your Campaigns via Online Influencers
Using Powerful Tools to Ramp up Your Organizing Game on Twitter
Email Campaigns that Engage Activists, Raise Money and Move Your Mission
How to Get Coverage in Spanish Language Media
Field Testing 101: Even the Smallest Campaigns Can Benefit

Click here to check out the training lineup.

Update on the Detroit water crisis

Thank you to those NN14 attendees who came out to protest the immoral water shutoffs last Friday in Detroit. To those who couldn’t make it, thank you for your support from afar.

The Monday after we left town, the City of Detroit announced it was suspending shutoffs for 15 days. This is huge progress, but there is more work to be done. Local organizers continue to pressure the City of Detroit Council to stop the shutoffs and work around the clock to provide water to those who currently are without.

The rally was among the highlights of NN14. Our collective voice, presence and support at the water rally last Friday added momentum to the efforts of organizations like the People’s Water Board Coalition, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, We the People of Detroit, and many more. Organizers say the rally drew 2,500 people—allies and those wearing NN credentials alike. The rally received mentions in national press including the New York Times, MSNBC, ABC, NBC and more. As Rev. Barber told us Thursday night, ‘forward together, not one step back!’

One of the most moving moments of the week was when we received this email from a Detroiter:

“That you shined a light on the wicked things going on here and took time out of your conference to support us in this right wing attack is appreciated more than you will ever know by myself, my family and my neighbors. One neighbor said she has been praying for something like the Friday march to happen. May this kindness come back to you a thousand times.”

It’s important that we continue to stand in solidarity with our friends in Detroit to end this crisis. You can help a Detroit resident directly by submitting a payment to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department on their behalf. Click here to pay someone’s bill.




Media coverage from NN14

Netroots Nation received more than 1,800 media mentions last week across top national outlets, local publications and television broadcasts. Below are a few select stories.

Former AZ House Minority Leader John Loredo on Phoenix 2015

To the Netroots Nation and progressive community, a statement from former Arizona House Minority Leader John Loredo, on Phoenix being chosen as the location for Netroots Nation 2015. Loredo was was one of the influential Latino leaders who supported a boycott of Arizona after the passage of SB1070, and for subsequently ending the boycott once it had served its purpose.

“Thank you for supporting the boycott we called. We called for the boycott to bring economic pressure onto the state and to force Arizona business leaders to get off the bench and into the immigration fight. It worked. The year after Senate Bill 1070 passed, business leaders testified at the State Senate and took the position that Arizona could no longer sustain the economic boycott and the legislature needed to stop passing any more harmful immigration bills. Since that point, not one immigration bill has passed at the Arizona state legislature. We accomplished our goal, and those of us who called for the boycott called it off. We hope those that respected our calling for the boycott will respect our decision to call it off.

Arizona is a perfect location for the 2015 Netroots Nation conference. We have large union hotels that serve our Phoenix convention center, and bringing thousands of Netroots attendees here to those hotels would benefit those workers and highlight the hard work Unite Here has done to organize this workforce. We hope the progressive community will support their work.

In the same way we halted the immigration bills, our progressive and labor organizations have united to stop the anti-gay religious right-to-discriminate legislation (Senate Bill 1062). After its passage, thousands of activists pressured the business community and chambers of commerce, who in turn begged Gov. Jan Brewer to veto SB1062 specifically because of the threat of economic boycott. They did not want to go through what happened after SB1070. Brewer, who signed SB1070 into law, listened and vetoed SB1062. The great work by the progressive, Latino and the human rights community in Arizona was highlighted by panelists in the Netroots Nation 2014 panel “Religious Exemptions: The Next Frontier for Progressive Battles.” We want the progressive community to come to one of the front lines of this battle, which is still ongoing.

The political landscape is changing quickly in Arizona. Democrats now hold five of our nine Congressional seats. In 2012, our labor and progressive tables worked together to win back four seats in the state senate, which eliminated the Tea Party super-majority won in 2010. This victory made it possible to find a moderate bi-partisan majority to kill extremist anti-labor and ALEC legislation, and to pass Medicaid expansion. With just two more pick-ups in 2014, we can tie the senate at 15-15, which would allow us to go on the offensive with a progressive legislative agenda. Our coalitions have also defeated the legislature’s extreme anti-voter agenda and helped to elect committed Progressives in competitive city council elections in Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson and Flagstaff.

Our successes are growing and building on one another. Momentum is shifting in our favor and we are excited about our future. Arizona has one of the largest Rising American Electorate populations per capita in the country (900,000 already registered and another 900,000 eligible to vote). Because of these tectonic demographic shifts, Arizona will turn blue even if we do nothing in 15-20 years. But we have a plan to do it by 2016. We want Netroots Nation to be a part of that success.

What would you get if we are successful? Arizona has 11 electoral votes. Flipping Arizona could fundamentally tilt Electoral College math in our favor for the foreseeable future. Those votes don’t disappear when it gets hot, and neither should Netroots. There is no reason the decision to come to Arizona should divide the Netroots community, even at the margins. This is an opportunity to highlight and impact our national debate over immigration at the issue’s epicenter. Most of the national Progressive community is investing heavily in Arizona because of the infrastructure we have created and the victories we have achieved. There’s much more work to do, and it will not be easy. Arizona should be supported for everything our Latino and Progressive community has accomplished, and for what we are working to change, not punished in perpetuity.”

Plenary on the Detroit water crisis

Right now, the Detroit Water Department is shutting off water to thousands of Detroit residents with outstanding debts each week, even if their debt was incurred by previous owners or is only 60 days late.
Not only are these shutoffs a violation of the human right to water, they are also a threat to public health. As the crisis in Detroit escalates, local organizers are banding together to provide relief to residents and demand a moratorium on the shutoffs while also aiming to make sure water is affordable, protected from pollution, and stays in the hands of the public.
On Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m., we’ll host a keynote discussion about the crisis in Detroit and the local organizing happening here. Come hear from local organizers about the situation on the ground and how you can amplify their efforts.


Panelists include Monica Lewis-Patrick of We The People Detroit, Abayomi Azikiwe of Moratorium Now, Meredith Begin of Food and Water Watch and Professor Peter Hammer.