The Good News for 2011

image credit: Rainer Berg

Original article written by Claudia Horwitz (with contributors: Erin Dale, Gita Gulati-Partee, Russell Herman, Claudia Horwitz, Margot Horwitz, Jennifer Jackson, Chad Jones, Sean Kosfosky, Becca Krantz, Danyelle O’Hara, Tema Okun, and Marian Urquilla) for the December 2011 stone circles blog

It’s impressive to see the many things for social change that folks accomplished in 2011. This fantastic list from stone circles blog, reminds us to face 2012 with full-on expectations of what we CAN do. 

There was plenty of bad news in 2011 – the hard, the ugly, the disappointing, the horrific.  We’ve noticed that year-in-reviews tend to cover news items like earthquakes, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the death of Steve Jobs and a little royal wedding thrown in for relief.

But there was some really good news this year, too.  In 2011, like every year, people all across the nation stood up for justice and dignity in 2011.  Here then is our inaugural “Good News” round up for 2011.  What did we forget?  Send an email to

1.  All of Us NC , a queer-women-of-color-led grassroots campaign and Protect NC Families  were launched to defeat NC’s anti-family amendment through relationship-based organizing.

2.  Arab Spring, inspiring the world and reminding us that freedom and democracy are human (not just American/western) rights and ideals.  The rest of this list consists of good news in the U.S. but we couldn’t resist adding this one.

3.   “The Battle for Brooklyn” film about fight against Bruce Ratner”s development debacle, on list of possible Oscar nominations for best doc.

4  Black Farmer class action lawsuit (Pigford v. Glickman) was finally approved this year.  President Obama signed a bill authorizing $1.25 billion for the suit in 2010, but in October of this year Judge Paul L. Friedman granted final approval, almost 13 years after the lawsuit was brought against USDA for documented discrimination against Black farmers.

5.  Bull City Urban Market launched a new effort in Durham aimed at bringing local food and justice to the people.  This is emblematic of hundreds of locally-based, grassroots initiatives to make our food systems more just and accessible.

6.  California and Nevada formed an alliance to fight foreclosures. Saying their states are hardest hit by the nation’s foreclosure and mortgage crises, the attorneys general Kamala Harris of California and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada formalized Tuesday a joint investigation alliance to help homeowners victimized by fraud.

7.  Caring Across Generationsa national campaign inspired by the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and similar advocacy and organizing across the country.  Key policy points include job quality and the right to organize, a path to citizenship and more.

8.  Chaz Bono on Dancing with the Stars. Because pop culture matters.

9.  Coalition of Immokalee Workers continue their campaign for fair food by putting pressure on Trader Joe’s and Publix supermarkets to take the rights of farm workers seriously. Workers are demanding a penny more per pound of tomatoes that farmworkers pick.

10.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal went into effect.  After 17 years of hiding, gay and lesbian service men and women can come out of the closet.

11.  Drop the I-word campaign was launched to challenge press and communities across the nation to stop calling any human being “illegal.”

12.  Elizabeth Warren got into the race for US Senate.  Someone standing up for sanity.

13.  Freedom University was started in October to provide college-level instruction to undocumented students in Athens, GA.  Like many states in the U.S., Georgia has banned undocumented students from attending public universities.

14.  Human mic.  Who knew such simple technology could change the tenor of a protest movement?

15.  Hummingbird Collective is an emerging funding collaborative designed to raise money for communities in Arizona that are at the forefront of the ‘civil rights movement of migrant justice.

16. Iraq troop withdrawal.  The United States officially claims its forces have left Iraq and we can count this as another promise made and kept by President Obama.  This also means the military will need to keep their in-country numbers low enough to conceal or to plausibly describe as something else.

17. Keystone XL pipeline delayed.  The Obama administration decided to postpone a decision on the Keyston XL tar sands oil pipeline, which is as close as the environmental justice movement could get to killing it.

18. LGBT civil rights history became an official part of the public school curriculum in California, thanks to the passing of SB 48.  Opponents failed to get enough signatures to place a referendum to overturn the law on the Nov 2012 ballot.

19. Manu Chao re-recorded the video for his song “Clandestino” following a free concert in Phoenix and a stop outside the detention center run by the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

20. Mississippi voters rejected a November ballot initiative that would have declared life begins at the time of egg fertilization.

21.  Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has originally sentenced to death in the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, has had his sentence reduced to life.  Mumia has served almost thirty years in prison and his case has exemplified many of the failings of our criminal (in)justice system.

22. New York State passes marriage equality, becoming the 6th and largest state to approve such a law, doubling the numbers of self-reported queer couples allowed to marry in the U.S.

23. Occupy Our Homes.  One particularly specific outgrowth of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Our Homes helps people stand up to banks and fight foreclosure.

24. Occupy Wall Street.  Because it captured – and continues to capture – the heart and attention of skeptical nation.  Because the events have drawn a wide range of folks and provided entry points for many who haven’t been involved in movement work before.  Because it’s a living experiment of the change we want to see.  Because when Miley Cyrus is doing a video about it, you know it’s got reach.

25. Ohio overturned anti-collective bargaining law, SB 5 by a margin of 61% to 39%.  The bill greatly restricted union activity that affected over 350,000 public employees.

26.  Proposed merger between AT&T and TMobile failed at the hands of  community concern over the consolidation and its impact on consumers.  The fight was led by the Center for Media Justice.

27. Recalling Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is going like gangbusters; 507,000 of the 720,000 signatures needed were collected in the first 30 days.

28.  Seattle joined San Francisco and Portland in passing legislation to ban single-use plastic shopping bags at grocery stores.  The ordinance passed unanimously and will take effect in July 2012.

29.  Time Magazine named “The Protester” as person of the year.  While something about this feels a bit unsettling (where does championing end and objectification begin?) it’s real nice to see protesting back in vogue, so to speak.  And the article is really quite thoughtful.

30. Up With Chris Hayes on MSNBC. We love us some Rachel Maddow but Chris Hayes understands organizing, loves movement building, has an exhausting grasp of policy on a wide range issues and now he gets his own show.

31. Voter suppression law vetoed by Governor Perdue in North Carolina under great grassroots pressure; Republicans in the House fail to overturn the veto.  The NAACP and others continue the fight to protect voter rights in 30 other states.

32. Wake County North Carolina voters chose the Democratic incumbent for the County school board over the Republican challenger, giving the Democrats a majority and defeating school segregation efforts.

33.  Warren Buffet published an op ed in the New York Times, “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” in which he stated his 2010 income tax payment ($6.9 million), noted it was only 17% of his overall income and that he was paying less taxes than his own secretary.  It helps to have one of the mega-rich articulate the damages of capitalism every now and then.

34.  Wisconsinites of every stripe stood up for Wisconsin workers, flooding the capitol building and holding rally after rally to protect working families.  Law suits to restore the rights of public workers continue.  And all this in the first state to provide collective bargaining rights to public employees, in 1959.  For ongoing coverage, see the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Contributors include: Erin Dale, Gita Gulati-Partee, Russell Herman, Claudia Horwitz, Margot Horwitz, Jennifer Jackson, Chad Jones, Sean Kosfosky, Becca Krantz, Danyelle O’Hara, Tema Okun, and Marian Urquilla.

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