My name is Jon Roth, I am the current Vice Chair of DAN, and I am running to be Chair for the upcoming term. In concert with Audrey Camp, our outgoing Chair, and my fellow board members, I point proudly to the progress we have made in developing an outreach program that successfully harnessed the energy from our political wing coming out of 2016, which helped to begin the healing of political wounds and give our local constituency an outlet to organize and do our part to contribute to the achievements of 2018's blue wave! We leaned into partnership programming, expanded our communications and media relations activities and broadened our relationships with local businesses to promote and host our activities and visibility. My candidacy is one of continuity from the local engagement side, and of political experience and competence from a public facing perspective. My professional experience working in DC policy circles will prove valuable in the 2020 cycle, as the local interest in the presidential election will require a DAN leadership personality to consult with the media, and I am able to speak on all matters of politics and policy with articulate authority on behalf of us, our organization and our party. I humbly ask for your vote so we can continue our trajectory of progress and I look forward to welcoming and working with you all.
For Vice Chair
I am Christina Skovsgaard and I was born a Democrat. The first time I attended a DA Global meeting in Toronto (2005), I knew I found a home. For the past 14 years, Democrats Abroad Norway has become an integral part of my life and has helped me have an active voice even while living abroad.
Americans abroad are increasingly enduring unintended but seriously adverse impacts from US legislation that does not consider our unique circumstances. These policies can affect citizenship and it transmission, voting access, immigration and taxation. I’ve served DAN as the acting Vice-Chair (2008), volunteered for the 2008 Convention, was appointed as the International Representative in 2009 until 2015, and have served as Counsel from 2011 until 2017. I have been involved in voter-registration, phone-banking, fundraising, event planning, and Door-Knocking in DC (09,11,14,17). I’m the only board member to have attended all yearly regional and global DA meetings, also at my own expense (Brussels, Vancouver, Florence, Seoul, Japan DC.etc.). These activities not only allowed me to update myself on DA happenings and lobbying efforts, but also enabled me to build a community of fascinating American’s living around the world.
I was happy to work with the new energic DAN board elected in 2017. They appointed me to be the “Get Out the Vote Coordinator”. I have taken the online course to become a Voting Assistance Officer. I also am now serving on the Steering Committee of the DA Global Women’s Caucus and the DA Global Black Caucus. In the US, for the 2018 election, I worked as a poll observer in Ohio.
My Vision:DAN should enable Americans to use their voice. Senate and Congress races have been won due to our votes, opening eyes in DC. Some resolutions written by DA members are now part of the DNC platform. We should increase information and encourage social events. We need to encourage Chapter development to increase membership and participation thought out Norway. In a volunteer organization, it is vital to value the input of others and work as a team.
In the many years that I’ve lived in Norway, first as a wife, then a mother and now as a happy grandmother, there has never been such a need for us to have our voices heard.
My name is Arna Desser and I’ve been actively engaged in political activities of one sort or another for almost 50 years, so I was very glad to find a group of like-minded people in Democrats Abroad Norway after the 2016 presidential election fiasco. Participating regularly in DAN activities has given me the opportunity to cultivate new friendships with Americans in Norway and to feel engaged in political activities by helping in get-out-the-vote efforts.
In addition to a deep commitment to social justice and an ability to listen and respond with respect to people with whom I disagree, I bring practical experience to the treasurer’s position. I’ve been the treasurer of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America, a non-profit organization in the U.S. with an annual budget of about $35,000, since 1999, and, for the past several years, treasurer of one of the Norwegian dance groups in which I participate. I’m also relatively fluent in Norwegian.
A few personal details: I’m a native Baltimorean (and fanatic Oriole fan) who moved to Norway almost 13 years ago. I have a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland and currently work as a health economist at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health performing cost-effectiveness analyses of new medications, medical devices and other types of health technologies.
Democrats Abroad is establishing a new caucus, the global Veterans and Military Families (VMF) Caucus. This caucus will work within Democrats Abroad to honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces; their service deserves our deepest gratitude and respect. Government policies must reflect the interests of those who are serving and those who have served, including their families. This caucus will work to achieve this goal.
All the various groups, ethnicities, persuasions, identities, and beliefs that make up American society are present in our military; we share issues and concerns in common with the other caucuses of Democrats Abroad. We share the principles and demands expressed in the platforms of both the Democratic Party and Democrats Abroad regarding veterans, active military and their families abroad.
- Reach out to veterans, active duty and reserve military members as well as their dependents living abroad to encourage them to register to vote and to engage them in advocacy for our policy positions.
- Provide a forum for DA members to understand better the issues and concerns affecting our military forces, veterans, and their families outside of the United States.
- Provide a voice for veterans and military families to the Democratic Party Committee Aboard and the Democratic National Committee.
In addition to our stated goals, we also strive to act as a conduit to service members, veterans, and their families overseas by sharing information regarding benefits (e.g. VA and Tri-Care) and participate in commemorative services.
Photo by Peppersmint/Shutterstock
From DAN Chair, Audrey Camp, first thoughts the morning after...
"Rose early to shine the blue light across the Norwegian airwaves. Thanks to VGTV for hosting a debate between DAN and RAN. I’m enthusiastic about the blue wave. It may not have been the deluge we hoped for, but with unprecedented representation for women, minorities and youth, I’ll take it. All stories matter and all votes count. Hurrah for Democrats Abroad Norway!" 🇺🇸 🇳🇴
Here’s a link to the debate. The talk starts at 2:39:10. http://goo.gl/UkV7zJ
DAN joined The American Coordinating Council of Norway (ACCN) in celebration for the 33rd American Independence Day picnic in Frogner Park, Oslo. During the busy day we welcomed two new volunteers (thank you, Dana and Brooke!) along with our Ambassador to Norway, Kenneth J. Braithwaite, to our booth. We also enjoyed wonderful weather and the many people who stopped by to ask about voting from abroad while discussing issues of the day.
Below, DAN welcomes the first visitor to our booth.
Overview of the crowd.
DAN Chair, Audrey Camp, with U.S. Ambassador Kenneth J. Braithwaite.
Democrats Abroad represents the margin of victory in dozens of close races coming up in 2018. Democracy is counting on us.
Global Chair Julia Bryan delivered this inspiring message to an enthusiastic audience at the first-ever Democrats Abroad Nordic Summit last weekend in Malmö, Sweden.
This mini-regional meeting was an experiment. Along with the Alex Lange, Chair of DA Sweden, and Kim Chopin, Chair of DA Denmark, my hope was that such a collaboration between our regional chapters would give us the chance to:
- Share knowledge between boards
- Build community among members
- Inspire all of us to make a difference in the coming elections
I’m pleased to announce that the meeting was a big success on all three accounts.
We started the day off with quick introductions of each participating country chapter (CC). It was inspiring to learn about one another’s successes and challenges, to compare notes a bit. From there, attendees received important info and tutorials on Voter Registration and Phone Banking. I was honoured to present a talk titled Ready to Reframe: Approaching Nordic Issues in American Politics. And Julia Bryan presented an update on Tax Issues for Americans abroad, as well as a keynote speech that included insights on her recent door knock on capitol hill.
This event began as a “Scandinavian Summit.” Then, in the planning process, we extended an invitation to Democrats Abroad living in Finland, who have been interested in forming their own CC. Three of them showed up on Saturday! They wanted to see how DA works as an organization. They wanted to understand how the CC’s help one another to succeed in registering voters and educating the public on the issues. I’m proud that our Nordic Summit—as we immediately rebranded it—could reinforce these ideas.
I want to thank Alex and Kim for all the hours of brainstorming and planning, their good ideas, their willingness to listen and pivot. We made a good team. And we couldn’t have done any of it without Alex Arcelay, Chair of the Skåne chapter in Sweden, who diligently found a venue and organized the logistics, then helped the day run smoothly.
Like many people, I only jumped into organising and activism after Donald Trump was elected. That tragedy was my personal catalyst. It also turned out to be a catalyst for the Women's March, the March for Science, the March for our Lives (Saturday, 24 March in Oslo, too), and dozens of other demonstrations and movements. These are remarkable showings of solidarity. We hope that sheer numbers will hold our elected representatives accountable. They might. But the most tangible change we can make in any election is the casting of our own ballots. That's what Democrats Abroad is about.
Given what I learned at the DA Nordic Summit last weekend, I think we're in good shape to continue reaching our voter registration targets. Americans abroad have the unique opportunity and responsibility to be the margin of victory in some close midterm races. Our efforts can make the difference and flip a few seats our way, or at least scare the hell out of complacent Republicans. Now more than ever before, I think we can do this together.
Join us at our next event and help take back the House!
“We are looking forward through the windshield not the rear-view mirror.” Larry Cohen, Board Chair of Our Revolution and Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Unity Reform Commission said. “We have to believe that we can win.”
Larry spoke recently to a group of over twenty DAN members at the Nighthawk Diner’s new Bygdøy Allé restaurant. He covered a range of topics from the results of the Unity Reform Commission to burgeoning movements within the Democratic Party.
“I like to say democracy is messy, movement building is messy and you just have to put up with it,” he said while discussing challenges progressive movements like Our Revolution face when creating new paradigms in the party. “We’ve got to get people to say we are going to work together and stay in the group and keep the group going. That is what you would call political organizing--party building especially within the Democratic Party--that is strategy- rather than candidate -centered.”
Members representing States across the Union enjoyed sliders, chicken, and mac ‘n’ cheese while engaging in a conversation about organizing and the prospects of the party. The evening closed with DAN members introducing themselves and their motivation for participating in the party abroad, and a brief introduction from last-minute visitor Roy Pedersen, head of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions’ (LO) branch in Oslo.
DAN thanks Larry and the Our Revolution team for sharing their time with our members, and for providing us with valuable insights into workings within the party and the progressive movement. We too are looking forward, and we too believe we can win in 2018 and onward. —Corinne Hobson
Photo below, Roy Pedersen speaks to DAN members.
Below, Larry Cohen with DAN board members (l to r) Danielle K. DeRose, Kathy L. Kelley, Larry Cohen, Cori Ready, Corinne Hobson and Christina Skovsgaard.
A starling is a small songbird. She is mud-colored with a hint of purple or teal, but only if she twists to catch the light. When she’s working, feeding her babies or building her nest, she sometimes forgets to do that. Life isn’t usually about poetic twists. Most of the time, it’s about blending with the bushes and avoiding predators. The starling is often mistaken for a common blackbird. People don’t notice the smattering of light freckles across her chest and the back of her neck. Alone… one starling is unremarkable.
But sometimes, thousands of starlings suddenly take to the sky. Their miraculous dance—a black cloud of swells, shifts, swoops, soars—stops every witness in his tracks. Then it’s called a murmuration.
A lot has happened since the first Women’s March in 2017. That organic response to the election of Donald Trump inspired millions of women around the world to rise up against institutionalized sexism, misogyny, and prejudice of all kinds. It inspired men to understand the role they play in this fight for human equality. The movement was and is about voices: that single voice raised improbably against the machine; the strength of many voices rising together around the words #metoo.
Our chapter of Democrats Abroad was proud to support Women’s March Norway in their anniversary event this weekend. It was a bright, cold day. WMN Founder Brit-Agnes Sværi invoked Oprah’s recent battle cry—Time’s Up!—and was met with a thunder of mittened applause and boots stomping in the snowy square.
Last year’s march was the reason I decided to step up my involvement with Democrats Abroad. There was something uncanny about the way those marches happened all around the globe. In big cities and little towns. In wealthy nations and “shithole countries”. We gathered to meet the coming storm. I stood at Youngstorget beside my friend, Corinne, a fellow Californian-in-Norway. Her loud and proud sign read:
We’d come together with thousands of Norwegians and other internationals to object to Trump’s inauguration. Enough was enough. We decided that if there was anything at all we could do to fix the fault in our home country, we would do it. Serving our fellow Democrats Abroad in Norway as elected officers still seems like a good fit. Our whole board feels that way.
Lots of us made it out to the march this year. Thank you to everyone who helped us carry the DAN banner through the streets from Youngstorget to Stortinget. Thank you also to all who volunteered to help with security and social media and set-up and clean-up. We were well-represented among the reflective-vest crew, and that warmed my heart. It was also a treat to have so many Dems and friends join us at Brewdog in Grünerløkka afterwards for post-march beers and invigorating conversation. This little Drinking Liberally Oslo field trip was a big success, and we hope to see you all again at the monthly DL event on Tuesday the 30th of January.
It’s time to beat the drum and bring in votes for the 2018 midterm elections. Make sure you register to vote today! And if you know an American abroad who doesn’t think his or her voice matters in these dark days, please put them in touch with us. We aren’t just out to right the wrongs; we act locally to make the world a better place. Together, everything feels possible.
Once again, the Women’s March has caused me to meditate on a single word: swarm.
Republican politicians use “swarm” to denigrate immigrants, for example. For them, swarm implies a hoard, an unstoppable wave of vermin, disease, decay, termites hollowing out the foundations of their homes, “takers” and “leeches” and “welfare queens” and all the rest.
(As an immigrant myself, I would take offence at this idea… but I don’t have the time. I’m working too hard, paying taxes, and gratefully contributing to a society I admire. You know, the way immigrants do.)
So, let’s look at the word “swarm” again. As a murmuration.
Mary Oliver described it this way:
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again...
For some, it’s hard to quantify the achievements of the Women’s March. But the anniversary reminded us not to underestimate the mighty beauty of the swarm. Determining the definition of words like this one is up to us. Republicans may be the ones with the bully pulpit, but we’re the ones with the bullhorn. And we know that a swarm can also be a murmuration.
When a stippled star opens and closes like that, it contains enough power to blow a hole in the universe.
I’ll close with the words of another poet who made good use of the bullhorn at the rally in New York City this weekend. “Castle” singer Halsey (23) knocked the wind out of everyone listening:
What do you mean, this happened to me?
I'm supposed to be safe now. I earned it. It's 2018,
and I've realized that nobody is safe 'long as she is alive,
and every friend that I know has a story like mine,
and the world tells me we should take it as a compliment.
It's Olympians and a medical resident
and not one f*cking word from the man who is president.
It's about closed doors and secrets and legs and stilettos,
from the Hollywood Hills to the projects and ghettos…
Listen, and then yell at the top of your lungs.
Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues.
-- Halsey, Women’s March 2018 --
Tis the season for giving! Progressive Americans Action League--Oslo, Democrats Abroad Norway, and Women's March Norway are hosting a collection drive for Refugees Welcome Oslo (RWO). RWO is in need of gently used winter clothing, wool, winter boots, and outerwear for both adults and children. They are also in need of pants, sweaters, long sleeve shirts from size 8 years and up. Winter accessories and winter items for babies and strollers are also needed. *No summer clothes are needed at this time*
Starting on November 16th, you can drop off gently used items at Forandringshuset in Grønland each Thursday between 3pm-10pm. Have problems getting to Grønland but want to donate? Please send us message, and we will try to find an easier drop off location. Go to https://goo.gl/9wKhhr to send a message.
We will also be taking donations at these local events.
-- American Women’s Club of Oslo’s Thanksgiving Dinner on November 14th
-- Democrats Abroad Norway’s Drinking Liberally event on November 28th
-- Progressive Americans Action League--Oslo's Thanksgiving dinner on November 30th
For more information go to our Facebook event at https://goo.gl/9wKhhr.
A zany and delightful cast of characters gathered at Siste Sang Bryggeri in Grønland on Saturday night. DJ Rude Lead spun classic American funk, peppered with a few Halloween classics. And everyone--from the Statue of Liberty to Hermione Granger to a bunch of grapes--came to party.
Thanks to these fun-loving folks, DA Norway's first annual Halloween Costume Party Fundraiser was a big success! We drank good beer, ate delicious food, loaded up on American candy, and grooved to the funky music until the clock struck midnight.
With just a little coaxing (and a little more alcohol), our guests hit the catwalk for the costume contest. Bunnies and Mad Hatters and scarlet-caped Handmaids strutted to resounding applause. The Swedish Chef polska-ed this was to the Grand Prize, dinner for two from our friends at Oslo's Nighthawk Diner.
The event raised more than 8,000 NOK. The money will kickstart DA Norway's upcoming expansion project. In anticipation of the midterm elections, we will run a major membership drive throughout Norway in 2018. We're here to provide Americans abroad a Democratic voice in our government and elect Democratic candidates by mobilizing the overseas vote. Thank you to everyone who purchased a ticket for contributing to this important effort!
We also couldn't have done it without some key players. Mike Rawson and the guys and gals at Siste Sang were fabulous hosts. Special thanks to Barbara Ødegaard for being generous with her time, network, and brownies. Other dedicated DAN members donated food and decorations, and some arrived early to help us set up for the shenanigans.
Finally, all the DAN Board Members dedicated themselves to this project over the last few weeks. What a whirlwind! Costumes and candy are pretty excellent diversions on these dark days with the news coming out of Washington. We hope you'll all join us next year when we throw another Halloween bash.